Wilderness Society comments on new Forest Service commercial filming rule

Flickr, kaspercarissa

The Wilderness Society is urging the USFS to modify a rule to allow for commercial filming in wilderness in certain situations.
In September, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) drew attention and criticism for its proposed new rule on commercial filming. The rule would require reporters, photographers and videographers to get a permit under some circumstances if they plan to capture photos or videos in areas in National Forests.
The rule has been controversial. After much outcry, the USFS extended the deadline for submitting public comments to allow people more time to share their views on the proposed rule. The comment period ended on December 3.
The Wilderness Society (TWS), joined by four recreation and trail organizations, submitted comments urging the USFS to modify the rule to allow for commercial filming in wilderness in certain situations, while ensuring appropriate safeguards to protect wilderness character, consistent with the Wilderness Act. TWS was joined by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Mazamas, the Mountaineers and the Washington Trails Association in submitting these comments.
To achieve this goal, the five organizations recommended that the USFS:
  • allow more newsgathering activities to occur without a permit to ensure that the news media can carry out its reporting function (currently, the rule only allows filming for “breaking news”)
  • recognize that filming for which wilderness is the subject matter must take place in wilderness in order to be credible

  • allow filming that advertises the use or enjoyment of wilderness, which would ensure that outfitters, guides and tourism organizations are able to promote opportunities for wilderness recreation

"We recognize that filming in wilderness must be managed in order to preserve wilderness character," said Paul Sanford, The Wilderness Society’s national director of recreation policy.

"At the same time, film and photography are critical gateways for connecting people to wilderness. We urge the Forest Service to strike an appropriate balance that protects wilderness but also allows filmmakers and photographers to use these media to inspire Americans to connect with these wild places."

View comments on USFS filming rule below:


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