National Parks System UAV ban

Derek Mead filed this request with the National Park Service of the United States of America.
Tracking # NPS-2015-00174
Est. Completion None
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Derek Mead

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Any and all meeting agendas, memoranda, or internal emails relating to the establishment of an unmanned aircraft ban in the National Park System.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

In the event that fees cannot be waived, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Derek Mead

From: Charis Wilson

United States Department of the Interior

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

12795 W. Alameda Parkway

P.O. Box 25287

Denver, Colorado 80225-0287

November 25, 2014

A7221 (2550)

Derek Mead

MuckRock News

Dept MR 14334

PO Box 55819

Boston, MA 02205-5819

Dear Mr. Mead:

Reference: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Drones)

Subject: Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request NPS-2015-00174

This letter is in response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests dated November 24, 2014, in which you requested 1.) e-mails or other correspondence relating to the April 2012 confiscation of an SD card from an unmanned aerial vehicle at Grand Canyon National Park; 2.) Any and all agenda, memoranda, or internal e-mails relating to the establishment of an unmanned aircraft ban in the National Park system; and 3.) Any and all internal correspondence relating to the Yellowstone Grand Prismatic Spring aircraft crash, including a copy of the incident report.

Although you originally submitted three separate requests for this information we are aggregating these requests under a single tracking number NPS-2015-00174 in accordance with 43 CFR 2.54. We are doing so because the information you have requested in all three requests relates to the single subject of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. All future correspondence relating to any of the three requests you submitted should reference this tracking number.

In your request(s) you indicated that you were requesting a statutory fee waiver. In your request you had asked for a statutory fee waiver. In accordance with 43 CFR 2.45(a)(1) the National Park Service will grant a fee waiver when disclosing the information is:

1. In the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of government operations or activities, and

2. Not primarily in your commercial interest.

In determining whether your request is in the public interest, the National Park Service considered the following criteria:

(1) How the records concern the operations or activities of the Federal government;

(2) How disclosure is likely to contribute to public understanding of those operations or activities;

(3) How disclosure is likely to significantly contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons interested in the subject, as opposed to your individual understanding;

(4) How the public's understanding of the subject in question will be enhanced to a significant extent by the disclosure.

The records you have requested relate to the management of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones within by National Park Service lands. Accordingly your request meets the first public interest criterion.

In your request you failed to provide any information documenting that you have the skills or abilities to analyze or disseminate the requested information in such a manner as to be informative to a reasonably broad audience. You indicated that you are a member of the media, however, you failed to provide any documentation showing that you are an individual whose primary job involves gathering information relating to a current events or that would be of current interest to a segment of the public and using their editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributing that distinct work to an audience. Because anyone can purchase an account on the MuckRock site, we have no way to verify that you are a representative of the news media. Additionally, you indicated that you planned to make the information available to the public on the MuckRock.com website. You have not provided any information suggesting that MuckRock.com is a place that a broad section of the general public is likely to go for information on the subject of your request. We are therefore unable to determine how the release of this information to you would be likely to contribute to the public’s understanding of the operations or activities of the National Park Service rather than your personal understanding. Accordingly, your request fails to meet the second criterion.

Your request for a fee waiver request also failed to address whether and to what degree the information you are requesting has been previously released. In addition to the information relating to the ban that has been posted on a variety of NPS.gov sites, including http://www.nps.gov/fire/aviation/safety/unmanned-aerial-systems.cfm, there have also been articles published by Forbes (May 3, 2014), Wall Street Journal (June 20, 2014), and on Dronelife.com relating to the issue of drones within the National Park System. It is therefore unclear how releasing the information you have requested would significantly contribute to the understanding of a reasonably broad audience of persons, as opposed to your own understanding. Accordingly your request fails to meet the third criterion. For similar reasons, it also fails to meet the fourth criterion.

Lastly, we have no information relevant to whether releasing the information would be primarily in your commercial interest.

In order to grant a fee waiver, the applicant’s request must meet all of the requirements listed above. Because your request fails to meet the second, third or fourth criteria your request for a fee waiver is denied.

Pursuant to regulation, 43 CFR 2.47 the following person is responsible for this decision:

Charis Wilson

NPS FOIA Officer

Additionally the following attorney was consulted during the preparation of this response:

Jason Waanders, Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Solicitor

U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C.

You have the right to appeal this fee waiver determination, if your request has been denied. You may file an appeal by writing to:

Freedom of Information Act Appeals Officer

Office of the Solicitor

U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW

MS-6556-MIB,

Washington, D.C. 20240

foia.appeals@sol.doi.gov

Your appeal must be received no later than 30 workdays after the date of this response. The appeal should be marked, both on the envelope and the face of the appeal letter, with the legend "FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPEAL." Your appeal should be accompanied by a copy of your original request and copies of all correspondence between yourself and the National Park Service related to this request, along with any information you have which leads you to believe our decision is in error. Please note appeals received after 5 p.m. EST will be considered to have been received as of the following day.

Also as part of the 2007 OPEN Government Act FOIA amendments, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) was created to offer mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and Federal agencies as a nonexclusive alternative to litigation. Using OGIS services does not affect your right to pursue litigation.

You may contact OGIS in any of the following ways:

Office of Government Information Services (OGIS)

National Archives and Records Administration

Room 2510

8601 Adelphi Road

College Park, MD 20740-6001

E-mail: ogis@nara.gov

Phone: 301-837-1996

Fax: 301-837-0348

Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448

Because your fee waiver request has been denied and we are unable to verify that you qualify as a member of the news media, we have classified you as OTHER for the purposes of calculating fees. This means you are entitled to two free hours of search time and up to 100 free pages. However, it appears based on our preliminary review of your request that the costs to process your request will exceed that amount. We will therefore be preparing a fee estimate for your review and until the issue of fees is resolved we will be unable to begin processing your request or provide you with an estimated response date. We hope to have our estimate to you by December 10, 2014.

In the meantime feel free to contact me with any questions you may have regarding this request. I can be reached at the address above or by phone at 303-969-2959. I can also be reached via e-mail at charis_wilson@nps.gov.

Sincerely,

C.​

____________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM

NPS FOIA Officer

12795 W. Alameda Parkway

PO Box 25287

Denver, CO 80225-0287

303-969-2959

Fax: 303-969-2557

1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

Charis Wilson

NPS FOIA Officer

From: Charis Wilson

Mr. Mead,

Please note this request has been consolidated along with your request filed using e-mail address requests@muckrock.com and requests@muckrock.com under a single tracking number NPS-2015-00174. All correspondence relating to the consolidated request will be transmitted to you via the requests@muckrock.com. No further response to this individual request will be issued.

Sincerely,

C.

_________________________

Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM

NPS FOIA Officer

12795 W. Alameda Parkway

PO Box 25287

Denver, CO 80225-0287

303-969-2959

Fax: 303-969-2557

1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: MuckRock

Hello Ms. Wilson,

Thank you for your message. To confirm, I would like to restate the contents of your last communication. Three FOIA requests were submitted to you. Specifically, these requests identified the following:

* Any and all emails or other correspondence sent between Bill_Wright@nps.gov, ken_phillips@nps.gov, and Patrick.Schneider@usdoj.gov relating to the April, 2012 confiscation of an SD memory card that was being used to film from an unmanned aerial vehicle in Grand Canyon National Park. Any and all emails containing the words "Raphael Pirker" sent between those addresses. Any and all emails containing the word "drone," "UAV," or "unmanned aircraft" sent between those addresses.

* Any and all meeting agendas, memoranda, or internal emails relating to the establishment of an unmanned aircraft ban in the National Park System.

* Any and all internal correspondence relating to the Yellowstone Grand Prismatic Spring unmanned aircraft crash. I am also requesting the incident report.

These requests have been consolidated into one request, the appropriate email address for which is requests@muckrock.com. The other two request-specific email addresses will no longer be used.

At this point, could you please provided an estimated date of completion for this consolidated request?

Thank you very much for your help.

From: Wilson, Charis

Mr. Mead,

Yes you are correct. We have consolidated all three requests under this
single tracking number. As I noted in my earlier message because your fee
waiver request has been denied and we are unable to verify that you qualify
as a member of the news media, we have classified you as OTHER for the
purposes of calculating fees. This means you are entitled to two free
hours of search time and up to 100 free pages.

However, it appears based on our preliminary review of your request that
the costs to process your request will exceed that amount. We will
therefore be preparing a fee estimate for your review and approval. Until
the issue of fees is resolved we will be unable to begin processing your
request or provide you with an estimated response date. We hope to have
our estimate to you by December 10, 2014.

Sincerely,

C.

____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: Derek Mead

Hello,

Please consider this an appeal of my fee waiver application. These documents will be handled by myself, editor-in-chief of Motherboard (www.motherboard.vice.com), a daily science and technology news website that has more than 5 million monthly unique users and Jason Koebler, a reporter here who has spent the last three years closely covering unmanned aerial vehicles for us (www.motherboard.vice.com/tag/drones) and for other outlets such as US News & World Report (http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/08/23/docs-law-enforcement-agencies-plan-to-use-domestic-drones-for-surveillance) and Politico (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/01/drones-faa-lawsuit-coming-to-american-skies-102754.html). These documents will be made available both on Muckrock and on our own website, which, as noted, has more than 5 million unique visitors per month.

Motherboard is widely recognized as one of the internet's best web sites for unmanned aerial vehicle news and has covered the regulation of these so-called "drones" quite closely, having broken news about them and explained the implications of regulation regularly for our readers. Here are three examples of stories we have broken that have garnered widespread coverage and readership. (http://motherboard.vice.com/read/commercial-drones-are-completely-legal-a-federal-judge-ruled; http://motherboard.vice.com/read/feds-confiscated-a-hobbyists-drone-footage-to-keep-it-off-the-internet; http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/the-little-known-fued-thats-shaping-the-future-of-delivery-drones)

As such, all three of these requests are primarily in the public interest and not primarily of a commercial concern for us.

Beyond that, I am not requesting information that has been previously released to the public. Instead, I have three distinct requests (which you have combined here but which I argue are distinct and discrete events, cases, and requests). Nevertheless, I will explain all three separately here:

1) I am requesting internal emails which have not been released to the public relating to the seizure of Raphael Pirker's SD card in April 2012. I know these emails exist because I have seen Pirker's exchanges with NPS officials. Intragency and interagency emails relating to this case have not, however, been released. These documents will help the public understand how the decision was made to seize the SD card and will also help them understand how and when drone footage can be seized by the police.

2) I have also requested "any and all internal correspondence relating to the Yellowstone Grand Prismatic Spring unmanned aircraft crash" and the incident report. As far as I know, none of this information has been released publicly. If it has, I would like to be pointed to it. The release of this information will help the public understand not only what happened in the aftermath of the crash but also will provide a specific explanation of what, exactly, happened.

3) Finally, I am requesting "any and all meeting agendas, memoranda, or internal emails relating to the establishment of an unmanned aircraft ban in the National Park System." These documents will help the public understand why the NPS deemed it necessary to ban the flight of unmanned aircraft in the National Park System. Though several public statements have been made about the ban, there has been very little reported or released by the NPS about the specific events, internal meetings and communications, and lead up to the ban.

For these reasons, I ask that my fee waiver be granted. Please let me know if you have any other questions or need more information.

Best,
Derek

From: Wilson, Charis

Mr. Mead,

Based on the additional information you have provided, we have determined
that you do qualify for a fee waiver. Your request for a fee waiver has
been granted. However, because all of your requests for records relate to
the same subject, e.g. drones in the National Park Service, we are
continuing to treat your requests as aggregated under the tracking number
NPS-2015-00174.

We have determined that based on the estimated volume of material that will
be responsive to your request, especially the portion seeking records
relating to the establishment of an unmanned aircraft ban in the National
Park System, your request has been placed into our exceptional and
volumnious (E&V) processing queue.

In accordance with DOI FOIA regulations (43 CFR Part 2 Subpart D
<http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=3cf2d9487b3873a721f90f5f7513c333&r=PART&n=43y1.1.1.1.2#sp43.1.2.d>)
we process requests in a first-in-first-out basis within each processing
queue. Currently there are six requests ahead of yours in the E&V
processing queue and more than 30 in the expedited, simple, normal, and
complex processing queues, which are processed before E&V requests.

Once we begin processing your request we will release materials on an
interim or rolling release basis. In the meantime, there is some drone
related information on the following sites:

http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/foia/foia-frd.htm
http://www.nps.gov/fire/aviation/safety/unmanned-aerial-systems.cfm

Additionally numerous park and program offices have posted information
<https://www.google.com/search?q=drones+site%3Anps.gov&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&channel=fflb#rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=fflb&q=drones+site:nps.gov>
about drones on the NPS.gov website.

In the meantime, please feel free to contact me with any questions
regarding your request.

Sincerely,

C.

____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: Derek Mead

Thanks for your help!

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 24, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #NPS-2015-00174.

Thank you for your help.

From: Wilson, Charis

Mr. Mead,

As I advised previously your request is in the Exceptional and Voluminous
processing queue. Currently, there are 2 expedited, 1 simple, 31 normal, 19
complex, and 14 E&V requests ahead of yours in my processing queue. While
the National Park Service fully intends to respond to your request, I am
unable at this time to provide you with an estimated date for when we will
be able to provide you with copies of the responsive records due to the
volume of requests ahead of yours.

I apologize for the delay in getting this information to you. Please note,
because we were not able to process your request within the required twenty
workday period you have the right to appeal. You may file an appeal by
writing to:

Freedom of Information Act Appeals Officer
Office of the Solicitor
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
MS-6556-MIB,
Washington, D.C. 20240
foia.appeals@sol.doi.gov

Your failure to timely respond appeal may be filed anytime between now and
the date we issue our final response. The appeal should be marked, both on
the envelope and the face of the appeal letter, with the legend "FREEDOM OF
INFORMATION APPEAL." Your appeal should be accompanied by a copy of your
original request and copies of all correspondence between yourself and the
National Park Service related to this request, along with any information
you have which leads you to believe our response to be in error. Note, any
appeal received after 5 p.m. EST will be considered to have been received
on the next business day.

Sincerely,

C.
____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 24, 2014. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #NPS-2015-00174.

Thank you for your help.

From: Wilson, Charis

Mr. Mead,

As noted previously your request has been placed in our Exceptional and
Voluminous processing queue. There is currently one Expedited request,
thirteen normal requests, sixteen complex, and 13 exceptional requests
ahead of yours in my processing queue.

Since the exceptional requests ahead of yours are very large, for example
one of the exceptional requests ahead of yours will require reviewing
almost 40,000 potentially responsive e-mails, while another will require
reviewing approximately 15,000 potentially responsive e-mails, I am unable
to provide you with any estimate as to how long it will take me to complete
the processing on your request. However, I am hoping to be able to do
interim responses or rolling releases for the material for the Yellowstone
and Grand Canyon portions of your request within the next month or so.

Again, please note, because we were not able to process your request within
the required twenty workday period you have the right to appeal. You may
file an appeal by writing to:

Freedom of Information Act Appeals Officer
Office of the Solicitor
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW
MS-6556-MIB,
Washington, D.C. 20240
foia.appeals@sol.doi.gov

Your failure to timely respond appeal may be filed anytime between now and
the date we issue our final response. The appeal should be marked, both on
the envelope and the face of the appeal letter, with the legend "FREEDOM OF
INFORMATION APPEAL." Your appeal should be accompanied by a copy of your
original request and copies of all correspondence between yourself and the
National Park Service related to this request, along with any information
you have which leads you to believe our response to be in error. Note, any
appeal received after 5 p.m. EST will be considered to have been received
on the next business day.

Sincerely,

C.
____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

From: Wilson, Charis

Mr. Mead,

This is an interim response to the portion of your request seeking copies
of:

Any e-mails in the possession of Bill Wright between Ken Phillips and
Patrick Schneider relating to the April, 2012 confiscation of an SD memory
card that was being used to film from an unmanned aerial vehicle in Grand
Canyon National Park. Any and all emails containing the words "Raphael
Pirker" sent between those addresses. Any and all emails containing the
word "drone," "UAV," or "unmanned aircraft" sent between those addresses.

Mr. Wright has notified me that after searching his files he found no
records responsive to your request.

Sincerely,

C.
____________________
Ms. Charis Wilson, MLS, CRM
NPS FOIA Officer
12795 W. Alameda Parkway
PO Box 25287
Denver, CO 80225-0287
303-969-2959
Fax: 303-969-2557
1-855-NPS-FOIA

"What we find changes who we become." - Peter Morville

"The historian works with records...there is no substitute for records: no
records, no history." - Paraphrasing Langlois & Seignobos (1903)

"Let us be guardians, not gardeners" - Unknown, From 1963 Living Wilderness
editorial - Attributed to Adolph Murie

Files

There are no files associated with this request.