Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Forest Service issues new wilderness filming rules

The U.S. Forest Service has issued temporary new guidelines on commercial filming that cover some 439 wilderness areas it oversees nationwide, kicking off a fresh round of debate over how best to manage these federally protected preserves. Some pro-wilderness groups now contend the agency is caving in to political pressure, not basing its decisions on appropriate stewardship of wilderness where mechanized transportation and most commercial enterprise is banned. Idaho Public Television’s “Outdoor Idaho” program was allowed to film student conservation efforts in the 2.3-million-acre Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness late last month — but only after Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter and U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, complained the Forest Service had inappropriately barred cameras from crossing into the area. Amid this pressure, National Forest managers are being directed to consider, among other criteria, how a proposed project would spread information about the “enjoyment of wilderness” before issuing a commercial filming permit. They hope this will clarify confusion about when filming is appropriate, and when it isn’t. Andy Stahl, who heads Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, an advocacy group, fears the new guidelines will mean more and more intrusive filming in areas set aside starting nearly a half-century ago to prevent America’s untrammeled spaces from vanishing...more

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