The Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation is supported by an Unmanned Arial Vehicle (UAV) program. UAVs, otherwise referred to as drones, allow the capture images and maps at a higher elevation than traditional on-foot images and higher resolution than traditional manned flights or satellite imagery. The FPR Drone Program utilizes three drones:
- DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise [named Calvin]
- DJI Mavic 3 Enterprise [named Hobbes]
- DJI Mavic Mini 3 Pro [named Susie]
FAA part 107 requires a certification for commercial drone pilots. John Sears, is the Department's certified drone pilot and is further certified under UNH's Drone Operator Certification since November 2022 and functions as the program manager, coordinating flights and maintaining equipment.
FPR conducts drone missions to fulfill at least 4 primary objectives:
Collect Promotional Content: Create videos/photos of flight for demonstration/educational/promotional purposes. (Eg. Prescribed fire footage, visualize urban forestry)
Document Land-Use Change: Monitor and review purposeful land-use changes or disaster impacts (Eg. monitoring tool for AMP or HC, Update aerial imagery after a timber sale on state land, washouts)
Conduct Search and Discovery: Search rough-on-foot areas for specific things (Eg. Monitor tree damage – EAB and ash death expansion, Monitor outbreaks of specific pests, Find and map purple loose strife)
Photogrammetry/Mapping: Process of taking pictures from the air and using software to digitally “stitch” them together into a 3D map or process data.