Special Use Permits
Special Use Permits are required for any activity that provides a benefit to an individual group or organization rather than the public at large. A permit is also required for an activity not initiated, sponsored, nor conducted by the National Park Service that is disruptive or potentially disruptive to normal park operations.
A $50 non-refundable application fee must be submitted with the application form for the application to be considered. If the permit is approved and issued, additional fees will be charged to recover costs incurred by the National Park Service for administering the permitted activity.
If you are unsure if the activity you have planned requires a Special Use Permit, please email the Special Use Permit Coordinator, John Hrubochak.
Attention Photographers: most wedding parties, family reunions, and graduates don't need a commercial photography special use permit unless:
1. They are using multiple props in the photo (and items they can hold in their hand like flowers don't count as a prop) and or
2. They are setting up photography equipment like lights, screens, big tripods, constructing a set (IE. items that could get in the way of regular visitors) and/or
3. They are using paid models (wedding parties, graduates, and family reunion folks are not considered models since they are not being paid to be in the photo) and/or
4. The photos they are taking will be used to advertise a product and/or
5. The photo will be taken at a location in the park that is normally closed to visitors.
6. Or taking the photo in the chosen location would cause an unsafe situation i.e. a photographer is not allowed to stand a wedding party so that they block a doorway or block a stairway, impeding regular visitor traffic.If any of the above six criteria are met, the photographer will probably need a special use permit.
Special Use Permit applications involving any natural or cultural resource disturbance must provide a location map and Pennsylvania Natural Diversity Inventory Environmental Review (PNDI) receipt for Threatened and Endangered Species. The park is responsible for completing NEPA and Section 106 reviews and the applicant should allow adequate time for those reviews to take place after the permit application has been received by the Park staff.
Special Use Permit Fees and Frequently Asked Questions
For further clarification and additional information, please e-mail the Special Use Permit Coordinator John Hrubochak.
The Allegheny Portage Railroad National Historic Site does not take reservations for the picnic area or pavilion. It operates on a first come, first served basis.
Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Land
On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5.5 are unconstitutional. In response to the decision, the National Park Service issued interim guidance on February 22, 2021, to manage filming activities. Under the interim guidance, filming activities may require a permit if they would impact park resources or the visitor experience. The National Park Service intends to update regulations addressing filming activities that are consistent with the outcome of Price v. Barr. Once effective, those regulations will replace and supersede the interim guidance.
Those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.
Do I need a permit to film?
Under the interim guidance, the National Park Service is not distinguishing between types of filming, such as commercial, non-commercial, or news gathering. Low-impact filming activities will not require a special use permit, but non-low-impact filming activities may require a permit to address their potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities.
“Low-impact filming’ is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public, except areas managed as wilderness, involving five people or less and equipment that will be carried at all times, except for small tripods used to hold cameras. Those participating in low-impact filming activities do not need a permit and are not required to contact the park in advance. If low-impact filmers have questions about areas where they want to film, they should contact the park directly.
Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, news and other staff associated with filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors, including park hours and closed areas, still apply to filming activities even if a permit is not required. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.
Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:
Contact the park directly if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or may require a permit.
Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?
Under the interim guidance issued on January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is not collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming activities.
When is a permit needed?
Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:
What fees will I have to pay?
The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit. This amount will vary depending on the park and the size and complexity of your permit. The application fee must be submitted with your application.
In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:
Last updated: March 23, 2021