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Rules for Drones in Oregon Coast State Parks Examined on Jan. 24

Published 01/12/22 at 5:32 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Rules for Drones in Oregon Coast State Parks Examined on Jan. 24

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(Oregon Coast) – Public input will be sought at some point on rules for drones on Oregon coast state park properties, but first comes a special virtual meeting on January 24. Under examination will be a review and discussion of proposed changes in Oregon Administrative Rules regarding drone take-off and landing within a state park and along the Oregon coast in general, and whether or not this will be banned in some areas. (Above: Gold Beach by drone. Courtesy Manuela Durson - see Manuela Durson Fine Arts for more)

The meeting starts at 10:30 a.m. and will be live streamed on YouTube for the public at this link. The meeting agenda does not include time for public comment. However, public input will be taken later on, and details on that will be posted on the Proposed OPRD Rules web page after the committee reviews the meeting.

Currently, there are no specific rules about flying drones in state parks or on the Oregon coast in general, with a few exceptions in some sensitive areas such as around Cannon Beach's Haystack Rock and Newport's Yaquina Head.

Katie Gauthier, Relations and Policy Manager with Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD), said the department has utilized some rules to manage taking off and landing of drones in some areas, although not actual flight over an area.

“In areas drone operations have been restricted for a time period when a conflict with natural or cultural resources would occur,” Gauthier told Oregon Coast Beach Connection. “For example, when nesting birds are hatching we may limit take-off and landing in certain areas, and flying things like drones, kites, and gliders are prohibited in the few designated ocean shore areas occupied by the western snowy plover.”

Right now, the bulk of any guidance is common sense: don't fly near people, near traffic, historic structures or block scenery. Be respectful of wildlife and humans, and if a park ranger asks you to stop or move elsewhere, cooperate.

OPRD said to look into your state park destination to check for any restrictions.

“The proposed rulemaking will establish the first rules that specifically apply to take off and landing of drones. State law required that the agency obtain legislative permission before engaging in rulemaking regarding drones,” Gauthier said. “SB 109 passed in the 2021 legislature provided that approval.”

She said federal FAA regulations may prevent OPRD from adopting rules for drones that are in flight.

“Our rules will only apply to the take-off and landing of drones on state park property or the ocean shore,” Guathier said.

At one point, the committee will want to hear from any stakeholders, such as drone pilots, local governments, businesses and others who might be affected.

Individuals who require special accommodations to view the meetings should contact Katie Gauthier at least three days in advance of the meeting at 503-510-9678 or katie.gauthier@oregon.gov.

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