Drones are prohibited over wilderness areas, wildland fires and wildlife.

GOLDEN, Colorado, Sept. 23, 2016 – A recent increase in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or “drone” use over wilderness areas, wildland fires and wildlife, has prompted Forest Service officials to remind drone operators about responsible drone use on National Forest System Lands.

“Responsible use will reduce adverse impacts to wildlife, the natural soundscape and aerial wildland fire operations,” said Press Officer Lawrence Lujan. “No photo or video is worth a penalty, fine, or a loss of life during a wildland fire situation

The following tips are for responsible hobby or recreational drone use on National Forest System Lands

Know Where To Fly

  • Individuals and organizations may fly UAS for hobby or recreational purposes in compliance with the Special Rule for Model Aircraft.
  • UAS must be flown below 400 feet and re­main clear of surrounding obstacles.
  • UAS are considered to be both “motorized equipment” and “mechanical transport” 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. For a list of current TFRs, visit http://tfr.faa.gov/tfr2/list.html, call 1-800-WX-BRIEF, or download the free mobile phone app B4UFLY.

Never fly your UAS over or in close proximity to any fire operation—wildfire or prescribed. UAS flights over fire operations disrupt aerial firefighting operations and create hazardous situations.

Protect Wildlife & the Environment

  • Do not fly over congressionally designated wilderness areas or primitive areas as many people seek these places for the opportuni­ties 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.                        
  • Follow State wildlife and fish agency reg­ulations on the use of UAS to search for or detect wildlife and fish.
  • Launch the UAS more than 328 feet from wildlife. Do not approach ani­mals or birds with a 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 air­port 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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