The U.S. Forest Service recently proposed red tape that requires reporters to obtain permits to shoot photos or videos, even on an iPhone, in federally designated wilderness areas. If reporters don’t get the permit, they have to pay a fine.
U.S. Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., today called for the immediate withdrawal of a misguided U.S. Forest Service rule, which would require permits and fees – potentially up to $1,500 – from reporters and bloggers who take photographs or videos in wilderness areas.
In a joint letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Wyden and Barrasso wrote that the proposed rule clearly violates the Constitution’s First Amendment protections for press freedom.
“The proposed directive is a direct violation of American First Amendment rights and likely unconstitutional,” the senators wrote. “This creates a serious litigation risk for the Forest Service, while providing no clear benefits for wilderness management.”
Furthermore, the creation of a potentially expensive and burdensome permitting process for those who wish to document the beauty of natural places runs directly counter to the spirit of the Wilderness Act. It is especially galling that the agency would propose these rules on the 50th anniversary of that landmark law.
“These lands are meant to be enjoyed by all Americans, not kept from them,” Wyden and Barrasso wrote. “The ability to photograph, experience and learn about these places should not be unduly restricted.”
Click Here to read the full letter to Secretary Vilsack.
This proposed rule makes it clear that the Forest Service believes wilderness is government land – not public land. Please let the Forest Service know what you think about this proposal by commenting here before November 3rd: http://1.usa.gov/1tYjzIK