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Drone Technology to Enhance Oneida Nation’s Ability to Monitor, Manage and Protect Lands

Drone Technology to Enhance Oneida Nation’s Ability to Monitor, Manage and Protect Lands Drones will soon soar over Oneida Indian Nation homelands in Central New York, collecting data about Tribally owned land. The Nation has partnered with Syracuse-Based Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research (NUAIR) to enhance its ability to monitor, observe, manage and protect its lands and environmental resources — particularly in isolated or hard-to-reach areas.

“The Oneida Indian Nation is fundamentally committed to environmental protection,” said Ray Halbritter, representative of the Oneida Indian Nation and CEO of its enterprises. “Our partnership with NUAIR on this exciting new project will enable the nation to not only continue but enhance our stewardship of the environment and to ensure its preservation now and for future generations.”

A coalition of private and public entities and academic institutions, NUAIR provides expertise in the operation and management of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). NUAIR’s aviation professionals will partner will build the drone program with the Nation — focusing on strategic planning, evaluation and continued monitoring. NUAIR will also help with the training and certification of Tribal staff to independently operate the drones.

The new partnership was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Indian Environmental General Assistance Program secured by the Nation in 2018 as a four-year capacity-building project. The Tribe selected NUAIR after a request for proposals process.

“Going from a pickup truck surveying the land from the ground to being able to deploy a drone and get a more complete aerial view of their land will significantly assist the Oneida Indian Nation’s environmental conservation efforts,” added Mike Hertzendorf, CEO of NUAIR. “NUAIR, in collaboration with AX Enterprize, Measure and SkyOp, will assist the nation in developing procedures for safe and effective flights, on-site flight training, Part 107 pilot training, product purchase advisement and more over the next four years.”

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