Event/Commercial Permits

A line of bicycles wind a mountain road during an annual bike race.

Special Use Authorizations (permits) are issued for commercial use of the National Forest. SpecPermits can be for a variety of uses including but not limited to

Please allow 45 days (depending on complexity some permits may take up to 2 years) for most proposals to be processed.

All special use proposals will be screened using criteria required in 36 CFR 251.54 before approval is granted. 

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136

More Information on Types of Common Special Uses

Weddings and Non-commercial Group Use

Non-commercial group use permits are for an activity that:

  • Involves 75 or more people including spectators
  • In which an entry or participation fee is not charged
  • And where the primary purpose is not the sale of a good or service

Keep this is mind, whether your gathering requires a permit or not:

  • Access for the general public to sites, trails, and/or roads must be maintained (no area may be closed or cordoned off).
  • Wedding ceremonies may not be officiated by individuals who are paid for their services; this is a commercial service widely available off of National Forest System land.
  • No vendors or food trucks or carts are allowed.
  • No excessive noise or public address systems near a campsite, developed recreation site or over an adjacent body of water.
  • Throwing objects, including rice, birdseed, confetti, or lanterns or the release of helium balloons is prohibited.
  • Decorations such as crepe paper and balloons are prohibited.
  • All litter must be disposed of properly.

Expect to have contact with members of the recreating public during your gathering, especially at popular sites.

  • Plan your event early or late in the day at developed sites to avoid peak visitation and congestion times (before 11 am and after 4 pm, May through October).
  • Complete Forest Service form FS-2700-3b and mail or email to the Special Use Team 45 days before event.

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136

Commercial Filming and Still Photography   

The type of photographic activity determines whether or not a permit is required. Check the definitions, examples and criteria listed below to determine if a special use permit is required.

Personal use

If you are shooting “still” photographs or “home movies” for personal use (e.g. that does not involve advertisement of a product or service or the creation of a product for sale) then a special use permit is not required.

Breaking News

Breaking news is an event or incident that arises suddenly, evolves quickly, and rapidly ceases to be newsworthy. A special use permit is not required for activities involving breaking news.

Examples of breaking news are:

  • A wildland fire
  • A search and rescue

Still Photography

Still photography uses photographic equipment to capture still images on film, digital format, and other similar technologies. National Forest visitors and professional or amateur photographers need a special use permit to take still photographs if the still photography:

  1. Uses models, sets, or props that are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.
  2. Takes place at a location where members of the public are generally not allowed or where additional administrative costs are likely.

Commercial Filming

A special use permit is required for all commercial filming activities, including drones, on National Forest System lands. Commercial filming is the use of motion picture, videotaping, sound recording, drones, other moving image or audio recording equipment on National Forest System lands that involves the advertisement of a product or service, the creation of a product for sale, or the use of actors, models, sets or props, but not activities associated with broadcasts for news programs.

For purposes of this definition, creation of a product for sale includes but is not limited to a film, videotape, television broadcast or documentary of historic events, wildlife, natural events, features, subjects or participants in a sporting or recreation event and so forth, when created for the purpose of generating income.

Requesting a Commercial Filming or Still Photography Permit

Advance Notice

The production company should contact the Forest Permit Administrator at (603) 536-6136 to discuss the proposed filming project. Time frames for processing may vary depending on the complexity of your request.

Minor occupancy filming requests (e.g. activities requiring 1 production day or less or minimal Forest Service review; or activities occurring in an area and involving a use open to the general public): Contact the permit administrator a minimum of 1 month prior to activity.

Major occupancy filming requests (e.g. activities requiring environmental review, multiple production days, stunts or special effects): Contact the permit administrator a minimum of 45 business days prior to activity.

Alternate areas may be suggested which may better suit the proposal, reduce environmental analysis costs, or shorten permit processing timelines.

If the proposed activities are incompatible with the management area direction or Forest Service policy (e.g. significant environmental impacts, public safety issues, disruption of visitors services) an explanation will be given about as to why the proposal is unacceptable and possible alternatives will be discussed.

Commercial Photography and Filming Request Forms

Examples of required information that will be evaluated include:

  • Type and complexity of the production
  • Proposed location
  • Amount and type of equipment and props
  • Proposed stunts and special effects
  • Potential resource impacts
  • Unreasonable disruption of the public's use and enjoyment of the site
  • Health or safety risks to the public.

General Restrictions and Requirements

The following requirements must be met when engaging in permitted commercial still photography and filming:

  • No alteration to trees, vegetation or natural environment, including digging, moving rocks, or ground disturbance, is allowed.
  • No pyrotechnics or exceedingly loud noises, such as music, explosions, or motors, are allowed.
  • All crews and actors must yield to other forest users whenever possible. The public may not be restricted from an area for more than 15 minutes.
  • Filming or staging on National Forest System land will generally be allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Hours may be further restricted at certain dates or specific locations.
  • All litter must be disposed of properly. All signs of use must be removed.
  • No cigarette use is allowed off of paved surfaces.
  • Parking is limited to established parking areas only, and public roads must not be blocked.
  • Vehicles may be required to display a valid White Mountain National Forest Recreation Pass. These passes can be purchased on-site or through.
  • The permit holder may be required to have a Forest Service representative on site during the filming or photography shoot, depending on location and complexity.
  • A copy of the special use permit must be on hand during filming.

Insurance

Written proof of insurance must be provided to the Forest Service Permit Administrator. The policy document must name the United States Government as additional insured and provide for thirty (30) days written notification of cancelation. Copies of other documents, such as applicable County encroachment permits, letters of permission from private land owners, other permittees, etc., will be required prior to filming.

Forest Service Representation

Depending on the activity, the production company may be required to have Forest Service personnel to act as the Forest Service’s representative on site during the filming. The representative can approve or disapprove proposals that arise during filming and has the authority to suspend activities for noncompliance. If a Forest Service representative is needed, a collection agreement between the Forest Service and Production Company to cover the salary and mileage of the Forest Service monitor may be required.

Performance Bond

A performance bond may be required if the proposal has a potential of resource damage or would require a major clean-up effort such as the removal of a constructed set, or use of special effects. The Forest Service will determine if a bond is required on a case-by-case basis.

Permit Fee and Recovery Costs

The permit fee is based on the number of production employees and days required to complete the filming. All fees are due prior to issuance of the permit. Payment instructions are included on the bill. Fees to cover administrative processing and monitoring costs may also be applied to the permit.

Authorization

The permit, as well as the collection agreement if required, must be signed by an authorized production company representative. Proof of authorization to execute documents on behalf of the company must be provided. If the President of the company is unavailable to sign, a letter of authorization must accompany the individual authorized to sign the documents.

Special Considerations and Areas   

Use of an Authorized Outfitter and Guide: Commercial filming activity requirements still apply while utilizing the services of an authorized Outfitter and Guide on National Forest System lands. Common requests that would require a Forest Service evaluation and permit include:

  • Promotional or product advertisement (e.g. commercial for a 4x4 truck driving a forest road).
  • Outdoor show for fishing or hiking (e.g. fly fishing on a wild and scenic river).

Photography Classes

Individuals or organizations offering classes or workshops on photography for commercial gain are considered outfitters-guides. Please review the Outfitting and Guiding Services page for information on this type of activity and how to apply for a permit.

Commercial Filming Activities in Wilderness area 

Forest Service policies direct the agency to look at minimizing wilderness resource impacts and seeking other non-wilderness area options to conduct the proposed activities. Commercial filming activities may be allowed in wilderness if it is proper for realizing the recreational or other wilderness purposes of the area, as determined by the Forest Service.

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136

Additional Information   

Recreation Events   

Recreation events on the National Forest require a special use permit for almost any kind of outdoor activity where participants exchange money or pay a fee for the opportunity to be involved in the event. Examples of recreation event activities include, but are not limited to: snowmobile events, running endurance races, mountain bike competitions and endurance rides, fundraisers for non-profits and other organizations.

Required Forms

Please also review the additional information and permit requirements:

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136

Outfitting and Guiding Services    

How to Submit an Outfitter/Guide Proposal

Contact the Special Use Team at the Supervisor’s Office at 603-536-6136 to discuss your proposal location and proposal idea

  1. Complete the Outfitter and Guide Temporary Use Application
  2. Complete the Outfitter and Guide Priority Use Application 
  3. Both forms should include:
  • Detailed answers
  • Description of the proposed activities
  • Requested number of service days (In increments of 50, no more than 200 for a temporary permit)
  • Anticipated number of trips and party size
  • Routes and location of starting and ending points for the proposed activities with map (note: only official Forest Service system trails and roads will be authorized for use)
  • Targeted audience or clientele and plans for engaging youth or underserved groups.
  • Any other services that will be offered to clients
  1. Read the Insurance Requirements page. If your proposal is selected, you must satisfy insurance requirements at least 30 days ahead of your first service date. The Forest Service cannot issue a signed permit without appropriate insurance coverage.
  2. Review Initial and Second-level Screening before submitting your proposal.
  3. Review and understand all Forest Protection Areas and areas in all Wilderness Areas that are unavailable for camping.
  4. If using Zone B Wilderness Areas include proof of Leave No Trace training.
  5. Send your completed proposal package to:

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136

Civil Rights Requirements – Title Vl  

More information regarding civil rights requirements for outfitter/guide permit holders, please visit and read the Accessibility Guidebook for Outfitter-Guides Operating on Public Lands

Linear Right-of-Ways   

Linear Right-of-Ways (ROWs) include but are not limited to, power lines, telephone lines, fiber optic lines, water, transmission lines, irrigation ditches and roads.

Standard Form-299  is the proposal form that must be included in all requests.

Annual fees for these uses are calculated at 5% of the land value determined by the National Agricultural Statistic Service's (NASS) Census of Agriculture which is published every 5 years.

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136

Communications Sites

Proposals for communication site use should be submitted on Standard Form-299 (Word Doc, 106 KB).

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136

Additional Resources

Washington Office Communications Sites Information 

Research

Research special uses include site surveys and testing, resource surveys, research studies, and weather stations and similar monitoring facilities. Some surveys are incidental and may not need a permit. Contact us to find out more.

Provide basic information about the research project.

Proposals should be submitted on the Standard Form-299 (Word Doc, 106 KB).

Contact

White Mountain National Forest Headquarters Attention: Special Uses
White Mountain National Forest
71 White Mountain Drive
Campton, NH 03223

SM.FS.SpecialUses@usda.gov

Permit Administrator – 603-536-6136



https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/whitemountain/passes-permits/event-commercial