The use of drones is now banned in all US national parks

If you’re heading to the Grand Canyon this summer, leave the drone at home. The National Park Service announced Friday that it had banned the use of drones in all of its parks. Jonathan Jarvis, the agency’s director, said in a statement that the decision stems from “serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks.” Drones were prohibited in other national parks earlier this year after complaints regarding noise and an episode involving young sheep getting separated from adults. In May, the agency said that drones were banned in Yosemite National Park because an increased number of visitors had been using drones to film climbers and capture other aerial footage. Drones would not be allowed because they could disturb visitors, adversely impact wildlife in the area and potentially interfere with emergency rescues, the Park Service said.

Bad news if you were hoping to get some aerial footage of the Grand Canyon or Shenandoah this weekend: The U.S. government’s National Park Service has just issued an order banning drones from being launched, landed or operated in any of the 59 parks across the States. That’s an instant no-fly zone of about 84 million acres. There is some hope for the future, as this is just a temporary order signed by National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. Within the next couple of years, the NPS is planning to produce a full and comprehensive policy on the use of these small aircraft in protected areas, which will take on board further research into drone use and suggestions from the public. In the meantime, a number of noise and nuisance complaints, as well as concerns over the safety of visitors and wildlife, have prompted the blanket ban. There’s still the flexibility to allow exceptions as and when required (when fighting fires, for example, or conducting scientific research). Many parks across the country have already prohibited the use of drones, including Yosemite and Zion. “We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care,” said Jarvis in the official press releasefrom the NPS. “However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.”

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