Drones in Parks: Part 3. Opportunities, Innovative Uses and the Future — Episode 008


By Roxanne Sutton|Posted on October 17, 2017

blog episode 006 drones

In this third and final installment of our series on drones in parks, we speak with Rich Dolesh, NRPA’s Vice President of Strategic Initiatives on the future of drones in parks.

In part one, we looked at local, state and federal policies as well as resources for land managers. In part two, we spoke with a park director and how her agency has handled drones in their parks system.

In today’s episode we cover:

  • How drones are a disruptive technology for parks and recreation.
  • The evolution of drones and their appeal to the general public.
  • How the portability and size of drones make them hard for park managers to control on their lands.
  • The legitimate fears about why people are afraid of drones — number one being privacy. But how much privacy can someone expect on public lands?
  • Other fears include flying near crowds, interfering with aircraft and disturbing wildlife.
  • How the future of drones is massive — for hobbyists and commercial use.
    • Surveying, infrared mapping, reconnaissance of remote areas, public safety, and search and rescue are all great possibilities for parks and recreation.
    • Recreational uses will continue to expand and include things like drone racing, celebratory displays and contests.
  • Issues with bringing invasive technology into a “pristine” park environment and why it depends on context.

The takeaway from our series on drones? The use of drones in a park depends on the context. While there is no “one-size-fits-all policy” for drones in parks, there should be room to make a safe place for everyone. Park managers and drone users alike are going to have to stay nimble in a constantly changing regulatory environment and it’s beneficial for parks and recreation to work with the drone community when developing their policies.

Preliminary results of a GP-RED survey on drones in parks can be found on the REDline technology in parks survey page

As always, we want to hear how this trend continues to affect the field. Share your stories in the comments or email me at rsutton@nrpa.org

Listen to the episode for the full story.