OWAA President Mark Freeman: 541-840-9477
OWAA Executive Director Tom Sadler: 406-552-4049
MISSOULA, Mont. – The Outdoor Writers Association of America today strongly criticized a U.S. Forest Service proposal that would require media outlets to pay for special-use permits before they film or take photos in federally designated wilderness areas, thereby severely hampering researching and reporting abilities by the media.
“The Outdoor Writers Association of America is concerned and disturbed that the U.S. Forest Service would use the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act to ratchet up its attempts to control what information is reported about wilderness areas and by whom,” said OWAA President Mark Freeman, outdoors columnist for the Mail Tribune in Medford, Oregon.
“Allowing forest supervisors to decide which journalists get to report in wilderness areas and what stories they can or can’t tell smacks of censorship and prior restraint. Restraining journalists and their reports was not intended to be part of the act’s restriction of commercialization of wilderness areas.”
“Five decades ago, outdoor journalists’ articles chronicling what was
left of the country’s wild areas were precisely what created the groundswell of public support for the Wilderness Act to pass in 1964,” said OWAA Executive Director Tom Sadler. “It would be a major step backward for the Forest Service to make it harder for the public to have virtual access to these wilderness areas that are, after all, public.”