Outfitter & Guide Permits FAQs

Do I need a permit?

Generally, if you charge a fee for someone to participate in a service that you are providing, or if you otherwise stand to gain from providing the service, you need a permit. The value of the public service provided, the amount charged, or the value of the experience had by the participants is not relevant.

See definitions for “Commercial Use”, “Guiding”, “Outfitting”.


Non-profit organizations are exempt, right?

No. Non-profit status is not relevant to whether or not you need a permit. Some of our largest permitted outfitting and guiding organizations are non-profits providing great public benefits.


What is a Temporary Use Permit?

  • Authorization to conduct short term outfitted or guided use on national Forest Service land,
  • Non- renewable,
  • Non-competitive,
  • One permit, less or equal to 200 days in a 180 day period per use area,
  • Flat rate fee schedule,
  • Outfitter must be qualified to provide service,
  • No performance evaluations,
  • Annual Use reports required,
  • Insurance required (FSM2713.1 Exhibit 1),
  • Operating plan required,
  • Revocable and suspendable,
  • Not appealable.


How much do temporary permits cost?
A flat fee is charged for a fixed amount of use:

Number of Service Days

Flat Fee Maximum Gross Revenue for Each Bracket of
Service Days
1 to 50 $150 $10,000
51 to 100 $300 $20,000
101 to 150 $450 $30,000
151 to 200 $600 $40,000

(See FSH 2709.11, sec. 37.21c)


What is a Priority Use Permit?

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.


How much do priority use permits cost?

Priority use fees are assessed at 3 percent of adjusted gross receipts for multiple events under a single permit. There may be other costs for which you are responsible as part of your authorized activity. Liability insurance coverage and a performance bond to ensure protection of the environment and site cleanup may be required. Depending on the size and duration of your activity, costs associated with law enforcement, crowd control, safety issues, and sanitation may also be required.


How do I apply for permits?

For Temporary Permits, apply here.

For Priority Use Permits, apply here


Who can apply?

  • Applicants must be qualified to provide the proposed service, possessing required state licenses and adequate liability insurance.
  • Final determination of qualifications is made on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.
  • Violations of laws, customer complaints and adverse performance and permit compliance will be considered in evaluating qualifications.


How many permits and service days can I apply for?
Permits and service days are managed by use area. The maximum allowable service days varies by use area depending on their availability and demand. Only one temporary permit may be obtained per use area every 180 days up to the max number of service days per use area (no more than 200 service days). See the various permit pool documents for descriptions of use areas and the max number of service days that may be applied for in each area.

  • Example 1: Use area "A" = 1000 total pool days with a max days/permit = 200. I can only apply for 1 permit up to 200 days every 6 months in use area "A".
  • Example 2: Use Area "B" = 150 total pool days with a max days/permit = 50. I can only apply for 1 permit up to 50 days every 6 months in use area "B". 
  • Example 3: Use Area "A" + "B" = 200 days "A" + 50 days "B" = 250 days "A" and "B".

Note: As shown in example 3 You can apply for days from multiple use areas at the same time.


If I already have a priority use permit, am I eligible for a temporary permit?
Yes. Temporary Permits are available to all who are qualified.


What are the benefits of temporary use permits?

  • Allows for a short-term allocation of use to meet a seasonal needs,
  • Provides an opportunity to try new activities/locations,
  • Adds clients or trips for special events or offerings,
  • Increases flexibility in locations,
  • Less time spent processing paperwork,
  • Opportunities for church, youth and educational groups to obtain short term permits for brief and non-recurring outings.


What activities and locations are permits available for?

Land-based outfitting and guide permits are available throughout the forest, at the discretion of District Rangers. Priority use permits will be made available in early 2017 for activities occurring on Mt. Baker. The Forest’s long term plan is to conduct a forest-wide needs assessment to determine the need for additional guided services. The assessment will help us better understand what additional services should be provided. If the Forest Service identifies a need and has the administrative capacity to manage additional use, additional priority use permits may be offered.

River-based guiding permits are currently only available for select locations.

The Forest Service may add, remove or modify the activities and locations at our discretion.


How were the application due dates selected?
Ideally there would be plenty of days available to allow all temp permits to be issued on a first come first served basis. However some permit pools are limited and with high demand and there simply are not enough days to go around. For pools such as this we will allocate the permits by a lottery and a due date is needed to make that work. The due dates are months ahead of the permit period so that applicants who get drawn for a permit will have plenty of lead time to advertise and prepare for the trips. In the event that there are unallocated days left over after the lottery, additional permits may be issued on a first come first served basis.


Are permits available for other forests?
Forest Service regulations allow for, but do not require, the administration of temporary permit pools. Inquiries on permitting on other forests should be directed to those forests. Information for National Forests within the United States can be found here.


When are applications due?
Administration of the temporary permits varies by pool and is specified in the lands or river pool permit documents.


Who do I contact to find out more about getting a Temporary Use Permit?

Contact the Permits Administrator (TempGuidePermitsLand@fs.fed.us).


Where can I get more info on Forest Service outfitter and guide policies and regulations?
Visit the national website.