Drones: State Clarifies Use of Piloted Craft in Parks and Along Ocean Coasts | News

The Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation is launching a review of drone use in state parks and along Oregon beaches.

You’ve probably seen small drones fly over St. Helens and Scappose from time to time.

The popular crafts are used by businesses and hobbyists and have now come to the attention of the Oregon State Department of Parks and Recreation (ORPD).

The OPRD intends to create rules to provide the clarity necessary for drone pilots, hobbyists, and the general public to know where drone takeoff and landing is permitted and prohibited in a state park and the along the ocean coast.

“While we receive occasional complaints about drones, we also receive inquiries from pilots about where and how they can take off and land in a state park and on the ocean shoreline,” the spokesperson said. from the OPRD, Chris Havel. “So it’s not so much about responding to complaints as it is about managing a legitimate form of recreation so that it doesn’t create conflict or damage resources. Drones are popular, and we want to give our staff field tips on how to manage it and help owners enjoy their hobby by taking a consistent approach from park to park.”

Havel said the state agency does not currently have drone-specific rules.

“We had to get approval from the legislature in 2021 to start the ongoing public rulemaking process — so state park managers have relied on broader rules that protect people, property, and natural and historical resources to manage drones on a case-by-case basis — on a case-by-case basis,” Havel said. “As part of this approach, managers have sometimes prohibited drone takeoffs and landings from a park ‘State to protect a nesting bird or a historic structure such as a lighthouse.’

Although the OPRD has penalties for rule violations, Havel said the agency’s process is generally education first.

“We very rarely jump straight to a quote when someone breaks a rule; we usually inform, then warn, then quote unless it’s an extreme case,” he said. “The fine for violating a park rule and damaging a resource ranges up to approximately $2,000 and/or expulsion from a park depending on the severity of the incident.”

According to Havel, penalties for violation of park rules are set broadly (see https://secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/viewSingleRule.action?ruleVrsnRsn=187975), so violation of rules on drones would be treated the same as other offences.

The OPRD Rules Advisory Committee will meet virtually on January 24 to review and discuss proposed changes to Oregon’s administrative rules regarding drone use.

The committee will also discuss the financial or economic effects of the proposed rules on businesses, local governments or other stakeholders.

The committee meeting begins at 10:30 a.m. and will be streamed live on YouTube for the public at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkqL6iVPBrfCTO27cNmCTwg. The meeting agenda does not provide time for public comments.

After committee review, the proposed rules will be open for public comment. Details will be posted on the OPRD Proposed Rules webpage.

The OPRD has appointed members to the Rules Advisory Committee. Members include drone pilots, agency representatives, conservationists, and active visitors to state parks. Additional CCR members were added for this second meeting. The first meeting took place in November 2021.

Individuals requiring special accommodations to view meetings should contact Katie Gauthier at least three days prior to the meeting at 503-510-9678 or [email protected]

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