Forest Service: no photographing wilderness lands without permission

News reporters, nature lovers, scientists and Western lawmakers are in an uproar over the Forest Service’s plans to finalize a ban on taking photographs in federally designated wilderness areas without permission of the service. A spokeswoman “said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain.. … ‘We have to follow the statutory requirements.'” [Oregonian, Coyote and followup, ABA Journal]

Update: Service backs down, at least to the extent of acknowledging that it needs to clarify the scope of the ban.


  • Let’s see if I get this First Amendment thingy:

    If I go to Sea World and take photos of kids in wet bathing suits, focusing on their breasts and buttocks, that’s protect; but, if I go to a publicly owned park and photos of trees, lakes and sun sets, that’s criminal behavior.

  • 50 years later they’re just now getting around to “following the statutory requirements”? Sure.

    So when does the series of Federal wildland government-sanctioned photos hit the gift shops? And who will be the commercial photography company hired to do the official photographs? And what is his record of political contributions?

  • Hahahahahahahahaha!

    Oh wait, they’re serious?

  • Our Federal government would not override the “freedom of the press” without good reason. They must have a secret intercept from an ISIL operative planning to publish a book of nature photographs from national forests and use the profits to sponsor terrorism.

  • IANAL but looking at the Act it seems to me that the intent is to prevent physical exploitation, e.g., logging, mining or other activities that could physically change the landscape. To call photography, making images of the landscape, commercial exploitation seems like a very big stretch to me.

    This sounds more to me like the Forest Service is looking to tap into a revenue stream than trying to protect a mountain stream.

  • Who is being exploited? A tree?

    Moreover, if I take a pic of the park from outside its boundaries, am I still “guilty?” From outside the country?

    (Ladt pt not hypothetical. I live in Canada but can see various US national parks in the distance.)

  • Would that ban include satellite photography? And is it only about photography, or would oil paintings of the trees also be banned?

  • When I was a lad in Washington State the Forest Service had a reputation for honest, good-natured inefficiency. Now they’re a little less honest, a lot less good natured. I just wonder how long they can hang on to their inefficiency.