Special Use Permits - Outfitting and Guiding

Commercial Outfitting and Guiding is a use that occurs on National Forest System lands where:

  1. Where an entry or participation fee is charged, or
  2. Where the primary purpose is the sale of a good or service and, in either case, regardless of whether the use or activity is intended to produce a profit (36 CFR 251.51).


Guiding - Providing services or assistance (such as supervision, protection, education, training, packing, touring, subsistence, transporting people, or interpretation) for pecuniary remuneration or other gain to individuals or groups on National Forest System lands.  The term "guide" includes the holder's employees and agents.

Outfitting - Renting on or delivering to National Forest System lands for pecuniary remuneration or other gain any saddle or pack animal, vehicle, boat, camping gear, or similar supplies or equipment.  The term "outfitter" includes the holder's employees and agents.

Objective of Outfitting/Guiding

  1. Provide for outfitting and guiding services that address concerns of public health and safety and that foster successful small businesses consistent with the applicable land management plan.
  2. Facilitate greater participation in the outfitting and guiding program by organizations and businesses that work with youth and educational groups.
  3. Encourage skilled and experienced individuals and entities to conduct outfitting and guiding activities in a manner that protects environmental resources and ensures that national forest visitors receive high-quality services.

When Permits Are Required

  1. Individuals or entities conducting outfitting or guiding activities on National Forest System lands shall be authorized under a special use permit.
  2. Outfitters based off National Forest System lands who rent and deliver equipment or livestock to the public on National Forest System lands shall obtain a permit if they, their employees, or agents occupy or use National Forest System lands or related waters in connection with their rental programs.
    • For example, a permit is required if a boat livery operator provides service, including delivery or pickup of boats, at sites on National Forest System lands.
    • No permit is necessary if an operator's customers transport rented equipment to and from National Forest System lands or if services are provided to Forest Service employees, Forest Service contractors, or other Federal officials in the course of their official duties.

Temporary Outfitter and Guide Permits

  • Permits will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis during the open season periods. 
  • Allocate use in increments of 50 service days, up to a maximum of 200 service days.
  • Issuance of a temporary use permit to a prospective permit holder does not commit the Forest Service to authorize a temporary use permit in the future. These permits must be requested they will not be automatically renewed.
  • Violations of law, customer complaints, and adverse outfitting and guiding performance ratings will be considered in evaluating applicants’ technical qualifications for future temporary outfitter/guide permit requests.

Program Requirements

Review the following documents to make sure you meet the outfitter/guide requirements before submitting your application materials.


Liability Insurance Minimum Limits
FSM Type of Special Use Required Minimum Coverage or CSL
2721.53 Outfitter and Guide Service:
Saddle and Pack Stock, Equestrian 25/500/500 $500,000
Nordic Skiing: Non-Avalanche Areas 25/300/300 $300,000
Nordic Skiing: Avalanche Potential Areas 25/500/500 $500,000
Backpacking 25/300/300 $300,000
Rock Climbing 25/500/500 $500,000
Bicycling 25/500/500 $500,000
Nature Hikes 25/300/300 $300,000
Running Clinics 25/300/300 $300,000
Snowmobiling 25/500/500 $500,000
Rafting and Boating: Class IV-V 25/500/1000 $1,000,000
Rafting and Boating: Class I-III 25/500/500 $500,000
Aerial Activities: 1 person 25/500/1000 $1,000,000
Aerial Activities: 2 or more people 25/500/2000 $2,000,000
Bus, Van, Four-Wheel Drive Tours, ATV 25/500/500 $500,000
Hunting 25/500/500 $500,000
2721.54 Rental Services 25/100/300 $300,000
2721.61 Winter Sports Resorts:
Nordic Skiing Non-Avalanche Areas 25/300/500 $500,000
Nordic Skiing Avalanche Potential Areas 25/500/500 $500,000
Alpine Skiing 50/500/2000 $2,000,000
Avalanche Training 25/500/1000 $1,000,000
2725.51 Still Photography 25/100/300 $300,000
2725.53 Commercial Filming 25/100/300 $300,000

The Insurance Policy must also meet all the following conditions:

  1. They name the U.S. Government as additional insured.

Below is the appropriate address for the additionally insured documentation:

     US Government
     Shasta-Trinity National Forest
     204 West Alma Street
     Mount Shasta, CA 96067
     Attn: Kristian Schenk
  1. They meet the minimum coverage requirements for the authorized activities shown in above or as required by state law or regulation.
  2. They include an appropriate 30-day notification clause in case of cancellation or amendment of coverage.  When premiums are paid in full prior to use, 10-day notification of cancellation for non-payment of premiums is acceptable.
  3. The exclusions (if any) listed on the Certificate of Insurance do not include any of the activities/operations authorized by the permit.

Application Materials

If you have carefully reviewed all of the program requirements above and would like your activity to be considered for a temporary outfitter and guide permit, you will need to submit the following application materials:

There are several components in the application so be sure to read through it first and make sure you cover all parts. We do provide an Operating Plan Template which is required as item number 6 in the application. Also included in the Operating Plan Template that is also required in the application are items number 3-advertising, 4-client charges, 5-guide identification, and 8-client’s acknowledgement of risk form. You do not need to provide these twice, please just note See Operating Plan in the application for those line items.  

How to Submit Your Application 

Beginning on January 1, 2018, and annually thereafter, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest will accept completed applications for temporary outfitter and guide permit requests on National Forest System lands and waters during two 30-day periods:

  • January 1-31 for activities that occur in spring-fall; permits requested in this open season will be issued at latest April 1
  • September 1-30 for activities that occur in winter; permits requested in this open season will be issued at latest Dec 1 

Applications accepted during these open seasons will be date stamped and evaluated in the order they were received. Once the review process has been completed, applicants will be notified of the outcome, and the requirements, if any for processing applications. Please allow 6-8 weeks for the initial review of your application package. For requests that are received outside the open season, we will be returning them with notice to re-submit during the next open season period.

Fully completed applications must be submitted via email or at the Mt. Shasta Ranger Station at the following addresses:

Email applications to:


Deliver or mail applications to:

Mt. Shasta Ranger Station
204 West Alma Street
Mount Shasta, CA 96067
Attn: Kristian Schenk

Flat Fee for Temporary Use Permits

Outfitter and Guides will be required to pay in advance for anticipated service days, this payment is non-refundable. Authorized Outfitter and Guide permits are limited to a maximum of 200 service days per permit. You will request your service days in the Description of Proposed Activities in the application.

  1. Charge a flat land use fee for temporary use permits based on the amount of use allocated in service days as follows:
List of land-use fees charged
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
  1. Column 3 in the table above shows the maximum amount of gross revenue for each bracket of service days that qualifies for a flat fee.  If gross revenue exceeds the amount in the applicable bracket, you may be required to submit tax documents and will be billed based on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest Fee Schedule which is updated every 5 years.

Permittees will be required to submit an Actual Use Report form, documenting activities and locations and the actual number of service days used at the end of their guide season. The link to this form is below:

Actual Use Report

After Submission

All applicants will receive an email or phone call the first couple of weeks of February or October (depending on which open season the application was submitted in) notifying them of acceptance or denial of their proposal. If your application is accepted, edits to your Operating Plan may be provided back to the applicant for correction. You will be required to re-submit your Operating Plan with corrections before you receive an executed permit. Your executed permit and guide pass(s) will be mailed to the applicant after the permit fees have been paid. 

Priority Use Permits

For guide companies that plan to operate their business on the Shasta-Trinity National Forest year after year may qualify for a priority use permit after a two year probation period under a temporary outfitter-guide permit. Some benefits that come with a priority use permit include:

  • Permits will be authorized for up to 10-years 
  • When a priority use permit terminates, the permit is subject to renewal without competition, provided that the use authorized by the permit is consistent with the applicable land management plan, applicable laws and regulations, and the terms of the permit and the holder has performed satisfactorily as demonstrated by acceptable performance ratings. 
    • In renewing a priority use permit, the authorized officer may prescribe new terms and conditions. 
    • Change in ownership for a priority use permit:
      1. A priority use permit is a privilege acquired by demonstrated acceptable performance and is not transferable, either upon the sale of the business entity or the sale of a controlling interest in the business entity,
      2. The permit is not real property, does not convey any interest in real property, and may not be used as collateral,
      3. Upon consummation of a change of ownership of or controlling interest in the business entity, the holder's permit terminates, and
      4. The party who acquires ownership of or a controlling interest in the business entity may be issued a permit if the authorized officer determines that the prospective holder meets Forest Service requirements, including financial and technical capability.
  • The service day allocation can be more than 200 service days per year
  • Less paperwork is required each year for your permit requirements

How to Transition from Temporary to Priority Use

  1. The outfitter/guide business will need to request a priority use permit during the open season.
  2. Must complete two-year probationary temporary outfitter/guide permit before being eligible to apply for a priority use permit. Acceptance as a priority use permit will be dependent on documentation of satisfactory performance as a temporary permit holder.  Monitoring will be based on the following:
    1. Submits financial paperwork in a timely manner
    2. No delinquent fees
    3. No violations of law, customer complaints, or adverse outfitting and guiding performance ratings
  3. Must have the financial/technical capability of operating a successful business for 10+ years. This will be shown by completing and submitting a business plan in addition to your application materials.


For questions and or assistance in completing the Outfitter/Guide Application for Permits and other required forms please contact:

Kristian Schenk
Recreation Special Uses Administrator
(530) 925-0232 (cell)

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