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Boulder County, Longmont, Mid-northern front range. Right to fly.


Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
Longmont, CO
Boulder County had at one point done a press release that appeared to ban UAS use on and above all public land, but now looking at it further, they only mention land now, so I'm unsure if it was always that way, or if it has been revised since the FAA did their release stating that local governments had no authority over federal airspace, only the land (therefore take off, landing, and operation sites.)

Where are we allowed to take off and land from then, private property only I would assume. I'm fine primarily using my UAS around my neighborhood to practice film and photo and then also from the AMA field near Union Reservoir. I plan to primarily use it on BLM, USFS, and other non-wilderness public lands that allow me to do so.

The other option is to just get permission from people I know, which won't be hard either.

So, neighbors, what else do you know about operating UAS in and around this area?

I'm not trying to 'get away' with anything, just develop a better understanding so that I can use my equipment in a manner that I'm legally allowed.

Links for those that are interested:
Unmanned Aircraft Systems Policy

Local News Piece about a film that seems to confirm my suspicions:
'Spectacular' aerial footage of Boulder raises questions about drone regulations
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Your neighborhood may not welcome your aerial practice sessions. I have been asked to refrain flying in my Fort Collins (CO) neighborhood over "privacy concerns"; I can scarcely imagine the difficulties I'd have trying to fly in Almost Anywhere, NJ!

I'm glad the video in your second link went viral. When people see that, they'll wonder if the alleged violations should have been violations in the first place. I hope they think, "Making something like that shouldn't be illegal; regulated to prevent abuse, sure, but not outlawed!"

Like you, I mostly fly over "open range" (BLM, USFS), though I do cross over "closed range" at times, on the theory that the FAA has exclusive jurisdiction in all airborne matters. I'll not launch or land where it's not allowed; and in the neighborhood & elsewhere, I give to those who have expressed a concern a wide margin.

I actually do have an issue with the Boulder County policy, which states, "UAS will only be permitted for activities that contribute to the understanding or management of BCPOS properties or resources" and goes on to clarify that flights will be allowed for science/management only; requests for any other UAS use (art, education, personal research, etc.) will be summarily rejected.

These are public lands, but a significant minority of citizens are a priori excluded from their preferred use. I wouldn't mind if I had to drop by the county office and buy a time-limited use permit with whatever stipulations make sense. Fly with the permit, or face a stiff fine; cool. Birders (another minority) don't have to, but I get the difference and I'd be fine with it. But a blanket denial seems like a kneejerk for a complex--but manageable!--public issue.

FATGIWD (for all the good it will do): Please don't frame the issue as red-vs-blue. I'm extremely socialist; you're extremely not. But I think we can agree that knee-jerk policies (whether overly oppressive or overly permissive) don't carry the freight.
FATGIWD (for all the good it will do): Please don't frame the issue as red-vs-blue. I'm extremely socialist; you're extremely not. But I think we can agree that knee-jerk policies (whether overly oppressive or overly permissive) don't carry the freight.

Beg your pardon? In what manner did I get political at all?

Thank you for your reply, I actually very much appreciate the insight into your experience. I am actually interested in the dynamic of people wanting to maintain their privacy, it seems logical then to find a way to make public lands more useable. I've seen several interesting discussions about this, which is good to see.

I have quite a bit of experience with hobbies that are generally discouraged, I was a rather avid tree climber for a number of years, and that is very much frowned upon in many places, and I get that. IT was more about finding what the law actually allowed for, and if someone had questions or concerns, be very polite, even if it meant ultimately not climbing there. So if someone were to ask, I'd happily show them what I am doing, and I would happily delete anything, and stay away from them in the future if they were genuinely bothered.

People do a lot of things that I don't like, that does not mean they are not allowed to do them, and I find that a friendly conversation is more useful than a battle. You cannot win everyone over, but it does not hurt to try.
Well, I'm off the the L.E.A.F. (Longmont Electric Aircraft Flyers) field by Union Reservoir to introduce myself and fly if they'll allow it. They have a Membership fee and all that, and I'll probably join, but first step is meeting some people.
Beg your pardon? In what manner did I get political at all?
You didn’t! I appreciate that, and was only trying to warn off the snarky comments that seem inevitable whenever Boulder is mentioned. I agree with your stance, and think outreach is a better tool than outrage.
So I went on down to L.E.A.F. which is in Weld county, I haven't been able to locate their local laws regarding RC aircraft and drones just yet.

It's a nice little spot, and a decent group of guys, so I went ahead and joined up with them, so I'll have access to a nice little parcel that I can practice on without bothering anyone at all, and it's on my way home.
Regarding my knowledge of Boulder County's regulations, frankly, I'm even more confused now. What I do know now is that the regulations I know are for The county's opens space, and the meat and potatoes of that is that you cannot take off and lad, and as Prismatic summaries, don't bother asking for an exemption, as most of us wouldn't qualify, although, I may find it worthwhile to do, just to meet those people and expect to get rejected, but perhaps, make a good impression for the future.

Now, I find this map very helpful, as it tells me that some of the places I go are USFS land, whereas I was not totally sure who owned the land until now. If the link goes dead, just search for Boulder county open space map, hopefully you get something as granular.

Also from this map I learn that most of the land in Longmont is not under the purview of Boulder County's Open Space regulations. Which of course can only be a good thing, not because of any political assumptions one may make about me (I'm just ribbing you a bit Prismatic, no real offense intended) but because we know BCOS is basically a hard NO. So I've got a bit more research to do.

I'll keep digging a bit, but I'll still be primarily flying with L.E.A.F., and I'll certainly pick their brains for information, as I'm sure many of them have done some digging on their own.

But, so far, that's where I am.

Here's a little hyperlapse I was able to make at the L.E.A.F. field. Two disclaimers, I was that far away so that you can't really see anyone clearly on the dog beach, I feel like that's clearly a best practice. Second, I was not actually over Union Reservoir, or their land, although I did start close to the road, it's merely the angle that make it look like I'm farther north than I am in reality. L.E.A.F. has many signs posted at their facility, and I was told verbally, more than once, not to fly over the lake, so I want to make it clear that that did not happen so as to not encourage someone that may want to try it for themselves.

The file was straight out of the Mavic 2 Pro, which currently compiles to 1080P, 24fps, then I uploaded it straight to YT, who did their own magic with the file as well. This is only 7 seconds, I plan to do some longer time lapses, but I'm still learning the machine.

I just got my first drone (Mavic 2 pro) and this thread is extremely interesting to me. I live in northwest Longmont and want to know what places to avoid. I checked out L.E.A.F. and everybody was friendly enough but the membership fees seem a bit high when there are places I can fly for free. I read somewhere that Sandstone Ranch is really popular - and free...

I also joined a meetup group run by a great guy named Tad who has some property near Firestone where they meet monthly to fly. I went to the January 30 meeting and it was pretty fun. From my understanding so far, we're allowed to fly pretty much anywhere in class G airspace that isn't specifically off limits and that the tighter restrictions are more about where you're launching from and operating. Any thoughts on that? One place high on my bucket list right now is the old sugar plant. Wondering if anyone has thoughts on how to go about doing that. Might be easier/safer to do that with two or three people just so that one person can keep an eye on the immediate vicinity while the other flies. Seems like the big question regarding that shoot would be where a pilot would be able to park and operate. (Removed by moderator)
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