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Bill Targets Filmmaking in Parks

April 12, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Movie makers and television producers would have to start paying more to work in national parks and wildlife refuges under a bill the House passed Monday.

The bill would authorize the department to set a schedule of fees for commercial use of public lands and allow department agencies to keep the money generated by the fees. The fees would be based on such factors as the number of people at the site and the duration of filming.

Television news products, newsreels and some commercial photography projects would be exempt from the fees. The bill, passed by voice vote, also would authorize the interior secretary to reduce fees for projects that have educational benefits for the department.

``This a good bill which is long overdue,″ said Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev.

``We should be charging appropriate fees for the use of national parks and refuges,″ said Carlos Romero Barcelo, Puerto Rico’s Democratic delegate to Congress.

Until 1948, filmmakers paid fees to use public lands as backdrops for their movies based on a standardized rate schedule. But that year, for an unknown reason, the Interior Department prohibited future collection of location fees in national parks or wildlife refuges.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are limited to charging user fees to cover personnel expenses. The Forest Service, in the Agriculture Department, and Interior’s Bureau of Land Management still have policies in place allowing them to collect commercial filming fees.

The House passed a similar measure last year, but the Senate never voted on it before the 105th Congress adjourned.

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The bill is H.R. 154.

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