Laws & Policies
This document (known as the Superintendent's Compendium, revised summer 2014) provides a clear and concise summary of those things and activities that are and are not permitted at Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Fort Donelson National Cemetery, and Fort Heiman. (The document is in a .pdf format.)
As always, please contact the park with any questions.
The following categories of basic park regulations answers some of the most common questions posed by visitors toFort Donelson.
Natural and Cultural Features:
Do not destroy, injure, or remove plants or other natural features. Reasonable quantitiesof edible berries and fruits and nuts may be gathered for personal usedaily.
The harassing, injuring, or killing of any wildlife is prohibited. Help wildlife remain wild by never feeding any animal.
Possessing, destroying, injuring, defacing, removing, digging, or otherwise disturbing cultural and archeological resources is prohibited. Possession or using a metal detector on the Battlefield or Cemetery is prohibited.
Living history and other special interpretive events are subject to the approval of the Superintendent and must be approved by and coordinated in advance with the park's Chief of Resource Education. All living history programs are prepared and offered in accordance with National Park Service regulations. A summary of NPS policies regarding living history can be found here.
Driving in Fort Donelson National Battlefield or Cemetery
Speed limits and all other state traffic laws are enforced on roads within Fort Donelson National Battlefield and Cemetery. Motorcycle helmets are required.
Pets are allowed within Fort Donelson, however, in order to protect your pet and the parks wildlife,all pets must be kept on a leash (no longer then 6 feet) at all times.
New Firearms Legislation
As of February 22, 2010, a new Federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable Federal, State and Local laws, to legally possess firearms within Fort Donelson National Battlefield.
CAUTION! Hunting is prohibited in all areas of Fort Donelson National Battlefield regardless of the concealed carry provisions.
It is the responsibility of park visitors to understand and comply with all applicable State, Local and Federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the Tennessee and Kentucky state website's.
For firearms regulations in the Tennessee units of Fort Donelson NB:
Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. This includes all park visitor centers, administrative buildings, and maintenance areas. For further information see this website:
Violations of the firearms laws may result in fines, arrest, and confinement under both the Federal and State judicial systems.
Individuals in possession of a valid Tennessee handgun carry permit are authorized to carry in Fort Donelson National Battlefield
The permit holder shall have the permit in the holder’s immediate possession at all times when carrying a handgun and shall display the permit on demand of a law enforcement officer.
CARRY OF SHOTGUNS AND RIFLES
The possession of long guns, specifically shotguns and rifles, will only be in accordance with TN § 39-17-1307(e) which specifically states that a person authorized to carry a handgun pursuant to § 39-17-1351 may transport a rifle or shotgun in or on a privately-owned motor vehicle, and the rifle or shotgun may not have ammunition in the chamber.
Open carry of a shotgun or rifle off a private individual’s property or out of their home, would only be for the purposes of hunting.
Hunting is prohibited within the boundaries of Fort Donelson National Battlefield, so the possession of openly carried shotguns or rifles would be in violation of Tennessee state law.
Tennessee recognizes a facially valid handgun permit, firearms permit, weapons permit, or a license issued by another state according to its terms, and will, therefore, authorize the holder of such out-of-state permit or license to carry a handgun in the state of Tennessee.
This means that the state of Tennessee will recognize any state’s valid permit or license, even if Tennessee does not have a written reciprocity agreement with that state, and even if that state does not recognize a Tennessee permit.
Individuals must be in possession of the permit or license at all times such person carries a handgun in Tennessee.
Individuals in possession of a valid Kentucky handgun carry permit are authorized to carry in the Fort Heiman, Kentucky Unit of Fort Donelson National Battlefield
In Kentucky visitors will be able to openly carry firearms on trails, in campgrounds, or any other area that is not specifically prohibited. Persons with valid concealed weapons permits may carry concealed weapons in these areas also.
There are no state laws restricting how long weapons (rifles and shotguns) may be carried in vehicles. State law does state that handguns carried in the passenger compartment of a vehicle must be stored in the glove compartment. The glove compartment need not be locked. Persons with a valid concealed weapons permit may carry their weapon on their person while in a vehicle.
Individuals must be in possession of the permit or license at all times such person carries a handgun in Kentucky.
Kentucky provides for reciprocity of concealed carry permits from states that recognize Kentucky permits. For a listing see the website listed below.
For firearms regulations in the Fort Heiman Unit in Kentucky:
Laws are created by Congress and establish the highest order of legal authority over national parks.
Many laws, including the 1916 Organic Act that created the National Park Service, affect all areas managed by the National Park Service.
Fort Donelson's enabling legislation provides specific instructions and guidance on how thepark must be managed.
Service-wide policy for the National Park Service is developed by the Office of Policy with public input and in accordance with applicable laws. Policies dictate many of the overall directions and
procedures used by all parks.
with public input to implement applicable law.
Did You Know?
At the time of the 1862 battle, a six-gun Tennessee battery was located where the visitor center is located today. Porter's Battery saw extensive action during the battle, and had many killed, wounded, and taken prisoner. Captain Thomas Porter was seriously wounded during the battle.