Local Officials Deal With Drone Questions

Staff Writer

Local Forest Service and BLM officials are fielding more and more questions regarding the use of recreational drones on public lands. Since the vast majority of the Eastern Sierra is public land, almost anywhere you go, you are surrounded by federal land. Here's what you need to know if you are using a drone, or see one:

The following tips are for responsible, hobby or recreational use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or “Drones” on National Forest System Lands:

Know Where To Fly
• Individuals and organizations may fly UAS for hobby or recreational purposes in compli- ance with the http://www.faa.gov/uas/model_ aircraft/ (Section 336 of Public Law 112-95).
• UAS must be flown below 400 feet and re- main clear of surrounding obstacles.
• UAS are considered to be both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport” and, as such, they cannot take off from, land in, or be operated from congressionally designated wilderness areas.
• UAS are not permitted to fly in areas that have Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFR) in place, such as wildfires. Search the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Web site for current TFRs at http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list. html.
Follow FAA guidelines
• Ensure that you comply with all FAA regula- tions and guidance for flying your UAS. The FAA has authority over all airspace. Infor- mation on FAA regulations is available http:// www.faa.gov/uas/.
• Do not fly any aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds (total weight, including payload and fuel source).
Forest Service July 2015

Protect Wildlife & the Environment
• Do not fly over congressionally designated wilderness areas or primitive areas as many people seek these places for the opportuni- ties for solitude and quiet that they provide.
• Do not fly over or near wildlife as this can create stress that may cause significant harm and even death. Intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is not allowed unless approved as research or management.
• Intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is not allowed unless approved as research or management.
• Follow State wildlife and fish agency reg- ulations on the use of UAS to search for or detect wildlife and fish.
• Launch the UAS more than 100 meters (328 feet) from wildlife. Do not approach ani- mals or birds vertically with the UAS.
Fly Safely, Stay in Control
• Keep your UAS within your visual line of sight at all times.
• Take lessons and learn to operate your UAS safely.
• Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
• Fly your UAS at least 5 miles from an air- port or backcountry airstrip.
• Keep your UAS away from populated and noise-sensitive areas, such as campgrounds, trail heads, and visitor centers.
• Obey all privacy laws.

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