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Special Uses–Applying for a Permit



The Application Process

Obtaining a Special-Use Authorization with the Forest Service


What are special-use authorizations?

When do I need an authorization?

Is my proposal appropriate?

How do I apply?

How do I answer all the questions?

What does an authorization cost?




What are special-use authorizations?

A special-use authorization is a legal document such as a permit, term permit, lease, or easement, which allows occupancy, use, rights, or privileges of NFS land. The authorization is granted for a specific use of the land for a specific period of time.

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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.

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Is my proposal appropriate?

  • Your request must be consistent with laws, regulations, orders, policies of NFS lands, other federal laws, and applicable State and local health and sanitation laws.
  • Your request must be consistent or made consistent with the standards and guidelines in the applicable Land and Resource Management Plan.
  • Your request must not pose serious or substantial risk to public health or safety.
  • Your request must not require exclusive or perpetual right of use or occupancy.
  • Your request does not unreasonably conflict or interfere with administrative uses, other scheduled or authorized existing uses, or use of adjacent non-NFS lands.
  • The proponent must not owe any fees to the Forest Service from a prior or existing special-use authorization.
  • No gambling or providing of sexually oriented commercial services can be authorized on NFS land, even if permitted under state law.
  • No military or paramilitary training or exercises by private organizations or individuals can be authorized on NFS land, unless it is federally funded.
  • No disposal of solid waste or storage or disposal of radioactive or other hazardous substances can be authorized on NFS land.

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How do I apply?

  • Contact a Forest Service office and request an application.
  • 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 NFS 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.

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How do I answer all the questions?

Name and Address- Include the full name(s) to be used. If the application includes real property, the name(s) on the legal document must match the application.

Applicant's Agent- This person must be at least 21 years old and may or may not be the same as the applicant. Documentation should be included to verify that this person may sign on behalf of the applicant.

Project Description- Include enough detail to enable the Forest Service to determine feasibility, environmental impacts, benefits to the public, the safety of the request, lands to be occupied or used, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Environmental Protection Plan- Include proposed plans for environmental protection and rehabilitation during construction, maintenance, removal, and reclamation of the land.

Map- Provide a detailed map (U.S. Geological Survey quadrangle or equivalent) or plat (survey or equivalent) showing the requested use in relation to NFS land, identification of applicant's property (if applicable), scale, map legend, legal description, and a north arrow.

Technical and Financial Capability- Provide documentation to assure the Forest Service you are capable of constructing, operating, maintaining, removing the use off NFS land, and reclaiming the land after the authorization terminates.

Alternatives- You must first consider using nonfederal land. Lower costs or fewer restrictions are not adequate reasons for use of NFS lands. Provide alternative locations for the proposal in your application.

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What does an authorization cost?

Cost Recovery Fees- An assessment of fees to recover agency processing costs for special use applications and monitoring costs for special use authorizations.  These fees are separate from any fees charged for the use and occupancy of NFS lands.

Land Use Fees- This is an annual rental fee based on the fair market value for the uses authorized and is payable in advance. Fees are established by appraisal or other sound business management principles.

Other Associated Costs- You may be responsible for providing information and reports necessary to determine the feasibility and environmental impacts of your proposal; compliance with applicable laws and regulations; and terms and conditions to be included in the authorization.

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Last modified: Friday, 29-Mar-2013 17:40:31 CDT
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