Wilderness/Park Drone Footage

Grab your bear can or camp chair, kick your feet up and chew the fat about anything Sierra Nevada related that doesn't quite fit in any of the other forums. Within reason, (and the HST rules and guidelines) this is also an anything goes forum. Tell stories, discuss wilderness issues, music, or whatever else the High Sierra stirs up in your mind.
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dave54
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Re: Wilderness/Park Drone Footage

Post by dave54 » Sat Dec 08, 2018 3:29 pm

AlmostThere wrote:
Fri Dec 07, 2018 7:11 am
The drone has a motor, so it is illegal to operate in designated wilderness. And it is dangerous to operate anywhere there are operations that include deployment of helicopters, which crisscross the range daily on SAR efforts.
Having a motor is not the sole criteria. Most drones have electric motors. Banning them on that basis means an analog wristwatch is contrary to the Wilderness Act -- clearly not the intent of the Act (which says mechanized, not motorized -- a distinction that has never been legally defined. Court rulings tap dance all around it without any definitive solution.)
Too strict an interpretation opens a huge can of worms. What about oarlocks on rowboats? Those create a mechanical advantage that facilitates human transportation. Not banned. Mountain bikes are banned as creating a mechanical advantage facilitating human transportation -- same as the aforementioned oarlocks. Then what about collapsible trekking poles with internal shock absorbers and springs? Mine are definitely mechanical and facilitate human transportation. Fortunately, the ADA settled any conflict between the Wilderness Act and prosthetics. Prosthetics are legally part of the person's body, just like a natural arm or leg (which is why vandalizing or stealing a person's prosthetic is assault or battery, not theft or vandalism).

Drones do not make it easier to access designated Wilderness. The NPS enacted their regulations not off the Wilderness Act. That is too vague. They approached it from the harm to Park resources angle, and specifically defined drones.

I recently saw an article about a small ion propulsion engine under development. Battery operated with no moving parts. I shudder about how to legally regulate that inside a Wilderness.


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wildhiker
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Re: Wilderness/Park Drone Footage

Post by wildhiker » Sun Dec 09, 2018 11:26 pm

Actually, the Wilderness Act is more clear about motors and mechanization than suggested by dave54. Section 4(c) is the list of prohibited constructions and activities in Wilderness Areas. It states, in part:
"... no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport ..."
So it explicitly bans motorized transport and equipment and also mechanical transport. Bicycles are clearly a form of mechanical transport, and thus prohibited. It does not ban other mechanical devices, such as the spring-loaded trekking poles cited by dave54.
-Phil

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