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Drone use prohibited

On the state level, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) is seeking input on drone regulations at state parks. Please use the following information to weigh in before December 29 on the Oregon State Parks page for Plans, Rules, Permits.

Drones have been shown to stress and scatter birds, interrupt feeding, disturb nesting, increase the vulnerability of eggs and nestlings, and sap energy through response attacks. Raptors, especially, will defend territories. Other states, such as Texas, Florida, and Arizona, simply ban drone use in their State Parks, as does the National Park Service, yet this option does not appear to be under consideration in Oregon. Currently, they are providing a generic map sample of where drones are allowed, but it is essential that details of every state park’s drone map be made available for public comment. This will ensure that local knowledge is integrated, so that birds and other wildlife are protected where they occur.

–It is concerning that rather than prohibiting drones in areas where wildlife concentrates for migration, breeding, nesting, or wintering, “conditional permits” will be allowed for drone use. Wild bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada have declined by almost 30% since 1970 with billions of common birds lost. The OPRD should aim to protect all birds and wildlife from harassment by drones, not just state- or federally-protected species.

–Areas containing critical habitat for state- or federally-protected species will also allow permitting. It should be assumed that areas that contain critical habitat for wildlife may also contain the species themselves, and drone use should be prohibited.

–OPRD should not allow the proposed small islands for drone use within larger prohibited and conditional zones. These smaller drone use areas will negate any protections for surrounding areas.

–At a minimum, drone take off and landings should be allowed at only a handful of parks per region, to ensure there are sufficient spaces for park users to enjoy quiet recreation, including bird and wildlife viewing.

–When considering comments, OPRD should give greater weight to input from Oregonians versus out-of-state respondents organized by the drone user groups. Oregonians recreate in state parks every day of the year and are the people who pay for these parks.

–OPRD should reassemble the stakeholder workgroup to review public feedback and adjust mapping criteria accordingly.

–For the long-term, OPRD needs to include in its drone policy a formal adaptive management plan, with adequate public participation, to allow adjustments to take-off and landing areas as new issues arise.

Express your opinion at the link. Then go listen to birdsongs and connect with nature in one of our parks. It’s good for us on so many levels.


These Fall Interns Have Accomplished Much

Lane Audubon is fortunate to participate in the University of Oregon’s Environmental Science (ENVS) Internship Programs. ENVS students may register for the internship program “class” and receive credit for working with non-profits in the area. In addition to academic credit, this satisfies the “Practical Learning Experience” requirement for majors. This program is a win-win. It introduces students to issues that non-profits address, provides a platform for their engagement, and gives them on-the-ground experience.

In turn, non-profits benefit from their engagement, perspective, and assistance. In advance of fall term, we put out a call for interns to help with some of our initiatives, especially our Lights Out and Bird Friendly City programs, and received a robust response from interested students. We were lucky to recruit Bella Lee and Jill Taylor, who have made important contributions as interns for fall term. They have helped with tech set-up during our hybrid monthly programs, helped spruce up our bird- and pollinator-friendly gardens at two area schools, assisted with social media outreach, and helped launch our Lights Out Campaign.