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Environmentalists want to keep filmmakers out of the forests

Forest environmentalists are under the impression that if people are allowed to film the forest, it will somehow cause the forest to vanish.

So they are upset that the U.S. Forest Service recently issued temporary guidelines on commercial filming that make it easier to film these untamed a


Forest environmentalists are under the impression that if people are allowed to film the forest, it will somehow cause the forest to vanish.

So they are upset that the U.S. Forest Service recently issued temporary guidelines on commercial filming that make it easier to film these untamed areas throughout the country.

They believe that the 1964 Wilderness Act, which forbids mechanized transportation and most commercial enterprise, shall also forbid cameras from ever documenting these cherished lands.

The temporary guidelines were implemented after some states complained that the restrictions were just too restrictive, according to an Associated Press article.

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 in an effort to prevent America’s untrammeled spaces from vanishing.

“The authors of the 1964 Wilderness Act realized … that every day, there would be a new pressure from civilization to push its way into the boundaries of wilderness,” Stahl said from Portland, Ore. “Because civilization is inexorable.”

The temporary guidelines that would allow commercial filming under certain criteria went into effect June 3 and will expire Dec. 3, 2011. It’s no telling what will happen after that.

Not everybody is pleased: At least one member of the Student Conservation Association trail crew filmed by the “Outdoor Idaho” crew in late May objected to appearing on camera, on grounds it violated the wilderness ethos.

George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch, based in Missoula, Mont., says the Forest Service has no business judging the merits of wilderness filming projects.

“The law just says there should be no commercial enterprise,” Nickas said. “To have the agency sitting here drafting loopholes is crazy.”

All I have to say is that it’s a good thing Ansel Adams did most of his work before the 1964 Wilderness Act was passed.

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