ParkSafe Pledge FAQ
What is the ParkSafe Pledge program?
We developed ParkSafe as a creator community-led initiative to encourage responsible filmmaking and photography in America's National Parks. We also hope to help address a problem: the current permitting process for filming in national parks. While most visitors produce content without encountering an issue, many creators have raised concerns about National Park Service policy.
The National Park Service has a dual mission, protecting park lands while also promoting their use “in such a manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired” for future generations. As part of this obligation, NPS has long required permits for filming. They were designed to control commercial, large-scale productions that could potentially cause harm or disruption inside national parks. Each park within the system also has its own requirements, often requiring months of lead time and expensive insurance policies.
The permit policy has had an unintended consequence, placing an unfair burden on individuals and families who represent no threat to “impair” the parks – and who, as the parks’ most enthusiastic fans, are the best ambassadors for promoting their use.
Today, any smartphone or DSLR camera has the power to capture high-resolution videos. Many content creators who love parks now fear legal action for pursuing their passion. Despite its well-meaning intentions, the permit policy is undemocratic, unreasonable and, in practice, unenforceable due to the millions of cameras in the hands of park visitors.
Why can’t the National Park Service just change the rules?
NPS recognizes the problem, but it is constrained by previous legislation and an arduous process for rules changes. There is hope, however, that Congress might act. In November 2021 Senator Joe Manchin introduced the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022, which would restrict the permit requirement to projects that involve more than 6 individuals. Given the current dysfunction of our second branch of government, though, there’s no way of knowing when or if it will pass. We see ParkSafe as an interim protective measure.
How does ParkSafe work?
Simple. You commit to the ParkSafe Pledge, a set of guidelines to ensure responsible filmmaking in national parks, by going to theparkschannel.com and agreeing to the pledge on our ParkSafe page. On a non-exclusive basis – yes, you can still post on YouTube, Tik Tok, anywhere else – you agree to submit your park-related videos to the Parks Channel too so we can make sure you’re following the rules. We will send you an email certificate confirming your commitment.
Does this guarantee I won’t be fined?
Not definitively, but we’re working on it! The Parks Channel has been in dialogue with the National Park Service and several major parks about this program. Off the record, many public information officers are uncomfortable with the burdens – on them, not just the public! – for enforcing the existing rules.
If anyone in our creator community does face a fine despite abiding by the Pledge, we will advocate on their behalf, using the power of our collective voice and reaching out to our contacts within the system.
What happens if one of my videos is flagged as a violation?
Of course the only action we as a community can take is to remove the video from our website. The only way this initiative can work is to build a like-minded force of content creators who love parks, want to protect them and therefore, WANT to abide by the rules. Hopefully, over time, we can develop a sense of status around that community to the point where losing your membership would hurt.
Not everything is clear cut. The Parks Channel will assemble an advisory council of creators and retired park rangers to consider any gray-area issues that arise. If you’re interested in being a part of that, please email us at email@example.com.
How can I connect with other ParkSafe creators?
We are investigating the best way to create a forum, whether through a Discord channel, Instagram or some other social media outlet. Stay tuned.