No Drone Zone!

No Drone Zone!

No. You cannot fly drones in Devil’s Lake State Park. Yep, some folks have done it and simply haven’t been caught. (Of course, a quick browse around the “interwebs” would make that easy enough!)  Personally I totally get it. Drone footage is cool and who doesn’t want to be the one to snag that iconic “Devil’s Lake” drone footage!?  On the other hand, who really wants a bunch of drones buzzing around Devil’s Doorway (Not to mention the beaches!)?

It all comes down to this thing called Code 45 which you can find right here, or to make it easier just check out this UAV guidance doc from the DNR Integrated Law Enforcement Handbook.  So for now and the foreseeable future, flying a drone is off-limits.. well, off-limits to those who play by the rules anyway.  🙁

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8 comments

  1. Nick Roberts

    So I read both of these policies and I don’t see any thing that prohibits use of the drone.
    In Code 45 it actually says 1. Aircraft can’t be launched or land it the water (no problem) 2. You can fly on weekends in March, April, May and September.

    In the UAV guidance document it states that NR 45 does not regulate the use of drones in the state parks and that flying is permitted where there is posted signage for other flying related activities ” including but not limited to, hang gliding, parasailing, hot air ballooning, land sailing, flying model airplanes or sky diving” but also that you can’t hunt, fish or trap with a drone.

    TL;DR You can fly drones in the state parks but only in permitted areas and there are limitations. It’s best for the hobbyist to read/review the regulations prior to flying and if there is confusion they should contact the parks department.

  2. Bill

    The restriction has been around for a long time – (c) Flying related activities, including but not limited to, hang
    gliding, parasailing, hot air ballooning, land sailing, flying model
    airplanes or sky diving on state parks, state recreation areas, state
    natural areas, Kettle Moraine and Point Beach state forests and
    Lower Wisconsin state riverway shall be restricted to areas posted
    for their use – —– which really means no landing or taking off within or on State Park land. You can fly over a State park at altitude which is 1000 ft AGL or more. Thus you cant do that with a drone. So it says you can’t land or take off but you could do an overpass at altitude which exceeds drone regulations. So NO drones at State Parks. This rule has existed for more than 10 years.

  3. Jon Elliott

    Legally the state of WI cannot tell a drone where it can and cannot fly. All of the national airspace is controlled solely by the FAA. But the state can tell you that you cannot takeoff, land, or operate a drone while in State Parks. But if you takeoff , land and operate from outside the state park you can fly over it assuming your not breaking any FAA regulations.

  4. PJ Kirkpatrick

    I’m not a Lawyer and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn, however, Dr. Sarah Nilsson, Esq is and provides an excellent document that highlights Federal Preemption. Here is a link for your reference. https://prezi.com/00svuhdtcz7e/federal-preemption/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

    To Jon’s point, if you take off and land outside the state park and have VLOS it would appear that you would not be breaking the law.

    I was not able to find any language about flying over a State park at altitude which is 1000 ft AGL or more . If anyone has a link to that document, I would be interested in reading it.

    According to one Aircraft Safety and Registration Program Manager, “There are no statewide regulations, except operations over correctional institutions which is prohibited.

    s. NR 45.04(1)(c), Wis. Adm. Code.
    (c) Flying related activities, including but not limited to, hang gliding, parasailing, hot air ballooning, land sailing, flying model airplanes or sky diving on state parks, state recreation areas, state natural areas, Kettle Moraine and Point Beach state forests and Lower Wisconsin state riverway shall be restricted to areas posted for their use.

    With that said, I do agree with the concerns about hobbyists flying in state parks since many are not aware of the FAA regulations. However, I hope that someday Wisconsin State Parks recognize the benefits commercial drone operations can have for State Parks. For example, equipped with the right camera and post processing software, a drone can provide 3D modeling and also data to assess plant and tree health very quickly and accurately. Farmers are currently using this technology for their benefit.

    Perhaps a permit and/or supervision of a mission for Commercial Pilots can be obtained or also provide certified remote pilots approval to fly during certain days or times of the day could be proposed.

    The Wisconsin Legislature has introduced a bill placing additional restrictions on drone use in Wisconsin. Senate Bill 498 was introduced on Jan. 5, 2016 and referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

    The bill prohibits the operation of drones over a state correctional institution including any grounds of the institution, subject to a forfeit of up to $5000 and seizure of any visual imagery or data acquired by the drone.

    The bill also allows a political subdivison (a city, village, town, or county) to enact an ordinance designating areas in which the operation of a drone is prohibited. Such an ordinance may not apply to drones operated by the state, a state agency, or a public safety agency, or if the operation of the drone is conducted with the permission of the property owner.

    After speaking with State Park Rangers from Lapham Peak, the only park that currently allows drones to fly, take off and land within the state park is Bong Recreational Area.

    As a Certified Remote Pilot, I want to be clear that I follow all FAA regulations and ensure that my missions are safe. I’m not advocating that someone take off and land outside of State Parks and fly over them because I believe there is some inherent risk with losing VLOS and flying over people. I would, however, like to obtain some clarification so that as an advocate we can continue to educate the UAV community.

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