Non-Commercial Group Use Permits

Some non-commercial group activities will also need to obtain a recreation special use permit depending if they meet criteria found 36 Code of Federal Regulations 251.51.


The 2 main criteria used to decide if an activity qualifies for a non-commercial group use permit are; (1) determination of a commercial use or activity (where an entry or participation fee is charged, or where the primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, as defined above), and (2) total number of participants and spectators. The first criteria is that there must be no entry or participant fee and no sale of goods or services on National Forest Lands. However;

  • Fees for direct costs (food, transportation, etc) may be collected based on a bona fide sharing of expenses.
  • Donations are not considered fees if they do not exceed direct costs.
  • Funds collected in excess of direct costs are returned to participants based on a bona fide sharing of costs.
  • Under most circumstances guides and leaders are not paid or compensated.
  • No money is charged for a good or service beyond a bona fide sharing of direct costs.

Secondly your activity must total less than 75 participants and spectators.


 Examples -Group Use permit needed

  • Grandpa's 85th Birthday party of 85 people at a developed campground with no fee or costs.
  • Church summer camp-out of 60 folks; costs are collected to cover the food, transportation and the camp cook is paid for the weekend.
  • XYZ University mountain bike club wants to sponsor a 100 mile ride with 50 riders, 10 support staff and an estimated 30 spectators.  All costs are pooled to cover the food and gas, and T-shirts are to be sold during the race on National Forest Lands to benefit the club's next event (The T-shirt sales will also need a separate commercial vendor permit).


Examples  - Groups Use permit not needed

  • Wedding party of 30 people with no fee.
  • Family summer camp-out of 50 folks; costs are collected to cover the food.
  • Weekend Equestrian Club trip with 10 riders; costs are pooled to cover the actual food and gas costs.


 Applying for a Non-Commercial Group Use Permit

To apply for a non-commercial group use permit, please contact the local Ranger District Office. Key information that you will be required to provide includes:

  • Name of Group and Event
  • Contact information
  • Description of proposed activity
  • Location and description of Forest Lands and facilities to be used
  • Estimated number of participants and spectators
  • Name and contact information of person willing to sign permit
  • Plans for protection of water sources, disposing of human waste, vehicles parking, and other resource protection measures

Download the FS-2700-3B Application (Word.docx 15KB)