Task Force to Draft Criteria for Drone Takeoff and Landing in State Parks | News
The Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation (OPRD) is convening a task force to draft criteria for managing drone takeoff and landing in state parks and along the ocean coast. The process of adopting formal administrative rules, launched in January 2022, was put on hold by OPRD Director Lisa Sumption to allow the group to conduct research and suggest ways to develop maps.
The OPRD has invited members to the working group who represent a wide range of interests and expertise, including conservation organizations, drone enthusiasts and trail users. The task force, which will report its findings to Director Sumption, is first tasked with drafting criteria to determine where drone takeoff and landing could be allowed and restricted. Next, park managers will apply the criteria to create maps showing proposed drone take-off and landing locations in state parks and along the ocean coast.
Director Sumption suspended the process of creating new rules to guide drone use after a conversation with the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission and members of the public at a meeting of the committee on April 13. The decision follows a two-month public rulemaking process that generated extensive public comment both supportive and critical of the proposed rules.
“Drones are growing in popularity as a way to get out and enjoy parks,” said Guy Rodrigue, central resources manager for the OPRD, which will convene the task force. “This working group gives us the opportunity to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders on how best to balance providing spaces for drone pilots to take photos while protecting wildlife and park lands. .”
Once the drone criteria and maps are drafted and delivered to the director, the OPRD plans to reinitiate Oregon’s administrative rule change process by reconvening a Rules Advisory Committee (RAC). The committee may refer to the criteria and maps as part of the rulemaking process for drone pilots, hobbyists and the general public. Changed rules must be approved by the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission.
Currently, there are no state park rules that specifically prohibit people from flying a drone in an Oregon state park, although Federal Aviation Authority rules do apply. However, some park managers have created temporary limits on where and when someone can use a drone to protect sensitive plants and animals as well as public and private property.
The OPRD cannot adopt rules specifically related to drones without following the formal public process for amending Oregon’s administrative rules. Project updates and more information about drone flight in state parks can be found on the Oregon State Parks website at https://stateparks.oregon. gov/index.cfm?do=v.page&id=97.