Special Uses

Special use permits authorize use of National Forest System lands for a wide variety of activities. Permits are issued to commercial and noncommercial entities and to individuals for private, non-exclusive use.  An activity is defined as commercial if the permit holder intends to charge an entry or participation fee, or its primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, regardless if it’s intended to produce a profit.  

Typical uses authorized include outfitting and guiding, commercial filming, communication sites, roads or utility lines, large gatherings, and uses under authority of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). Depending on the complexity of the proposal, obtaining a special use authorization can sometimes be a lengthy process. In order to facilitate the process, coordinate early with the District where you would like to operate.

Find specific special use permit information on the:

Chugach National Forest Tongass National Forest

 

Find special use permit information covering all National Forest System land in Alaska for:

  • Outfitters & Guides

    A forest ranger talks to a fishing guide on the river.

    As partners in providing unique recreational experiences, commercial outfitters and guides have an integral role on fulfilling one of the agency's missions to serve the public. 

  • Recreation Events

    Sled dogs getting ready to race.

    Recreation events are commercial activities requiring temporary, authorized uses of National Forest System land.Some examples are: races, dog trials, fishing contests, adventure games, and concerts.

  • Communications

    A person sets up a solar panel on the forest for radio communications.

    Communications facilities (e.g., buildings, cabinets, towers) and equipment located on National Forest System lands are an integral part of the nation's telecommunications infrastructure.

  • Filming and Photography

    A person ice climbing in an ice cave.

    National forests are a popular location for the commercial filming and still photography industries. Learn what requires permitting and how to apply.

  • Noncommercial Group Use

    Colorful alpine lake in the Chugach.

    Noncommercial group uses are activities conducted on National Forest System lands in which (a) no entry or participation fee is charged, and (b) the primary purpose of the activity is not the sale of a good or service.

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    ANILCA Uses

    Colorful alpine lake in the Chugach.

    In 1980, when Congress passed the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), it recognized the importance of upholding Alaska’s unparalleled natural ecosystems and landscapes, while maintaining opportunity for traditional ways of living on the land to continue.