Yosemite National Park
The National Park Service announced Friday it was barring drones from Yosemite, citing as reasons everything from wilderness protection to climbers’ safety. But the cited legal basis for the regulation, which carries up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine, doesn’t even apply to drones, according to experts.
There’s no doubt the beauty of Yosemite and other national parks could be undermined if their horizons were clogged with buzzing drones filming everything below. If the park service has its way, there will be no Ansel Adams in this Digital Age. The park service currently regulates machines like snowmobile and off-road vehicles, but not even those are banned outright. And so park authorities, after noticing “an increase in visitors using drones within park boundaries,” rested its ban on a section of the Code of Federal Regulations that some view as far afield from drones.
“The National Park Service has just decided, based on a very absurd interpretation of their regulations, to ban the use of drones,” Gregory McNeal, a Pepperdine University legal scholar, said in a telephone interview.
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