Fines issued after fatality for failing to have proper permits on USFS land

The Aspen Daily News is reporting that three people have been cited in conjunction with the death of Wallace Westfeldt. The citations are for filming on US Forest Service land without the proper film permits. The Story, Three cited in fatal film shootstates the fines will be $500 each.

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The citations came after the investigation into the death of Westfeldt. Westfeldt died while filming in Tonar Bowl outside of Aspen Highlands ski area. Tonar died after jumping off a cliff for a film shoot for the Aspen Ski Company. See Snowboarder killed in Highlands backcountry.

Two stories in the Aspen Daily News hinted that the Aspen Ski Company knew they had violated the law. See: SkiCo vows to ‘more carefully scrutinize permit compliance’ and Fatal Tonar shoot may have broke law.

All commercials activities that occur on US Forest Service lands (as well as NPS and BLM lands) must be done with a commercial permit. The permits are issued to make sure the land is not destroyed, the visitor experience is not altered and that no risk is posed for a visitor. The USFS also receives income from issuing the permits.

Information about Special Use Permits can be found at the US Forest Special Use website. Information on filming on Forest Service lands can be found at http://www.fs.fed.us/specialuses/special_film.shtml.

There is a difference between taking a photograph or movie for your personal use or to bore your friends and neighbors after you get home. If you are going to use the photographs or video for commercial purposes, to promote a commercial venture or business you must have a permit from all federal land management agencies.

The three men can either pay the fine or within thirty days contest the charges in Federal Court. The charges are a Class B Misdemeanor.

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