Special Use Permits (SUP)

First State National Historical Park (NHP) is home to many beautiful rolling hills and winding creeks and rivers, which makes it a popular place for special uses in the park. First State NHP has the authority and responsibility to evaluate applicant requests and to permit, manage, and/or deny all special uses within the park. Therefore, before any permit will be granted, consideration will be given to potential park resource impacts, as well as impacts to visitor use, access to park sites, or park administration.

A special park use is defined as an activity that takes place in a park area and that:

  • Provides a benefit to an individual, group or organization rather than the public at large.
  • Requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the National Park Service in order to protect park resources and the public interest.

The National Park Service may permit a special park use if the proposed activity will not:

  • Cause injury, damage, or impairments to park resources.
  • Be contrary to the purpose for which the park was established and the mission of the NPS.
  • Unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, historic, or commemorative locations within the park.
  • Interfere with visitor use, access, and programs.
  • Interfere with park management or administration.
  • Interfere with concession operations or other public facilities.
  • Present a clear and present danger to public health and safety.

Further, the proposed activity must meet the following additional criteria to be considered for a permit:

  • Is not prohibited by law or regulation.
  • Is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the National Park Service (NPS).
  • Is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease.
  • Is not a long term activity.

Application Process

Requests for special use permits for events should be made by submitting an application no more than six (6) months in advance and at least three (3) months prior to the date of the planned event. There is a $50.00 non-refundable fee for processing your application for a special use permit. All questions should be answered as accurately and in as much detail as possible. This will assist the park in determining the appropriateness of the planned activities and help to estimate any costs that may be incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the proposed activity. Submission of the application form and fee payment does not imply permission for any special use or event.

Once you have completed filling out your permit application, you can mail it to the park's Ranger Station located at:

First State NHP
Attn: Permit Coordinator
400 Ramsey Road
Wilmington, DE 19803

The park's permit coordinator will reach out to the applicant once they have received and reviewed permit application. If the activities outlined in the application meet the criteria above, the application will move onto compliance. Every permit application goes through compliance to ensure that the park is reducing any impacts to the natural and cultural resources that may occur from the proposed activity. The permit coordinator may reach out to the applicant with additional questions at this point.

If the application passes through compliance than the permit coordinator will draft a permit for the applicant to review. If there are no questions about the terms of the permit the applicant will sign the permit and return it to the permit coordinator for final review by the park Superintendent. Once the Superintendent signs the permit, the permit coordinator will send the approved permit to the applicant. The permit is NOT final until the Superintendent signs it.

Permit Applications

You use the link to below to download the permit application or you can e-mail the park to request that an application be mailed to you.

Downloadable Application

Cost Recovery

There are cost recovery fees associated with the administration and management of special use permits for costs incurred by the park. It states in the special park use guidelines that “it is the policy of the National Park Service to charge permit fees for special uses. Permit fees should reflect the fair market value of a benefit provided the permittee. The fair market value of a special use is the value of the lands or facilities used and the National Park Service cost incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use.” Fees charged for administering a permit may include the following:

  • Personnel (staffing) costs

  • Materials and supplies

  • Official travel

  • Utilities and overhead

  • Compliance requirements

  • Vehicle and equipment use

  • Training

Special Events

Special events are activities, such as organizational events, religious gatherings, ceremonies, large group activities, and camps or rendezvous.

Regulations authorize the conducting of special events provided:

  • There is a meaningful association between park and the event;

  • The observance contributes to visitor understanding of the significance of the park; and

  • A permit has been issued by the superintendent.

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 of in-park advertising or publicity.

A special use permit often requires general commercial liability insurance. The insurance and the permittee indemnify the park from liability, injury, or damages resulting from the actions or inaction of the permittee. General liability insurance must be carried by the permittee showing the U. S. Government as additionally insured. Certificates of Insurance must show coverage on "occurrence" basis. If required by the park, the minimum amount of commercial liability insurance is $1,000,000 per occurrence, and $1,000,000 aggregate. Additional amounts may be required for high-risk activities and events. The park will often waive insurance for low-risk activities such as a commemorative ceremony. The United States of America, Department of Interior will be listed as "additional-insured" or "certificate holder" on the Certificate of Liability Insurance.

First Amendment Activities

Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are rights protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulation. People may exercise these rights in national parks, but the National Park Service still retains its responsibility to protect park resources and prevent impacts to park visitors. A first amendment permit is not required for groups of 25 individuals, or less, conducting first amendment activities in the park’s designated first amendment area with the use of hand carried signs only.

A permit is required for groups of 25 or more, those wanting to use stages, platforms, structures or amplified sound, and for groups desiring to reserve a designated area in advance. A first amendment permit will not be issued for more than 14 days so, applicants will be required to reapply for additional permits. Unless permitted, the designated area is on a first-come, first-served. Types of activities not considered first amendment include, but are not limited to:

  • 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.

  • Sale of message bearing clothing, arts and crafts, or similar merchandise.

The first amendment area within the park's Brandywine Valley unit is located to the left of the Ramsey parking lot on Ramsey Road (39.829194, -75.570173). The are is outlined in red in the map below.

A map of the Ramsey parking lot showing the first amendment area outlined in red next to it along Ramsey Road.
A map of the first amendment area outlined in red next the Ramsey parking lot along Ramsey Road.

NPS Photo

Last updated: September 30, 2021

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

New Castle Court House Museum
Attn: First State NHP
211 Delaware Street

New Castle, DE 19720


If you need to speak to a park ranger call our ranger station at (302-478-2769) and someone will return your call as soon as possible. For a more immediate response, please email the park at firststate@nps.gov.

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