Rules For Flying In A State Forest Under The Control Of DCNR

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I stopped into the DCNR office at the Roaring Creak Branch of the Weiser Forest on Monday and asked what the rules were for flying a quad in a State Forest. The following is what the ranger sent me this morning. This does not apply to State Parks.

I have consulted with our, (Bureau of Forestry), Aviation Specialist. This is what we are advising the public regarding Unmanned Aerial Systems UAS, aka “drones.”

Know where to fly
• Individuals and organizations may fly UAS for hobby or recreational purposes in compliance with FAA regulations
• UAS must be flown below 400 feet and remain clear of surrounding obstacles.
• UAS are not permitted to fly in areas that have “Temporary Flight Restrictions” (TFR) in place. You can search the FAA website for current TFRs by clicking here(link is external).
• Never fly your UAS over or in close proximity to any fire operation (wildfire or prescribed). UAS flights over fire operations disrupt aerial firefighting operations and create hazardous situations.
• The PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry regularly flies aircraft at low altitudes to perform natural resource management. It is the UAS Operator’s responsibility to be aware of these flights and take the steps necessary to avoid them. Contact the local District Office or the FAA for scheduled flights in the area.

Protect Wildlife & the Environment
• Do not fly over congressionally designated Wilderness Areas or Primitive Areas as many people seek these places for the opportunities for solitude and quiet that they provide.
• Do not fly over or near wildlife as this can create stress that may cause significant harm, and even death. Intentional disturbance of animals during breeding, nesting, rearing of young, or other critical life history functions is not allowed unless approved as research or management.
• Follow state wildlife and fish agency regulations on the use of UAS to search for or detect wildlife and fish.
• Launch the UAS more than 100 meters (328 feet) from wildlife. Do not approach animals or birds vertically with the UAS.

Fly safely, Stay in control
• Keep your UAS within your visual line of sight at all times.
• Take lessons and learn to operate your UAS safely.
• Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations.
• Fly your UAS at least 5 miles from an airport or backcountry airstrip.
• UAS should not be flown over or in close proximity to populated and noise-sensitive areas, such as campgrounds, trail heads, and visitor centers.
• Obey all privacy laws.

Follow Federal Aviation Association (FAA) guidelines

• Ensure that you comply with all FAA regulations and guidance for flying your UAS. The FAA has authority over all airspace. Information on FAA regulations is available here(link is external).
• Do not fly any aircraft weighing more than 55 pounds (total weight, including payload and fuel source).
 
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I stopped into the DCNR office at the Roaring Creak Branch of the Weiser Forest on Monday and asked what the rules were for flying a quad in a State Forest. The following is what the ranger sent me this morning. This does not apply to State Parks..
I appreciate the information on Pennsylvania state forests. In other words, follow the FAA rules and use common sense. You mention that it does not apply to PA state parks. For state parks I found the following:

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) and Drones Use

In an effort to balance public safety, privacy concerns, view-shed and sound-shed protection, and FAA rules and regulations with the popular recreational use of drones or other types of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the Bureau of State Parks recently implemented a new management policy.

The bureau permits drone and other UAS use at six designated flying sites within the following state parks.
Beltzville State Park
Benjamin Rush State Park
Hillman State Park
Lackawanna State Park
Prompton State Park
Tuscarora State Park

Drone and UAS operators need to contact the park office of the flying site that they plan to visit to ensure compliance with all rules and regulations. Please be advised that the entire park at each of these locations is not open to UAS or drone usage. Only the designated flying site within each park is open to UAS use.

The use of drones or other UAS is restricted at all other Bureau of State park locations.
 

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