Event/Commercial Permits

Special Use Authorizations provide use of, and access to, National Forest System lands for a wide variety of activities to both commercial and noncommercial operations. Permits are also issued for private, non-exclusive use. Depending on the complexity of the proposal, obtaining a Special Use Authorization can sometimes be a lengthy process. Please coordinate early with the District where you would like to operate. (It is important to note all proponents will not receive a permit, therefore any action taken before receiving a Special Use authorization, such as occupying National Forest System Lands and advertising or expending funds, is premature and at the proponent's risk--and may be against the law.)

What is a commercial use or activity?

A commercial use or activity on NFS land occurs when:

  • An applicant intends to charge an entry or participation fee, or The primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, regardless of the intent to produce a profit. Money collected may cover expense categories, such as food, transportation, prizes, advertising, purchase replacement of equipment, or compensation for the leader of the activity.
  • Use is considered noncommercial if the fees charged are used only for the purpose of paying for actual expenses directly related to operating or staging the activity, with any excess funds returned to participants. The fees charged should not include costs for employees or personnel who stage or run the event.

Recreation Event

Recreation events are commercial activities requiring temporary, authorized use of NFS land. Examples of recreation events include, but are not limited to, animal, bicycle, motocross, or triathalon races; jeep rallies; dog trials; fishing contests; rendezvous; adventure games; youth treks; wagon trains; concerts; and other similar events. A permit is required for these type of events, regardless of the number of people involved in the activity.

  • If you are interested in learning more about submitting a proposal for a recreation event, please contact your local special uses permit administrator and submit a SF-2700-3c application form.


National forests are a popular location for the commercial filming and still photography industries.  Anyone wishing to film on National Forest System lands must obtain a special use permit from the Forest Service. A "Filming on Public Lands" webpage addresses many common questions concerning the permitting process. You can also contact Kathleen Dodge, El Dorado Lake Tahoe Film and Media Office, for information and suggestions on filming in the county.

  • To request a filming permit on the Eldorado National Forest please fill out an Request for Filming Form (Word Doc) and submit to the local permit administrator on the Ranger District you wish to film.

Outfitting and Guiding

This area of Special Uses includes all commercial outfitting operations involving services for accommodating guests, transporting persons, and providing equipment, supplies, and materials.  It also includes commercial guiding activities wherein the guide furnishes personal services or serves as a leader or teacher.  

Cost Recovery

The Forest Service has modified the fee structure for processing special use permits.  The modification is based on Congressional direction to develop a program to improve administration of the agency's special use program.  Under the new rule, the Forest Service will collect fees from some permit applicants to recover the costs of processing and administering special use authorizations consistent with recommendations made by the General Accountability Office.