Event/Commercial Permits

Packing Out

Permits manage land use, protecting natural resources from overuse or damage. The permit application process varies depending upon the type of special use.

Who Needs a Special Use Permit?

A special use permit is required for the following activities on the San Juan National Forest:

  • Gatherings of groups of 75 or more people
  • Organized activities where an entry or participation fee is charged
  • The primary purpose is the sale of a good or service regardless of the intent to produce a profit
  • Commercial filming

 

Types of Permits

For more information on types of permits, applicable open season dates, and contact information for additional information, assistance, and application submission, select from the list below. 

 

Need Help Applying? 

The following specialists will help you decide what kind of permit you may need and help you apply for it. These individuals provide services for different activities located in areas on various ranger districts. If these topics do not cover your activity, please contact the associated ranger district. Check out the map of San Juan National Forest Ranger Districts if you are unsure which ranger district you need to contact.

Non-Commercial Events, Recreation Events and Outfitters and Guides

Land and water-based outfitter and guides, recreation events, noncommercial group use events, weddings, apiary. 

Columbine Ranger District

Tambi Gustafson    
tambi.gustafson@usda.gov
(970) 884-1404
P.O. Box 439
Bayfield, CO 81122

Dolores Public Lands Office

Tom Rice 
thomas.b.rice@usda.gov 
(970) 882-6843
29211 Highway 184
Dolores, CO 81122

Pagosa Ranger District

Ros Wu    
rosalind.wu@usda.gov
(970) 264-1529
P.O. Box 310
Pagosa Springs, CO 81147

Commercial Filming and Photography

View section below for contact information.

 

Non-Commercial Group Use

Under regulations, 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, endurance rides, regattas, camping trips, hikes, music festivals, rallies, graduations, and races.

When to Apply

Applications must be submitted at least 45-60 days before the non-commercial use event and no sooner than 180 days before the event.

APPLY

Non-Commercial Group Use Permit Application Form

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Recreation Events

Activities that require a recreation special use permit include competitive races, contests, fund raisers, eco-challenges, dog trials, club activities, adventure games and endurance races. If you or your organization is considering holding such an event on the national forest, contact your local ranger district well in advance of the scheduled event to determine whether a permit is available. Requests for recreation events in designated wilderness areas will not be considered (Lizard Head, Hermosa Creek, Weminuche, and South San Juan Wilderness Areas).

When to Apply

Season of Use

Application Season Opens

Application Season Closes

Winter

July 1st

August 15th

Summer

January 1st

February 15th

APPLY 

Recreation Event Permit Application Form

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Commercial Filming and Photography

Commercial filming and still photography on national forest lands require a special use authorization. The permit process to obtain a commercial filming and still photography permit is as follows:

  1. Determine the San Juan National Forest Ranger District(s) where the photography / filming will take place.  If you are not sure what district your activity is in, check out the San Juan National Forest Overview Map or call the San Juan National Forest Headquarters at (970) 247-4874.
  2. Describe your planned filming activity in detail. Complete the Photography and Filming Request Form. Provide a map showing specific filming locations.
  3. Submit your proposal at least 30 days before you want to start filming. Complex filming proposal requests could require even more time to process. 
  4. Cost-recovery fees (to cover permit processing and monitoring), as well as additional land-use fees must be paid before commercial filming/photography can begin. Processing and monitoring fees vary, depending on the estimated hours of Forest Service time needed to process the application to monitor filming and for any reclamation required.
  5. Liability insurance may be required, naming the U.S. Government as “additional insured.” The Forest Service will determine the appropriate amount of coverage. Depending on the location and type of production, the Forest Service may impose additional requirements such asbonding.

See the USFS website “Special Uses-Filming on National Forest System Lands” for additional information about commercial filming and photography policies (Select Region 2).

When to Apply

Submit your proposal at least 30 days before you want to start filming. Complex filming proposal requests could require even more time to process. 

APPLY

Photography and Filming Request Form to appropriate contact listed below.

Contacts

Columbine Ranger District

Kate Shepherd
katherine.shepherd@usda.gov 
(970) 884-1402

Erin Christenson
erin.christenson@usda.gov
(970) 385-1221

Dolores Public Lands Office

Daniel Chavez
daniel.chavez2@usda.gov 
(970) 882-6814

Pagosa Ranger District

Julia Adams
julia.adams@usda.gov 
(970) 264-1502

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Outfitters & Guides

Outfitters & guides may apply for temporary or long-term priority use permits (where available).

 

Temporary Outfitter Guide Permits

The San Juan National Forest (SJNF) has implemented a program for issuing Temporary Outfitting and Guiding Special Use Permits on a limited basis in 2012 pursuant to the governing directives contained in Forest Service Handbook FSH 2709.11, section 41.53

Full implementation of the program at the individual National Forest level is dependent on a variety of factors. Most guided recreational activities are available through existing permit holders on the SJNF and/or on private, state, or other Federal lands. Our primary focus is to facilitate greater participation in use of existing permitted Priority Use outfitter/guides. Visit the Outfitter Guides webpage for a complete list of all permitted Priority Use outfitters guides. However, the SJNF will consider offering Temporary Outfitter/Guide permits with a focus on applications that include youth, educational, underprivileged and religious groups for a limited number of activities and in a limited number of areas across the Forest.

Temporary Outfitter/Guide permits are:

  • Not renewable
  • Issued noncompetitively
  • For use that is non-recurring (issuance of temporary permits is non-competitive and is a first-come, first-serve basis until capacity runs out)
  • Not intended for building a business
  • Limited to maximum of 200 service days each
  • Issued at the sole discretion of the Authorized Officer
  • Holder may obtain 2 permits per year, one for summer season & one for winter season
  • Holder must provide proof of insurance - the USFS must be listed as an Additional Insured

Temporary use permits authorize short-term, non-renewable outfitting and guiding use that is authorized in increments of 50 service days, up to a maximum of 200 service days in a 180-day period. 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. For example, if an outfitter brings 5 clients on the forest for one day, that visit would utilize 5 service days.

When to Apply

Consideration of any proposal for use in an area or for a specific activity or season is at the sole discretion of the District Ranger of each administrative unit of the SJNF. With limited exceptions, only complete application packages submitted by the by the last day of open season application period will be considered. 

Season of Use

Application Season Opens

Application Season Closes

Winter

July 1st

August 15th

Summer

January 1st

February 15th

Applications generally WILL NOT be accepted or considered for the following types of locations and/or activities*:

  • Weminuche Wilderness Area
  • Any Cave Resource
  • Any “14er” Peak on weekends or Holidays during the summer season
  • Use of routes during timeframes or in areas that may have seasonal restrictions due to elk calving, nesting sites, limits on snow compaction or other resource related values
  • The Continental Divide Trail on weekends or Holidays during the summer season
  • The Colorado Trail on weekends or Holidays during the summer season
  • Activities considered to be high risk, including but not limited to: – Class IV & above white water rafting/kayaking; use of aircraft or aerial activities; alpine skiing; avalanche area travel; rock climbing
  • Hunting:  Possible exceptions may include limited hunts having specialized requirements or seasons such as goat, sheep or Governor’s Tag hunts. However, at a minimum, the applicant must hold a priority outfitting permit in good standing from another National Forest unit, retain a valid State of Colorado Outfitting registration and must provide documentation verifying that all existing authorized outfitters for that area and activity have been contacted and are either not interested or not available to provide the service. Any entity claiming insurance indemnification waivers will not be issued permits. 

Criteria for Consideration of Proposals For Temporary Outfitter/Guide Permits

  1. All applications that are submitted will be screened for meeting both the initial and second level criteria in 36 CFR261.54 prior to being evaluated according to the provisions outlined above.
  2. Applications meeting all criteria, including application deadline dates, will be considered with preference being given to uses that provide opportunities for youth, educational, underprivileged, or similar groups. Applications packages must be sufficiently complete for the authorized officer to make an informed decision regarding issuance of a permit. Incomplete packages requiring significant additional follow-up time by Forest staff may not be considered.
  3. Proposals for summer season activities must remain on existing designated system travelways or bodies of water. (Proposals for non-motorized or non-mechanized uses occurring off designated route use may be considered but may require a more in-depth analysis of potential impacts pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and be subject to Cost Recovery Fees per FSH2709.11, Chapter 20. Proponents considering an application for this type of activity should submit applications well in advance of the application deadline to provide sufficient time for NEPA analysis. )
  4. In general, the smaller the group size, the higher the likelihood of being considered for a permit. Larger group sizes tend to increase potential impacts from a resource and social perspective. Group size must meet existing regulations e. g. Wilderness, site occupancy requirements, etc. (Proposals for large groups may be considered but may require a more in depth analysis of potential impacts pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and be subject to Cost Recovery Fees per FSH2709.11, Chapter 20. Proponents considering an application for this type of activity should submit applications well in advance of the application deadline to provide sufficient time for NEPA analysis.)
  5. In general, proposals for weekday use will have a higher likelihood of being considered due to the amount of existing use that occurs on weekends and Holidays.
  6. In general, a person or group cannot acquire a temporary outfitter/guide permit for a similar activity on the same Ranger District more than one time in a 2-year period.
  7. If the applicant or a managing partner has previous law violations related to the activity for which a permit is requested, has previous poor performance, or has failed to pay fees, the applicant will be disqualified.
  8. If multiple applications for similar qualifying activities, use areas or dates are received, a selection will be made through a random drawing.
  9. There are several areas on San Juan National Forest where recreation use levels are exceeding capacities and no temporary special use permits will be considered in these areas. No temporary use permits will be issued for summer season activities within the Weminuche Wilderness Area. Additionally, temporary use permits for hunting activities will not be considered.

APPLY

Temporary Permit for Outfitting and Guiding Application Form

Checklist for Temporary Permit for Outfitter and Guides

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Priority Use Outfitter Guiding Permits

** San Juan National Forest is not currently accepting applications for priority use outfitter guide permits.**

The San Juan National Forest currently has limited numbers of priority use permits available and is not currently accepting new priority use permit applications. Occasionally, a priority use outfitter guiding prospectus will be issued by the forest. This is an open and public process and notifications of upcoming prospectus application periods are announced through various media outlets and on the San Juan National Forest web page.

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 San Juan National Forest will be issued a 2-year probationary permit which will be extended for an additional 8 years with satisfactory performance.

Visit the Outfitter Guides webpage for a complete list of all permitted priority use outfitters guides.

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.

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.

Application Requirements

This section will be updated when priority use permits are available for application.

 
 

Insurance Requirements

The following insurance guidelines are provided to show why insurance requirements are necessary and how the Certificate of Insurance should be prepared to meet the agency direction.

The Special Use Permit requires the Permittee to indemnify the United States against any liability for damage to life or property arising from the occupancy or use of National Forest System Lands. The Permit requires the Permittee to have the insurance company name the United States Government (Forest Service) as an additionally insured party. Also, the Certificate of Insurance and the insurance policy shall contain a specific provision to the effect that the policy shall not be cancelled or the provisions changed or deleted before thirty (30) days written notification by the insurance company to the U.S. Government, c/o USDA Forest Service.

A Certificate of Insurance must be presented to the Forest Service before a Special Use Permit will be issued. For long-term or high-risk projects, the Authorized Officer may require that a copy of the actual insurance policy be furnished before the permit is issued.

Required language

The following acceptable additional insured clause shall be shown in verbatim on the face of the Certificate of Insurance or Binder and, as a clause or an endorsement in the insurance policy:

"It is understood and agreed that the United States Government is additional insured solely as respects liability arising from operations of the named insured."

In addition, the following 30-day clause is also mandatory and shall be shown in verbatim on the Certificate of Insurance as well as in the insurance policy:

"It is understood and agreed that the coverage under this policy will not be changed or its provisions changed or deleted before thirty (30) days written notice to the United States Government, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Supervisor, San Juan National Forest, 15 Burnett Court, Durango, CO  81301."

United States Government, c/o USDA Forest Service, San Juan National Forest shall be listed in the certificate holder box.

If these clauses are not on the Certificate of Insurance in verbatim, and are not in the insurance policy or on an endorsement as stated above, a Special Use Permit will not be issued.

Insurance Minimums

The amount of insurance required will depend on the degree of risk involved. The table below shows current minimum coverage amounts for some outfitter-guide activities.

Type of Activity
Minimum Coverage Amount
(in thousands of dollars)
 
Split Limit
Combined Single Limit
Aerial Activities
-1 person
-2 or more people
 
25 / 500 / 1,000
25 / 500 / 2,000
 
1,000
2,000
Backpacking
25 / 300 / 300
300
Bicycling
25 / 300 / 300
300
Four Wheel Drive Tours /
ATV
25 / 500 / 500
500
Hunting
25 / 500 / 500
500
Nature Hikes
25 / 500 / 500
500
Nordic Skiing
25 / 300 / 300
300
Pack and Saddle Stock,
Equestian
25 / 300 / 300
300
Rafting and Boating
(Class IV-V)
25 / 500 / 500
500
Rafting and Boating
(Class I-III)
25 / 500 / 1,000
1,000
Rock Climbing
25 / 500 / 500
500
Running and Walking Events
25 / 300 / 300
300
Snowmobiling
25 / 500 / 500
500

Certificate of Liability Insurance Form

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