Commercial Filming and Still Photography

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When do I need a permit? | Request a permit | Operation Conditions & Rules | Special Considerations & Areas | Additional Information

Crew filming a commercial on the Eagle Creek Trail.  Filming is only allowed M-R in peak season.Like other commercial uses of National Forest lands and resources, commercial filming requires a special use permit issued by the Area Manager.


All motion picture and video filming activities that use crews, special equipment and vehicles require a special use permit. Photography and filming requests must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to shooting.

Fee structure and insurance requirements are found on the FILM REQUEST FORM. Once the request form is completed, please email the form to to Joey Canas at

The Oregon Film Board's website has a database of images to help you with your scouting. While not required, out of town production companies benefit from hiring an Oregon-based location scout. The Oregon Film Board can also provide information regarding incentives that the State of Oregon offers.

When Do I Need a Filming or Photography Permit?

Personal Use | Breaking News | Still Photography | Commercial Filming

The type of photographic activity determines whether or not a permit is required. See examples and criteria listed below.

Personal use:

If you are shooting still photographs or ‘home movies' for personal use (e.g. 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.

Breaking News:

Breaking news is an event or incident that arises suddenly, evolves quickly, and rapidly ceases to be newsworthy. A special use permit is not required for activities involving breaking news. Examples of breaking news are:

  • A wildland fire
  • A search and rescue

Still Photography:

Still photography uses photographic equipment to capture still images on film, digital format, and other similar technologies. National Forest visitors and professional or amateur photographers need a special use permit to take still photographs if the still photography:

  1. Uses models, sets, or props that are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.
  2. Takes place at a location where members of the public are generally not allowed or where additional administrative costs are likely.

Commercial Filming:

A special use permit is required for all commercial filming activities on National Forest System lands. Commercial filming is the use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, other moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets or props, but not activities associated with broadcasts for news programs.

For purposes of this definition, creation of a product for sale includes but is not limited to a film, videotape, television broadcast or documentary of historic events, wildlife, natural events, features, subjects or participants in a sporting or recreation event and so forth, when created for the purpose of generating income.

Commercial filming or still photography will not be permitted if the Forest Service determines that any of the following criteria apply:

  • There is a likelihood of resource damage that cannot be mitigated.
  • There would be an unreasonable disruption of the public's use and enjoyment of the site (beyond short term interruption).
  • The activity poses health or safety risks to the public that cannot be mitigated.

Requesting a Commercial Filming or Still Photography Permit

Advance Notice is required

The production company should contact the Scenic Area Office (541) 308-1700 in Hood River, OR to discuss the proposed project.

  • Minor occupancy filming requests (e.g. activities requiring 1 production day or less or minimal Forest Service review; or activities occuring in an area and involving a use open to the general public)
    • Minimum of 10 business days prior to activity.
  • Major occupancy filming requests (e.g. activites requiring environmental review, multiple production days, stunts or special effects):
    • Minimum of 45 business days prior to activity.

Alternate areas may be suggested which may better suit the proposal, reduce environmental analysis costs, or shorten permit processing timelines. If the proposed activities are incompatible with the management area direction or Forest Service policy (e.g. significant environmental impacts, public safety issues, disruption of visitors services) an explanation will be given why the proposal is unacceptable and possible alternatives will be discussed.

Request Form & Permit Process

Provide detailed information about the proposal for evaluation and permitting process using the form below. Review and complete all other requirements then submit your proposal to the Scenic Area office.

Examples of required information that will be evaluated include:

  • Type and complexity of the production
  • Proposed location
  • Amount and type of equipment and props
  • Proposed stunts and special effects
  • Potential resource impacts
  • Unreasonable disruption of the public's use and enjoyment of the site
  • Health or safety risks to the public.

Operation Conditions: Before submitting a Request form, please review the general and site-specific operation conditions applicable to authorized commercial filming and still photography activites within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (CRGNSA): CRGNSA Operation Conditions.

Insurance: Written proof of insurance must be given to the Forest Service Special Use Administrator. The policy document must name the United States Government as additional insured and provide for thirty (30) days written notification of cancelation. Copies of other documents, such as applicable County encroachment permits, letters of permission from private land owners, other permittees, etc., will be required prior to filming.

Photos & information about popular sites:

Wahkeena Day Use Site shelter and restroomsView photos and at a glance information for popular sites in the Columbia River Gorge.


Forest Service Representation: Depending on the activity, the production company may be required to have a Forest Service representative to act as the Area Manager's representative on site during the filming. The representative can approve or disapprove proposals that arise during filming and has the authority to suspend activities for noncompliance. If a Forest Service representative is needed, a collection agreement between the Forest Service and production company to cover the salary and mileage of the monitor may be required.

Performance Bond: A performance bond may be required if the proposal has a potential of resource damage or would require a major clean-up effort such as the removal of a constructed set, or use of special effects. The Area Manager will determine if a bond is required on a case-by-case basis.

Permit Fee and Recovery Costs: The permit fee is based on the number of production employees and days required to complete the filming. All fees are due prior to issuance of the permit.  Payment instructions are included on the bill. Fees to cover administrative and monitoring costs may also be applied to the permit.

Authorization: The permit, as well as the collection agreement if required, must be signed by an authorized production company representative. Proof of authorization to execute documents on behalf of the company must be provided. If the president of the company is unavailable to sign, a letter of authorization must accompany the individual authorized to sign the documents.

Special Considerations and Areas

Use of an Authorized Outfitter and Guide: Commercial filming activity requirements still apply while utilizing the services of an authorized Outfitter and Guide on Scenic Area lands. Common requests that would require a Forest Service evaluation and permit include:

  • Promotional or product advertisement (e.g. commercial for a 4x4 truck driving a forest road).
  • Outdoor show for fishing or hiking (e.g. salmon fishing on a wild and scenic river).

Photography Classes: Individuals or organizations offering classes or workshops on photography for commercial gain utilizing National Forest System lands need to secure a special use permit.  Please review the Outfitting and Guiding Services page for information on this type of activity and how to apply for a permit.

Commercial Filming Activities in a Wilderness area: Commercial filming activities may be allowed in wilderness if it is proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the area. Forest Service policies also direct the reviewer to look at minimizing wilderness resource impacts and seeking other non-wilderness area options to conduct the proposed activities.

Additional Information

USDA Forest Service web site Special Uses – Filming on Public Lands