First Authorized use of drone (UAS) technology for research project

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Date: February 26, 2016
Contact: George E. Price, Jr., Superintendent, 508-957-0739

Superintendent George Price announced that there will be a controlled flight by an unmanned aerial system (UAS), or drone, over the Nauset Marsh/Coast Guard Beach area between February 29th and March 20th as part of a permitted research project with the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The use of drones/UAS in national park units is strictly controlled by policy since June 2014.National park units experienced a number of examples where people using drones/UAS harassed wildlife, interfered with visitor experiences in parks and interfered with aircraft attacking wildfires in western areas forcing the grounding of the craft for safety reasons.Seashore staff has direct experiences with people using drones harassing grey seals off Coast Guard Beach, Eastham.

The one NPS policy allowance for drone/UAS use is if the project supports the mission of the park unit and the NPS.The permit has to be approved by the Superintendent, the Regional Director and the Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection in Washington, D.C.

The USGS staff from the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center developed the UAS permit for this project to evaluate the feasibility, cost, and data quality for high resolution mapping of a variety of coastal landscapes (beaches, dunes, bluffs, overwash channels, back-barrier marshes) using equipment mounted on a drone/UAS).Their project is scheduled to avoid sensitive endangered or listed species, provides for safeguards and utilizes equipment that has reduced noise technology to limit impacts to humans and wildlife.

Seashore staff has been working closely with the USGS staff and we are looking forward to learning about how this new research technology can add to our knowledge and help inform management decisions related to the dynamic changes of barrier beach and salt marsh ecosystems.

Last updated: February 29, 2016

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