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Oneida Indian Nation selects NUAIR to “monitor and protect” environmental resources

By Eric Reinhardt


The Oneida Indian Nation has selected Syracuse–based nonprofit NUAIR to help the Nation “monitor, observe, manage and protect” its lands and environmental resources through drone technology.

NUAIR is short for Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research. It is a coalition of private and public entities and academic institutions that provides expertise in the operation and management of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), commonly known as drones.

With NUAIR’s drone and related technology and expertise, the Nation will have the ability to collect and assess data about its lands and environmental resources, “particularly from isolated or hard-to-reach areas,” the Oneida Nation said in a Thursday news release. The technology will further help the Nation to “implement and enforce” programs geared toward protecting these resources.

A drone in flight during a demonstration that Canandaigua–based SkyOp conducted at the Tech Garden in Syracuse in July 2017. NUAIR will work with SkyOp and other organizations in offering the Oneida Indian Nation services to “monitor, observe, manage and protect” its lands and environmental resources through drone technology. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

NUAIR’s aviation staff will partner with the Nation to build the drone program, specifically on planning, evaluation and continued monitoring. They will also lend their expertise in the training and certification of Nation staff to independently operate the drones.

“The Oneida Indian Nation is fundamentally committed to environmental protection,” Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation representative and Enterprises CEO, said in the news release. “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.”

This partnership was made possible through a grant from the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Oneida Nation secured the funding in 2018 as a four-year, capacity-building project.

The grant had a dollar amount of about $100,000, Joel Barkin, vice president of communications for the Oneida Indian Nation, told BJNN in an email message.

The Nation selected NUAIR after a competitive, request-for-proposals (RFP) process. NUAIR’s operations and expertise are working to help position Central New York as a “global center” for unmanned aircraft systems and commercial aviation.

“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,” Mike Hertzendorf, CEO of NUAIR, said in the Oneida Nation news release. “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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