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Old March 24th, 2008, 03:20 PM   #76
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Disabled Veterans and the National Park Service

A recent request at Yellowstone National Park for a permit to shoot video using a single camera was responded to by rangers with confusing answers including permit fees and insurance fees along with having to have a ranger present. When ask about still photography no permit was required.

The group of 4, 20% to 70% disabled veterans who shoot nature video for stock and DVD release ask why and was given confusing answers. Such as you might get in trouble out there, these veterans are all Special Forces Trained with combat experience from Viet Nam and probably know more then the rangers about survival.

The question now being ask by Veterans Groups is if the veterans which were rejected and not allowed to shoot because of permit costs and ranger requirements and have paid the price to have parks in this country, who want to make a living shooting video are rejected by the Park Service who thinks of them as a major productions companies instead of individual, making it impossible for them to earn a living, then the stories of how the Park Service treat individual producers are true.

Or is this a case of discrimination toward disabled veterans?

Letters from Veterans groups to congress are now asking that questions, as the group was allowed to shoot in several National Parks on the East Cost and in Utah, but not Yellowstone proving there is no consistent policy or procedure and discrimination is a strong possibility.

A proposed change in the existing law could change that if it passes allowing a yearly charge for single team camera crew to shoot on all Federal Controlled land including National Parks, for a fee of $200.00.

Veterans groups are asking for the immediate passage of the proposed changes to the law, and warning Congress and Park Service of the backlash that could occur from veterans in support of disabled veterans just trying to make a living if the law is not changed.

Mike Blumberg
Arrow Maker Productions

Nature is the Contributor. I am an Observer of the Contributor.
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Old March 24th, 2008, 04:46 PM   #77
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Seems like Yellowstone is the big problem so far.

I know it was like going into a brick wall at 90mph. :)

I'll have to talk to my dad as he's heavily involved in Veteran affairs.

Nice to have the Vets on our side on this.

I'll keep on plugging away on my end.
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Old March 28th, 2008, 06:55 PM   #78
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From the following site

"I spoke with a gentlemen from CNN that has a crew here shooting footage for a special airing on Friday night. It's going to be on the delisting, which occurs officially on Friday. ......"

Kevin, it would be interesting to find out from this person if CNN actually had "paid" ranger observers , for this shoot.

By the way the video is on the CNN site and also Friday night at 10 also in reference to the wolves delisting.
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Old March 29th, 2008, 05:21 AM   #79
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I sent Kevin ( the guy in the post ) a message about it. I'll let you know if I hear from him.
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Old March 29th, 2008, 08:40 AM   #80
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Thanks for the post!

I did not read all six pages of posts, but the truth of the matter is that we have been conditioned to be willing to pay taxes just because we're told it's necessary and acceptable to do so. Taxes, such as these "fees" for shooting in a National Park, should be fought by the people at every turn.

We need to remember who the "government" really is. The people--you and me--are the government. They are our parks, not the government's! The people, individually, should be able to enjoy the parks in any way they see fit as long as their "enjoyment" is not causing any damage or threat to any thing or anyone in any way. A lone videographer with a tripod and camera has neither direct nor indirect impact on the environment. So why the fee (tax)?

By all means, fight this legislation and get it overturned!
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Old March 30th, 2008, 08:47 PM   #81
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Got a reponse from Kevin:

I will say emphatically, No, there was no Ranger with them when I met them. But they didn't shoot as I was speaking to them. But I did tell them where the Druids were and a half hour later I saw them in that area, videotaping and still at that time there was no Ranger in the area. I did not stop, mostly because they had their camera gear set up in what was left of the available pull out.

There is one crew here now that has been here for quite a while videotaping that doesn't have a Ranger with them.

Also, there are a couple of other cinematographers that spend most of the year in the park that do not have Rangers with them, anytime. I won't mention them by name, but............

The reason I won't or wouldn't talk about any one of the three individuals or groups that are videotaping within the park is that I have made friends with all of them. I'm not saying it is right if it is the rule, but it's obvious that it may not be enforced all the time.

I know I have heard of the same thing you are talking about, a Ranger having to be with the crew. But in my month here I've only seen one crew videotaping in the Gardiner River Canyon that had a Ranger with them at the time they were videotaping.

Hope this helps. Even though I didn't give you anything that people that spend an extended amount of time here don't already know.

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Old April 28th, 2008, 01:42 PM   #82
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I have just ran into this wall shooting in The eastern sierra in California. I am a backcountry snowboarder and I want to make a commercial dvd of my adventures in several national forests and have started investigating what it will take. As all of you have stated I cant really afford the 2400 dollar a year insurance policy I was quoted nor can I afford the 150 dollars a day permit fees.
This was the actual reason I have poured a year of learning and 15 grand into my little production company. I can shoot weddings and special events at home bu so far no luck in getting legal in the forest.

I have talked to a friend who has a "partnership" with a certain NF and I am trying this route but I hope this bill passes.
I cant Imagine a summer rnger following me around where I go . although I have ran into a couple of winter backcountry rangers checking permits ( they were on skis)

I just stumbled on to this today and when I get home I plan to read every post.

I think it may be time to organize and fight this tax.

Its funny. When I asked about a permit the permit ranger went down the same checklist as the film insurance person

Any pyrotechincs involed? Helecopters? boats? What about toilets, crowd and traffic control? ect

They just didnt get the fact it was me, a couple of non pro atheletes and a tripod
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 02:54 PM   #83
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I wrote every congressman I could find in Arizona, and I've heard back from two. Senator Kyle's office actually called me to talk more about this issue, and from the sound of our conversation I'm fairly sure he'll vote for the legislation if it can get to the senate. I also received an email response from Congressman Trent Franks who will vote for the bill if it reaches the House Floor. Hopefully this will happen soon, as an entire season of my new show is now on hold due to this issue. The worst part of it all, is my show was intending to provide resources to the public about topics such as Leave No Trace Hiking, and how to use the woods in an unobtrusive manner. Now, because of this hassle, who knows if it'll even get off the ground.
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Old May 2nd, 2008, 07:04 PM   #84
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I didn't know these permits carried over to the national forests also, are you sure? I filmed all over the place in the White River in Colorado last year and never ran into an issue, I even filmed two forest rangers, with their permission, as they left after giving me a ticket for speeding on a dirt road at 8500 feet where very few people go, just because there was a posted limit and they had radar. These guys were completely outfitted, guns an everything, forest rangers, I have been going to the same area since the early 70's and this caught me by surprise, but not a word about the camera gear, go figure
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 08:58 AM   #85
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This is just some info from the National Forests in the SW Region. But look up any National Forest, BLM land, National Park, National Monument, you need a filming permit unless your just taking vacation video that yo're not going to do anything with.

But they all require fees. Some Rangers might not be aware of the requirement. If you want to interview a Ranger they'd really want you to have a permit for sure because they won't grant you one of your interview isn't something that follows park policy lines.

Film Permits

National forests are a popular location for the commercial filming and still photography industries. Many motion pictures, television series and commercials have been filmed on the national forests of Arizona and New Mexico.

Anyone wishing to film on National Forest System lands must obtain a special use permit from the Forest Service. The following information addresses many common questions concerning the permitting process.

Commercial Filming

A special use permit is required for all commercial filming activities on National Forest System lands. A special use permit is not required for broadcasting breaking news.

Commercial filming is defined as the use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, other moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets or props, but not activities associated with broadcasts for news programs. For purposes of this definition, creation of a product for sale includes but is not limited to a film, videotape, television broadcast or documentary of historic events, wildlife, natural events, features, subjects or participants in a sporting or recreation event and so forth, when created for the purpose of generating income.

Commercial or still photography will NOT be permitted if the Forest Service determines that any of the following criteria apply:

There is a likelihood of resource damage that cannot be mitigated.
There would be an unreasonable disruption of the public’s use and enjoyment of the site (beyond short term interruption)
The activity poses health or safety risks to the public that cannot be mitigated.


Cost recovery fees (permit processing and monitoring) and land use fees must be paid before filming can start.

Processing and monitoring fees vary depending on the estimated hours of Forest Service time needed to process the application to monitor filming and for any reclamation required. The fees are based on the following schedule:

Film Permits Fee Schedule
Category Forest Service
Work Hours Processing/Monitoring Fees*
1 1 to 8 $100
2 8 to 24 $354
3 24 to 36 $665
4 36 to 50 $953
5 N/A to Film Permits
6 50+ Full reimbursement for actual costs.
*Processing/monitoring fees will be accessed using separate categories.

Southwestern Region Land Use Fees for Commercial Filming

Land Use Fees Per Day for Still Photography:

1-10 persons/$50
11-30 persons/$150
over 30 persons/$250

Land Use Fees Per Day for Movie/TV Locations

1-10 persons/$150
11-30 persons/$200
31-60 persons/$500
over 60 persons/$600

The authorizing officer may adjust fees as necessary.

Contact the forest office that is responsible for the area where you are interested in filming. You will be referred to the ranger district office where the decision will be made to issue a permit to film on National Forest System lands.

You will need to have a detailed description of your planned filming activity. You can use the Photography and Filming Request to describe your proposed use of National Forest System lands.

You will need to provide a map showing specific filming locations.

Typically the Forest Service is not able to respond quickly to filming proposals. At a minimum you should plan to submit your proposal at least 30 days before you want to start filming. Complex filming proposals could require even more time depending on the level of analysis the Forest Service determines is necessary to complete before a permit can be issued.

Liability insurance will be required naming the US Government as “additional insured.” The Forest Service will determine the appropriate amount of coverage.

Depending on the location and type of production, the Forest Service may impose additional requirements such as bonding.
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 09:04 AM   #86
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My read is that like most huge organizations, not every park or forest is as worried about this as the 'trend setters' like Yellowstone. However,
(and thanks for your EXCELLENT WORK Evan!) we have a chance of making this a national issue. Even with as many problems as the USA now faces, this is a debate that should take place in public. I have no problem with the Park's need to gather revenue. I know they have been hit with cuts. Our goal should be to make the policy fair and reasonable. Again, $200 is a lot of money for us 'out of our own pockets' filmmakers, but I think that is reasonable for a yearly "national permit fee".

We should all write to our congress people and use Evan case as a prime example of 'unintended consequences' that are causing harm.

I am going to do so now. Remember the $200 house bill is H. R. 5502.
Jacques Mersereau
University of Michigan-Video Studio Manager
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 09:14 AM   #87
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I think most people have no problem with having to get a permit to film. A one time fee yearly permit would be fine with me as well. That's giving something back to the national lands.
Maybe they can argue that we make a lot more money off the parks than $200 but they also have to realize that professional still photographers pay ZERO, NADA, NOTHING to photograph on our national lands.

How man long lens camera do you see to a video camera with a mattebox? Granted a lot of non-pros use big glass but there were so many professional photographers crammed on the side of the road shooting a coyote den that they had to have a ranger present to direct traffic etc.
I would have been the only one required to pay for a ranger escort as well to make sure my tripod wasn't a tripping hazard and that I was following all the rules.

So, I really don;t want to hear any argument from them until they decide to start charging professional photographers too.

Course, the law says that they can't which is what we're trying tog et changed here.
I think this bill is a fair compromise. The federal lands get some fees back in return, even though I already paid for the park with my taxes. And I can shoot on lands that I paid for without undue financial burden placed on me.
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 01:35 PM   #88
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Do you have any knowledge of how this bill is doing? This link seems to imply that it is dead--no action since February. It does state that it may have been folded into another bill.
Andy Tejral
Railroad Videographer
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Old May 3rd, 2008, 01:40 PM   #89
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Haven't heard a peep.
I'll see if I can call the two representatives from Iowa that are on the House Agriculture Committee on Monday and see if I can't get them to give it a push.
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Old May 5th, 2008, 10:54 AM   #90
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Thanks for the kind words Jacques. I've left numerous voice mails with the national forest offices out here, and have only gotten one return phone call. There is a chance I might be able to get some leeway because I work for a University (Northern Arizona), and we aren't necessarily using the video for commercial purposes, but I'm not holding my breath.

When I spoke with the Senator's office I made the point that I (and most I've heard from) don't have a problem with the fees, but the issue is that this seems to be such an arbitrary process with no set rules and regs. Something needs to be done to at least sort this mess out so we know for sure who we need to talk to etc.

I'm not sure about other National Forests, but here (Coconino National Forest) I'm going to have to get a permit from EACH ranger district I might shoot in! This means I could theoretically have to deal with up to 5 separate individuals to shoot in locations less than an hour from each other. Even though its one forest, they've given their ranger districts autonomy to make their own decisions. Talk about a HUGE pain! I'll keep you guys updated about any developments I come across.

Good Luck!

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