Special Events & Non-Profit Organizations

The Special Use Permit (SUP) program authorizes activities that provide benefit to an individual, group or organization, rather than the public at large; and that require written authorization and some degree of management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. Examples include special events, weddings, scattering of ashes, First Amendment activities, agricultural permits and rights-of-way/easements. (If you are interested in a Commercial Film Permit or a Wedding Permit, please contact the Commercial Services Office at 870-365-2702 or 870-365-2724 to obtain an information handout specific to those activities.)
Special Use Permits are granted for specific periods of time and specific locations. Certain fees, bonding and insurance requirements may apply.
Permit Application Procedure
Requests for a permit application may be made ithrough park headquarters via telephone, email or letter. The application form may be downloaded from the park website. A completed application and the non-refundable application fee are required before an application can be processed. 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

The information on the application will be used by NPS staff to evaluate the impact of the proposed activity on park resources and visitors.

Please submit your application at least 15 business days before the start of the proposed activity. Requests which involve multiple locations, complex logistics or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 20 business days to process. Projects which require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted not less than 60 days before the start of proposed activities. Applications are processed in the order in which they are received. For more information, please contact the Commercial Services Office to inquire about your particular project.

Incomplete applications will be returned to the applicant. Applications cannot be approved without the correct application fee and a valid social security number or Federal Tax Identification number.
The National Park Service may permit a special event if the proposed activity will not:
  • Cause injury or damage to park resources; or
  • Be contrary to the purposes for which the park was established; or
  • Unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic or commemorative locations within the park; or
  • Unreasonably interfere with the interpretive visitor service or other program activities, or with the administrative activities of the NPS; or
  • Substantially impair the operation of the public facilities or services of NPS concessionaires or contractors; or
  • Present a clear and present danger to public health and safety; or
  • Result in significant conflict with other existing uses.
The National Park Service will not permit the public staging of special events that are conducted primarily for the material or financial benefit of the organizers or participants, or which involve commercialization or in-park advertising or publicity. Admission fees for the event or any other monies associated with the event may not be collected on park premises.
Cost Recovery
The authority for the National Park Service to recover and retain costs associated with managing special park uses is found at 54 U.S.C.§ 103104. Charges established for a special park use under this authority are intended to recover costs associated with managing that activity and not to generate revenue beyond actual cost. If any additional costs are incurred, the permittee will be billed at the conclusion of the permit.
Permit Costs: Application Fee Administrative Fee Total
Special Park Use Permit $50 $100 $150
First Amendment Permit No Fee No Fee No Fee
Commercial Film Permit Please contact the Commercial Services Office at 870-365-2702 or 870-365-2724
*additional location, management, and monitoring fees may apply
Application Costs Must be submitted at the time of the initial application. This is a non-refundable payment.

Administrative Costs

Payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event. This is a non-refundable payment.
Management Costs If the event requires additional administrative costs to include but not limited to pre-planning site meetings, management review meetings, and/or environmental or cultural compliance, public health permits, or other costs factors such as cleaning or restoration, the cost will be payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event. The scope and complexity of the permit activity will determine if management costs are required. This is a non-refundable payment.
Monitoring Costs If the event requires NPS supervision for resource protection or the health or safety of visitors, the cost will be estimated and payable when the permit is approved and prior to beginning the event. The scope and complexity of the permit activity will determine the level and type of supervision. The fee includes employee travel time to and from the event location.

Performance Bond
Certain activities may prompt the need for the permittee to post a refundable damage bond. The amount of the bond will be equivalent to the estimated cost to NPS for clean-up, repair or rehabilitation of resources or facilities that could potentially be impacted by the permit activities. At the conclusion of the permit, the bond will be returned to the permittee after costs of clean up, repair or rehabilitation are deducted.

Liability insurance protects the government from negligent actions by the permittee. Insurance in an amount sufficient to protect the interests of the United States may be required as a condition of the permit. A high risk activity will always require insurance. Insurance could be waived for a lower risk activity such as a commemorative ceremony. If insurance is required:
  • The insurance certificate must identify the group, not the applicant.
  • The United States Government must be named as additionally insured on the insurance certificate. Certificates naming the U.S. Government as certificate holder only are not acceptable.
  • Failure to provide proof of proper insurance is reason for denial of the permit.

Permit activities may be restricted based on weather or seasonal conditions (fire danger, standing water after rain, nesting season, etc.) Additional closures, use limits and/or restricted activities are listed in the Superintendent’s Compendium.

Termination of Permit
Permits are “revocable” on 24 hours’ notice or WITHOUT NOTICE if the terms of the permit are violated. Deliberate infractions of the terms of the permit or the deliberate making of false or misleading statements concerning intended actions in order to obtain a permit are causes for immediate termination of the permit and cause for possible prosecution. Permits will be revoked if damage to resources or facilities is threatened, or if there is a clear danger to public health or safety.

Non-Profit Organizations:
In accordance with Section 418 of Public Law 105-391, a non-profit organization is not required to obtain a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) to conduct activities in a park area (even if the activities would otherwise be subject to a CUA) if the non-profit organization does not derive taxable income from the activities. In order to avoid the need to obtain a CUA where it would otherwise be required, a non-profit organization must state in writing to the superintendent that no taxable income will be derived from its activities in the park area. However, when engaging in activities in park areas, a non-profit organization is required to obtain a Special Use Permit or other appropriate authorization as may otherwise be required by National Park Service policies and regulations. Certain cost recovery, fees and insurance requirements may apply.
A non-profit organization is an organization that has been determined by the Internal Revenue Service to be exempt from Federal income taxation as a nonprofit or not-for-profit organization under the terms of the Internal Revenue Code.
Standard Permit Conditions
To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences, standard permit conditions will be included in the approved permit.

Last updated: October 19, 2022

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Mailing Address:

402 N. Walnut Street
Suite 136

Harrison, AR 72601


870 439-2502

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