Step 6 - Determining Fees

Fees for recreational or commercial use of public lands and waters are charged to commercial or public users, vendors, competitive event participants and spectators, and participants in organized group activities and events which require a permit.  Fees are applied to special use authorizations, which grant rights or privileges of occupancy and use to the holder.  These permits contain specific terms and conditions that the holder is required to follow.  Fees help offset agency time and resources that are necessary to administer special use permits and related enforcement activities.  The type of special use permit fees depends on the proposed scale and potential resource impacts of the proposed activity.

Minimum fees apply to all authorizations and are paid for in advance.  Other fee considerations include:

Occupancy and Use Fees - This is a fee based on the type of use.Refer to Step 3 – Filling out Application for activity fees.

Cost Recovery Fees - An assessment of fees to recover agency processing costs for special use applications and monitoring costs for special use authorizations.  These fees are separate from any fees charged for the use and occupancy of NFS lands and typically apply to larger-scale or time-consuming authorizations.

Other Associated Costs - You may be responsible for providing information and reports necessary to determine the feasibility and environmental impacts of your proposal; compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and terms and conditions to be included in the authorization.  Liability insurance coverage and a performance bond may also be required 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.

Fee Waivers - Waivers are discounts or reductions from payment of the use fee as provided for in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, section 251.57 (36 CFR 251.57).  It is the responsibility of the authorized Forest Service officer to determine and document the applicant's or holder's eligibility for a fee waiver.  The authorized officer may allow fee waivers only in limited situations after careful scrutiny and shall define the public benefit or the benefit to programs of the Secretary of Agriculture provided for each waiver granted.

Non-Profits - The fee for commercial use for registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations is 3% of annual adjusted gross revenue.  In order for applicants to request fee reductions for nonprofit use, proper certification documents and current nonprofit registration must be submitted with application. 

Fee Exemptions: Fee exemptions are granted by statute and are not subject to discretion by the authorized officer.  The following are exempt from use fees:

  1. Activities of Federal Agencies.  Under 36 CFR 251.57(c), Federal agencies are exempt from paying fees for use or occupancy of National Forest System lands.  However, Federal agencies are not exempt from paying fair market rental fees to third parties, such as renting space in a facility manager's communications building located on National Forest System lands.
  2. Rural Electrification Administration Financed Facilities.  (43 U.S.C. 1764(g)).      A holder or use financed in whole or part by either a direct loan from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), or a loan from a private source for which repayment is guaranteed by the REA.  Telephone facilities qualify when a loan is obtained from the REA.
  3. Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock Watering System Easements.  Water conveyance systems that qualify under provisions of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1761), as amended by Public Law 99-545, October 27, 1986.  

See Step 7 – Administration: Processing, Monitoring, and Inspections.