Park Service Bans Unmanned Aircraft

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Unmanned aircraft systems will no longer be allowed to operate in any of the nation's 401 national parks, officials said on Friday. National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said the agency has "serious concerns" about the negative impact of UAS. Incidents cited included noisy drones disturbing visitors and a drone harassing a herd of bighorn sheep. The new policy effectively suspends drone flights until a permanent regulation, which will allow for public comment, is drafted. NPS said it will review permits previously issued for UAS operations in parks, and it will continue to operate its own UAS for research, search and rescue, and fire operations, but only after high-level review and approval.

The new policy follows last month's prohibition in Yosemite, in California, and Zion, in Utah. Parks that have previously allowed the use of recreational model aircraft may continue that policy, according to the NPS statement. The Park Service oversees 89 million acres of land and water in every state as well as in American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These areas include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lake shores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.