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Yosemite National Park bans use of drones; officials cite 'negative impacts'

May 5, 2014

A drone carries a digital camera above the start of the High Sierra Fall Century/Gran Fondo at last September's Kamikaze Bike Games in Mammoth Lakes. Photo/George Shirk

Video photographers who have turned to drone technology are no longer welcome to use their tetherless, flying rigs in Yosemite National Park.

A park spokesman this past week issued a news release saying environmental impacts of drones, as well as safety concerns, were at the root of the prohibition.
 
"The park has experienced an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries over the last few years," noted Kari Cobb in the news release.
 
"Drones have been witnessed filming climbers ascending climbing routes, filming views above tree-tops, and filming aerial footage of the park. 
 
"Drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape," she said.
 
"Drones can also impact the wilderness experience for other visitors 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.  
 
"Additionally, drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use, especially sensitive nesting peregrine falcons on cliff walls."
 
She said visitors traveling to the park should be aware that the use of drones is prohibited while visiting the park and should not be utilized at any time. She cited regulations outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations, which states “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."  
 
She said this regulation applies to drones of all shapes and sizes. 

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