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) still 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.
Groups of 25 persons or less may exercise their First Amendment activities without first obtaining a permit. They are still required to use one of the park's First Amendment areas. Groups without permits will be allowed use of the First Amendment area on a first come first serve basis. A group with a valid permit will be permitted to displace a group without a permit.
Permit Application Procedure
Requests for a permit application may be made in person at the Harkers Island Visitor Center or via telephone, email, or letter. The application form may be downloaded from the Special Use Permits webpage. Please allow minimum of two (2) business days for processing. Park contact information is:
Types of First Amendment Activities
Type of Activities that are NOT covered by the First Amendment
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 Permits webpage for additional information.
If your application is approved, a Special Use Permit will be prepared and mailed 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 copy of the permit will be forwarded to you. This should all be done well in advance of your chosen date. The approved, signed permit copy must be in your possession at the time of the event (except groups of 25 or less, which do not require a permit).
Terms & Conditions
To maintain park natural and cultural resources and quality visitor experiences in addition to the standard terms and conditions, the following conditions and requirements apply to Special Use Permits for First Amendment activities:
Last updated: January 27, 2018