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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Lake Roosevelt fishing guides forced to remove videos following policy change

Geese float through shimmering reflections on the surface of Lake Roosevelt on  Jan. 11  near Snag Cove Campground north of Kettle Falls, Washington. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Fishing guides on Lake Roosevelt have been forced to remove videos of their angling clients from YouTube and elsewhere online in the past months.

The removals come after the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area started enforcing long-standing rules requiring the purchase of permits prior to the filming of commercially used videos.

About two months ago, fishing guides on the lake were contacted by National Park Service staff and told that videos they had on their webpages or YouTube channels of customers catching fish were violating commercial-use rules.

“This one is a little nitpicky,” said Craig Dowdy, the owner and operator of YG Guide Service. “It’s almost like they don’t want us to send business to the parks.”

That’s not the case, park managers said.

Instead, it’s a matter of following the rules, which have been in place since 2000.

“We’re not trying to shut them down,” Roosevelt superintendent Dan Foster said.

“I just don’t have the authority to go around this type of thing. If they are doing advertising for their business, then they need to have a permit.”

The park is choosing to enforce the rules because of an increase in videos posted to YouTube selling, or related to, commercial products.

As part of that effort, a new employee, Julia Treu-Fowler is tasked with combing through YouTube and contacting commercial operations violating the rules. Treu-Fowler has worked on commercial photo and video rules in other parks.

Operators are not being fined and may receive a permit for one video retroactively. Videos that do not have the proper permits must be removed.

The video application costs $45. Applications must be received a month in advance.

“I’ve been forced to take a lot of my videos down,” said Todd Graves, owner and operator of Lake Roosevelt Fishing Charters.

The videos are important advertising tools, Dowdy said.

“It does hinder your business a little bit if you can’t show what you’re catching,” he said.

Graves is more worried about guide services that aren’t following the rules gaining an unfair advertising advantage.

“I’m playing by the rules,” he said. “Why isn’t anyone else?”

Dowdy, for his part, has decided he won’t post any more videos.

“I will not buy their extra permit,” he said. “I’m not giving them any more money than I’m already giving them.”

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife even had to briefly remove a video they made about burbot fishing. The video is now back online. As a government organization, WDFW receives free commercial permits.

Most still photography will not require a permit. Photography requires a permit if the photo uses models, sets or props, takes place in a closed area of the park, or if the agency needs to provide on-site management or oversight of the shoot.

Foster said the rules aren’t intended to penalize. The Park Service is developing a program to quickly and effectively handle permit requests.

“It’s not like we’re out trying to nab people,” he said. “Anyone that wants to make money off a national park site or a federal property has to have a permit to do so.”

Still, Dowdy wonders why. He understands that other, larger parks might need more oversight, but Roosevelt has only a handful of commercial operations.

“We’re not any of these big parks where they may have to do that to keep it under control,” he said.