Special Uses Authorization FAQ

 What are special use authorizations?

  • A special use authorization is a legal document such as a permit, lease, or easement, which allows occupancy, use, rights, or privileges of National Forest System (NFS) land. The authorization is granted for a specific use of the land for a specific period of time. This includes all uses except disposal of timber, minerals, and grazing of livestock.

When do I need an authorization?

  • If you plan to occupy, use, or build on NFS land for personal or business purposes, whether the duration is temporary or long term.
  • If there is a fee being charged or income is derived from the use.

Is my proposal appropriate?

  • Your request must be consistent with federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and special orders that apply to the National Forests.
  • Your request must be consistent with the Forest Plan that established standards and guidelines for management of the land where the activity will take place. A copy of the forest plan is available at your local Forest Service office and in many libraries.
  • Your request must not endanger public health or safety.
  • The proposed use must not create an exclusive or perpetual right or use or occupancy.
  • Your request cannot conflict or interfere with administrative use by the Forest Service, other authorized existing uses, or uses of adjacent non-federal lands.
  • The applicant must not owe any fees to the Forest Service from a prior or existing special use authorization.
  • No gambling or providing of sexually oriented commercial services can be authorized on NFS land, even if permitted under state law.
  • No military or paramilitary training or exercises can be authorized on NFS land, unless it is federally funded.
  • No disposal of solid waste or storage or disposal of radioactive or other hazardous substances can be authorized on NFS land.

What does an authorization cost?

  • Cost Recovery Fees- An assessment of fees to recover agency processing costs for special use applications and monitoring costs for special use authorizations.  These fees are separate from any fees charged for the use and occupancy of NFS lands.
  • Land Use Fee - This is an annual rental fee based on the fair market value for the uses authorized and is payable in advance. Fees are established by appraisal or other sound business management principles.
  • The 2022 minimum fee for the Alaska Region is $122.24.
  • Other associated Costs - You may be responsible for providing information and reports necessary to determine the feasibility and environmental impacts of your proposal; compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and terms and conditions to be included in the authorization.

Do I need insurance?

  • Yes, generally insurance is required for operations that involve the public. To protect the user and the federal government from losses for which the permittee may be liable, the Forest Service requires permitees to carry public liability insurance naming the U.S. Government as additionally insured and providing a 30-day written notice prior to cancellation. Insurance limits begin at $300,000 combined single limit for lower risk operations involving smaller group sizes. Increased insurance limits will be required based on the amount of use, the risks involved, the protection on users, and the possible liability of the U.S. Government.