Who owns the view? Viral video poses questions about BLM photography permits


— Published with Permission of FreeRangeReport.com —

“The camera equipment that we had was legit… long story short (BLM) pulled us off at the trail, brought us right to the BLM office and sat down with our team and I just tried to explain to them, look, I’ve been doing Easter Safari since ’95. And, look guys, let’s be honest… the majority of us that are comin’ out to Moab, this beautiful area to do video and film, we don’t pull permits because we think it’s a tough process.”

In his video below, Ryan Hagel, a professional videographer who does a lot of filming near Moab, Utah, takes an apologetic tone regarding being ‘caught’ by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), having failed to go through proper permitting processes to record footage on BLM-managed lands. Hagel is conciliatory, and a little contradictory (“We think it’s a tough process”–”the permit process is not hard…”), but as a professional and supporter of federal lands management, he says ‘the permit process is not hard. It’s two pages, the cost, it’s not bad…’ at $250 for each location.

Ryan’s experience, however, brings up some serious questions about ‘who owns the view’ in America’s outdoor spaces. Beyond video drones and other more complicated issues, Ryan’s case is one of simply visiting an area and taking pictures and/or video footage. The BLM requires money–and by most standards, $250 is a lot of money–for a permit to record, chronicle, memorialize, or otherwise document the way a certain natural object or vista looks at a given time on a given day. If heavy equipment is required, or sets, large platforms or other structures need to be built in order to accommodate the video project, then perhaps a permitting process is justified. But how is simple videography or photography–even if for commercial purposes–the federal government’s business? How is this just? How is this practice, in itself, legal? Don’t public lands, after all, belong to everyone?

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Video produced by Ryan Hagel

Posted on Facebook by Ryan Hagel

“The camera equipment that we had was legit… long story short (BLM) pulled us off at the trail, brought us right to the BLM office and sat down with our team and I just tried to explain to them, look, I’ve been doing Easter Safari since ’95. And, look guys, let’s be honest… the majority of us that are comin’ out to Moab, this beautiful area to do video and film, we don’t pull permits because we think it’s a tough process.”

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