BREAKING NEWS! I received an answer about permit requirements for filming in the National Park System.

**UPDATE: Talked it over with Mr. McGee and we’ve decided to keep the site demonetized for now. It’s not about the potential to be fined because we have not profited from the website. Nor is it about the permit cost, although I do think the permit cost is a little hefty for someone who is posting vacation videos on a blog for family and for educational purposes, then tries to recoup the cost of their webhosting by allowing the webhost to place advertising on their site. I mean, it’s not like we are filming a car commercial and I am no Ansel Adams with a camera.

It’s really about the heavy handed regulations, the mountain of over-burdening red tape, and all the bureaucratic minutia that needs correcting in this country that restricts the average joe from a basic freedom of self-expression. Especially when this whole ball of (insert word) could have been cleaned up by now.

As you may know I have temporarily demonetized this site before it became profitable after hearing of bloggers and Youtubers being fined $1000 and banned from filming by the National Park Service (NPS) after filming and taking photographs inside of national parks and posting them on their monetized social media platforms.

Not wanting to make the same mistake I started looking at the application process. Because the wording on the application for a permit is vague at best, I wrote to Everglades National Park this morning to inquire whether I would need a permit for my little blog with only 32 followers before setting out on our next trip. I received a response almost immediately.

(You can see if we make a profit on this website by reading our Money Matters Page.)

FYI: A link to our website was provided to the NPS when requesting verification.

This is the response I received from Everglades National Park.

If you are now or ever going to make money off your photos, then you will need a permit. 

Thank you

private email

So we have our answer. If you are “ever going to make money”! That means that if 10, 20, or 30 years from now you receive enough of a following on your blog, YouTube channel, or any other social media platform where you have posted photographs or videos, and you in said unknown future date generate a single dollar in profit, you must apply for a permit to use still photographs or videos on those monetized social media platforms and websites at the period of time when you are NOT PROFITABLE and can not predict if you will ever be.

I am going to restrain from cursing here, but It is impossible for one to predict the potential of future profitability into infinity!

The application fee for said permit in the Everglades NP is $200.00 and you are not guaranteed a permit will be issued. The fine for non-compliance has been recorded by unverified sources to be roughly $1000 and a lifetime ban from filming.

A nonrefundable processing fee of $200.00 must accompany this application unless the requested use is an exercise of a First Amendment right.,%20%20%24250%2Fday%20%201%20more%20rows%20

I’m pretty disappointed that the public land partially supported by my tax dollars is requiring me to make a +/-$200 investment per park to apply to take photographs that may or may not generate a single dollar of profit in the remaining 30+ years of my life while I put forth the effort to stress the importance of preserving these one of a kind national treasures. Is this an expression of my first amendment rights, maybe. But am I willing to hire a lawyer and battle a long drawn out court process to find out, not likely.

Keep in mind that “someone else” can and does profit richly from the subsidized land leases they grant to oil, mining, and natural gas companies that destroy sections of our public lands and only haphazardly (if ever) restore them after reaping huge profits. So profiteering is okay for some, but not for others. That’s all I’ll say about that. (ahem.. Oligarchs!)

So I have to make a decision.

  • Do I continue to post photographs on this website knowing that I can never profit from my effort if I don’t obtain the proper Special Use Permits?
  • Do I omit adding photographs to the website, write colorless non appealing articles that don’t really share the experience in the way that I intended, but free myself to make as much money as I want from donations, ad space, affiliate links, downloads, etc. knowing that without the eye appeal of said photographs to draw attention to these articles I may never build a strong following.
  • Do I make the financially poor decision to pay for permit application fees and continue to invest money in a website that may never generate a profit?
  • Or do I do as so many other’s have done in the past, create a not-for-profit charity, pay myself a handsome salary, and donate the rest of the money to preservation efforts?

(That last one was sarcasm!)

I’m sorry about the rant, I don’t usually let my emotions get the best of me publicly, but I am so frustrated!

Is it just me? Does anyone else find this frustrating? I’m opening the comments this week because I want to know how you feel about this subject and feel free to link or share this post if you know someone who may be directly affected.

Meanwhile, future posts on this blog will be suspended for a short while until I have a chance to talk things over with Mr. McGee and let him make a more clear-headed decision, because right now I’m too angry to think straight.

8 thoughts on “BREAKING NEWS! I received an answer about permit requirements for filming in the National Park System.

Add yours

      1. Funny you say that, because I removed a paragraph pondering that very same thing before I hit the post button, but since I only have a couple dozen followers I didn’t think it would be a strong point. However, with some who have a much bigger following, sharing the experience in a way that does generate new or renewed interest in these places is a much stronger and valid point.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I would agree to a threshold being set for fees based on the current profitability of a “brand”, but I can see where that would create administrative effort required on the part of the NPS that would make the suggestion a non-starter in terms of negotiating a solution that was more fair and equitable for the little guy.

        Liked by 1 person

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