After Yosemite National Park announced it was grounding drone flights earlier this week, aspiring pilots may have set their sights on Yellowstone. But Old Faithful flyovers will have to wait too — along with any other plans to launch a drone from a national park.
“We all operate under the same policy,” said National Park Service spokesman Jeff Olson. “Our policy calls [drone flying] a new recreational activity, and new recreational activities are not allowed until they’re looked at, reviewed, and either approved or we decide to not allow them.”
For now, that approval has not yet come.
“I don’t have a firm timeline” of when a decision will be made, Olson said.
Following the Yosemite announcement, NPS noted that drones had also been harassing bighorn sheep in Zion National Park. Punishment for flying in the park, said the agency, could entail up to six months in prison and $5,000 in fines.
But most parks are unlikely to mete out that punishment, at least right away. “There’s discretion at several places along that whole continuum,” Olson said. “A lot of that plays into whether someone [has been] asked to stop.”
And while the rules are universal, “only a handful of parks have taken direct action” to publicize the ban, Olson said. Those parks, like Yosemite and Zion, are ones that have experienced frequent issues with drones and needed to make their policies clear.
A recent Forbes article called into question the authority of NPS to stop drones, citing the aircraft regulation it used to justify the ban. Earlier in that regulation, it defines aircraft as those that carry human passengers, which would seem to exclude drones.
But, said Olson, federal regulations also allow NPS to police such things as “visitor safety, nuisances, and disorderly conduct. Those apply no matter if you are a person walking in the park or flying unmanned aircraft.”
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"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."