NANPA Issues Statement on Proposed US Forest Service Policies

Dear NANPA Members and Nature Photographers,

As you may know, the United States Forest Service (USFS) has issued proposed policy language pertaining to filming in wilderness areas within the jurisdiction of USFS. (https://federalregister.gov/a/2014-21093)

Those proposed policies, as phrased in the initial proposed policy language and in public comments from USFS officials, raise a number of troubling issues regarding when and why permitting and fees could be required of photographers filming on those lands.

NANPA has long advocated that no photographer should be required to obtain a permit to go anywhere the public may go or to do anything the public in general is allowed to do. Click Here to view NANPA’s 1999 Statement of Public Land Access. NANPA has and will continue to fight for this basic principle with regard to all public lands on behalf of all nature photographers.

Part of NANPA’s mission is to encourage proper stewardship of our nation’s public lands, and NANPA likewise recognizes that there are certain situations in which fees and permits are reasonable, for example, for certain commercial photo shoots and when there may be a high impact to the land itself. But it is not reasonable to impose permits or fees solely because a photographer may in the future license or sell an image taken on those public lands.

The proposed USFS policies do not clearly express these basic principles and need to be clarified. NANPA has actively partnered with other photography associations in communicating a wide variety of concerns to USFS. (You can read a recent letter sent to Chief Tidwell here). The USFS has responded positively to those concerns by letter and recent public statements, but unless and until the proposed policies themselves are clearly revised, photographers could be subjected to very subjective and inconsistent interpretation of those policies by local USFS authorities.

NANPA has drafted an additional and more detailed statement to USFS here (Link to 2nd Statement), which more fully sets out NANPA’s position.

NANPA will continue its direct efforts to influence these proposed policies, but the USFS also needs to hear directly from you, as NANPA members and as dedicated photographers and patrons of the public lands at issue.

How can you help? The public comment periods ends on December 3, 2014, so as soon as possible go to this link and on the right hand side, click Submit a Formal Comment.

Please note that the most effective comments are those that directly address the proposed policies at issue. So while you are free to “vent” broadly, that is not likely to have as much impact as a more specific comment. NANPA does ask that your Comments include the following points (preferably in your own words):

I am a nature photographer and a patron of our nation’s public lands, including USFS wilderness areas. The policies as proposed are overly vague and ambiguous and should be clarified as follows:

1. No permit or fee should be required to photograph in areas where the public in general is allowed.

2. No permit or fee should be required for photographers who use cameras on a speculative basis to photograph or film without an immediate market outlet for their work. Such activities are not a “commercial use or activity.”

3. No permit or fee should be required for news-gathering in general or for journalists on assignment for editorial purposes (See letter from National Press Photographers Association)

4. Permits and/or fees may be required when the photography or filming involves product or service advertisements, the use of models, actors, sets, or props, damage to resources, unacceptable health or safety risks, or significant disruption of normal visitor uses.

5. Overly vague and subjective policy criteria such as those found in 45.1c(5)(a), (b) and (c) should be eliminated from the proposed policies.

Please feel free to encourage other nature photographers to do the same. If you have any additional comments you would like to share with NANPA, please send them to info@nanpa.org.

NANPA appreciates your help on this issue and will keep you posted as we strive to protect the rights of all photographers to enjoy and photograph on our nation’s public lands.

For a Press Release, please see NANPA USFS Press Release.

 

Gabby Salazar

NANPA President

North American Nature Photography Association

618-547-7616 • info@nanpa.org

www.nanpa.org