Drones are prohibited by Posted Order in the 500 feet of airspace over the parks of the Great Basin District for numerous reasons, including:

  • Stress on sensitive wildlife and migratory birds
  • Threat to natural and cultural features
  • Frequent unsafe wind speeds
  • High fire danger
  • Impacts on visitor's experience and invasion of privacy
  • Potential collisions with manned aircraft illegally flying below 500 feet
  • Recreational conflicts

Drone operators may be cited for any, or all, of the following violations whether the UAS is operated from inside or outside of the park:

  • CCR §4326(a): Violation of Posted Order
  • CCR § 4305(a): Disturbing Wildlife
  • CCR § 4319: Unsafe Recreational Activities
  • CCR § 4320(a): Disturbance of Peace and Quiet
  • CCR § 4306(a): Destruction of Plants
  • CCR § 4325: Off Trail Restrictions - Reserve (if drone must be retrieved from habitat)


Commercial Drones and Filming

The FAA defines commercial drone use as: filming for hire; selling aerial photography or videography; inspections/surveying for hire; or flying to further a business purpose. Operating a drone for commercial photography or filming within State Parks requires FAA special authorization and also a permit from the California Film Commission.1


State Authority Over Air Space

In sparsely populated areas, Navigable Air Space (NAS) is a least 500 feet above any person, vehicle, or structure.2 The Posted Order applies to the air space below the NAS, which does not conflict with the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (FMRA).3

In the FAA’s final regulations (14 CFR part 107) allowing use of drones weighing less than 55 pounds, they conceded that certain legal aspects concerning drone use may be addressed at the state or local level.4

In addition, state laws enacted for the protection of its citizens in fields that they have traditionally occupied (such as land use, zoning, privacy, trespass, and law enforcement operations) fall within the historic concept of a state’s power,5 and are “…not to be [preempted] unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress.” 14 CFR part 107 does not include a preemption provision; therefore courts may not invalidate state legislation.6


1 CCR 14, § 4316.

2 14 CFR § 91.119(a) and (c).

3 Ray Carver, State Drone Laws: A Legitimate Answer to State Concerns or a Violation of Federal Sovereignty, 31 Ga. St. U. L. Rev. 393 (2015).

4 Operation and Certification of Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, 81 Fed. Reg. 42,064 (June 28, 2016) (to be codified at 14 CFR pt. 107).

5 Vill. of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co., 272 U.S. 365, 395 (1926); Fla. E. Coast Ry. v. City of W. Palm Beach, 266 F.3d 1324, 1328 (11th Cir. 2001).

6 City of Burbank, 411 U.S. at 643.