JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Many of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) more than 1,000 conservation areas and natural areas around the state are popular sites for photographers and videographers of all levels. The areas are often ideal locations to capture images and video of area wildlife and local landscapes, to photograph or film people enjoying outdoor activities, to take family and other group photos or video, and more.
MDC regulations currently require photographers who shoot on MDC areas to purchase a Commercial Photography Permit for an annual fee of $100 if the activities directly or indirectly result in financial gain or benefit. Those shooting video on MDC areas are required to purchase a Commercial Videography Permit with an associated fee of $500 per day if the activities directly or indirectly result in financial gain or benefit.
These requirements have few exceptions, regardless of the level of financial gain or benefit to the photographer or videographer. Exceptions are that commercial permits are not required for news agencies and permit fees may be waived for conservation-related organizations where the project will promote or benefit conservation interests.
MDC began the commercial permit requirements and associated fees in 2020 as a way to allow commercial photography and videography activities on MDC areas, which had previously been prohibited. Since then, MDC has received considerable public feedback that the regulations and fees are too burdensome for many “hobby” photographers and videographers who make little financial gain from the work. As a result, MDC has proposed eliminating the need for commercial photography and videography permits and the associated fees.
At its December open meeting, the Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval to regulation changes from MDC that will eliminate the required commercial permits and the associated fees for photography and videography on MDC areas.
The regulation changes will still require Special Use Permits from MDC for photography and videography on MDC areas in the following situations:
- Access during closed hours or to portions of the area closed to public use;
- Use of an unmanned aerial system (UAS) or drone;
- Use of props, sets, or equipment that are more than a single person can carry; or
- More than 10 people will be participating in the activity over the course of the day.
While Special Use Permits are typically free, MDC reserves the right to charge a fee of up to $500 per day for photography and videography that involve more than 25 people or has the potential to harm resources or create conflict with other area users. The issuance of Special Use Permits is at the discretion of MDC.
MDC invites the public to comment on its proposed regulations that would eliminate the requirement for commercial permits and related fees for photography and videography on its conservation and natural areas. Comment online from Feb. 2 through March 3 at mdc.mo.gov/about-regulations/wildlife-code-missouri/proposed-regulation-changes.
The Commission will then give the regulation changes final consideration at its March 14 open meeting. If approved, the regulation changes would become effective July 1.