Flying in a WSA vs Designated Wilderness (USA)

billygoat

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Flying/launching/landing a drone from within federally designated wilderness in the USA is not allowed. But what about Wilderness Study Areas, or WSA’s? These are places set aside by the BLM in accordance with the 1976 land act (not the 1964 wilderness act) for potential CONSIDERATION to become designated wilderness in the future. No new roads can be built in WSA’s and cross-country vehicle travel is not allowed. Lots of other activities are allowed that are banned in designated wilderness though, such as dispersed car camping and OHV riding on designated routes.

This article pertains to Bears Ears National Monument, which is almost entirely a Wilderness Study Area, or WSA: https://www.blm.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2023-04/Drone Fact Sheet Final.pdf . Several identical articles exist for other BLM-managed areas: https://www.blm.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2023-12/Drone Fact Sheet Final.pdf

It states that launching/landing/operating within designated wilderness is not allowed. It does not address WSA's specifically. It does, however, state that off-highway vehicle regulations apply to drones, meaning they can only be launched/landed/operated from designated routes/roads. This sounds like it's legal to fly a drone within a WSA as long as the pilot remains on a designated road or OHV route at all times. Am I interpreting this correctly?

I’ve asked multiple BLM rangers and received conflicting answers. Some said yes, some said no. Are we allowed to fly drones from within WSA's? There is so much
 

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