Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell expressing his strong concern about the Service’s Proposed Rules for Commercial Filming in Wilderness Areas. Simpson’s primary concern is that the Administration’s final rule will place an undue burden on journalists, television programs, outfitters and guides and other media-related activities that have traditionally enjoyed access to wilderness areas for filming or photography.
“My office has received considerable contact from journalists and others who regularly film or take photographs in our nation’s spectacular wilderness areas,” Simpson wrote. “These are people who appreciate wilderness, want to share its values with others, or may want to use their photographs or videos to help promote their business. These are not individuals who are looking to film feature length action movies that would do harm to wilderness areas or involve multiple cameras with large crews and extensive sets.”
Simpson’s primary concern is protecting the First Amendment, “Under no circumstances should the Forest Service be dictating its views about content to the media,” Simpson wrote. “The portion of the rule that leaves open the possibility that the Forest Service could deny access over content raises serious First Amendment concerns and is contrary to any Congressional intent associated with the creation of the National Wilderness Preservation System.”
Simpson is requesting Chief Tidwell to ensure the final rule addresses concerns from journalists and others who would like to film or take photographs in wilderness areas administered by the U.S. Forest Service.