Local Authority Slaps Permits, Fees on Photography in Parks

January 28, 2015

Professional photojournalists may again be facing unconstitutional requirements for permits to work in public parks — this time at the county level in a well-heeled District of Columbia suburb.

Virginia's Fairfax County Park Authority has had a policy requiring permits and fees for "professional photography" in its various park units. As they conduct an annual review of their fee policies, they are encountering pushback. The pushback comes not only from wedding photographers who think the fees are too high, but from journalists who think they violate the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press.

The fee is $100 for the first two hours, and it may take up to five days to process the permit application.

The Society of Environmental Journalists has objected to photography permit policies on federal lands under the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service. SEJ and other journalism groups are likely to file similar comments in the Fairfax County deliberations.

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