First Amendment

Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are rights protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. People may exercise these rights in national parks, but the National Park Service (NPS) retains its responsibility to protect park resources and prevent conflict among park visitors. Therefore, the NPS establishes guidelines for setting the time, place and manner (number of participants, use of facilities and type of equipment) for the events to occur.
By law, the NPS has established places in parks where First Amendment activities can be accommodated. These areas are visible to the general visiting public without interfering with the public’s enjoyment of the park.

Special Use Permits are issued for First Amendment activities, but there are no fees or costs, and no insurance is required for the activities. All requests for similar activities are treated equally. As long as permit criteria and requirements are met, no group wishing to assemble lawfully will be discriminated against or denied the right of assembly.

Permit Exceptions:
Small Group Exception: Under 36 CFR 2.51(b)(1) and 2.52 (b)(1) groups of 25 or fewer people may demonstrate, distribute or sell printed matter, or give away noncommercial, message-bearing, non-printed matter (CDs, DVDs, buttons, bumper stickers, or other items) in designated, available areas without obtaining a permit. Small groups may still apply for a permit in order to reserve their use of a particular area. In order to qualify for the small group exception, the group must assemble in a designated First Amendment location and may not be an extension of another group whose numbers together total more than 25. Please note, the use of a sound system, stages or platforms, and soliciting donations, does require a permit even if the group does not exceed 25 people. Please call the Commercial Services Office with any questions.

Permit Application Procedure
Please submit your application at least 10 days before the start of the proposed activity. Requests for a permit application may be made in person at park headquarters, via telephone, email or letter. The application form may be downloaded from the park website. Park contact information is:

Commercial Services Office Telephone: 870-365-2702 or 870-365-2724
Buffalo National River FAX: 870-365-2799
402 N. Walnut St., Suite 136 Website: www.nps.gov/buff
Harrison, AR 72601 Email: buff_concessions@nps.gov

Once an application has been received and processed, a Special Use Permit will be prepared and sent to you for signature. Upon receipt, please review, sign and return the permit to our office for the Superintendent’s signature. After the Superintendent signs the permit, a signed copy of the permit will be forwarded to you. The approved, signed permit copy must be in your possession at the time of the activity.


Types of First Amendment Activities
  • Religious services or ceremonies
  • Press conference
  • Voter registration
  • Collecting signatures on petitions or voter initiatives
  • Public demonstration, picketing, assembly or rally for expressing opinion and views
  • Sale or distribution of printed material related to free expression of opinion
Type of Activities that are NOT covered by the First Amendment
  • Church picnic or social gathering
  • Wedding ceremonies or receptions
  • Political fund raiser or other invitation-only political activity or event
  • Solicitation of donations
  • Community parades, athletics, or sporting events
  • Scattering of cremated human remains (“cremains”)
Many non-First Amendment activities can be accommodated through the Special Use Permit system for which a fee may be charged. Liability insurance may be required. Refer to the Special Use Permit link on the park website for additional information or call the Commercial Services Office at 870-365-2702 or 870-365-2724.
Location
The areas available for public assemblies and the sale and distribution of printed materials have been identified in the Superintendent’s Compendium in Appendix C. The Superintendent’s Compendium is available on the park website at https://www.nps.gov/buff/learn/management/lawsandpolicies.htm or by calling the Commercial Services office, or any visitor contact station.

Terms & Conditions To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences the following conditions and requirements apply to Special Use Permits for First Amendment activities:
  1. The activity must not conflict with any scheduled NPS function or program.
  2. First Amendment activities will be conducted in designated areas as specified in the Buffalo National River Superintendent’s Compendium.
  3. Permits for First Amendment activities are limited to 14 consecutive days. A permit is renewable for like periods upon completion of another application, and provided no other application has been received, and no prevailing park use has been identified for the area requested.
  4. The NPS reserves the right to immediately revoke the permit at any time should this become necessary in the interest of public safety, public health and general welfare.
  5. The person or group will comply with any instructions from a designated official representative from Buffalo National River.
  6. The area used by the permittee will be left in the same condition as found and all litter placed in trash receptacles. Any NPS property damaged by, or as a result of the permittee, will be replaced or repaired at the cost of the permittee.
  7. No items may be attached to NPS property (fences, trees, trash receptacles, etc.). Banners and signs which are hand carried are allowed and must not pose a danger to anyone else in the area.
  8. Electrical power will not be furnished.
  9. Any portable public address system being used will be so adjusted as to accommodate only those people in the immediate area.
  10. Participants are to avoid language which implies any official connections to the NPS and its activities.
  11. Good order and proper decorum shall be maintained by the person or persons conducting and participating in the event and the person or persons will leave the area at the conclusion time stated on the permit. It is prohibited for anyone engaged in activities covered under the permit to obstruct or impede pedestrians or vehicles, or harass park visitor or misrepresent their purposes. Permittee agrees to maintain public access in the area.
  12. Failure to comply with the provisions of the permit will result in its immediate revocation.
Other stipulations may be added depending on the specific nature of your request.

Last updated: January 25, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

402 N. Walnut Street
Suite 136

Harrison, AR 72601

Phone:

(870) 439-2502

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