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Drone Use for Public Land and Wildlife Management, Including Research, Search and Rescue and Public Safety

The City of Boulder does not allow the general public to launch or land or operate drones on OSMP property for hobby, recreational or commercial purposes. However, drone use for public land and wildlife management, including research, search and rescue and public safety purposes can be permitted for OSMP lands {C.M.R 8-8-4.A(14) and Delegation of Authority 2017-002}.

An application is required for individuals, and organizations requesting to use Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS), aka drones, for public land and wildlife management, including research, search and rescue and public safety purposes on City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks lands (OSMP). Prior to submitting the application please review the City-wide drone use website.

Submit complete applications at least three weeks prior to the earliest flight; incomplete applications will require longer processing times. During application submittal you must also upload documentation of all required training, certifications, registrations and insurance.

*If you are interested in flying a drone for research, you must complete a research permit application as well as a drone flight request application.


  • We may require city staff to accompany you during your flight. If so, this may require additional time to schedule.
  • Beyond submitting standard required Post Flight Logs and a Results Report, we hold the right to require your raw data that you collect on OSMP lands.
  • We may need more information from you then what is described here.

What is the process?

Research based request processed in 3 weeks. We will do our best to notify Search & Rescue training requests in 1 week.

  1. Drone flight request application submitted.
  2. Request received: Application checked for completeness
  3. Request analysis: A group reviews the application and recommends a decision
    Applications will be reviewed by staff and decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. Staff will consider:
    • Is the research or training of sufficient interest to the department to justify potential disturbances to wildlife and visitors and other risks? 
    • What are the risks?
    • What steps will the operator or requestor take to prevent or mitigate these risks?  
    • Does the operator have necessary certifications and registrations and does the flight comply with all legal requirements?
    • Where and when are the proposed flights?
    • Has the operator or requestor read and agreed to all the Safety and Operational Guidelines?
  4. Final decision made: approve or denied.
  5. If denied, applicant notified.
  6. If approved, permit issued via email with specific terms and conditions
    • Rangers notified
    • If applicable, public notified via website posting
  7. After action wrap up: Required permittee’s post flight log and report out documents logged