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Workgroup to Draft Criteria for Drone Take-Off and Landing Locations in State Parks

Oregon State Parks

Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is convening a workgroup to draft criteria for managing drone take-off and landing in state parks and along the ocean shore. The process to adopt formal administrative rules, started in January 2022, was paused by OPRD Director Lisa Sumption to allow the group to conduct research and suggest ways to develop maps.

OPRD invited members to the workgroup who represent a wide range of interests and expertise, including conservation organizations, drone enthusiasts and trail users. The workgroup, which will report its results to Director Sumption, is first tasked with drafting criteria for where drone take-off and landing could be allowed and restricted. Then park managers will apply the criteria to create maps showing proposed drone take-off and landing locations in state parks and along the ocean shore. 

Director Sumption paused 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 during an April 13, 2022, commission meeting. The decision follows a two-month public rulemaking process that generated much public feedback both in support and critical of the proposed rules. 

“Drones are growing in popularity as a way to get outside and enjoy parks,” said Guy Rodrigue, OPRD Central Resources Manager, who will convene the workgroup. “This workgroup gives us a chance to hear from a diverse group of stakeholders on the best way to balance providing places for drone pilots to capture photos while also protecting wildlife and park lands.” 

Once the drone criteria and maps are drafted and delivered to the Director, OPRD expects to restart the process of amending the Oregon Administrative Rules by reconvening a Rule Advisory Committee (RAC). The committee will be able to refer to the criteria and maps as part of the process of drafting rules for drone pilots, hobbyists and the general public. Amended 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, though Federal Aviation Authority rules apply. However, some park managers have created temporary limits on the places and times a person can use a drone to protect sensitive plants and animals as well as public and private property. 

OPRD cannot adopt rules specifically related to drones without following the formal public process for amending the Oregon Administrative Rules. Updates on the project and more information about flying drones in state parks are on the Oregon State Parks website at https://stateparks.oregon.gov/index.cfm?do=v.page&id=97.

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