Not long after the National Park Service (NPS) banned unmanned aerial systems (UAS) from lands and waters administered by the agency, someone has crashed – and hasn't recovered – a UAS deep in the hot springs of Yellowstone National Park.
As of press time, it is not known who the operator was or what kind of unmanned vehicle he or she was flying when it went into the Grand Prismatic Spring at the Midway Geyser Basin, according to a report from the Jackson Hole News & Guide.
The massive spring, which reaches a temperature of 160 degrees, is also 160 feet deep – meaning the aircraft could have drifted a long ways down.
Yellowstone spokesperson Al Nash told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the “concern is about any potential impacts to the iconic Yellowstone thermal feature” and that the incident is “an entirely new challenge for [them].”
Back when the NPS prohibited UAS in parks, Director Jonathan B. Jarvis gave the following statement:
“We embrace many activities in national parks because they enhance visitor experiences with the iconic natural, historic and cultural landscapes in our care. However, we have serious concerns about the negative impact that flying unmanned aircraft is having in parks, so we are prohibiting their use until we can determine the most appropriate policy that will protect park resources and provide all visitors with a rich experience.”
The policy memorandum directed park superintendents to take a number of steps to exclude UAS from parks: drafting a written justification for the action, ensuring compliance with applicable laws and providing public notice of the action.
Read the full Jackson Hole News & Guide report here.