Drones banned from Yosemite National Park, for negative impact on environment and safety

Sorry folks, it will now be illegal to use an unmanned aerial vehicle to film your epic hike

Sarah Gray
May 5, 2014 6:30PM (UTC)

On Friday, Yosemite National Park, in California, issued a warning to those planning a visit to the park: Leave your drones at home.

The park has seen an uptick of drones used to film trail climbers, or to capture above-tree vistas. As the Los Angeles Times points out, the evidence is all over YouTube.


The National Park Service cited the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Specifically, 36 CFR 2.17(a)(3), which state that “delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit” is prohibited by law.

The Park Service cited several negative impacts that drones have on Yosemite, which ranged from making an "impact the natural soundscape," to "creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel."

"The use of drones also interferes with emergency rescue operations and can cause confusion and distraction for rescue personnel and other parties involved in the rescue operation," said a statement from the Park Service. "Additionally, drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use, especially sensitive nesting peregrine falcons on cliff walls."


According to Ars Technica, park rangers will warn visitors (and drone users) that use of unmanned aerial vehicles are prohibited.

The use of civilian drones as a whole has opened up a variety of legal questions. Recreational drones are permitted with some Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. However, the use of commercial drones is illegal. The FAA has said it is working on a set of guidelines.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is an assistant editor at Salon, focusing on innovation. Follow @sarahhhgray or email sgray@salon.com.

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