Event/Commercial Permits

Special Use Permits

Various groups and individuals regularly approach the Forest Service with requests to use national forest lands for an array of diverse activities. The Forest Service must always weigh whether the proposed use is compatible with the values that make the national forest an irreplaceable forest – including plants, animals, beauty, clean air and water, recreation opportunities, and forest products. Applicants for special-use permits should note that the permitting process is time-consuming, may require multi-step National Forest Management Act analysis and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation, and ultimately may not be approved. The Forest Service will evaluate special-use applicants to see if they are in the public interest. At a minimum, these proposals should: be consistent with Forest Plan management area objectives, standards, and desired future conditions; be consistent with other applicable Federal, State, and local statutes and regulations; and not be undertaken on national forest land if they can be reasonably accommodated on private land. For Temporary Special Use Permit (Events), Easements and Land Uses, special use permits are required. Most permits require at least 90 days to be processed and must be acquired from the appropriate Ranger Station.

Recreation Residences

A generation ago, the Ocala and Osceola National Forests participated in a national program intended to increase recreational use of national forests. This program permitted private individuals to build unobtrusive recreation residences in designated sites on the national forest. Many of these private residences still exist and continue to be regulated by the Forest Service. The Forest Service will no longer issue recreation residence permits on lots not occupied by an existing recreation residence. Should a recreation residence permit be revoked due to noncompliance, the Forest Service will not reissue the permit and the lot will no longer be available for recreation residence use. Should a recreation residence be destroyed by a catastrophic event and the permittee decides not to rebuild, the Forest Service will not reissue the permit. The permittee has 180 days to decide and one year after the decision date to complete the rebuilding. Recreation residences are generally sold through local realtors. The permit is then terminated in the previous owner’s name and reissued in the new owner’s name. The lease fee for each permit will vary according to its location in the forest and the surrounding land value. Recreation residences are to be used as secondary residences and proof of primary residence is required. The permit includes an operation and maintenance plan that contains guidelines for improvements and general upkeep. The Forest Service performs scheduled inspections to ensure these terms and conditions are observed. Noncompliance with this operation and maintenance plans can result in a revoked permit.

National Defense Land Use

Several branches of the military utilize federal land in the Ocala National Forest for training excercises. Special Use Permits are issued to braches such as the National Guard, ROTC, US Army Special Forces and the United States Navy. Most of the permits are for short periods of time, issued for each individual outing. The Forest Service and the Unites States Navy have a longer agreement for the use of the Pinecastle Bombing Range. This range was established by the Army Air Corps in 1943 and has been in continuous use by the United States Navy since the early 1950's to train aircrews and support personnel.