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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Simpson to Forest Service: Don’t restrict news-gathering, observe 1st Amendment in wilderness

Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson has sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell expressing strong concerns about proposed rules for commercial filming in wilderness areas, asking the Forest Service to make sure the final rule doesn’t place an undue burden on journalists, TV programs, outfitters and guides and other media-related activities that have traditionally enjoyed access to wilderness areas for filming or photography.

“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 wrote.

He also raised First Amendment concerns about the proposed rule, saying it suggests the Forest Service could restrict filming or photography based on content. You can read Simpson’s full letter here. He notes Tidwell’s recent comments, suggesting the rule will be modified so it doesn’t restrict news-gathering. “I am hopeful the final rule will reflect your reasonable interpretation and clearly articulate that legitimate news gathering activities will not require permits in the future,” the 2nd District GOP congressman wrote.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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