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Special Use Permits

A special use permit is required for activities that provide a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large and that require written authorization and management control in order to protect park resources and the public interest. Examples include: weddings, memorial services, commercial filming and/or photography, special assemblies, First Amendment activities, or collecting of resource materials. Each of these activities requires a special use permit that must be acquired in advance. At least one month's notice and application for Special Use Permits is required. Fees for monitoring, administrative costs, and restoration may apply.

If you are not familiar with Fort Smith NHS, a pre-visit is encouraged. The location where the event is to take place needs to be determined before the day of the event. There may be special restrictions in the area that could limit access.

Application for Special Use Permit (short form)

Application for Special Use Permit (long form)


The designated wedding location at Fort Smith is the historic Belle Point. Located on a hill and overlooking the confluence of the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers, Belle Point is also the location of the first Fort Smith established in 1817. This scenic and beautiful overlook provides the perfect backdrop for small, informal weddings.

All weddings, regardless of size, require an approved wedding permit issued by the National Park Service. Weddings are allowed in the park under the terms and conditions listed on the park's Standard Operating Procedure and Permit.

Guidelines for Wedding Permit (use short form Special Use Permit application)

First Amendment Activities

Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are constitutional rights. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources. The necessity of a permit to conduct First Amendment activities is determined by the group size.

A small group is defined as "25 people or less." A "small group" is not required to obtain a First Amendment Permit if they are located within a park designated First Amendment site and have no more than leaflets, booklets and/or hand-held signs. A permit is required for any small group that:

a. wants to hold a demonstration or distribute and/or sell printed matter somewhere outside a designated First Amendment area.

b. wants to use equipment (i.e., tables, banners, platforms, etc.) even if it is within a designated area.

c. is merely an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25 person maximum.

d. wants to guarantee they will have priority for the use of a location, including the designated First Amendment areas.

A large group is defined as more than "25 people" and is required to obtain a First Amendment Permit even if they are utilizing a park designated First Amendment site.
Some examples of special events that fall under First Amendment Rules:

  • distribution and/or sale of printed matter

  • religious services

  • public demonstrations or assemblies, etc.

There are no permit fees associated with First Amendment permits. Please contact the Park Use Coordinator at 479-226-3719 for more information about Designated First Amendment sites or the application process.


Filming & Still Photography

A permit is not required for low-impact outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public consisting of groups of five persons or fewer, and involving equipment that will be carried at all times—except for small tripods used to hold cameras.

Filming outside normal visitation areas and hours and all commercial filming will require a special permit. Filming permits are issued on an individual basis based for non-low-impact filming activities. The park require at least 10 days advance notice in writing. The superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided.

Filming in the Park

Filming that involves the digital or film recording of a visual image or sound recording by a person, business, or other entity for a market audience. This includes recordings such as those used for a documentary, educational program, television or feature film, advertisement, or similar project.

The NPS will no longer distinguish among different types of filming (commercial, non-commercial, news gathering). Low-impact filming activities in areas open to the public may occur without any advance notice to the NPS or the need to obtain a permit.

“Low-impact” is defined as outdoor filming activities in areas open to the public (excluding areas managed as wilderness), consisting of groups of five persons or fewer, and involving equipment that will be carried at all times—except for small tripods used to hold cameras.

Filming without a permit is prohibited in areas that are closed to the public. All activities in park areas—including filming—must comply with all visitor use regulations, including those prohibiting resource damage, protecting wildlife or mitigating audio disturbances, as well as any restrictions on visitor use in the park’s compendium, such as restrictions on the use of unmanned aircraft systems (drones).

Non-low-impact filming activities require at least 10 days advance notice to the NPS by contacting the park directly. During this time, the superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a permit. Based upon the information provided, a permit may be required if necessary to:

  • maintain public health and safety
  • protect environmental or scenic values
  • protect natural or cultural resources
  • allow for equitable allocation and use of facilities
  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

Filming activities must not violate applicable laws, such as the Endangered Species Act, the Archeological Resources Protection Act, or the Wilderness Act. All filming must comply with laws protecting the NPS’s intellectual property, such as laws and regulations governing the use of the NPS Arrowhead and images of NPS employees.

This interim guidance responds to the recent U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia decision in Price v. Barr. The National Park Service will not be implementing or enforcing the commercial filming portions of 43 CFR Part 5 until further notice, including accepting applications, issuing permits, enforcing the terms and conditions of permits, issuing citations related to permits, or collecting cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities.

Still Photography

A permit is required (whether commercial or noncommercial), in accordance with Public Law 106-206, and 36 CFR 5.5 if the following occur:

  • it takes place at a location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed, or
  • it uses model(s) or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities, or
  • it uses equipment that requires mechanical transport
  • it uses equipment that requires an external power source other than a batter pack;or
  • the National Park Service would incur additional administrative costs to manage and oversee the permitted activity to: avoid unacceptable impacts and impairment to resources or values;or minimize health or safety risks to the visiting public.

Performance Bond and Liability Insurance

Performance bond and liability insurance requirements must be met, and all costs incurred by the National Park Service in writing the permit, monitoring, providing protection services, or otherwise supporting filming or photography activities will be reimbursed by the permittee as a condition of the permit.

Contact the Special Park Uses Office (479) 629-0937, if unsure whether or not a filming activity is considered low-impact or may require a permit.

Application for Still Photography Permit (short form)

Application for Still Photography Permit (long form)

Additional information can be found at National Park Service - Filming & Still Photography Permits

Special Use Permit Cost Recovery Fee Schedule

These forms may be printed out, completed, and mailed/emailed/faxed to the park. Please note that the application review process will not begin until the application fee is received.

Mail to:
Fort Smith National Historic Site
ATTN: Park Special Use Coordinator
301 Parker Avenue
Fort Smith, AR 72901

Email to:
Park Special Use Permit Coordinator

Fax to:
Attn: Park Special Use Permit Coordinator (479) 629-0937

Last updated: February 11, 2022

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Mailing Address:

301 Parker Ave
Fort Smith , AR 72901


479 783-3961

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