The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages Lake Lanier, is clarifying its policy for the use of drone aircraft, allowing their use on corps property only with the corps’ permission.
Requests can be submitted locally to the corps’ Lake Lanier office in Buford, which will then send applications to the corps’ district office for approval, Chief Ranger Chris Arthur said.
The corps’ local office received a directive from the national headquarters in 2014, according to Nick Baggett, natural resources manager with the corps. The corps has made recent efforts to remind people of the policy, he said.
Baggett said examples of requests for drone use the corps has received include for sporting events and by real estate agents looking to shoot video of a home’s dock and lake area for a listing.
“Our position has been as long as you operate that drone responsibly from the private property, we will allow you to do that and not necessarily address it until it becomes a safety issue for the public or until you start harassing people with that drone,” Baggett said.
Baggett said the corps has received some complaints about drones on beaches, with some people feeling their privacy had been violated. Drones can also be distracting to boaters, Baggett said.
People who are on corps property cannot operate a drone without permission. Anyone who is standing, swimming or boating on the lake would also need to submit a request because they are on corps property, Baggett said.
Anyone found to be operating a drone on corps property without permission would be approached by a ranger and asked to stop. Depending on the situation, the operator could receive a verbal warning, a citation asking them to go to court or a fine, Baggett said.
Anyone with questions about the policy or application process can contact the corps’ local office at (770) 945-9531.
Requests should be sent in 30 days in advance and should include the applicant’s name, contact information, intended date for using the drone and a map of the location, and the license and training certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration for the person who will be controlling the drone.
Requests can be submitted by mail to the Lake Sidney Lanier Project Managers Office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at 1050 Buford Dam Road in Buford, Ga. 30515.