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. The National Park Service has issued interim guidance as of February 22, 2021, to manage filming activities. Under the interim guidance, filming activities may require a permit if they pose a threat to 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.
As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities in Crater Lake National Park are encouraged to contact us directly 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 may require a permit to consider its 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.
All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public. Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, news and other staff associated with filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity. 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 Crater Lake National Park directly in writing. The parks' superintendent will determine whether the filming activity will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:
Examples of requests that may require a permit include, but are not limited to: entering a sensitive resource area, filming in areas that require tickets to enter, filming in areas that require tickets to enter, or filming in visitor centers, campgrounds, or other visitor areas. The decision to require a permit rests with the park superintendent based on potential impacts to park resources or the visitor experience.
Contact the park directly if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or will require a permit.
Filming in Wilderness Areas
Crater Lake National Park manages and protects over 120-thousand acres of proposed Wilderness in the spirit and intent of the Wilderness Act. Filming activities in wilderness areas must follow all applicable laws and regulations that govern wilderness areas in the park, including prohibitions on structures, installations, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, motorized equipment, motorboats, or landing aircrafts.
Special use permits for filming are required for all filming activities in wilderness areas, except casual filming by visitors, no matter the group size or equipment used.
Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?
As of January 22, 2021, and under the interim guidance 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:
Insurance and Bonding
General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee showing the U.S. Government, National Park Service, Crater Lake National Park address as additionally insured. Short term policies must show coverage on "occurrence" basis. The minimum amount of commercial liability insurance is one million dollars. Additional amounts may be required for high-risk activities. Certain activities may trigger 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.
What about photography workshops?
If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. See the commercial use authorization page for more information.
Film/Photography permits are issued for photography, filming, and associated sound recording to ensure protection of resources, to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses, or when they involve props, merchandise, models, professional crews, and casts or set dressings. Permits are required for access to areas normally closed to the visiting public.
These will be scheduled with the park's permit coordinator and the potential permittee after the application has been received and reviewed. A visit to all potential filming sites in the park will usually be made at this time. By the end of the meeting, the permit coordinator should have enough information to prepare the permit once the project has been approved.(Each park will determine whether scouting every site is realistic, and will determine if the pre-permit conference can be conducted via telephone or must be on site.) The completed permit will detail the activities and locations to be authorized. Any activities not specified in the permit will not be allowed. No activities on NPS property may begin until the permit has been approved by the park and agreed to by the permittee.
Last updated: June 24, 2021