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Big brother is watching you, your Forest Service bug out road has a camera

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by billcoe, Apr 20, 2014.

  1. billcoe

    billcoe PDX Platinum Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    I posted this in 2010, and it's gonna take 2 posts to get it all down.


    I've read a lot of these posts feeling derision towards those who do not trust our government and don't believe that our government trusts us. I generally do not have anything remotely approaching the level of fear and distrust some of you have. Yet I have one single disturbing thing which has been bugging the holy **** out of me. Apparently the Forest service has decided that ALL OF US need to be watched, in case any of us honest citizens might commit a crime. The area I mention below is too high up in elevation to grow pot, too far out and inconvenient for meth heads to set up a lab. I won't name the road I bumped into my buddy nor his name, as it's "my" secret spot, but needless to say, it you drive a ways up the Clackamas past Memalose where some of us go shooting, you'll be there.

    My personal story is this: Just last Feb., I was up hiking solo with my 2 dawgs into this semi-remote new climbing area to look around and see what winter looked like up there. I'm a rock climber and there was a nearby cliff a few miles off the Clackamas I was primed to get back on. As the day ended I came driving out on the single lane dirt road and bumped into an forest service law enforcement patrol vehicle coming my way....something in and of itself I find new, strange, unneeded and unwelcome. I pulled over to a pullout and waved the hello greeting thinking they'd drive past: but they stopped. We rolled out windows down and did the "hail fellow well met" thing, and it turns out that I did know one of the guys fairly well. He gets out, Glock on hip and leans in the window.....just talked bullsh*@t and what was up, happy to see each other. He works for another Federal police agency but was doing a "ride along" in the woods thinking he might go work for the Forest Service police.

    I thought it strange they were patrolling on a dirt road so far into the woods, at a time of year that few folks were out there, and I figured they were looking for something specifically. Nope: later I heard from the guy that it was just a routine patrol, but that ALL of the Forest Service roads had these hidden cameras installed. All of them. Evidently it's usually close to where the roads start. He says "Don't bother looking, you'll never find them, LOL".

    I did a google search and saw nothing about anything like this, and was wondering if I might have been the subject of a joke by my buddy. I couldn't find anything searching for all kinds of different terms: "Forest Service installing surveillance cameras", or spy cameras on dirt roads", or "hidden police cameras in the woods" kind of thing anywhere.

    Not long after I got an e-mail from the Western States lands Coalition Western Slope No Fee Coalitionwith the news story dated Mar 12th 2010 that the first camera had just found, also in February. Check out the location! East Coast. Remember that I'm in Oregon on a Forest Service road having this discussion with my buddy and he was saying ALL roads had cameras. It raises some disturbing questions. Is homeland security grants paying for all this monitoring? How many new hires do they have? How do they upload this info? Is it computer monitored or did they go to India for labor? What the heck is the story here?

    Full link followed by full text of the Post Coureir news story:
    Francis Marion has hidden cameras - Charleston SC - The Post and Courier - postandcourier.com

    "Hidden cameras - Forest Service says devices used for law enforcement
    By Tony Bartelme
    The Post and Courier
    Tuesday, March 16, 2010


    Last month, Herman Jacob took his daughter and her friend camping in the Francis Marion National Forest. While poking around for some firewood, Jacob noticed a wire. He pulled the wire and followed it to a video camera and antenna.

    The camera didn't have any markings identifying its owner, so Jacob took it home and called law enforcement agencies to find out if it was theirs, all the while wondering why someone would station a video camera in an isolated clearing in the woods.

    Herman Jacob squats next to a stump and log in the Francis Marion National Forest where he found a video camera buried and pointing toward a camping site (background) where he and his daughter were camping. Jacob was looking for firewood when he across the camera that was put there by the Forest Service.
    Photo by Brad Nettles
    hermanjacob_t600.JPG

    motion-activated_camera_t600.jpg
    Provided/Herman Jacob
    Herman Jacob found this motion-activated camera in a primitive campsite in the Francis Marion National Forest.

    He eventually received a call from Mark Heitzman of the U.S. Forest Service. In a stiff voice, Heitzman ordered Jacob to turn it back over to his agency, explaining that it had been set up to monitor "illicit activities." Jacob returned the camera but felt uneasy.

    Why, he wondered, would the Forest Service have secret cameras in a relatively remote camping area? What do they do with photos of bystanders? How many hidden cameras are they using, and for what purposes? Is this surveillance in the forest an effective law enforcement tool? And what are our expectations of privacy when we camp on public land?

    Officials with the Forest Service were hardly forthcoming with answers to these and other questions about their surveillance cameras. When contacted about the incident, Heitzman said "no comment" and referred other questions to Forest Service's public affairs, who he said, "won't know anything about it."

    Heather Frebe, public affairs officer with the Forest Service in Atlanta, told Watchdog that the camera was part of a law enforcement investigation, but she declined to provide any of the investigation's details.

    Asked how cameras are used in general, how many are routinely deployed throughout the Forest and about the agency's policies, Frebe also declined to discuss specifics. She said that surveillance cameras have been used for "numerous years" to provide for public safety and to protect the natural resources of the forest. Without elaborating, she said images of people who are not targets of an investigation are "not kept."

    In addition, when asked whether surveillance cameras had led to any arrests, she did not provide an example, saying in an e-mail statement: "Our officers use a variety of techniques to apprehend individuals who break laws on the national forest."

    Video surveillance, of course, is nothing new, and the courts have addressed the issue numerous times in recent decades. The Fourth Amendment guards against unreasonable searches and seizures, and over time the courts have created a body of law that defines what's reasonable, though this has become more challenging as surveillance cameras became smaller and more advanced.

    In general, the courts have held that people typically have no reasonable level of privacy in public places, such as banks, streets, open fields in plain view, and on public lands, such as National Parks and National Forests. In various cases, judges ruled that a video camera is effectively an extension of a law enforcement officer's eyes and ears. In other words, if an officer can eyeball a campground in person, it's OK to station a video camera in his or her place.

    Jacob said he understands that law enforcement officials have a job to do but questioned whether stationing hidden cameras outweighed his and his children's privacy rights. He said the camp site they went to -- off a section of the Palmetto Trail on U.S. Highway 52 north of Moncks Corner -- was primitive and marked only by a metal rod and a small wooden stand for brochures. He didn't recall seeing any signs saying that the area was under surveillance.

    After he found the camera, he plugged the model number, PV-700, into his Blackberry, and his first hit on Google was a Web site offering a "law enforcement grade" motion-activated video camera for about $500. He called law enforcement agencies in the area, looking for its owner, and later got a call from Heitzman, an agent with the National Forest Service.

    "He sounded all bent out of shape that I had his camera," Jacob recalled. He asked Heitzman about the camera's purpose. When Heitzman told him that illegal activities were taking place in the area, Jacob said he asked whether it was safe to camp there. He said that Heitzman reassured him that it was. Jacob said he later wondered why the Forest Service would set up a camera in an area they considered safe. "Now, I'm wondering how many campsites they're monitoring?" He phoned Charleston attorney Tim Kulp for advice.

    Kulp said the Forest Service's failure to explain what they're doing in the forest raises important privacy questions. "What's the goal here?" He said the Forest Service also needs to address what they do with images of people who aren't targets of any investigation, particularly of children.

    Kulp said people generally are willing to give up their privacy if it means protection from harm but not if law enforcement officials are merely cracking down on petty offenses.

    He added that people's expectations of privacy in a remote area in the National Forest are different than other public spaces. "You're not going to go to the bathroom in the parking lot of Walmart, but you're not going to think twice in the forest." Both are public spaces, he said, but most people likely would expect to have more privacy in the forest."

    That's the end of the news story. To further make me feel estranged, on this road they had taken and dug holes into all of the little spur roads on this larger dirt road. They piled the dirt up in front of the hole, making all the spur roads impassable. It appears that this was done as it allows the Forest Police easy monitoring now as they do not have to check each little road for people. For myself, I'm sadly beginning to feel more like it's even more of an "us against them" thing. I served my county and I'm an honorably discharged veteran. I consider myself hardworking honest and patriotic. Yet I have to tell you, my own government utilizing all these resources to be needlessly spying on me and expanding it's powers for no apparent reason is shockingly unsettling and disturbing. I understand surveillance to help on criminal investigations. I understand that they have the right to look through my garbage cans, but for me at least, having the right is different than having them actually and routinely go through them, or following my every move all the time when I am in public spaces via cameras. Somehow, we don't have the resources to keep murderers, rapists and thieves in jail, but we have the funds to do this expensive monitoring of honest citizens doing legal things? (The camera appears to be a standard "Bullet camera -@$400.00, wrapped with camo tape, and the recoding device is named above -@ $500.00. They look to have increased the battery size inside cover of the waterproof case -total $ - what $1200? per unit?) We can't keep illegals out from Mexico but we can spend millions or perhaps billions of uncharted and secret homeland security dollars to monitor all these dead end dirt roads in the middle of nowhere frequented primarily by honest citizens? It's total big brother crap and I find it very, very, disturbing.

    That's all I got, I'm sorry if I've ever made fun of any of your paranoia, it appears you might be on to something. Once they started monitoring all of our phone calls, every damn one -and they still are, that should have been a serious clue. I'm not sure what's occurring...or even why ..... It looks like you were right and I was wrong. How deep this goes may not be found for many years if at all. To answer the first question, "when" looks like now. It's a process. It's started.
    ____________________________________________________________
     
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  2. billcoe

    billcoe PDX Platinum Supporter Platinum Supporter

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    Todays news:

    This is an interesting adjunct to that story which seemingly reinforces the top story. This story indicates that the Forest Service has bought license plate reader software, which they wouldn't need unless they had cameras tracking plates. I will copy paste the story for longevity, and the link at the bottom. I bolded the line about the FS, it wasn't printed that way. BTW, this doesn't mean that they only spend this much on license plate tracking software, they may have spent $10 million - who can say we may never know, but what this means is that they are definatly in the game. The key part of the news story below as it relates to the first post is thi:

    "The Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture, awarded Vigilant a contract valued at as much as $47,019 for its “CarDetector” system in August 2009, records show. The product scans and captures license plate numbers, compares the data to law enforcement lists of wanted vehicles and sends alerts when such vehicles are detected, according to the company’s website."



    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-17/irs-among-agencies-using-license-plate-tracking-vendor.html
     
  3. jluck

    jluck Really,Really, Close to Newport Oregon 97365 Voted #1 Member

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    I know of these cameras being used locally to me for popular ATV riding areas, Go past the legal area or around a closed gate and schzamm a officer and a ticket book will magically appear at "offenders" house if they figure out who it is. I have been questioned a time or two....
     
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  4. PDXoriginal

    PDXoriginal PNW Well-Known Member

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    I find a camera at my camp site I am going to 1) Disable it 2) Seize whatever memory storage it has and destroy it.

    Setting up a camera to PEEP on a camp site is just as bad as some perv setting up a camera in a bathroom.
     
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  5. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I know that there is increasing problems with vandalism, illegal campfires, and trash dumping. One camera reportedly caught a scrap metal thief dismantling a forest service gate for the metal.

    Also, as mentioned, they are increasingly, in one fashion or another, closing off land for public use - and not just motorized use. Part of the problem is budget and the other problem is increased population - but a major part of the problem seems to be that they are increasingly getting a mandate from their superiors to know what is going on in the woods and control it.

    Those people who are in the forest service and don't like these trends tend to leave the service as it isn't what they signed up for - kind of like when I left the USCG because they turned from a rescue and safety service to more of a militarized law enforcement service.

    This leaves behind some of the people in law enforcement who like that kind of power - and yes, I encountered those people in the USCG - they relished the chance to play at being John Wayne - yet another reason I didn't re-enlist.

    I vacillate back and forth about these issues.

    On the one hand I see some of the tactics as something I would do myself if I had to deal with these kinds of problems - after all, I have surveillance cams/etc. around my property. And yes, you really don't have an expectation of privacy in a "public" place.

    OTOH, put it all together with all the other government surveillance and capabilities, and the tracking of our activities - public or private (like our private comms, our online surfing history, our financial activities, etc.) and the big picture becomes very worrying and one that seems to support the theories of a Big Brother state.

    Even if, even *if*, the government doesn't have these kinds of motivations and it is all innocent (and that is a BIG IF), what if that motivation changes, what if someone comes into power that decides that they are going to track all of their opposition using this apparatus, and use it to embarrass the opposition, and/or to play other dirty tricks?

    Won't happen in the USA?

    Can you say J Edgar Hoover?

    Richard Nixon?

    The recent movie "Winter Soldier" made the not so subtle point on this issue, and while the scenario of preemptively going around and killing all those millions who possibly could do anyone harm was way overboard, the point was a good one. I personally would have preferred if they had been more subtle but I guess some people need to be hit over the head.

    So yes, very worrying. Makes me angry and annoyed.

    It used to be that people who said that the gov was watching our every move with satellites were thought to be paranoid.

    http://watchdog.org/112262/nw-morni...oogle-earth-to-catch-oregon-marijuana-grower/

    Now not so much.
     
  6. theguncrank

    theguncrank Columbia County Active Member

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    Hmm...

    This might make one ponder the necessity of new measures for ensuring favorite outdoor areas are left "cleaner" than you found them...
     
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  7. Oregonhunter5

    Oregonhunter5 2C IDAHO Well-Known Member

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    What's the difference between these cameras and a street camera in town? Is it becuSe the forest service roads are not the same as city roads?
     
  8. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    It never occurred to me to not leave an area cleaner than I found it - even if only by whatever little bit I was able to at the time. I taught that to my daughter too.

    Unfortunately many people do not share this philosophy - they go around thinking the world is their garbage dump.
     
  9. 156256Hunter

    156256Hunter Fairview-ish Active Member

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    Defnitely weird that the camera was facing the campsite, unless they were having ongoing problems at that particular site. Nonetheless, they may have recorded more than just "footage," if you know what I mean.

    Posting cameras near entrances to primary FS roads might help catch poachers, or people on their way to grow pot or cook some meth (after they watched too many episodes of Breaking Bad). For example, if wildlife is illegally shot then later found and the event can be narrowed to a particular timeframe, then I imagine officials would want to track down and question everyone whose vehicle was recorded as having been through the area during the time period. In addition to the license plate database, wouldn't facial recognition software be used as well?

    I'm also sort of curious as to whether Jack Bauer will at some point frantically ask Chloe to remotely tap the cameras so he can locate the bad guys. Or will satellites be good enough?
     
  10. 2506

    2506 Seattle Well-Known Member

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    With the ever-increasing amount of illegal activity going on out in the woods, this doesn't surprise me really. Budget cuts vs more crime and there's your answer. If it gets a tweaker out of the woods or gets some cretin driving his ATV in a non-motorized area fined, all the better.
     
  11. Oregonhunter5

    Oregonhunter5 2C IDAHO Well-Known Member

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    Here in Idaho a guy just got sentenced to 9 months in jail, and 3 years supervised probation for taking $1,750 of limestone off blm land for a landscape job. Second time he'd been caught.
    NUTS!
     
  12. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    So on the one hand, I get all excited about big brother watching, at the same time, I also think: Wow! Free video cameras!

    Based on what I'm seeing in the above photo of the camera, there's a PVR (personal video recorder), in a waterproof box with a battery, a camera, and the little "antenna" thing is a microphone (what turns the device on). From what I can tell, these devices don't have any long-distance communications built into them, meaning they're going to need near constant maintenance, at the same time, I don't see a solar panel there, and there's certainly no grid power available, so that device probably goes dead every few days to a week. (honestly, this situation would only be exacerbated by having a transmitter)

    So this means, these cameras are going to need constant maintenance that has to be done by someone, which would explain the roving patrols. Which, since the PO is going around spending all his time changing batteries and flash cards he's not patrolling, he's screwing around with little expensive devices, all the data has to be taken back to the office and processed. If there's one thing I'm rather indignant about in this it's that the government is now wasting money, as well as the scant resources of forest service LE to babysit cameras.

    I also guarantee that these cameras are:

    * Near roads (can't spend all day going through the brush to change batteries and flash cards)
    * Will have trails going to and from them (it would be impossible to re-hide the camera every week)

    This should make the cameras fairly easy to locate if you're determined to do so. The other thing I noticed is the company also makes a 1.2 or 2.4ghz transmitter for the camera, this means you can find the camera (or at least know of it's presence) with a frequency counter.
     
  13. Truenorth

    Truenorth Pacific Northwet Active Member

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    I'd rather find a game camera then another locked gate on a Forest Service road.

    Any night vision scope with show the IR flash from a game camera at night.
    The paranoid big brother types can finally put those $50 Gen I Russian night vision scopes to use.

    If game cameras catch trash dumpers and meth heads good job for the US Forest Service.
    They've lost 1/2 their budget and a 1/3 of their staff since 2001 so they need to cover all that land somehow.

    I'm tired of finding bags of diapers, thousands of plastic shotgun shells, busted bud light bottles and residential crap piled up in campsites. If some a-hole dumps trash in the forest and gets caught on camera, good. Post their picture on the evening news.

    I could care less if there's a camera in the forest looking for criminals. I have nothing to hide.
     
  14. 156256Hunter

    156256Hunter Fairview-ish Active Member

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    Bud light? Based on seeing countless empties in the areas where I hike, other peoples' drink of choice seems to be Keystone Light.
     
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  15. ZigZagZeke

    ZigZagZeke Eugene Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2015 Volunteer

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    I'll bet it makes for entertaining viewing when they catch a young couple out for a "hike" in the woods.
     
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  16. ZigZagZeke

    ZigZagZeke Eugene Silver Supporter Silver Supporter 2015 Volunteer

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  17. forefathersrback

    forefathersrback Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Incrementalism: First, cameras in the cities, now the great outdoors. What's next my bedroom? Oh wait maybe they do. This is unacceptable!! I am 100% against this uncalled for surveillance/ spying tactics. Big brother can kiss my britches.
     
  18. forefathersrback

    forefathersrback Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Wow!, sounds like to me that your willing to give up some more of your rights, for a little security in them there hills.
     
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  19. Brutus57

    Brutus57 Skagit County Well-Known Member

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    so stay away from fed lands is the only sure way?

    Brutus Out
     
  20. forefathersrback

    forefathersrback Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I can't, I am surrounded by federal lands where I live. There everywhere chief.