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Media Vow To Fight Rule Requiring Permit To Film On Public Land

A view of the Middle Fork Salmon River in the Frank Church, River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho.
A view of the Middle Fork Salmon River in the Frank Church, River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho.

The U.S. Forest Service is developing a rule that would let it decide whether the media could film or take photos in wilderness areas.

A view of the Middle Fork Salmon River in the Frank Church, River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho.
Credit Rex Parker / Flickr
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A view of the Middle Fork Salmon River in the Frank Church, River of No Return Wilderness, Idaho.

The Forest Service would issue permits based on the potential impact to wilderness areas as well as the story topic. A fee of up to $1,500 could also be required to receive a permit.

Broadcasters say the rule gives the government too much control over the content of news stories.

Ron Pisaneschi, general manager of Idaho Public Television, said he and other broadcasters are prepared to fight the rule.

“Certainly the kinds of stories we've done over the years wouldn't be possible if we're constantly having to get permits, pay fees, and frankly the length of time it takes to go through that process,” he said.

The rule has been in place as a temporary directive for several years. Idaho Public Television's nature program “Outdoor Idaho” was barred from the Frank Church Wilderness Area in 2010 until the governor and Idaho's Congressional delegation stepped in.

The requirement does not apply to private citizens -- though it's unclear where the government would draw the line. The distinctions between commercial and noncommercial uses are based on regulations from 1990 that pre-date blogs and social media.

A Forest Service spokesman told The Oregonian newspaper that reporters who don’t get the proper approval could face a $1,000 penalty. The regulations do include an exemption for breaking news situations.

The Forest Service’s acting wilderness director, Liz Close, did not respond to a request for comment.

The rule covers only wilderness areas overseen by the Forest Service, including the Mt. Adams Wilderness in Washington, the Mt. Hood Wilderness in Oregon, and the Ansel Adams Wilderness in California.

A public comment period runs through November 3.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Jessica Robinson
Jessica Robinson reported for four years from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho as the network's Inland Northwest Correspondent. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covered the economic, demographic and environmental trends that have shaped places east of the Cascades. Jessica left the Northwest News Network in 2015 for a move to Norway.
Scott comes to BSPR from WFAE in Charlotte, N.C., where he served as local host of NPR’s “Morning Edition” for the past eight years. He began his new position as Morning Edition Host/Senior Editor for BSPR in 2012.