Special Use Authorizations FAQs

What are special-use authorizations?

A special-use authorization is a legal document such as permit, lease or easement, which allows occupancy, use, rights, or privileges of National Forest System (NFS) lands.

When do I need a special use authorization?

  1. If you will need to occupy, use or build in NFS land for personal or business purposes, whether the duration is temporary or long term.

  2. If there is a fee being charged or if income is derived from the use.

  3. If an activity on NFS land involves individuals or organizations with 75 or more participants or spectators.

What is a non-commercial group use and when do you need a permit?

A group use is an activity that involves a group of 75 or more people, either as participants or spectators. Noncommercial is any use or activity where an entry or participation fee is not charged, and the primary purpose is not the sale of a goods or service. Some examples of noncommercial group uses are weddings, church services, camping trips, hikes, graduations, family reunions, and company picnics.

What is a prop or structure?

Examples of props include: food, flowers, rice, birdseed, balloons, doves, musicians.

Examples of structures include: chairs, tables, alters, arches, gazebos, portable toilets.

What are commercial recreation events and who needs a permit?

Recreation events are commercial activities requiring temporary, authorized use of NFS land. Examples of recreation events include, but are not limited to, animal, bicycle, motocross, or triathalon races; jeep rallies; dog trials; fishing contests; rendezvous; rodeos; adventure games; youth treks; wagon trains; concerts; and other similar events. A permit is required for these type of events, regardless of the number of people involved in the activity.

What is a commercial use or activity?

A commercial use or activity on NFS land occurs when

    • An applicant intends to charge an entry or participation fee, or

    • The primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, regardless of the intent to produce a profit. Money collected may cover expense categories, such as food, transportation, prizes, advertising, purchase replacement of equipment, or compensation for the leader of the activity.

Use is considered noncommercial if the fees charged are used only for the purpose of paying for actual expenses directly related to operating or staging the activity, with any excess funds returned to participants. The fees charged should not include costs for employees or personnel who stage or run the event.

Is my proposal appropriate?

  1. Your request must be consistent with federal, state, and local laws, regulations, and special orders that apply to the national forests.

  2. 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 Fishlake National Forest offices.

  3. Your request must not endanger public health or safety.

  4. Your request must not require exclusive or perpetual use or occupancy.

  5. Your request cannot conflict or interfere with administrative use by the Forest Service, other authorized existing uses, or uses of adjacent nonfederal lands.

  6. The application must not owe any fees to the Forest Service from a prior special-use authorization.

  7. No gambling or providing of sexually-oriented commercial services can be authorized on NFS land, even if permitted under state law.

  8. No military or paramilitary training or exercises can be authorized on NFS land, unless it is federally funded.

  9. No disposal of solid waste or storage or disposal of radioactive or other hazardous substances can be authorized on NFS land.