Urge State Parks to Protect Wildlife by Regulating Drone Use

Oregon Park and Recreation Department (OPRD) is accepting public feedback to help inform where drone take-offs and landings will be allowed within State Parks and along the ocean shore. Wildlife disturbances caused by improper drone use are a growing concern including on the Oregon coast and can lead to issues like nest failures. 

Please lend your voice and help better protect nesting birds, marine mammals, and other wildlife from drone disturbances. Over a million seabirds and shorebirds nest along Oregon’s coastline every year including the endangered Western Snowy Plover and species of concern like the Tufted Puffin and Black Oystercatcher. This opportunity will also help preserve peaceful experiences for those who want to explore Oregon’s natural places and to recreate safely.

OPRD pulled together an advisory group including Bird Alliance of Oregon, other conservation and recreational interests, drone operators, and agencies to help develop draft criteria for drone use in OPRD-managed lands. The criteria will be used to create maps depicting red (drones prohibited), yellow (conditional use of drones – e.g. only part of the year), and green (drones allowed). See sample maps hereWhile there has been progress made we still have concerns about how effective the draft criteria will be in protecting vulnerable wildlife and tranquil nature experiences.

A photo of a drone hovering over the beach at sunset.

Take Action


Submit a public comment to OPRD via the feedback form at the bottom of this webpage.

Public comment deadline is Dec. 29, 2023.

Western Snowy Plover, photo by Mick Thompson

Talking points for public feedback:

    • OPRD needs to give the public an opportunity to review and comment on proposed drone take off and landing area maps for every State Park—not just a generic sample— before finalizing criteria and maps through formal rulemaking and adoption. This will ensure that local knowledge is integrated and reduce the potential for future conflicts.
    • OPRD should require permits for all recreational drones use (not just for use in the Prohibited and Conditional areas), including a small permit fee to cover public costs.
    • To better protect the birds and wildlife that park viewers enjoy watching, OPRD should prohibit drone use in the following two areas now listed as “conditional”:
        • Areas where wildlife concentrate for migration, breeding, nesting, or wintering. Guidance in the Oregon Conservation Strategy
        • Areas that contain critical habitat for state or federally protected species that are negatively affected by drones
        • It should be assumed that areas that contain critical habitat for protected species may also contain the species themselves.
    • Even within areas closed to drones, OPRD now includes small 2-acre + “islands” that allow for take off and landing. These smaller drone use areas will negate any protections for surrounding areas. OPRD should not allow small islands for drone use within larger prohibited and conditional zones.
    • OPRD should aim to protect all birds and wildlife from harassment by drones, not just state or federal protected species
    • OPRD should reassemble the stakeholder workgroup to review public feedback and adjust mapping criteria accordingly.
    • For the long-term, OPRD needs to include in its drone policy a formal adaptive management plan, with adequate public participation, to allow adjustments to take-off and landing areas as new issues arise.
    • Other states, such as Texas, Florida, and Arizona, simply ban drone use in their State Parks, as does the National Park Service. OPRD should continue to consider this option in Oregon as there are plenty of places in the state where recreational drones are already allowed. At a minimum, allow drone take off and landings at only a handful of parks per region to ensure there are sufficient spaces for park users to enjoy quiet recreation, including bird and wildlife viewing.
    • When considering comments, OPRD should give greater weight to input from Oregonians versus out-of-state respondents organized by the drone user groups. Oregonians recreate in Parks every day of the year and are the people who pay for these parks.