• Drones not allowed at St. Augustine fort

    By: Lorena Inclán


    ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - More than 300 years of history lie within the walls of the Castillo de San Marcos. It used to serve as St. Augustine's first line of defense against pirates. Now it makes for the perfect backdrop for just about any occasion.

    Superintendent Gordie Wilson said people trying to capture the fort's beauty via drones has not only become a nuisance, it's become a safety hazard. 

    "Whenever you have one of the drones flying into the vicinity there's always a possibility that someone could lose control of it or move the wrong way and it can come down and hurt visitors or employees," said Wilson.

    According to Wilson, rangers have dealt with at least one incident a week for the past year.

    It didn't take long for Action News to find drone video of the fort on YouTube. One video was uploaded in March of this year. But as of just a few weeks ago, taking video via a drone on park property is illegal. 

    "We actually implemented restrictions within our own park regulations before the service wide ban took place," said Wilson.  After several incidents involving drones at other national parks, a ban has been implemented at national monuments nationwide.

    Wilson said another problem is people are also using drone footage for profit without first getting a commercial use permit from the park service.

    "We want to make sure that like any other park activity that it doesn't interfere with our main mission," said Wilson.

    If you're caught controlling a drone on park property, you'll be issued a citation and depending on the circumstances it could require a mandatory appearance in federal court.

    Wilson said the ban is also giving park rangers time to figure out how best to use the drones. He said the parks may also want to use the devices for in the event of a wildfire, as well as wildlife and resource management.

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