I kept looking at the URL from the Esquire story. . . thinking this must be the Onion. This govt. is out of control . . . for every law created, there's some out-of-touch douche who wants to limit other people's behavior because they don't like it or want to make tax revenue from it. Too much leisure time in this country, which greatly benefit the losers, sickos, and politicians. 7 things you should know about the Forest Service's media restrictions in wilderness | OregonLive.com The U.S. Forest Service Wants to Fine You $1,000 for Taking Pictures in the Forest - Esquire The U.S. Forest Service Wants to Fine You $1,000 for Taking Pictures in the Forest The Forest Service oversees 193 million acres of wilderness. In a month, you won't be able to take a picture in them without getting a fine -- even if the new rules are unconstitutional. By Eric Vilas-Boas on September 24, 2014 Ascent Xmedia/Taxi/Getty Images Nice photo. That'll be $1,000, please. This week's most profoundly wrongheaded display of nonviolent press infringement comes from an unlikely source: The U.S. Forest Service. New rules being finalized in November state that—across this country's gloriously beautiful, endlessly photogenic, 193 million acres of designated wilderness area administered by the USFS—members of the press who happen upon it will need permits to photograph or shoot video. And yes, it does sound like one of the dumbest things you've ever read. "It's pretty clearly unconstitutional," said Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. "They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can't." Wait! It gets better. [Liz Close, the Forest Service's acting wilderness director] didn't cite any real-life examples of why the policy is needed or what problems it's addressing. She didn't know whether any media outlets had applied for permits in the last four years. The slap you just heard was of more than 34 million American hikers hitting palm to forehead. And the clicks you heard came from nature photographers from coast to coast ignoring those new rules. Maybe outrage shouldn't be your first reaction. Maybe it's good for the forests. You won't have news crews traipsing about, trampling leaves. You won't get as frustrated as you might otherwise have been when you pass some dude with a camera on a trail. Maybe we'd all be better off, even. Wrong. The Organic Act of 1897, the legislation that kicked off, in a big way, the establishment of the modern U.S. Forest Service, clearly provides (emphasis added): The jurisdiction, both civil and criminal, over persons within such reservations shall not be affected or changed by reason of the existence of such reservations, except so far as the punishment of offenses against the United States therein is concerned; the intent and meaning of this provision being that the State wherein any such reservation is situated shall not, by reason of the establishment thereof, lose its jurisdiction, nor the inhabitants thereof their rights and privileges as citizens, or be absolved from their duties as citizens of the State. For any journalist, both parts of that statement are very important. All U.S. citizens enjoy the right of the First Amendment, and courts have very clearly upheld the rights of a citizen to take photographs taken in a public place—even the unpopular ones, and even ugly, boring ones of trees and mountains. And as for "duties as citizens of the State." Well, it's called the Fourth Estate for a reason. That's what the U.S. Forest Service is hurting here: The understanding that the public has a right to this land, and right to know about it, with media more expressive than words. With this: A hiker takes the trail approaching Minaret Lake, getting a great view of Reigelhuth Minaret - Sierra Nevada. John Mock/Getty Images Close, of the Forest Service, doesn't seem to agree. She said the agency was implementing the Wilderness Act of 1964, which aims to protect wilderness areas from being exploited for commercial gain. "That's kind of a distortion," says Peter Essick, an award-winning National Geographic photographer who has worked with the Forest Service before, as well as the other agencies that oversee American wildernesses for years to produce truly remarkable work. "When the Wilderness Act was created in 1964, there were plenty of people doing photography," he says. "Nothing in the Wilderness Act says photography is not approved or banned." When he goes out to shoot, Essick takes the utmost care to the follow the rules of "leave no trace," and he does it with 65 pounds of gear on his back. He's a nature photographer: Not trashing the place is pretty much rule number one. There's another layer to this, too. The USFS and the other agencies have used photography since their inception to tell the story of the wilderness. All the words in the world can't show you as much as one beautiful Ansel Adams photo. Coincidentally, Essick spent lots of time photographing the Ansel Adams Wilderness, named for the famous photographer, for his own book. Over and over again, the establishment of an American wilderness, the National Parks, the core idea that you can escape to a more primitive, but nonetheless essential part of this country, has been referred to as America's best idea. It's why city-dwelling, suburb-raised punks like me can have so many feelings toward land that has filled our lungs with fresh air and our hearts with wonder. It's why I swell with pride when my little sister, gritting her teeth through cuts and tears, finished her first hike. It's why I look forward to enjoying it with my children when they come along. That feeling needs to stick around. And, believe me, I get it. No one wants annoying reporters or photographers damaging the environment, even if "breaking news" is happening. (This is the only case in which this rule wouldn't apply—and it happens to be entirely unenforceable.) Wilderness areas have it bad enough already. The United States pumps "on the order of nearly 60 million 'short tons'" of carbon monoxide into the air every year, the EPA tells us. We dump 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage stormwater, and industrial waste into the water that—eventually—is supposed to make it back to your faucet, your hot shower, the water bottle you give your kid on his hike. And no one likes seeing headlines like "Sequoia National Park is Stuck in Pollution Hell" or "Where the Smog Ends Up." But do the good people running the USFS really think that charging a journalist $1,500 for a permit—and a fine of $1,000 per shot to those who don't get one—is going to aid that cause? Do they think adding a roadblock to the essential act of newsgathering and to the creation of free publicity for the forests is a wise decision? Ritter range, Ansel Adams Wilderness Steve Dunleavy/Getty Images It infringes upon the First Amendment. There's no reasonable way to enforce it. The U.S. Forest Service have failed to cite real-life examples of why it's needed. Above all, the spirit of the rules would limit our understanding of these beautiful spaces with which we're supposed to co-exist. Today the Forest Service tweeted this video. It's beautiful: a PSA specifically meant to connect tweens to nature, "ultimately creating a lifelong interest in spending time outdoors." Who knows if AdCouncil, which produced it, paid $1,500 for a permit, but that money would prevent a lot of people from doing so. Have you seen a Light Show on a National Forest? Take a peek! Discover the Forest - Forest Light Show :30 - YouTube — USDA Forest Service (@forestservice) September 24, 2014 "There would be less photography done," Essick says. "I can't see that as something that would help the wilderness." To their credit, the Forest Service has opened themselves up to comment. Call them out, and post some photos on Instagram and Twitter while you're at it. UPDATE: Environment reporter Rob Davis of the Oregonian has a great breakdown of the implications of this here.