Priority Use Permits

Priority Use Permits

The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest currently has limited numbers of priority use permits available. The Forest will accept priority use outfitter and guide permit applications for activities occurring on Mount Baker within the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area and portions of the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area. The Forest is soliciting outfitter and guide services for the following activities: mountaineering and climbing, skill and rescue training, backcountry skiing and snowboarding, stock trips, environmental education, hunting, and snowmobiling. Snowmobiling will not be authorized within the Mt. Baker Wilderness. The priority deadline for new priority use applications is January 31, 2017, however applications will be accepted until February 17, 2017.

Priority use permits authorize outfitter and guide activity for up to 10 years, based on the holder’s past use and performance and applicable programmatic or project decisions to allocate use. Priority use authorizations are, with some exceptions, subject to renewal. Applicants who have not previously had priority use permits on Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest will be issued transitional priority permits which will be converted to priority use permits contingent upon satisfactory performance reviews after 1-2 years. Permit holders are expected to follow established best practices for Leave No Trace on Mt. Baker. Permit applicants proposing operations in designated wilderness should review the Pacific Northwest Wilderness Pocket Guide for Outfitters.


Mt. Baker Permit Management Areas

Mt. Baker is divided into distinct management areas with service day allocations that were determined through the Mt. Baker Needs Assessment and Social Capacity analysis. The management areas and the amount of service days offered for each area are listed in the table below. Permits will not be issued for activities occurring within or traversing the Ronald J. Taylor Research Natural Area.

See also the Mt. Baker Management Area map (PDF):

Management Area

Mt. Baker National Recreation Area

Coleman Glacier Wilderness
Climbing Area

General Trailless Wilderness

Transition & Trailed Wilderness

Area Description

Encompasses the entirety of the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area, accessed by the Schreiber’s Meadow Trailhead as well as the Ridley Creek and Bell Pass trails (8,789 acres). Includes the Easton and Squak Glaciers and their associated climbing routes.

Encompasses most of the climbing routes and associated campsites accessed from the Heliotrope Ridge Trail (2,774 acres). Includes the Coleman and Roosevelt Glaciers, Heliotrope Ridge, Colfax Peak the Roman Wall and the summit of Mt. Baker.

Encompasses off-trail terrain and climbing routes that are not included in the National Recreation Area or the Coleman Climbing Route Area (57,184 acres).

Encompasses system trails within portions of the Mt. Baker Wilderness and associated campsites (8,775 acres). Includes all trails accessing Mt. Baker that are not included in the National Recreation Area or the Coleman Climbing Route Area.

Total Annual Service Days Available






Available Service Days

Use is assigned by service days; a service day is one day or any part of one day on national forest lands for which an outfitter or guide provides services to one client. The total number of service days is calculated by multiplying each service day by the number of clients on the trip. Proposals should include realistic requests for the number of service days that the applicant has the capacity to provide or expect to use. Permit holders who fail to use all their authorized days will have the unused days removed from their permit. The number of user days authorized may be different than that requested.

The Forest anticipates authorizing multiple special use permits for each activity and allocating up to a maximum of 21,924 annual service days for all activities combined within the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area and no more than 6,426 annual service days within the affected portions of the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area. The final number of service days issued will depend on the proposals received. If responses reveal competitive interest for permits, a prospectus will be issued for areas where demand exceeds available service days. A percentage of service days will be retained for temporary use allocations. The Forest reserves the right not to issue any permits.

Prospective applicants should be aware that capacity limits (maximum number of service days allowed in a geographic area) could constrain a business’s ability to grow and expand in the future. Opportunities for businesses to expand under a special use permit depend on the resource capacity, the patterns and trends of both the outfitted and non-outfitted public, future natural resource issues, and permittee performance.


Priority Use Permit Fees

Successful applicants will be required to pay a fee for the use of National Forest System lands. The fee will be Option B (3% of gross revenues), as described in the FS-2700-4i, section IV. Permit Fees and Accounting Records. Actual use is reported and fees are estimated using the following spreadsheet:


Application Requirements

The priority deadline for new applications is January 31, 2017, however applications will be accepted until February 17, 2017. Packages should be typed and preferably submitted electronically. Incomplete proposals may delay the selection process or may be removed from evaluation. Questions may be directed to Sue Sherman-Biery, Special Use Permits Administrator, (360) 854-2660.

To be considered, each applicant must submit the information requested below:

  1. A completed Mt. Baker Outfitting & Guiding Priority Use Permit Request (Supplement to the SF 299) and accompanying attachments.
  2. A completed outfitter/guide operating plan with detailed information for each item, including safety, guide qualification requirements, and emergency precautions and procedures. Use the provided template.
  3. Detailed topographic maps showing travel routes, proposed camp locations, parking areas, and access points needed in the proposal must be included as part of your application.
  4. Certificates of insurance naming the United States as insured (see FSM 2713.1 for minimum coverage requirements).

Submit applications electronically (preferred) to Sue Sherman-Biery, Special Use Permits Administrator.