SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The U.S. Forest Service is finalizing new regulations that could change the landscape of media coverage of issues dealing with federally maintained wild land.
The new rules to be finalized in November would require reporters and other multimedia news crews to seek permission and purchase permits before taking photos or shooting video or face significant fines.
The Oregonian, which first publicized the new rules, gives the example of a reporter who wanted to interview a biologist, wildlife advocate, or whistleblower alleging neglect in federally maintained land who would now need to seek approval before conducting the interviews and shooting the story on certain federal lands.
“It appears the U.S. Forest Service is attempting to fend off scrutiny of its management of federal lands and even intimidate journalists,” RTDNA Executive Director Mike Cavender said. The Radio Television Digital News Association or RTDNA is the world’s largest professional organization serving the electronic media, and often lobbies for first amendment freedoms.
The U.S. Forest Service told the Oregonian the agency is implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964 that protects wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain. Temporary rules already in place have resulted in at least one news crew from Idaho having to fight for access to an area.
The permits cost as much as $1,500. Reporters who don’t obtain the permits could be fined up to $1,000.
The agency is seeking public comments at this site.