Forest Service clamps down on free speech

Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.

The Bill of Rights is such an inconvenient thing: The U.S. Forest Service has instituted rules requiring journalists to get a permit before they can take pictures or videos on federal land.

Under rules being finalized in November, a reporter who met a biologist, wildlife advocate or whistleblower alleging neglect in any of the nation’s 100 million acres of wilderness would first need special approval to shoot photos or videos even on an iPhone. Permits cost up to $1,500, says Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers, and reporters who don’t get a permit could face fines up to $1,000.

First Amendment advocates say the rules ignore press freedoms and are so vague they’d allow the Forest Service to grant permits only to favored reporters shooting videos for positive stories.

The fascist nature of these new rules is revealed by this quote near the end of the article:

[T]he Forest Service is giving its supervisors discretion to decide whether a news outlet’s planned video or photo shoots would meet the Wilderness Act’s goals. “If you were engaged on reporting that was in support of wilderness characteristics, that would be permitted,” [said Liz Close, the Forest Service’s acting wilderness director].

But if you are reporting on something the Forest Service disagrees with they obviously believe they have the right to deny you a permit to film or videotape.



  • wodun

    Cheaper to pay the fine than get the permit. I don’t like the discretionary aspect because that is the type of thought that prevent vets from protesting but gave OWS a green light.

    How can they outlaw pictures and videos of parkland? Its insane. Does this have something to do with rc aircraft?

  • DK Williams

    So a non-reporter can take photos without a permit? No way in hades a legitimate photojournalist would tolerate this. If the Obama administration tries to enforce this, a federal judge will slap them with an injunction in two shakes of a crow’s tail.

  • Blair Ivey

    Cheaper to pay than comply? I seem to recall another Federal brainstorm with similar consequences. Give me a minute, it’ll come to me . . .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *