Forest Service Clarifies Position on Photography Rules in Wilderness Areas

We've heard from several of you recently regarding a U.S. Forest Service proposal on photography permits for wilderness areas. You were justifiably concerned that the proposed rule change could affect amateur photographers and the general public. Some reports claimed there could be a fee of as much as $1,500 for photographing in wilderness areas.

Now, the Forest Service has clarified its stance on the issue. The proposed change would only make permanent a temporary directive that's been in place for years. And it only applies to commercial shoots, such as movies or TV commercials; it would not affect the vast majority of photographers or other visitors to wilderness areas.

Here's an excerpt of a Reuters report from late last week:

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said late on Thursday he wanted to clear up that the provisions in the draft directive do not apply to media reporters or vacationers.

"If you're there to gather news or take recreational photographs, no permit would be required. We take your First Amendment rights very seriously," Tidwell said in a statement.

"We're looking forward to talking with journalists and concerned citizens to help allay some of the concerns we've been hearing and clarify what's covered by this proposed directive."

Tidwell added that professional and amateur photographers do not need a permit to photograph in wilderness areas unless they use models, actors or props; work in areas that are normally off-limits to the public; or incur additional administrative costs.

Some people remain concerned that the proposal is too vague. If you're in that group, the Forest Service is soliciting public comment on the proposal. You can weigh in by clicking here.

(Photo: Bob Miller | Organ Pipe Cactus Wilderness)

Comments

This is ridiculous. When I think of all the times I've gone out to the desert with models to do photo shoots, this makes me angry. These are public lands, for which we pay taxes. We have already paid for the right to use them.

I'm just curious about your desert shoots. Do you typically see Rangers when you do these shoots? I haven't done any but living in Utah, we have plans for Arches, Bryce, Zion and others down south. Your reply will be helpful to my trip planning.

I'm just curious about your desert shoots. Do you typically see Rangers when you do these shoots? I haven't done any but living in Utah, we have plans for Arches, Bryce, Zion and others down south. Your reply will be helpful to my trip planning.

The wilderness area does not belong to the Forest Service. It's a gift from God for all to enjoy. The Forest Service is to protect the Wilderness area, Last I heard photography, commercial or otherwise, doesn't harm the wilderness area. Another example of government control. The people don't work for the government, the government works for the people. The forest service should remember that.

First of all, the wilderness area DOES belong to the Forest Service (at least some, others belongs to the Bureau of Land Management) according to the laws of our nation. Second, let's not talk about something that may not exist. Third, photography CAN most certainly damage wilderness areas. What do you think would happen if you brought a 100 man film production crew to the wilderness to film a blockbuster movie? You don't think they would have an impact on the terrain and life there? Even single people can damage the wilderness in the pursuit of photography. Ever heard of Michael Fatali? A professional photographer who damaged land by starting a fire he thought would look cool in a photograph. If you don't think that a single person, let alone a commercial film crew, has the ability to damage the wilderness, then you need to leave this conversation right now and educate yourself on the fragility of the wilderness. You also seem to have a complete lack of understand how the government works. Yes, the government works for the people. But that means that any service the government provides should be free? Get real. Services cost money, that's why taxes are in place. By your ridiculous comment and logic, the National Parks should be free too. Guess what, they aren't, because how do you maintain a National Park, including the damage that is done by the millions of visitors? With the money that is gained from entrance fees.

Add new comment