I've followed some of the threads such as Chas Gorden's here about taking pictures in National Parks with "professional equipment" and I've always thought the response by the National Parks was a bit over the top for a public space. A little over a week ago it became personal for me as we were with a small group of photographers in a park with little traffic when a ranger came out to ask about some "professional photographers" who were taking pictures without a permit.
The back story was that an hour or so earlier I had stopped and picked up a hitch hiker who had been hiking back toward the park entrance with two others because they hadn't been able to find the trail head and were trying to get back to their car. We had been talking about what we were doing and why as we drove the 15 miles to their car. She then stopped on the way out at the ranger station and mentioned something about the good Samaritans that had helped her out. Apparently she mentioned in passing that we were photographers.
So the ranger shows up where we are pulled over at a look out site and sees me with my 1Dii and comes over to talk. He proceeds to ask a lot of questions and we proceeded in a very civil way before he finally thanks me for helping out. The more I thought about it the more it bothered me that someone was sent out to pursue the hint of possible "professional photographers" in the park. As I was talking later with some of my friends who were also with me one of them said that it was far from an issolated incident and that he had been in a number of situations where the same kind of thing had happened.
Sorry for the long story but it puts the following question into perspective for me. Is there anything that we can do together as photography enthusiasts to make the National Park photography rules more sane and friendly? Maybe there is something already in the works by another group and if so should we join with them to lobby for change. But I'm concerned that if we just complain about it and refuse to take some kind of action the rules will just become more restrictive and downright silly.
Do you have any thoughts, experiences, or contacts regarding this issue?