Event and Commercial Activities ofter require the use of recreation special use permits (SUP), which are authorizations issued by the Forest Service to conduct commercial recreation activities on National Forest system lands. A commercial recreational use or activity is defined as:
Any use or activity on National Forest System lands (a) where an entry or participation fee is charged, or (b) where the primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, and in either case, regardless of whether the use or activity is intended to produce a profit. (36 CFR 251.51)
Most visitors enjoy non-commercial activities on their National Forests such as berry picking, camping, picnicking, fishing, participating in assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, and parades. In general special use permits are not required for these types of non-commercial recreational uses. However in some circumstances even non-commercial uses require a recreation special use permit. These circumstances may include: still photography or non-commercial group uses. Please visit with your local Ranger District special use administrator to see if your non-commercial activity requires a special use permit.
Types of Special Use Permitted Recreation Activities
Group Use / Event Permits
The Forest receives dozens of requests to conduct recreation events each year. These are usually short term seasonal events. Some types of activities that require a recreation event special use permit include:
√ Recreation Events
√ Competitive snowmobile races and poker runs
√ Dog sled and Nordic ski events
√ Bicycle road tours and car rallies
√ Club activities
√ Adventure games
√ Endurance races
Some non-commercial group activities will also need to obtain a recreation special use permit. The two main criteria are; determination of a commercial use or activity (as defined above), and total number of participants and spectators. In order to be considered a non-commercial group use, there must be no entry or participant fee and no sale of goods or services on National Forest Lands. View related information
If your activity is determined to be non-commercial it still may need a special use permit IF the total number of participants and spectators combined is 75 or more. Review the information contained in the following link to determine whether your activity requires a permit.
Outfitter and Guide
Guided hunting, packing and camping; jet boat and float tours; guided ski tours, and scenic trips require that the Outfitter and Guide be permitted. View related information
Filming and Photography Permits
If you are shooting still photographs or ‘home movies' for personal use (i.e. that does not involve advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale) then a special use permit is not required. The requirement to obtain a commercial filming permit depends on the type of activity involved.
Use of National Forest System land for commercial filming and for some types of still photography requires a special use authorization. View related information
How to Apply for a Recreation Special Use Permit
Recreation special use permits are generally issued at the local Ranger District Office. Basic requirements for holding a permit include technical and financial capability, payment of a fee, and insurance listing the US Government as additionally insured. Prior to issuance of a permit, the Forest may have to complete an environmental analysis which may be cost shared with the permit applicant depending the category and extent of the analysis, and permit processing fees (i.e. Recovery costs).
Please visit with your local Ranger District special use administrator to discuss your proposal for a permit.
Recreation Special Use Policy and Direction
As a permit holder of a special use permit, the following linked page will assist you in keeping up to date on the latest SUP policy and direction. Link to Recreation Special Use Policy and Direction.
National Forest Service Website
Learn more about Special-Use permits at the National website. Link to Obtaining a Special-Use Authorization with the Forest Service.