Cape Cod National Seashore Authorizes First Use of Drone Technology

CoastGuardBeachEASTHAM – Starting today, there will be a controlled flight by a drone over the Nauset Marsh/Coast Guard Beach area at the Cape Cod National Seashore, as part of a permitted project with the U.S. Geological Survey.

The project runs until March 20 and permits were approved by Superintendent George Price, the Regional Director and Associate Director for Visitor and Resource Protection in Washington, D.C.

The USGS staff from the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center developed the unmanned aerial system permit for the project to evaluate the cost, feasibility and quality for high resolution mapping of a variety of coastal landscapes.

“It’s really a test to see how this technology will effectively help us out understanding our mapping for shoreline change, especially in this day of heavy erosion,” said Price.

The use of drones at the Seashore has been strictly controlled by policy that has been in place since June 2014, and Price said that hasn’t stopped people from trying.

He said that Seashore staff have experienced a number of examples where people using drones harassed wildlife and interfered with visitor experiences.

“Since the prohibition, we have had people unauthorized take their drones out and I personally saw people buzzing some of the seals down by Coast Guard Beach, so not only were they using the drone in an unauthorized way, but being that close to the seal actually is against the Marine Mammal Protection Act,” said Price.

Price said that the project will avoid sensitive endangered or listed species and will utilize equipment that has reduced noise technology to limit impacts to humans and wildlife.


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