– Photo: “Residents in the test areas should be given the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns,” said Lisa Elkins of Back Country Voices, with panel of experts, Dave Patterson of San Diego Veterans for Peace (left), Matthew Kellegrew of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and Bill Everett (right), environmentalist and volunteer firefighter at the Julian Library, Julian, CA.
On December 30, 2013 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced its choice of six sites to test unmanned aerial vehicle – drone’s, into the nation’s airspace. As one of the largest manufactures of drones, San Diego County was at the top of the FAA list! The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation and the San Diego Military Advisory Council proposed testing drones across a vast flight area from Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake to Edwards Air Force Base, west to the Pacific Ocean and south to the Mexican border – a region that would encompass mountain and desert areas of East County among others.
“Aside from liability, there are many questions that need to be answered regarding the rights of the people to be free from the noise and intrusion into their privacy. What sensors will be tested on these drones and what happens to the data recorded? Can we expect to see our family backyard picnics on YouTube soon?” – Dave Patterson – San Diego Veterans For Peace
‘Back Country Voices’ (BCV) was conceived after discovering a brief, well hidden statement by San Diego County Board of Supervisors “unanimous vote” to approve our back country as one of the 6 FAA’s proposed ‘National Drone Testing Sites.’
Lisa Elkins is a founding member ‘BCV,’ which she describes as a leaderless group of a dozen or so people, most from the Julian area, who got together after first reading about the test site proposal.
“There were no public forums, informational hearings or opportunities for local citizens to voice their questions and concerns on drone testing in our back country. In fact, many residents did not even know that this proposal was being considered and how it can effect their privacy rights and safety.”
“‘BCV’ filled these gaps by providing public forums to address questions, safety issues and concerns on drone testing in the back country. In short order, we were able to accomplish what the S.D. County Board of Supervisors neglected to do, which was to properly inform those most affected,” she said.
– Photo: Citizens representing San Diego Veterans for Peace and Code Pink come out to demonstrate at the headquarters of General Atomics.
San Diego County – home of the nation’s two largest developers of unmanned aircraft – has failed in its campaign to have Southern California named one six regions where scientists will test ways to integrate drones into the nation’s airspace. San Diego Union-Tribune.
By having the support of local citizens, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, San Diego Veterans for Peace, ACLU of San Diego, environmentalist, firefighters, and by having local and national media coverage, we were able to provide the necessary outreach, education and opportunity for public input to better address the ramifications of a ‘National Drone Testing Site’ in our back country. Essentially, our collective efforts paid off and we were able to make a substantial impact by demonstrating how Congress failed to pass any legislation to protect citizens’ safety and privacy rights.
While drones have proven beneficial for scientific purposes, they are also used to illegally target and kill innocent people around the world, including U.S. citizens. Americans need to weigh these benefits against the very real threat drones bring to the rights we have been granted by the Constitution. If we allow the government to strip us of our Rights how much farther will they go?
As we face a multitude of other issues, ‘BCV’ remains committed in safeguarding and empowering our back country and beyond.
Informed citizens are truly the strength of a democracy.
Please join us and share your voice!
Lisa Elkins @ firstname.lastname@example.org
‘BCV’ website: https://backcountryvoices.wordpress.com/
‘BCV’ Facebook grp. https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/170624526472012/
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