film permits on public land

Big Fin

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Are you okay sharing sponsors with people that admittedly haven’t bought film permits for years and are raking in a bunch of money from sponsors from there content? Why not bring that up to them? I get that the permit system wasn’t great or perfect but people just openly disobeying it because they don’t like or believe in it is a crummy way to do business.
I guess I am, given I've never made it my business to worry about how others are operating their businesses.


To your question of "Why not bring it up to them?"

First, I'm not out asking everyone whether they do or don't get film permits. I don't find it my job to enforce film permit rules. I don't call police when someone passes me when I am doing the speed limit. I don't call the county when I see a person adding on to their house and likely doesn't have a construction permit. If agencies want to promulgate complicated rules and then not enforce those consistently, that is their decision, not my problem. I will follow them, but I'm not inclined to be their deputy.
 

wllm1313

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I don't know about Warren Miller, but the skiing industry is huge and compliance from those I have talked to about film permits is close to zero. The same for the off-road people, adventure activities, mountain biking, etc. I've inquired to some of the larger producers when I encountered a few complications of film permits. Maybe my inquiries are not reflective of compliance among those groups and it is possible that compliance is high.

Yet, seeing where they are filming, the impacts they are creating on land, the size of their operations, I know I would never get permitted for such. So, I suspect they follow the "forgiveness is easier than permission" principle.

I watch some mountain bike content on public lands (sorry to pick on them) where they are having some big impacts on trails and other users. And I get a warning from an agency that went and inspected my camp site (we have to give maps of camp sites) and they found that we cut three limbs (all less than half-inch caliper) off a green alder tree to make room for a tent. Such randomness and inconsistency across those getting permits and those ignoring the rules is hardly beneficial to the entire idea of film permitting.
"compliance from those I have talked to about film permits is close to zero"

This is my experience as well, I remember you posting on the forum how your permits complicate your hunting schedule and make it difficult to be flexible. After reading that post I saw a ski movie, by one of the major companies talking about chasing storms around they country and/or hanging out in AK waiting for a weather window. How is that feasible if you have to have a film permit.

I've spoken to several friends in the industry about this and they all looked at me like I was insane when I brought up film permits.


I see your 3 green alder limbs and raise you a 70ft jump.

They definitely got a permit from the BLM right :rolleyes:

1612796386854.png
 

Big Fin

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For some perspective, here is what the agencies go through when they get a film permit from me. Or at least as it has often been explained to me when I inquire where our permit might be in the approval process.

Contact the Realty or Commerical Permit Officer. That person starts a case with our original application. Then it goes to some level of environmental review to comply with NEPA. It is examined by archeologists or other artifact specialist. It is examined by the person administering other commercial activities on the identified public lands. It is run by the T&E species biologist to make sure our activities will no negatively impact threatened or endangered species. Other folks get to weigh in based on what concerns the permit officer identified when reviewing our initial application.

This process often takes 2-4 months. I've eaten tags when the agency had everyone on fire duty and the permit officer was in the field coordinating permits with companies saving lives and property in big wildlife incidents. Pretty hard for that person to complete my film permit when the priority is so low compared to what they have on their hands at that time. I've delayed or deferred trips when the film permit was in process, yet not completed by our original filming dates. By delaying I've at least been able to salvage the tag/hunt.

I could fill this thread with tons of posts about film permit headaches. If I ever quit this gig and spend my money on more personal hunting, the complication and frustrations of complying with film permits will be a big contributor to the decision.

Point of this; the agencies lose their asses on film permit requests. Film permits as currently structured are money losers. If compliance increased to 50%, the agencies would be inundated with more money-losing film permit requests, to the point where the agencies don't have resources to process the permits of those who comply.

As much as I pay some pretty heavy fees compared to others, the level of work they put into a film permit is far more than the fee charged. And as agency budgets have been cut, then cut again, then cut again, the number of employees available to process commercial permit requests is a fraction of what it once was. There is no way these employees can process these items in a timely manner.

If the agencies are going to promulgate such complicated rules, they have not assessed the costs they are incurring to do such and they are not allocating human resources to get these done in a timely manner. I seldom find delays an employee issue, rather a work load issues. Congress keeps passing laws for which the agencies have to promulgate regulations, yet the number of employees keep getting less and less. I would not want to be a permit officer or a LEO in one of the Federal agencies.

An overhaul of this process is necessary if the objective is high compliance and actual cost recovery (not losses) by the agencies.
 

TheTone

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I guess I am, given I've never made it my business to worry about how others are operating their businesses.


To your question of "Why not bring it up to them?"

First, I'm not out asking everyone whether they do or don't get film permits. I don't find it my job to enforce film permit rules. I don't call police when someone passes me when I am doing the speed limit. I don't call the county when I see a person adding on to their house and likely doesn't have a construction permit. If agencies want to promulgate complicated rules and then not enforce those consistently, that is their decision, not my problem. I will follow them, but I'm not inclined to be their deputy.

willing to turn someone in for a game violation you witness?
 

TheTone

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Guess just wondering where lines are

I’ll let stuff go for now.
 

get-n-birdy

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Far different to watch a violation and call it in, verses hearsay and conjecture on "if" a company has a permit or not. One requires leg work into asking questions if said required permits have been satisfied. Not sure that's a great idea for anyone to confront people out in the field or bash them without proof. If someone openly admits to it is a completely different ball of yarn. How far do we take being responsible for the possibility of someone else's actions being in question? Asking them if each person's drivers license and vehicle registration is up to date, they have the right insurance, that they are paying their taxes and they aren't delinquent on their mortgage, credit cards, loans and child support, etc? Not sure how far it can be taken, but not sure it's one person's responsibility to police a whole industry. Asking those questions and enforcing those types of things falls on the agencies entrusted to give out the permits. Lot of conjecture and assuming. If they know about it, yet don't have the resources to enforce it, all a guy can do is worry about his own ch!t and live their life best they can.
 

BWALKER77

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Middle ground?

Film permits for 1-6 people for 7 days or less are shall grant, available via the USFS website, and have a fixed price, $20 a day?

Permits for more than 6 people or greater than 7 days are may grant and have a different price structure.

Also I wonder if I’m the last 70 years if Warren Miller or any ski/snowboard/bike etc company has ever paid for a permit. It’s pretty crazy that I’ve watched probably over a hundred of these films, have had maybe a dozen or so friends involved in the industry... and yet the first time I heard about a permit for filming on public lands was when a CPA started talking about self filming his hunts.
Leave it to a CPA to read the fine print!
 

SixPoint

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Southwest Montana
For some perspective, here is what the agencies go through when they get a film permit from me. Or at least as it has often been explained to me when I inquire where our permit might be in the approval process.

Contact the Realty or Commerical Permit Officer. That person starts a case with our original application. Then it goes to some level of environmental review to comply with NEPA. It is examined by archeologists or other artifact specialist. It is examined by the person administering other commercial activities on the identified public lands. It is run by the T&E species biologist to make sure our activities will no negatively impact threatened or endangered species. Other folks get to weigh in based on what concerns the permit officer identified when reviewing our initial application.

This process often takes 2-4 months. I've eaten tags when the agency had everyone on fire duty and the permit officer was in the field coordinating permits with companies saving lives and property in big wildlife incidents. Pretty hard for that person to complete my film permit when the priority is so low compared to what they have on their hands at that time. I've delayed or deferred trips when the film permit was in process, yet not completed by our original filming dates. By delaying I've at least been able to salvage the tag/hunt.

I could fill this thread with tons of posts about film permit headaches. If I ever quit this gig and spend my money on more personal hunting, the complication and frustrations of complying with film permits will be a big contributor to the decision.

Point of this; the agencies lose their asses on film permit requests. Film permits as currently structured are money losers. If compliance increased to 50%, the agencies would be inundated with more money-losing film permit requests, to the point where the agencies don't have resources to process the permits of those who comply.

As much as I pay some pretty heavy fees compared to others, the level of work they put into a film permit is far more than the fee charged. And as agency budgets have been cut, then cut again, then cut again, the number of employees available to process commercial permit requests is a fraction of what it once was. There is no way these employees can process these items in a timely manner.

If the agencies are going to promulgate such complicated rules, they have not assessed the costs they are incurring to do such and they are not allocating human resources to get these done in a timely manner. I seldom find delays an employee issue, rather a work load issues. Congress keeps passing laws for which the agencies have to promulgate regulations, yet the number of employees keep getting less and less. I would not want to be a permit officer or a LEO in one of the Federal agencies.

An overhaul of this process is necessary if the objective is high compliance and actual cost recovery (not losses) by the agencies.
Clearly this process is inefficient at best and another example of why the federal government can be so painful. That being, assuming a more streamlined permitting process, what do you think a fair fee would be for you to film a week long hunt with your crew?
 

Big Fin

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Clearly this process is inefficient at best and another example of why the federal government can be so painful. That being, assuming a more streamlined permitting process, what do you think a fair fee would be for you to film a week long hunt with your crew?
I have worked with many in DC to get this streamlined. It gets some momentum, but it never makes it high enough up a priority list to get attached to any legislation. I think reform would have been a much better option than losing a case such as this.

I am conditioned to pay large amounts, so the idea of what was proposed by the folks in DC seemed low. The idea was the crews of 5 or less would pay for an annual fee, almost like a hunting license. The fee suggested was $1,000 per year, which seems like the deal of the century.

The idea being that increasing compliance from 10% to 90% would raise a lot more revenue. It would result in less administrative and enforcement costs to the agencies. It would eliminate the complications where you have some BLM lands adjacent to USFS lands and thus two permits is currently needed.

For a current week-long hunt, I pay $150-250 for an application fee, the same for a recovery fee, and the daily rate is $150-250 per day. On the highest end, I have $500 of application and recovery costs and $1,750 for seven days of use. That is a total of $2,250 for a week-long hunt. When we do 12-14 hunts per year, it adds up. On the lower end of the scale is $1,350 per week. I wish I could tell you how some offices charge us the highest rate, some waive the fees, some call us low impact and give us an even lower rate, and some ask us to do videos or provide footage in exchange for have some of the fees waived.

For me, if the fee was $5,000 per year, that is the same fee paid by someone grazing 250+ cow/calf pairs 24/365 for an entire year. I suspect our impact is far less than 250 pairs on the land for an entire year, but I think that would be a fair rate.

I will continue to carry my $3 million of liability insurance currently required for some permits. It protects me if some accident happens out there and we are deemed responsible. I'm willing to keep the USFS and BLM as bound parties on that insurance. That adds another $4K of cost per year. I have no problem with being required to carry insurance. I carry that to cover liabilities I might cause while driving. As a commercial user of someone else's property, it seems reasonable that they require I carry insurance to cover them/me.

I know some who do what I do would disagree with $5K, plus insurance requirement. But you asked for an opinion. That's my opinion.

In the last 13 years of doing this, I've paid over a quarter million dollars in film permit fees and incurred another $35K in liability insurance costs. Just part of being in the gig I have selected. Or, at least a cost to those who feel that following the rules is an expectation, not an exception.

And, through the Freedom of Information Act, most of my older operating plans filed with my film permits have been obtained by a lot of people, with much of that information shared liberally. I know some people who refuse to apply for film permits because they are not willing to share years of scouting and research with the general public who then uses that information as a scouting shortcut.

Fortunately, I have convinced the USFS and BLM that they can no longer give out my maps and other exact details included in my operating plan, as they fall under the "proprietary information" category, a case the USFS lost in court for issuing proprietary information as part of a FOIA request. Yet, I don't always get notified before the information is submitted and often it goes out the door with these operating plans attached.

Example - I have been notified by the USFS of how many FOIA requests have come in for the film permit on the Wyoming mule deer hunt with Beau and Lorenzo this last season. The FOIA officer agrees with my position that the operating plans are proprietary information and so far has only provided the two page application and not the operating plan. I warned the film permit officer the day we got out of the hills to expect a bunch of FOIA requests and that I wanted to be notified of such. She kind of laughed. Within a couple days of airing those episodes she called me to confirm that I was correct.

That FOIA information is a long sidebar that contributes to why some in the hunting space don't want to do film permits. Now that I have most the FOIA officers on notice that my operating plans are proprietary, it is far less of a concern for me, except for those folks who send out information without notifying me that my information has been requested.
 

SAJ-99

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I warned the film permit officer the day we got out of the hills to expect a bunch of FOIA requests and that I wanted to be notified of such. She kind of laughed. Within a couple days of airing those episodes she called me to confirm that I was correct.
Holy cow, people are lazy. I mean, I knew it, but jeeez. Planning is half the fun.
 

SixPoint

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I have worked with many in DC to get this streamlined. It gets some momentum, but it never makes it high enough up a priority list to get attached to any legislation. I think reform would have been a much better option than losing a case such as this.

I am conditioned to pay large amounts, so the idea of what was proposed by the folks in DC seemed low. The idea was the crews of 5 or less would pay for an annual fee, almost like a hunting license. The fee suggested was $1,000 per year, which seems like the deal of the century.

The idea being that increasing compliance from 10% to 90% would raise a lot more revenue. It would result in less administrative and enforcement costs to the agencies. It would eliminate the complications where you have some BLM lands adjacent to USFS lands and thus two permits is currently needed.

For a current week-long hunt, I pay $150-250 for an application fee, the same for a recovery fee, and the daily rate is $150-250 per day. On the highest end, I have $500 of application and recovery costs and $1,750 for seven days of use. That is a total of $2,250 for a week-long hunt. When we do 12-14 hunts per year, it adds up. On the lower end of the scale is $1,350 per week. I wish I could tell you how some offices charge us the highest rate, some waive the fees, some call us low impact and give us an even lower rate, and some ask us to do videos or provide footage in exchange for have some of the fees waived.

For me, if the fee was $5,000 per year, that is the same fee paid by someone grazing 250+ cow/calf pairs 24/365 for an entire year. I suspect our impact is far less than 250 pairs on the land for an entire year, but I think that would be a fair rate.

I will continue to carry my $3 million of liability insurance currently required for some permits. It protects me if some accident happens out there and we are deemed responsible. I'm willing to keep the USFS and BLM as bound parties on that insurance. That adds another $4K of cost per year. I have no problem with being required to carry insurance. I carry that to cover liabilities I might cause while driving. As a commercial user of someone else's property, it seems reasonable that they require I carry insurance to cover them/me.

I know some who do what I do would disagree with $5K, plus insurance requirement. But you asked for an opinion. That's my opinion.

In the last 13 years of doing this, I've paid over a quarter million dollars in film permit fees and incurred another $35K in liability insurance costs. Just part of being in the gig I have selected. Or, at least a cost to those who feel that following the rules is an expectation, not an exception.

And, through the Freedom of Information Act, most of my older operating plans filed with my film permits have been obtained by a lot of people, with much of that information shared liberally. I know some people who refuse to apply for film permits because they are not willing to share years of scouting and research with the general public who then uses that information as a scouting shortcut.

Fortunately, I have convinced the USFS and BLM that they can no longer give out my maps and other exact details included in my operating plan, as they fall under the "proprietary information" category, a case the USFS lost in court for issuing proprietary information as part of a FOIA request. Yet, I don't always get notified before the information is submitted and often it goes out the door with these operating plans attached.

Example - I have been notified by the USFS of how many FOIA requests have come in for the film permit on the Wyoming mule deer hunt with Beau and Lorenzo this last season. The FOIA officer agrees with my position that the operating plans are proprietary information and so far has only provided the two page application and not the operating plan. I warned the film permit officer the day we got out of the hills to expect a bunch of FOIA requests and that I wanted to be notified of such. She kind of laughed. Within a couple days of airing those episodes she called me to confirm that I was correct.

That FOIA information is a long sidebar that contributes to why some in the hunting space don't want to do film permits. Now that I have most the FOIA officers on notice that my operating plans are proprietary, it is far less of a concern for me, except for those folks who send out information without notifying me that my information has been requested.
Interesting that you see any fluctuation in requirements between the projects. $5,000 seems like a reasonable amount, particularly if compliance increased drastically. What is a "recovery fee"? I guess I shouldn't be surprised that folks pull the FOIA card. Pretty pathetic in my opinion. No different than folks who try to use gps collar data for a shortcut. Thank you for acknowledging your impact and trying to improve a flawed system.
 

idahohuntr

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Dec 19, 2013
Messages
192
I have worked with many in DC to get this streamlined. It gets some momentum, but it never makes it high enough up a priority list to get attached to any legislation. I think reform would have been a much better option than losing a case such as this.
There is a line longer than a country mile of lobbyists and special interests who would like their particular activity to get streamlined (or exempt) from all the federal legal requirements imposed when an agency takes an action (in this case issuing a film permit). If one member or party got a few exceptions the flood gates would open. The legal route (as in this NPS case) is probably the most likely means of 'streamlining'. The problem with the legislative approach...where does it stop? Film permits? Minor oil and gas leases? A little road construction? Transfer of federal lands?
And, through the Freedom of Information Act, most of my older operating plans filed with my film permits have been obtained by a lot of people, with much of that information shared liberally. I know some people who refuse to apply for film permits because they are not willing to share years of scouting and research with the general public who then uses that information as a scouting shortcut.

Fortunately, I have convinced the USFS and BLM that they can no longer give out my maps and other exact details included in my operating plan, as they fall under the "proprietary information" category, a case the USFS lost in court for issuing proprietary information as part of a FOIA request. Yet, I don't always get notified before the information is submitted and often it goes out the door with these operating plans attached.
I recall a thread mentioning the frustration a while ago, and at that time I recall pointing out to folks that they should seek to protect such information under the proprietary exemption. I would also strongly recommend labeling any specific information (hunt plans, locations, etc.) as proprietary (Literally stamp/watermark these submissions). People change jobs and I'm pretty sure there is no requirement to notify an applicant of FOIA requests (i suspect it is being done solely as a courtesy) so its not enough to rely on personal contacts...but if the document is clearly labeled by the applicant there is much greater likelihood it will be protected and/or that you would be contacted to discuss potential release of such information. Its also worth noting requestors can challenge exemptions too...so another consideration would be discussing just how much detail is truly necessary to even provide a federal agency.
 

sapperJ24

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Western Montana
Sounds like no luck for Randy this year, at least on FS land.

"Bridger-Teton National Park spokeswoman Mary Cernicek said the legal precedent created by Kollar-Kotelly’s order did not carry over to the U.S. Forest Service."

 

JDH

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Indiana
Holy cow, people are lazy. I mean, I knew it, but jeeez. Planning is half the fun.
You're right, planning is half the fun. I'm not going to lie though there have been a couple of episodes where I wish I knew where he was hunting just because I really liked the terrain and thought that would be an awesome place to hunt.
 
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