The Ohio/Indiana UAS Center (UASC) supported Cleveland Metroparks by flying successful UAS missions for environmental studies last week. A small 1.5-pound unmanned aircraft, authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), was used to assess and monitor the overall health of the parks.

Photos from the flight are being processed into usable map data for the parks’ wetland ecologist and area managers, says Stephen Mather, GIS manager for the Cleveland Metroparks. “The flights provide imagery that is 10 to 40 times more detailed than Google Maps satellite imagery," says Mather. “We expect that the maps will allow Cleveland Metroparks to perform unprecedented documentation of native and invasive plant communities, allowing natural resource managers to make better informed decisions about management options for these natural areas."

According to Dick Honneywell, Ohio/Indiana UASC director, the efforts of Cleveland Metroparks could potentially lead to introduction of UAS as standard tools for managing select natural resources in Ohio. “We will continue to support safe and cost-effective research and development efforts across the state in partnership with the FAA, providing the foundation for this rapidly emerging industry,” he says.

The UASC currently manages flight operations for 13 FAA Certificates of Authorizations (COAs) in support of Ohio partners. It has an additional 30 COAs and Section 333 authorizations in process with the FAA.