The National Park Service issued a stern message on Friday to the would-be Ansel Adamses of today: Drones are illegal in national parks, so keep them out of Yosemite's air space.
According to the NPS, drones are being used to film just about everything in the park, from capturing scenic aerial footage to documenting the progress of climbers. It's not just detrimental to the park experience, it's potentially dangerous for visitors and wildlife:
Drones can be extremely noisy, and can impact the natural soundscape. Drones can also impact the wilderness experience for other visitors creating an environment that is not conducive to wilderness travel. The use of drones also interferes with emergency rescue operations and can cause confusion and distraction for rescue personnel and other parties involved in the rescue operation. Additionally, drones can have negative impacts on wildlife nearby the area of use, especially sensitive nesting peregrine falcons on cliff walls.
Yosemite then posted the link to their Facebook page, where some commenters are questioning the language cited in the NPS code which specifically prohibits aircraft that are "delivering or retrieving a person or object." Since drones don't actually transport people or objects, commenters are insisting they're not illegal. Perhaps. But they're still annoying.
An AP story says that drones are actually a "daily sight" within the park's boundaries, which is easy to believe when all one must do is search "Yosemite + drone" on YouTube to see the hundreds of videos like this one or this one or this one.
No mention of a fine or any other enhanced repercussions, so drone operators are likely to just get off with a warning. Then again, given the size of the park, this would probably be a particularly tough thing to police in any way. [National Park Service via Los Angeles Times]
Photo via Yosemite National Park's Facebook page