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Thread: Restrictions on wheels in Wilderness Areas?

  1. #41
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Restrictions on wheels in Wilderness Areas?

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Bedo View Post
    ...
    It is my opinion that: In a wilderness area, If some wheelchair athlete feels the need to see how far he can push it, there should be no restriction other the natural terrain. If he can bring along an LF camera and other gear, I say let them go for it.
    From the Wilderness Act of 1964 (original and present wording):

    PROHIBITION OF CERTAIN USES
    (c)
    … there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.

    "no other form of mechanical transport" -- anything is up to interpretation, but this federal law (not regulation) has been interpreted to define any wheeled device as a form of mechanical transport. Quite logical. Presently, thru the ADA, wheelchairs, even electrical wheelchairs are now allowed in the wilderness...and I assume with anything they can fit on their chair. Can't tow a trailer, though. And the gov't has no obligation to maintain wilderness trails and facilities for wheelchair use.

    So I totally agree with you, Drew, to a point (restrictions are the natural terrain and the design/condition of the trail). If people want to go for it, go for it (but then I also favor a no-rescue approach to wilderness use for everyone.)

    The next useless but interesting question would be, can someone in a wheelchair be towed by a horse in the wilderness? (yes?)
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  2. #42

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    Re: Restrictions on wheels in Wilderness Areas?

    Wheelchairs are specifically allowed under § 507 of the ADA, codified at 4 USC § 12207:

    (c) Specific wilderness access
    (1) In general

    Congress reaffirms that nothing in the Wilderness Act [16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.] is to be construed as prohibiting the use of a wheelchair in a wilderness area by an individual whose disability requires use of a wheelchair, and consistent with the Wilderness Act no agency is required to provide any form of special treatment or accommodation, or to construct any facilities or modify any conditions of lands within a wilderness area in order to facilitate such use.
    (2) “Wheelchair” defined
    For purposes of paragraph (1), the term “wheelchair” means a device designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired person for locomotion, that is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area.
    [Emphasis added]

    “Mechanical transport” is defined in § 2320.5 of the Forest Service Manual:

    2320.5—Definitions
    3. Mechanical Transport. Any contrivance for moving people or material in or over land, water, or air, having moving parts, that provides a mechanical advantage to the user, and that is powered by a living or nonliving power source. This includes, but is not limited to, sailboats, hang gliders, parachutes, bicycles, game carriers, carts, and wagons. It does not include wheelchairs when used as necessary medical appliances. It also does not include skis, snowshoes, rafts, canoes, sleds, travois, or similar primitive devices without moving parts.
    [Emphasis added]

    Because it isn’t subject to notice-and-comment rulemaking, the Forest Service Manual doesn’t carry the force of law. But it presumably guides the actions of FS personnel.

    Unlike the DOI agencies, the FS originally interpreted “mechanical transport” to apply only to something powered by a nonliving power source. But after numerous complaints, they apparently conceded that they were in error. The history is discussed in this paper (PDF) by the Campaign for America’s Wilderness.

  3. #43
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    Re: Restrictions on wheels in Wilderness Areas?

    Thanks Jeff, for posting that.

    Since we we seem to have covered this subject fairly well, I was asked to quickly cover the present situation on Federal lands concerning pro photography and the need for permits. This is has been sort of taken care of, but there is still mis-information out there (by both gov't employees and the public).

    In previous discussions on this here and elsewhere, the latest gov't memos have been posted and it was suggested printing them out to show an errant ranger the light, if needed.

    From this gov't site: https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/news/com...to-permits.htm

    Still photographers require a permit only when

    1 the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
    2 the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
    3 park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

    Unfortunately, early on many Parks and National Forest folks used the word "props" to include tripods. No longer the case.
    Note that whether you plan on selling the images/prints or not, is not a factor that requires one to get a permit.
    Expect to be hassled if you are blocking the way of visitors (such as in the middle of a trail, forcing everyone to go around you).
    Multiple strobes on stands should be fine, but I could see this as getting towards the borderline of acceptable to the Park...it will depend on how much you are impacting visitor use, the attitude of the ranger and your attitude.
    Having a large number of assistants might attract unwanted attention, and probably require a permit.
    Do not alter the scene by removing branches, etc.

    Take nudes in view of visitors might get an interesting response from the rangers -- but an Artist-in-residence in Yosemite got away with it many years ago.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  4. #44

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    Re: Restrictions on wheels in Wilderness Areas?

    There is an official definition of “sets and props” at 43 CFR § 5.12:

    Sets and props means items constructed or placed on agency lands to facilitate commercial filming or still photography including, but not limited to, backdrops, generators, microphones, stages, lighting banks, camera tracks, vehicles specifically designed to accommodate camera or recording equipment, rope and pulley systems, and rigging for climbers and structures. Sets and props also include trained animals and inanimate objects, such as camping equipment, campfires, wagons, and so forth, when used to stage a specific scene. The use of a camera on a tripod, without the use of any other equipment, is not considered a prop.

    I haven’t heard of too many problems with the definition so far, but I have heard of a couple of instances in the Bay Area in which NPS personnel seemed to interpret a “prop” as anything other than a camera on a tripod; at issue in both cases was a single stand-mounted strobe.

    I think the definition is both logically and procedurally a mess; I think a court would have a tough time construing it, and I think it would be difficult to reconcile with Public Law 106-206. But getting into that would seem a topic for a different thread.

  5. #45
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    Re: Restrictions on wheels in Wilderness Areas?

    I can see where a single stand-mounted strobe would (and should) not allowed in some Park locations -- just like tripods are not allowed in many busy places.

    I'll be visiting one of my sons at his college in upstate New York next month. Thinking of bringing the 4x5. Before photographing on campus, I might check in with the campus police and let them know what I am up to. I did not worry about it last year with the Rolleiflex, but a 4x5 is a horse of a different color.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #46

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    Re: Restrictions on wheels in Wilderness Areas?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    I can see where a single stand-mounted strobe would (and should) not allowed in some Park locations -- just like tripods are not allowed in many busy places.
    As might be setting up a picnic table on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which presumably there is some means of preventing. But it shouldn’t be done by gaming definitions of “prop.” The NPS people who wrote the definition told me that NPS personnel need the flexibility to make decisions appropriate for different situations. While I sympathize, providing this flexibility via ambiguous definitions makes a law void for vagueness.

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