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Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)

An Aerial Unmanned System or Drone on a dirt road at night with trees burning in the background.

The USDA Forest Service applies Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technologies to further its ability to support the agency’s mission of sustaining the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.  Forest Service use of UAS supports numerous natural resource management and related agency activities, including wildfire suppression, forest health protection, recreation and infrastructure management, research and development, and law enforcement.

Other agencies, researchers, businesses and the public are interested in flying UAS on the 193 million acres of National Forest Systems (NFS) lands. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes policy for navigable airspace of the United States. These policies and additional Forest Service policies and guidance are in place to facilitate UAS operations on NFS lands for both recreational and commercial purposes.

The Forest Service UAS Program, located within the agency’s Fire and Aviation Management staff area, continues to work to further integrate UAS in into the agency's mission.