Drones banned from Yosemite, other parks
(CNN) — If you’re planning to enjoy this spring or summer at a national park, you’d better leave your drone at home.
On Friday, Yosemite National Park in California turned heads when it announced that drones, the unmanned aircraft increasingly making their way into private hands, aren’t welcome in the park, famous for its picturesque valley of towering granite cliffs, waterfalls and Giant Sequoia groves.
Apparently using drones to capture experiences at the park, on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada mountains, is becoming a trend.
“The park has experienced an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries over the last few years,” park management said in a news release. “Drones have been witnessed filming climbers ascending climbing routes, filming views above tree-tops, and filming aerial footage of the park.”
And it’s not just Yosemite. The buzzing aerial machines, which have become handy for everything from scaring off unwanted birds to delivering medicine and pizzas, aren’t welcome at any of the 58 national parks.
“The … regulations cited at Yosemite apply at all units of the National Park System,” spokesman John Quincy said in an e-mail to CNN.
The Code of Federal Regulations states 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 illegal.
The parks system says that applies to drones, though privately owned, unmanned aircraft probably weren’t on anyone’s mind when it was written.
Yosemite’s news release cited a list of ways the aircraft can be harmful.
Among them: Ruining the experience for visitors with their noise, interfering with rescue operations and endangering wildlife in the area — particularly the peregrine falcons that nest in the park’s cliff walls.
A quick search on YouTube finds a host of of videos shot using drones at Yosemite and other national parks.
Some merely show shaky video from beginners sending their craft into the sky for the first time, while others are more professional productions that provide breathtaking views of the park’s mountains, trees and cyclists and hikers.
In a bit of irony, firefighters used a drone to battle the Yosemite Rim blaze that raged in and around the park last August.
By Doug Gross