Drones, UAS (Shutterstock)

CASPER, Wyo — Current draft revisions to the Natrona County Parks Rules and Regulations would require that those operating Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or “drones” in the county to obtain a remote Pilot Certificate with the FAA, as well as obtain a permit from the county and operate only in designated areas.

The latest draft of the changes was approved by the Special Parks Advisory Board meeting April 16 to send to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), pending some grammatical notes. Natrona County Attorney Eric Nelson said said he expects the new rules to go before the BOCC at their regular meeting on August 4. He said formal public notice and notice to the BOCC of the new rules is forthcoming, at which time a 45-day public comment period will commence. 

The Advisory Board for Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services is holding its regular meeting Thursday, July 9 at 5:30 the Natrona County Courthouse. Roads and Bridges Director Mike Haigler became acting Parks Director on June 17.

UAS, or drones were not addressed by name in the rules last adopted in 2012, which stated only that the use of sailplanes, gliders, balloons and body kites were prohibited without a Board permit.

The new rules say a UAS operator “with a valid Pilot Certificate from the FAA must acquire an authorization permit from Natrona County Parks prior to use of Certificate within Natrona County Park regulated areas.” Also: “Recreational drone use is allowed in designated areas only.”

Tim Patrea, then-director of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Services, said at an April 16 Special Meeting of the Parks advisory board that it would be easier for the board to define those “designated areas” than to codify them in the new rules.

The new Rules use the FAA regulation definition of UAS to define drones, rather than language that defines them as Model Aircraft which no license is required to operate.

Citizens voiced their concerns about restricted drone use at a town hall in January.

Other changes to the new Parks rules include:

  • A clarification of rules banning bicycles on the Bridle Trail
  • Camping permit must be purchased “prior to establishing a campsite
  • permand keeps Rotary Park open hours in Rotary Park.
  • Between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am, music or audio equipment that can be heard outside the campsite are prohibited.
  • A ban on foot traffic other than snowshoeing on winter multi-use trails in winter months.
  • A ban on blades over 6 inches in length is as also being dropped in the latest draft.
  • Rotary Park will be open year-round from 5:00 am – 10:00 pm. Parks officials may close the gate in winter due to adverse conditions, but that walk-in day-use was still permitted under these circumstances