- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2014

There are 84 million acres of public lands and waterways in the United States, and they’re going to be drone-free. A memorandum signed by the National Park Service’s director will require 401 parks to write rules prohibiting unmanned aerial vehicles.

“We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care,” Jonathan Jarvis, the park service’s director, said in a statement Friday. “However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.”

Mr. Jarvis told The Associated Press Friday that drones might harm nesting birds or distract climbers as they clung to cliffs. He also alluded other implications of allowing drones, such as unmanned aerial vehicles flying around the faces on Mount Rushmore.

“Imagine you’re a big wall climber in Yosemite working on a four-day climb up El Capitan, and you’re hanging off a bolt ready to make a (difficult) move, and an unmanned aircraft flies up beside you and is hovering a few feet from your head with its GoPro camera running,” Mr.  Jarvis told AP. “Think about what that does to your experience and your safety.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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