The continuing saga about the Forest Service requiring a permit to film in wilderness is probably getting old by now, but I kind of choked on this comment from Tom Tidwell, chief of the Forest Service:
“The fact is, the directive pertains to commercial photography and filming only – if you’re there to gather news or take recreational photographs, no permit would be required. We take your First Amendment rights very seriously,” said Tidwell. “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.”
My critique revolves around two points. First is what's "commercial photography and filming only?" You can still throw too wide of a net around that one.
If I take a great shot of a sunset in wilderness and try to the sell the photo to a wine company for an advertisement, did I just break the law? How about if I turn it into a postcard and sell it at the local Saturday market? Am I now facing federal charges?
Looks like it to me.
Second is what constitutes "gathering news"? If I take my kayak down the Middle Fork of the Salmon River during high water with GoPro strapped to head and decide to make a little film based on it, then show it at the local brew pub and charge a few bucks admission, was I gathering news?
Those are a few examples that just popped off the top of my head.
There's just way too much gray area regarding when a permit is required, and apparently not enough gray matter at the Forest Service to figure it out, especially when the head of the agency says he takes our "First Amendment rights very seriously" and then acts in the opposite manner.
The simple answer is to scrap this whole silly notion about permits for filming in wilderness. There are already rules in place if you take a large group into the wilderness, and a large group is what you would need for the kind of Hollywood filming that might negatively affect wilderness and wilderness character.
Let it go, Forest Service people. You've got bigger problems to deal with this one, and I've yet to see where it was a problem until you created one.