War in the Pacific NHP closed to unmanned aircraft

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War in the Pacific NHP closed to unmanned aircraft

by: Jim Richardson | .
National Park Service | .
published: August 22, 2014

On June 19, 2014, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis issued a Policy Memorandum to ensure that the use of unmanned aircraft is addressed in a consistent manner by the National Park Service (NPS) before a significant level of such use occurs within the National Park System.  He directed park superintendents to use the authority under 36 CFR 1.5 to close units of the National Park System to launching, landing, or operating unmanned aircraft, subject to certain conditions and exceptions.  The following closure and definition have become a legal closure.

Launching, landing, or operating an unmanned aircraft from or on lands and waters administered by the National Park Service within the boundaries of War in the Pacific National Historical Park is prohibited except as approved in writing by the superintendent.

Definition: The term “unmanned aircraft” means a device that is used or intended to be used for flight in the air without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the device, and the associated operational elements and components that are required for the pilot or system operator in command to operate or control the device (such as cameras, sensors, communication links). This term includes all types of devices that meet this definition (e.g., model airplanes, quadcopters, drones) that are used for any purpose, including for recreation or commerce.

According to Superintendent Jim Richardson, “This closure of the park to model airplanes, quadcopters, drones or other unmanned aircraft is an interim measure until the NPS can study how this new potential use could impact park resources, park values, and visitor safety.  Regulations already exist for operation of manned aircraft, but they are not otherwise applicable to use of this new and popular technology.”

As unmanned aircraft have become more affordable and easier to operate, they have begun to appear in some park areas. Although their use remains relatively infrequent across the National Park System, this new use has the potential to cause unacceptable impacts such as harming visitors, interfering with rescue operations, causing excessive noise, impacting viewsheds, and disturbing wildlife. Recent incidents at Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Yellowstone National Park, and Mount Rushmore National Memorial support the need for the required closures to enable a proper evaluation of this new use.

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