Drone Operations

August 22, 2017

Wayne Biessel,
Park Superintendent
Mat-Su/Copper Basin Area
Alaska State Parks
7278 E Bogard Rd
Wasilla, AK  99654

Ref: Drone operation

Dear Superintendent Wayne Biessel,

The Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition (AQRC) understands that regulations are being proposed to control the use of drones in Denali State Park. We are pleased to hear that you are working on language for regulations to manage drone use over these public lands. Alaska’s State Park system offers  fabulous recreational opportunities, and as you know better than most, it is necessary to manage visitor activities to protect park values, people’s expectations of the park, and the park’s wildlife. For the reasons described below AQRC believes that the use of drones in Denali State Park should  be prohibited. Drones are becoming ever more available, affordable and popular for both commercial and recreational uses. Being near a person operating a drone is very annoying to many people. Any regulations to control drone use rather than ban their use will be next to impossible to enforce. Therefore the State should be very conservative and cautious about opening up State parks, refuges, sanctuaries and critical habitat areas to drone use.   Other government agencies that manage public lands (including Chugach State Park) have concluded  that operating drones is not a desirable activity and have banned their recreational use. Drone use is objectionable to other Denali State Park users because of:

* Noise disturbance that degrades the natural soundscape

* Privacy issues

* Causes conflicts between park users

* Degrades quality of backcountry experience

* Disturbance and harassment of wildlife

* Unethical for searching for game while hunting (even though ADFG prohibits drone use for spotting game it is difficult to enforce.)

*  Already drones have been used to pull skiers and snow boarders across the snow turning drone technology from an aerial platform into a vehicle

*  Drone technology is advancing very rapidly and it is impossible to anticipate just how they will be able to be used in the future and how their use will affect other park visitors and wildlife

Designated  State lands such as State parks, refuges, sanctuaries and critical habitat areas have been established because they are special places.  Many people visiting these areas expect a unique experience in Alaska. AQRC believes that drone use will have a detrimental affect on  many park visitors and wildlife.There are many square miles of other beautiful Alaska state lands that do not have such special designations where activities are far less managed to non existent. There is plenty of room for people to fly their drones over these lands with common sense, sensitivity to other people and wildlife and safety concerns of aircraft, etc.  It is on these DNR lands that the proposed regulations for drone operations  you have recommended for Denali State Park should be initiated.  Denali State Park itself along with other State parks, refuges, sanctuaries and critical habitat areas  should be closed to the operation of drones.


Brian Okonek
Alaska Quite Rights Coalition, President
P.O. Box 202592
Anchorage, AK 99520