Friday, August 22, 2014

Expand air trash ban


    If bans on the recreational use of drones in national parks and wild areas don’t work, perhaps the nation should open a year-round hunting season on them.    Early this summer, the National Park Service enacted a ban on recreational drone use in national parks and wilderness areas after reports that unmanned aerial devices were regularly buzzing over quiet and undisturbed areas.
    Apparently the news didn’t spread far or fast enough—or drone operators just didn’t care. Earlier this month, a drone carrying a camera crashed and sank into Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park.
    Trash and other items thrown into springs have damaged the park’s geothermal features many times. Such items can act like a cork in a bottle and may be impossible to remove.
    Aside from being inconvenient air trash, recreational drones are intruding on national parks and wilderness areas where people go seeking the natural sounds of water and breezes, not the irritating buzz of drones. Jets flying at 30,000 feet is enough reminder of the crowded, mechanized world outside.
    The Park Service’s drone ban is temporary until specific and permanent regulations are vetted in public hearings.
    The ban isn’t an overreaction by overzealous officials. Drones are being used by paparazzi to collect photos of celebrities. Recreational drones used by tourists seeking sensational photographs have disrupted everything from bighorn sheep to bison herds. Some hunters without fair-chase ethics have used them to identify the locations of big-game herds.
    Unmanned drones may be valuable for wilderness research and management, and for search and rescue purposes. Beyond that, they are an unnecessary intrusion.
    Other federal and state agencies should follow the Park Service’s lead, ban drones and leave the skies above as wild as the lands below.




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