Special Uses Program Overview
The Forest Service manages over 192 million acres of national forests and grasslands that comprise the National Forest System (NFS). Today, our growing population and mobile society have created a demand for a variety of uses for these federal lands. Often these diverse needs require specific approval. The Forest Service provides services that support our national policy and federal land laws. The Agency's special-uses program authorizes uses on NFS land that provide a benefit to the general public and protects public and natural resources values. Currently there are over 74,000 authorizations on the NFS lands for over 180 types of uses.
Each year, the Forest Service receives thousands of individual and business applications for authorization for use of NFS land for such activities as water transmission, agriculture, outfitting and guiding, recreation, telecommunication, research, photography and video productions, and granting road and utility rights-of-ways. The Forest Service carefully reviews each application to determine how the request affects the public's use of NFS land. Normally, NFS land is not made available if the overall needs of the individual or business can be met on non-federal lands.
When do I need an authorization?
- If you will need to occupy, use, or build on NFS land for personal or business purposes, whether the duration is temporary or long term.
- If there is a fee being charged or if income is derived from the use.
- If an activity on NFS land involves individuals or organization with 75 or more participants or spectators.
How do I apply?
- All proposals for outfitter and guide permits are due on March 1st and on November 1st of each year. This includes new proposals as well as amendments to existing priority or temporary permits. Applications will take at least 2 months to process.
- Proposals for recreation events and noncommercial permits with 75 or greater participants are due March 1 and November 1 of each year. This includes annual operating plans for holders with permits greater than one year. Please plan ahead so that you can recieve your permit in time for your event. For example, if you are planning a bike race in May you should not wait until the March deadline because you will not get your permit until April and this will not give you time to advertise your event. You would be better off applying by the November 1st deadline.
- Noncommercial groups with less than 75 participants need to apply at least 45 days prior to the event date. This includes weddings, church outings, scouting groups, reunions, etc. It is helpful to let us know where you will be in order to avoid scheduling conflicts; for example, trail work taking place at your chosen location the same day as your wedding or a volunteer day that is scheduled to happen the same day as your church picnic, etc.
- Contact a Forest Service office and request an application (see below).
- Prior to submitting the proposal, you are required to arrange a preapplication meeting at the local Forest Service office where the use is being requested. A staff member will discuss your proposal, potential land use conflicts, application procedures and qualifications, probable time frames, fees, bonding requirements, additional coordination with other agencies, environmental reports, and field reviews.
- Most commercial uses require additional information with the application. You may need business plans, operating plans, liability insurance, licenses/registrations, or other documents. A commercial use is when an applicant intends to make use of National Forest Service lands for business or financial gain.
- Complete and submit the application form, including supporting documents, to the local Forest Service office. An incomplete proposal could delay the processing.
- Remember the deadlines: Proposals are due March 1st and November 1st for Outfitter/Guiding permits, Recreation events, and Noncommercial groups of 75 people or more. Application will take 2 months to process.
Commercial Filming and Photography
Commercial filming and photography may take place on Forest Service public lands (National Forests). Like other commercial uses of National Forest System lands or resources, commercial filming and photography requires a Special Use Permit, which is issued by the District Ranger or Forest Supervisor of the relevant forest. The Forest Service may deny permits for practices prohibited on NFS lands. Commercial filming an photography requests must be submitted to the relevant National Forest office two weeks in advance of anticipated filming date. For those who are not required to have a permit, contact the appropriate district office to let the Forest know they will be filming and where they plan to film. For more information on Commercial Filming and Photography you can find it here.
For recreation events, non-commercial groups with over 75 people, and outfitter and guide permits contact:
Myron Jeffs for Price, Ferron, and Sanpete Ranger Districts
Zachary Lowe for Moab and Monticello Ranger Districts
For non-recreation special use permits contact:
Supervisor's Office, 435-636-3561
For more information on special use permits:
Outfitting, Guiding, and Recreation Events on the Manti La Sal National Forest:
**NOTICE** Hunting Outfitter and Guide permit quota is currently filled and applications are not being accepted at this time. We are also not issuing permits for the Dark Canyon Wilderness backpacking/hiking trips, Whole Enchilada Trail mountain biking or shuttling, Brumley canyoneering in the La Sals, or for any wilderness therapy guiding.