- Associated Press - Saturday, July 15, 2017

SILVER CITY, N.M. (AP) - The U.S. Forest Service is asking people not to fly drones over the Gila National Forest next week because the agency will be conducting aerial surveys for insect and disease outbreaks using low-flying planes and helicopters.

The annual survey work on the southwestern New Mexico forest will begin Monday.

Forest Service aircraft fly at or below 400 feet while on natural resource management missions. Officials say the combination of low-flying aircraft and drones can be deadly.

Gila Forest Supervisor Adam Mendonca is asking the public to work with the agency to help prevent any tragedies.

The data collected from the aerial surveys will be posted online . The most recent available data shows pockets of tree mortality around the Gila as well as pest damage across large swaths of the West.


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