The Salmon-Challis forest supervisor, Frank Guzman, is coming under attack from the Idaho Conservation League and Governor Butch Otter for up-holding the letter of the Wilderness Act. Guzman denied a public television station’s request to film a documentary in a wilderness area. Guzman explained to the Idaho press that the Wilderness Act bars commercial enterprises; the filming is a commercial enterprise; and, thus, the filming is not permitted.
ICL and Otter argue that public television is non-commercial; a claim readily dismissed by anyone who has ever listened to public television’s sponsorship credits. More problematic still is ICL’s argument that the television station’s record of supporting pro-environment programming justifies the wilderness filming. Content-based speech regulation is a slippery slope that ICL should know better than to be encouraging.
Supervisor Guzman is no great friend of wilderness or forest preservation. He’s likely tickled that public television gave him a chance to offend free speech purists, environmentalists, and wilderness advocates who downplay the Wilderness Act’s restrictions as they seek to add wilderness areas to the system. Nonetheless, I’m happy to commend Guzman for obeying the law.