Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Forest Service Chief Says No, You Won't Be Charged To Take Photos

Ted Anthony
AP Photo
Rafters paddle down the middle fork of the Salmon River in the Frank Church Wilderness Area, Idaho, June 6, 1999.

A federal agency under fire from free speech advocates and nature enthusiasts says it has absolutely no intention of charging people to take pictures on public land. The head of the U.S. Forest Service on Thursday clarified a rule that’s been generating charges of government overreach.

Forest Service chief Tom Tidwell wants to make one thing perfectly clear.

“There's no way that our proposal will infringe on anyone's First Amendment rights,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell says journalists and the public will not be required to get a permit or pay a $1,500 fee to bring their cameras into wilderness areas.

“If anything in this proposal even indicates that, we need to change that,” Tidwell said.

Back in 2010, the Forest Service barred Idaho Public Television from shooting an educational segment in the Frank Church Wilderness. The government reversed that decision. Tidwell says the agency is now trying to clarify its rules to avoid another such situation.

But the new rules had been interpreted by broadcasters to require approval and permitting even for some amateur photographers.

Tidwell says the rule is meant to only apply to commercial filmmakers shooting movies or ads, and photographers who bring in extensive props and sets.

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.