Use of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), also referred to as drones, has increased in popularity over the past decade for professional and recreational purposes. Public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the National Park Service (NPS) offer opportunities for the use of drones as unique monitoring tools as well as videography to enhance visitor experiences or connect with remote populations. However, there are many concerns regarding privacy and impacts to resources. While drone technology has advanced rapidly, there are inconsistent policies regarding public use of drones and a need for further research on the professional and recreational use of drones on USFS and NPS lands. Disjointed policies from the local to national scale create challenges for maximizing opportunities and mitigating concerns associated with drones. We propose a research agenda to integrate the social, ecological, and managerial aspects of professional and recreational use of drones on USFS and NPS lands to stimulate discussion that is timely and relevant and can inform multi-scalar and multidisciplinary research and effective policies.
- Public land