Text and images @Jack Graham Photography
Permit (bad pun) me to vent a little.
Above …..My 2016 permit paperwork
For you folks who don’t know it, photography workshop and tour leaders that conduct business on ANY federal or State land, need to be permitted with by the National Park Service( each individual park has its own permitting application) as well as BLM, USFS etc. Additionally state parks require the same. We have to fill out endless paperwork, forms, itineraries etc. and we need to carry lots of insurance.
In the Columbia River Gorge, in Oregon I need to have a permit (yearly) issued by the Oregon Marine Board! Yes, the same permit as a fishing guide!
Every two years I have to update CPR and Wilderness First Aid Certification (a 2 day event)
I along with many of my other workshop leaders do the paperwork, carry the insurance, fill out the forms and write the checks. However there are lots of leaders out there who ARE NOT DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY, And saving lots of time and money in the long run. The NPS and State Parks almost NEVER check permits. Most of us leader doing this correctly know the folks (yes some big names that you all would know!) who are NOT permitted by the Park Service. Next time you decide to take a workshop with someone …( yes some well know leaders don’t have permits or insurance) ask them to see the permit. In theory if they get caught they are asked to leave the park and some parks have some small penalties.
In the past 5 years I think I was asked for a permit perhaps about 3-4 times. Earlier this month in Zion, my group( 14 folks with tripods) we asked by a ranger driving by to move a little to the left to get off the main road a bit…he was very nice about it but did he ask if we were a group with a permit? NO!
So OK, we pay a few thousand dollars a year for these permits as well as about 45 minutes to an hour (once you get the hang of them) for each permit. On the Insurance waiver it needs to be stated that I hold the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA HARMLESS in the event of any problems. Try asking them to hold me harmless!
Then later in the year the Park service comes back to us again and asks us to pay them an additional percentage of the GROSS profit (yes gross, not net. Yes, another form to fill out… time and you guessed it …money. They ask us how much we made on each event (by park), how many days we were there etc. They even ask us for our TOTAL GROSS INCOME for the entire year. AGAIN. THOSE NOT DOING IT THE RIGHT WAY ARE SAVING TIME AND MONEY because the park service doesn’t even know they exist and don’t go after these folks. Maybe we who do it the right way are the dummies?
First it’s none of their damn business what I make and if it is they can go check my tax return! And second maybe I should create a form for them asking them (since they work for us (ha-ha) how much did they spend in office supplies last year!
Listen, I love the parks and almost without exception the administrators and rangers I have come to know after all the years and those I deal with are really wonderful folks who are just doing their jobs, overworked and underpaid… but it is too much to ask that:
- They make sure rangers in the field are checking for folks not permitted
- Maybe have one form for each park instead of different forms and requirements by park
- Quit asking how much I make a year… heck they can go look up my tax return!
As most of know, yes this is too much to ask. After all the National Parks (which we the people own by the way) don’t really care about folks like me. There is also one National Forest office that will only grant 3 photo permits per year. That is restraint of trade and if fought they would loose that battle! They say they are understaffed etc. What the hell are they doing with all of my permit fees?
Here’s another joke—this is found at the end of many of the required forms by the US Government:
PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT STATEMENT: In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501), please note the following. This information collection is authorized by The Concession Management Improvement Act of 1998 (16 U.S.C. 5966). Your response is required to obtain or retain a benefit in the form of a Commercial Use Authorization. We will use the information you submit to evaluate your impact to park resources and compliance with park regulations and limitations. We estimate that it will take approximately 1.25 hours to prepare a report, including time to review instructions, gather and maintain data, and complete and review the report. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently valid Office of Management and Budget control number. You may submit comments on any aspect of this information collection, including the accuracy of the estimated burden hours and suggestions to reduce this burden. Send your comments to: Information Collection Clearance Officer, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop 2601, Washington, D.C. 20240.
Anyhow… thanks for letting me vent!–JG