• The First Lincoln Memorial

    Abraham Lincoln Birthplace

    National Historical Park Kentucky

Special Use Permits

Policy for Special Use Permits

Special events, public assemblies, meetings, and other activities considered non-traditional i.e., not a customary park visit or not related to the legislatively mandated purpose of the park, and special park uses which require a Special Use Permit (SUP) or a letter of authorization from the Superintendent, are subject to certain restrictions. These restrictions are set forth in 36 CFR 1.6, 2.50, and 2.51, National Park Service Management Policies 2001, and other specific requirements imposed by the Superintendent.

Requests to conduct non-traditional uses and activities are normally to be made in writing to the Superintendent three working days in advance to allow time for administrative review, permit preparation, and scheduling. Requests may be denied due to the lack of sufficient time to process the request. Fees for Special Use Permits, when applicable, must be paid before the special use, event, assembly, or meeting occurs.

Activities requiring a Special Use Permit, or letter of authorization from the Superintendent, include, but are not limited to:

  • First amendment rights-related activities
  • Commercial photographic activities
  • Public meetings
  • Non-NPS special events
  • Weddings
  • Wedding receptions
  • Camping activities
  • Training of animals
  • Public meetings and training using park facilities
  • Religious services or assemblies
  • Organized vehicle displays

Requests for authorization to use the park or its facilities for special events, public assemblies, meetings, and other activities, such as those listed above will be reviewed and approved or disapproved in writing by the Superintendent.

The National Park Service encourages park uses that draw meaning from their association with, and have a direct relationship to, park resources. Conversely, the National Park Service discourages uses not consistent with the preservation and/or protection of park resources, visitors, and/or values.

Certain activities, not necessarily dependent upon park resources to be carried out and/or not constituting traditional or customary park uses, may be permitted by Special Use Permit or letter of authorization from the Superintendent in specific areas of the park under conditions outlined in a Special Use Permit when they do not:

  • Interfere with normal park usage
  • Constitute a consumptive form of use
  • Have undesirable impacts on park resources
  • Compromise the memorialized/historic scene
  • Present a danger to public welfare and safety, including safety of the participants

The time, location, and conditions for such activities shall be regulated by permit to avoid:

  • Infringement upon the enjoyment and rights of other park visitors
  • Traffic congestion
  • Injury to non-participants and damage to park property
  • Disruption of normal park operations
  • Unwarranted risk to participants due to inadequate equipment, lack of qualifications or supervision, weather, or other factors

The use of the park for organized athletic events or competitive recreational events characterized as public spectator attractions are not permitted. These activities conflict with the legislated purpose of the park, compromise the historic scene, and infringe upon the enjoyment and rights of park visitors.

Commemorative ceremonies, anniversaries, and other observances may be permitted when the event:

  • Has a meaningful association between the park and the event
  • Contributes to visitor understanding of the significance of the park
  • Can be presented without undue impact on park resources
  • Meets the criteria for approval set forth under CFR 2.50 (a)(1) through (6)

Birthplace Unit

The following conditions are imposed for use of the picnic area:

  • The pavilion is available on a "first-come, first-served" basis
  • Reservations will not be taken nor will preferential treatment be given to any individual, group, or organization for its use
  • Unauthorized banners, signs, posters, or similar items shall not be placed on the grounds, gates, fences, restroom building, trees, pavilion posts, or other park property
  • All "after-hours" events, i.e., when the park is normally closed, must be authorized in advance by a Special Use Permit (SUP) approved by the Superintendent
  • Picnic tables rearranged to accommodate groups should be returned to their original location before leaving the pavilion
  • Observations of vandalism, littering, destruction of park property, and the disturbance of plants and wildlife, should be reported to a Park Ranger at the Visitor Center
  • All litter shall be placed in the trash receptacles provided under or near the pavilion

Boyhood Home Unit at Knob Creek

  • The picnic area is available on a "first-come, first-served" basis
  • Reservations for picnicking events will not be taken nor will preferential treatment be given to any individual, group, or organization for its use
  • Unauthorized banners, signs, posters, or similar items shall not be placed on the grounds, fences, restroom building, trees, or other park property
  • All "after-hours" events, i.e., when the park is normally closed, must be authorized in advance by a Special Use Permit (SUP) approved by the Superintendent
  • Picnic tables rearranged to accommodate groups should be returned to their original location before leaving
  • Observations of vandalism, littering, destruction of park property, and the disturbance of plants and wildlife, should be reported to a Park Ranger
  • All litter shall be placed in the trash receptacles provided

Guidelines for special park uses, events, public assemblies and meetings

The following guidelines apply to most special park uses, special events, public assemblies, and meetings. However, additional specific guidelines may be imposed (e.g., for commercial photography):

  1. The Federal Government will be held harmless in the event of personal injury occurring from the use of park property.
  2. No personal monetary gains will be derived from the use of special use permits. The sale or free distribution of food to the public or participants is prohibited unless approved in the permit and all U.S. Public Health Service Standards are met.
  3. Those conducting and participating in events shall maintain good order and proper decorum. Public safety and general welfare will not be endangered.
  4. Special care must be taken not to damage any historic object or structure or natural feature.
  5. Permits are issued only for the use of approved areas and during the designated times as outlined in the permit.
  6. Park areas will be left in the same condition as before the event. All litter, trash, and equipment will be removed from park property by the permittee within 24 hours of the completion of the event.
  7. Any loudspeaker or music used will be adjusted to accommodate only those people in the immediate area.
  8. Activities will be conducted to minimize conflict with other park uses.
  9. The permittee and participants will comply with any instructions from an official representative of the park.
  10. All press releases must be submitted to the Superintendent for review before release.
  11. If approved, portable toilets may be placed by the permittee on park property in areas designated by park staff at permit tee's expense. Portable toilets must be removed within 24 hours of the event's conclusion.
  12. All traffic direction and crowd control will be the responsibility of the National Park Service. Reimbursement of any expenses incurred by the National Park Service in relation to the event may be required if so determined by the Superintendent.
  13. All emergency vehicles and operations will be under the direction of Park Rangers.
  14. All parking will be restricted to designated areas.
  15. Permittee will be responsible for advising all participants in advance of permit requirements.
  16. Permittee will designate one person to coordinate all activities with the park's representative and will meet before the event to determine specific requirements and responsibilities.
  17. The National Park Service reserves the right to immediately rescind the permit at any time should any condition of the permit be violated.
  18. A bond (cash, check, or money order) in an amount determined to cover clean-up, property damage, and other costs that may be incurred by the National Park Service may be required to be posted by the permittee prior to the event.
  19. Administrative costs may be charged the permittee to cover expenses incurred when associated with permits.
  20. Permits are required for any project that generates an electronic media, film/video production, or still photography for television, the motion picture industry, public interest, or private multi-media which consists of production crews (regardless of size), equipment, supplies, or materials. Filming projects may involve feature films, documentaries, docu-dramas, travelogues, commercials, infomercials, public television (PBS) presentations, or videos for training, sales, education, promotions, entertainment, etc. Documentaries filmed specifically for sale to a news station or educational channel are considered a commercial venture and requires a permit.
  21. The consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited.

Schedule of Special Use Permit fees

Special events, public assemblies, meetings, and other activities considered non-traditional i.e., not a customary park visit or not related to the legislatively mandated purpose of the park, and special park uses require a Special Use Permit (SUP) or, in some instances, a letter of authorization from the Superintendent.

DO-53 states that the National Park Service will charge a fee and recover costs for special park use permits unless prohibited by law or executive order, or when the proposed use is protected by the first amendment or involves another right and not a privilege. Special use permits have traditionally been issued without charge, however, effective with this compendium a fee will be charged for issuance of most special use permits. The Superintendent will determine any waiver of fees based on past practice, complexity, impact on park staff, visitors, and/or resources, or other consideration beneficial to the National Park Service.

If administration of a SUP requires the park to incur additional costs, the permittee will be assessed those costs in addition to the basic cost for issuance of the SUP. Additional charges may be incurred for overtime, repairing/restoring/cleaning resources, security, or similar costs associated with the event. A bill of collection will bill additional charges to the permittee upon completion of the activity.

Liability insurance may be required for events or activities especially those that are high risk or whenever the use of federal building/facilities is involved.

Permittee is responsible for cleanup and removal of all equipment, props, and refuse after event completion. Performance bonds may be required where the risk of damage to park lands or facilities is high such as litter cleanup, large crowd or turf damage.

The park staff will not normally provide special services or furnish park-owned equipment required for an event. Permittees are expected to provide, at their own expense, all special requirements such as portable toilets, tables and chairs, tents, tarps, extra trash receptacles or grills, and similar items.

As outlined in 36 CFR 71.10 and as guided by NPS policy (NPS-53) the following fees are in effect for the following special park uses requiring a special use permit:

Commercial photography application permit (non -refundable) ....................................$100.00

Group special use permit ................ $50.00

Individual special use permit ............$20.00

Visitor Center auditorium use ...........$50.00/hour/employee

Employee overtime rate ...................$45.40/hour/employee

First amendment & religious events ...No charge

Park-related events* ........................No charge

* These include events conducted by groups or agencies associated in some way with the purposes of the park e.g., friends group; historical, preservation, and conservation-related organizations; other tourism-related groups or other visitor attractions.

Did You Know?

A picture of President Theodore Roosevelt at the Lincoln Centennial celebration - Laying of the Cornerstone

President Theodore Roosevelt was a part of the Lincoln Centennial Celebration. He dedicated the cornerstone for the Memorial Building on February 12, 1909.