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Filming on Public Land Means More Conservation Advocates

June 14, 2021
posted in: News

Bozeman, Montana. June 14, 2021. Today, the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) expressed its support for S.1616, a bill to streamline permitting and reduce regulatory burdens on small operation filming on federal public lands. 
"A picture has always been worth a thousand words," said Gray N. Thornton, president, and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. "In today's world, a video or a film is priceless, especially when it brings people closer to nature and traditional outdoor activities like hunting and fishing. It's time we remove the barriers so passionate and creative filmmakers can gather all the content they need to remind us how valuable our natural resources are to all of us."
Titled the Federal Interior Land Media (FILM) Act, S.1616 addresses a lengthy, complex, expensive, outdated, and burdensome set of inconsistent rules and regulations for obtaining permits for filming on federal public lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
The FILM Act was introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) in May 2020 to modernize film permitting by removing overreaching and complex regulations that are limiting accesses to filmmakers and their viewers on what should be public resources. This modernization will also reduce administrative costs. Not only are agencies burdened with all the time and paperwork required to issue these permits, what little permit revenue is generated from small operation filming doesn't offset this staff time, and they lose money.
Thornton added, "Monitoring the impacts on the land and the resources are important, but there is a big difference between a full-length feature film crew of fifty people or more plus equipment, and four or fewer individuals with a camera and maybe a tripod. Yet, under the current regulations, all are treated the same."
The FILM Act is currently awaiting a hearing in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee. If the bill passes out of this committee, it may then be voted on by the entire U.S. Senate.
"Let's use the resources of our expert agencies to manage our lands and wildlife properly and not waste these resources on piles of paperwork," Thornton concluded. "WSF applauds Senator Barrasso for seeing the value in helping make the great outdoors accessible to everyone, even when they can't always get out there themselves. After all, this is how conservationists are made."
The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. With a membership of more than 10,000 worldwide, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep and other mountain wildlife and their habitats. WSF has raised and expended more than $135 million on wild sheep habitat and population enhancements, education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep on the Mountain®.” These and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations in North America from historic lows in the 1950-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today.

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