The National Park Service has prohibited drone flying inside its parks in 2014. Now, the federal government is banning drones from even getting near 10 specific landmarks, including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced it will restrict drone flights up to 400 feet from the boundaries of this varied collection of national park monuments, historical parks, memorials, and other places such as dams. The new restrictions go into effect on Oct. 5, and the complete list can be found here.
Three years ago, the National Park Service’s head ranger, Director John Jarvis, banned drones in parks for a variety of logical reasons: They disturbed wildlife, annoyed people seeking a reprieve from buzzing machines, crashed into things (like canyons and geysers), and got in the way of ranger rescue operations.
The FAA’s ban on drones near these ten particular sites, however, was implemented at the request of U.S. national security and law enforcement agencies. Although specifics are lacking in the FAA’s statement, it implies that drones have been making the work of various law enforcement agencies more challenging as they attempt to protect resources and infrastructure from any sort of airborne malicious activity.
The public may not be able to fly drones in national parks or even nearby these latest sites, but park employees themselves are beginning to experiment with drones, and they have a good reason: The drones are being used to patrol for and monitor wildfires.