Permit required: DNR educating professional photographers of state park rules

SHERWOOD, Wis. (WBAY) - At the entrance to High Cliff State Park is a relatively new sign reminding professional photographers about a state park policy that's been in place for years.

High Cliff State Park (WBAY file)

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is working to educate professional photographers and videographers of the long-time policy requiring permits.

"We want all of our visitors to feel welcome in the parks, and we want to make sure that commercial use of our properties is not going to conflict with other visitors' enjoyment of the property," Paul Holtan of the Wisconsin State Park System says.

Wisconsin law requires anyone soliciting or collecting money for professional photos or videos taken in a Wisconsin state park to fill out a permit.

" the state parks, state recreation areas and southern forests, no person may engage in commercial filming or photography or provide services for a fee that involves the provider's physical presence in the state park, state recreation area or southern forest unless first authorized by contractual agreement or a department commercial use permit." - Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 45.04(3)(f)2
It's a policy that's been in place since at least 2004.

The permits allow park rangers to make special arrangements on a case-by-case basis to accommodate the commercial photography and filming as needed.

Action 2 News is told the sign outside High Cliff is one of the first of its kind in Wisconsin state parks, which hopes to enforce the policy through education.

"We try to educate people to the rules. Normally someone's not aware of the requirement. We would have a ranger inform them of the requirement, have them fill out the permit, and pay the fee," Holtan says.

Professional photographers do need to fill out a separate permit for every state park site where they plan to take commercial photos.

The permits can be printed from online (click here) or picked up at the DNR office on-site. They must be filled out two weeks before the commercial photos are taken and submitted with a check or money for $50 written to the Wisconsin DNR.

DNR officials understand not everybody with a camera or smartphone is capturing images commercially, and they hope the photographers who are follow the guidelines voluntarily.

Just feet away from the sign reminding professional photographers to get a permit is another one encouraging people to capture the beauty of the park for their own use.

"The Wisconsin Department of Tourism has placed selfie stands in 20 of our parks, and we encourage people to use those stands and post their photos on social media," Holtan says.

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