Special Uses

Large brown wooden barn with rows of seats in front filled with wedding goers in the forest.The National Forests and Grasslands belong to all of us. The Forest Service manages these lands to meet the demand for a variety of uses that benefit the public and protect the resources for future generations. A special use permit, or authorization, is one tool to regulate use in a way that supports national policy and federal laws. Currently there are over 74,000 authorizations on forest system lands for over 180 types of uses.

Each year, the Forest Service receives thousands of individual and business applications to use NFS land for such activities as water transmission, agriculture, outfitting and guiding, recreation, group gatherings, research, photography, and granting road and utility rights-of-ways. The Forest Service carefully reviews each application to determine how the request affects the public's use of NFS land. Normally, NFS land is not made available if the overall needs of the individual or business can be met on non-federal lands.

The first step in obtaining a special use permit is to contact the local forest service office. Staff will discuss your proposal, application procedures, fees, time frames, licensing and insurance requirements if necessary, reports and reviews.

Generally applications for Recreation Residences, Outfitting and Guiding, Special Events and non-commercial Group Use are handled by the Recreation Special Uses Staff. Check here for timeline information for outfitting/guide and recreation events.

Applications for Road Building and Maintenance, Powerlines, Isolated Cabins, Research Permits and Commercial Filiming and Photography are handled by the Lands and Realty Staff.

The Application Process: National information on how to obtain a special use authorization with the National Forests and Grasslands.

Forms: Prior to starting an application, please contact the local Forest Service office to ensure the correct information is provided. Some applications are unique to individual districts.