After finding a sympathetic panel of appellate court judges, the National Park Service was successful in the overturning of Price vs Barr. This allowed the NPS to implement a permit scheme in an attempt to increase revenue by targeting filmmakers who upload to sites like YouTube and TikTok. In other words, when your twelve-year-old daughter visits a national park during her summer vacation, then uploads to Instagram, regardless if her channel is monetized, she is in fact in violation of park service law and is subject to a fine and potential jail time. Think I’m joking? Not even close. And to make matters more in line with the US Government in general, the permitting process itself is broken.
I’ve spoken about this several times before, but I think this film does a good job of lining out the points, not to mention the lunacy that is the permitting process itself. The kicker for me was when this person asked a park ranger about filming and the guy says “Well, you can come in and film and we PROBABLY won’t get you but……” If that doesn’t sum up the lack of planning, the lack of thought and the absolute detachment from reality that government organizations have I’m not sure what does. What this speaks to is selective enforcement, which is precisely what I knew would happen. Are you of value to the park service? Can you pay a sizable fine? If so, well sure, we’ll go ahead and enforce this. I can’t wait for the NPS to fine the child of a person of influence who is going to blow their stack while suing anyone that moves. And what do you guess will happen when this happens? Of course, it will magically disappear. The fact the park service can’t quite define who they are in fact fining is a major red flag.
Again, this could have been an opportunity for the NPS to be forward facing while using filmmakers to assist in the future of the parks. But no, why do that when you can fine people or take their money for permits they may or may not even acquire.
All I know is, when I see and feel overreach like this, it solidifies my opinion that we won’t stay here. I know the rest of the world has their issues as well, but what I see here in the United States now could be best described not as “The Land of the Free,” but more as ‘The Land of the Scam,” and our government is leading the way. You can write to your representative, but in my experience in doing so, it won’t do much good. What does work is making sure you don’t give a penny to these places or organizations. Speak with your wallet. In modern America it’s about the only thing that works. 28% of our entire country is now off limits without opening your wallet for the park service, at least if you are a documentarian. Does this mean better facilities, better hours, better access, improved offerings? Well, time will tell, but based on my fifty-four years as an American, I’m doubtful.