Feds Could Fine You $1000 For Taking An Unauthorized Photo On Wild Lands

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Rachel Stoltzfoos Staff Reporter
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Photos taken on federal wild land must now be approved by the U.S. Forest Service, and anyone who wishes to take photos or film commercially must be granted a $1,500 permit by the Service, or face a fine up to $1,000.

The Forest Service is set to make the now temporary restrictions permanent in November, reported the Oregonian. Under the policy, the Forest Service’s supervisors would have sole discretion to approve photos and commercial films, and even who is allowed a permit.

Liz Close, the Service’s acting wilderness director, told the Oregonian the restrictions are in place to uphold the Wilderness Act of 1964, which is supposed to protect U.S. wilderness from exploitation for commercial gain. “It’s a responsibility,” she said. “We have to follow statutory requirements.”

The rules are aimed at the press, but apply even to photos or videos taken with a cell phone. The only exception to the rule, according to the Oregonian, is for breaking news coverage, such as a rescue operation.

Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden called the policy is “troubling,” and an unnecessary burden. “Especially where reporters and bloggers are concerned, this policy raises troubling questions about inappropriate government limits on activity clearly protected by the First Amendment,” he told the Oregonian.

In a notice posted on the Federal Register, where the Forest Service is currently accepting public comment on this policy, it lists some of the criteria approved media must meet. Photos and commercial films that damage park property, involve use of a motorized vehicle, are used for advertisement purposes or disrupt the public’s enjoyment of the park are not permitted.

Material that is “not in the public interest” could also be rejected.

The Forest Service did not immediately respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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