National Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office

National Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Project Office
Invasive Plant and Animal Detection, HI

Assess Park Boundary Fences and Detect Invasive Plants and Animals, Haleakala National Park, Kula, Hawaii

Haleakala National Park, HI
National Park Service Photo
Haleakala National Park is comprised of 30,183 acres of public land that range from 10,023 feet to sea level. The Haleakala Resource Management Division is responsible for the preservation, maintenance and restoration of the Park's natural, cultural and historic resources. This includes maintaining 50 miles of fence to exclude pigs, axis deer, predator mammals, and invertebrate threats to the resources, alien plant control, native plant restoration, monitoring of endangered species, and air quality.

Aerial surveillance and reconnaissance would yield greater detection results by allowing biologists to view High Definition video of low altitude surveys and scrutinizing in further detail the visual findings. Pin point GPS locations allow work crew to proceed directly to the location, rather then spending hours in rough terrain sweeping the under story for invasive plants. UAS missions to inspect barrier fences for holes, damage, and maintenance issues would mitigate hazards to staff members who have regularly walked treacherous fence lines looking for these same issues.

Native forest birds could benefit from the decreased noise of low flying aircraft. The Raven is small and slow enough to not pose harm to the native forest birds, and emits much less noise than a typical manned aircraft. The NPS views the UAS Raven as an emerging technology that may result in improved and safer methods to conduct surveys of invasive plants and animals; and potentially provide a cost-effective tool for barrier fence evaluation.

UAS technology is critical to the mission of NPS resource management in mitigating hazards to staff while providing a cost effective method of surveillance. UAS will allow for safe assessment of park boundary fences located in remote and inaccessible areas of the park. Through UAS reconnaissance, resource managers can safely gather data to analyze the spread of invasive plants such Hedychium gardnerianum and Miconia calvescens. Furthermore, aerial UAS surveys will paint a clearer picture of ungulate animal populations, movements and damage to native ecosystems. Also, the flights can be conducted with a much smaller platform, with much less noise, reducing the chance of disturbance on native bird populations. Disturbing native birds poses significant risks for manned aircraft. The leading cause of death for wildlife biologist is manned aircraft fatalities. It has been estimated, one fatality in every 2000 operational flight hours. UAS technology provides a safe way to collect field data without risk to wildlife biologists and staff.

Mission scheduled for May 21-25, 2012

Mission results: Successful proof-of-concept of the feasibility of using a small UAS for safe real-time monitoring of fencelines and vegetation health in extreme landscape conditions. Data collected can also serve as a baseline for repeated area of fenceline problems, or for monitoring areas of vegetation health over time.

Project Point of Contact:
Matt Brown
Chief of Resources Management
Haleakala National Park
Kula, Hawaii

Mission Poster Adobe PDF
Mission Photos and Video
(Click on image for larger view)
UAS Mission Boundary at Haleakala National Park, HI Haleakala National Park
Red polygon defines Raven mission area
along park boundary
National Park Service Map

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