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Old March 16th, 2008, 10:40 AM   #31
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Here is the text of a letter I will send to my conressional representatives, the sponsors of the bill, David Barna, director of communications and public affairs at the NPS’s Washington, DC headquarters, possibly the governors of Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, and with copies sent to the legal affairs staff at the National Press Photographers Association, Timothy Wheeler, president of the Society of Environmental Journalists, the North American Nature Photography Association, the Radio-Television News Directors Association, and any other organizations that seem to make sense.

Feel free to use this yourselves, modify it, or use it as a starting point if you wish:

"In 2000 Congress passed legislation that directed federal land managers to issue permits and collect fees for commercial still photography and filming within national parks and on federal lands. In subsequent years, the affected agencies have developed regulations to implement the mandates of this new law. I would like to call your attention to a substantial inequity in these regulations, especially the regulations that have been implemented by the National Park Service, and to ask you to support H. R. 5502 (to amend Public Law 106-206) which aims to correct these inequities.

The rules as they exist today exempt professional solo still photographers, but require a lone videographer to apply for a permit. Permit application fees are on the order of $200 per visit, and the parks have the power to charge additional fees to escort a single videographer through the park while he or she is filming. Recently a single, freelance filmmaker was told that he would have to pay as much as $4500 for a week’s worth of filming in Yellowstone National Park. Commercial still photographers who may have more equipment than a videographer, hikers, backpackers and other visitors, however, are allowed normal access to the park and trusted to observe the rules of the park without an escort.

It would seem reasonable, fair and practical for the park staff to issue a permit and trust that the videographer would observe them. I contribute money to wilderness preservation organizations, visit parks, and support their existence in part because of the wonderful work of nature videographers over the decades who have brought these places into my home. Often the best footage is that captured by the solo videographer who spends a great deal of time in the same park, knows the environment, and is able to capture footage that others simply can't. That seems to me to be a lifeline for the parks and something they should be promoting rather than discouraging. The annual incomes of freelance wildlife and nature filmmakers who work alone or with very small crews are modest at best, and the prospect of thousands of dollars of annual park fees will make it impossible for many of them to continue this work.

I would also like to call your attention to the possibility that these rules are unconstitutional, since they are arbitrary, unequally applied, and represent a possible obstruction of the constitutional protections afforded the media. It is reasonable to issue permits and charge fees when the scale of media presence in a park requires it. H. R. 5502 would correct the inequity that has been discussed by requiring that film crews of one to five in number pay for a single annual permit that would be valid on all federal lands at a cost of $200.

I urge you to support the passage of this bill and to do whatever you can to ensure that the rules for filming on national lands are fair and allow for the continued vitality of the small-scale filmmakers who provide all of us with an experience of wilderness and wilderness values that we might not otherwise have."
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Old March 16th, 2008, 11:59 AM   #32
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Hey Pat,

Great work. I am more than willing to sign on, but could you provide email
address(s) for us too? I think it is probably better for us all to swamp as many
inboxes as possible with lots of emails as opposed to a single email with many names attached.
That way administration can tell higher ups that received
X-amount of emails which makes it easier to join our cause.
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Old March 16th, 2008, 12:19 PM   #33
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Pat, exellent letter. Seems to capture everything. Here is a link to email addresses for federal U.S. representatives and governors.

http://www.conservativeusa.org/mega-cong.htm
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Old March 16th, 2008, 12:47 PM   #34
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Thanks, guys. So far I have sent this to the two Colorado Senators and the following list of professional media organization contacts:

TBWheeler@aol.com, lawyer@nppa.org, advocacy@nppa.org, dgroves@ppa.com, mschleifstein@timespicayune.com, dhopey@sej.org, jburnside@sej.org, jdetjen@sej.org, contact@nanpa.org, fbutler@nanpa.org, info@nanpa.org, jdavis@sej.org

This includes a semi-random assortment of presidents, attorneys, and key board members for the Society of Environmental Journalists, North American Nature Photography Association, the National Press Photographers Association, and the Professional Photographers of America (they have a video section). TBWheeler is Timothy Wheeler, president of the Society of Environmental Journalists. I copied David Barna, director of communications and public affairs at the NPS’s Washington office who seems sympathetic to the issue for small-scale filmmakers:

david_barna@nps.gov

Not surprisingly, it's difficult or impossible to e-mail senators or representatives unless you are in their districts, so letters may be the only way to go if you want to reach these folks outside your area.

Pat
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Old March 16th, 2008, 12:50 PM   #35
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Thanks Pat, I will also write the ones on your list.
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Old March 16th, 2008, 04:43 PM   #36
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Awesome letter Pat!

Since I'm the Yellowstone guy I'll make sure I elaborate a bit more on that.

Also, if you're writing to your own state's congressmen and you have Federal lands in your state, make sure to mention that people won't be coming to film there if they have to pay these fees.

I think I'll also contact the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival as well.

I was planning on attending next year but if I can't get into the Teton's and Yellowstone to shoot I'll probably pass.

It's going to be a busy week for me getting all these people contacted etc. It's a small price to pay to be able to film.

Also, congress will be breaking for Easter I believe so if you don't get a response back right away that could be why.
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Old March 16th, 2008, 04:45 PM   #37
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Also, even if you don't live in the US, it's a good thing to spread this around to organizations wherever you are. Anyone that comes to visit is subject to the same fees as well.
This effects filmmakers around the world, not just those here in the States.
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Old March 16th, 2008, 06:51 PM   #38
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Thanks for the text, I see NJ has two Reps on the Natural Resources Committee so I will be sending them email. I actually ran into one recently, too bad the timing was off. ;-)
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Old March 18th, 2008, 05:16 AM   #39
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POMA has also thrown their support in for this bill.

http://www.professionaloutdoormedia.org/
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Old March 18th, 2008, 06:09 AM   #40
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That's awesome Jesse!
Numbers speak volumes. The more people that get behind this the more apt they are to listen.
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Old March 18th, 2008, 08:33 AM   #41
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Got out 45 e-mails over the weekend to governors, chamber of commerce near large parks and to congressmen. Will do more tonite.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 07:06 PM   #42
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Thanks for this thread. Most of my docs are in national parks and forests, for weeks at a time, and I could never even begin to pay these fees. I don't mind paying a reasonable fee but this is outrageous.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 08:31 PM   #43
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Hey Mat,

Yes, the current law could be quite expensive for you or anyone else that wants to shoot on Federal lands.

I'm starting another big email push tomorrow and emailing as many people as I can.
The more that speak up the better chances are that someone who can make this happen will hear.
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Old March 19th, 2008, 10:06 PM   #44
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Kevin,

Please PM me or post here if you have a more selective list of persons to contact other than those already listed. Thanks for the good work.
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Old March 20th, 2008, 08:27 AM   #45
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I sent the letter to every Georgia member of congress except David Scott. He is harder to email than any one of them. I also copied the US Speaker of the House. Bob
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