Guidelines for Special Park Uses
Gateway National Recreation Area's mission is that of the National Park Service (NPS) as written in the Organic Act of 1916, which states in part: “The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” In Gateway, opportunities for special park uses exist for visitor and organizational uses including personal, family, educational and program cultural uses, as well as filming and photography projects with areas of Gateway as the location. There are many cultural, scientific, and educational institutions that conduct research and programs by special park use permit.
Gateway receives requests from individuals and groups seeking to use the park for various private uses. Each unit manages these requests. “It is the policy of the National Park Service (NPS) to allow special uses that are not in conflict with law or policy; will not result in derogation of the values and purposes for which the park was established; do not present a threat to public safety or property and do not unduly interfere with normal park operations, resource protection, or visitor use.”
Gateway has the authority and responsibility to evaluate applicant requests, 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. 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 NPS 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 NPS cost incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use.”
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;
is not prohibited by law or regulation;
is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the National Park Service (NPS); and
is not managed under a concession contract, a recreation activity for which the NPS charges a fee, or a lease;
is a short term activity.
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 park’s 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; or
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.
Requesting a Special Use Permit For a Special Event
Requests for special use permits for events should be made by submitting an application at least 30 days prior to the date of the planned event. More advance notice is recommended. There is a non-refundable fee for processing your application for a special use permit. Please return the application form to request a permit as soon as possible. All questions should be answered as accurately and completely as possible. This will assist the park in determining the appropriateness of the planned activities and help to estimate NPS costs that may be incurred in managing, facilitating, or supporting the use. Submission of the application form and fee payment does not imply permission for any special use or event. Please see below for information to apply for each unit..
Special park uses include a wide range of activities.
Special events are activities, such as organizational special events, religious gatherings, ceremonies, large group activity camps or rendezvous, and encampments.
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 NPS 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 requires proof of valid general commercial liability insurance. The insurance protects the park from liability, injury, or damages resulting from the action 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 $3,000,000 aggregate. Additional amounts may be required for high-risk activities and events. The United States of America, Department of Interior must be listed as "additional-insured" or "certificate holder" on the Certificate of Liability Insurance.
- Permitees who enter the park for recreational purposes are subject to the same fees as the general public. At Gateway there are parking fees between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day at Jacob Riis and Sandy Hook.
- The NPS will recover costs incurred in administering permits and monitoring the activities it authorizes.
- Allow at least 30 days for the permit process. Each unit may have different requirements.
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
All permit activities must meet both National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 (National Historic Preservation Act) requirements and go through an environmental screening process. Compliance may add extra time to processing the permit.
Scientific Research Permit
Please visit https://irma.nps.gov/rprs/ to access the National Park Service Research Permit and Reporting System.
First Amendment Activity
First Amendment activities include freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly. All of these are constitutional rights. However, the courts have recognized that activities and rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources.
A small group, defined as "25 people or less," is NOT required to obtain a First Amendment permit if it is located within a park designated site and have no more than leaflets, booklets and/or hand held signs. A permit is required for any small group that:
wants to hold a demonstration or distribute and/or sell printed matter somewhere outside a designated First Amendment area;
wants to use equipment (i.e. tables, banners, platforms, etc) even if it is within the designated area;
is merely an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25 person maximum;
wants to guarantee they will have priority for the use of a location, including the designated First Amendment areas.
A large group, defined as "more than 25 people," IS required to obtain a First Amendment Permit even if it is utilizing a park designated First Amendment site.
For all First Amendment events send in the special use permit that corresponds to the location you wish to utilize. There are no fees associated with First Amendment permits.
Jamaica Bay Unit
Permits and Reservations
Jamaica Bay issues permits for activities listed below. Additional permits from other agencies may be required for some actions. Permits are required for group campgrounds, community garden plots, archery, fishing area parking and picnicking. Call (718) 338-3799 for further information.
- Filming and Photography
- Special Uses
- Sports Fields
- Fishing/parking permits are park wide permits and can be obtained in any unit of Gateway. You must present your vehicle registration and fishing pole for purchase of this permit. Fishing permits are $50.
Breezy Point Tip Off Road Permits
Breezy Point Tip Off Road Permits are a specialized fishing/parking permits necessary to access the sand road, sand lot and Breezy Point Tip in the Jamaica Bay Unit. These are available in limited numbers, and only at the Ryan Visitor Center. A 4-wheel drive vehicle is required. All-wheel drive vehicles are not recommended. The Off Road Permit is valid anywhere in the park where the fishing/parking permit is honored. Off Road Permits are $50.
The operator must present the following equipment at the time of purchase and carry each item at all times when driving off road at the Breezy Point Tip:
- 7-foot (minimum) fishing pole
- reel and tackle
- tow chain or rope
- jack support board
- tire pressure gauge
- appropriate spare tire
- trash container
- portable toilet
Call (718) 338-3799 for season and permit distribution information. The 2019 off road permits have all been sold.
Please note that between March 15 and September 15 there is no vehicle access to Breezy Point Tip. All vehicles must park at the sand lot during this time, which is piping plover season.
Sandy Hook Unit
Permits and Reservations
Sandy Hook issues permits for activities listed below. Additional permits from other agencies may be required for some activities. Permits and/or reservations are required for fishing, ceremonies, camping, after hours park access, special events, filming and photography.
Non-Standard Special Use Permit Application: Sporting Events, Runs and Other Events. Pay your application fee online.
- Chapel: Rent the Sandy Hook Chapel for weddings, memorials, meetings, lectures, family gatherings and other large events. For information and photos, see sandyhookchapel.com. Pay your application fee online. Please be aware that demand for the Chapel is strong and that weekends often book a full year in advance. For questions regarding the Sandy Hook Chapel, please e-mail us.
- After Hours Fishing Permits are available at the Sandy Hook Visitor Center 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round and at the Entrance Station as staffing permits during the peak season. Fishing permits can also be purchased online and mailed within 14 days or picked up after 7 days. Permits are $50.
Staten Island Unit
Permits and Reservations
Permits and/or reservations are required for parking (fishing, boat trailer and nature study), special use of the Fort Wadsworth overlook, ceremonies, athletic fields, Miller Field gardens, after hours park access, special events, filming and photography. Contact (718) 354-4574 or e-mail us.
Great Kills Park: A $50 Boat Launch Permit is available for Great Kills only, and the launch site operates from April to November. These are available at Great Kills Ranger Station, which is open Saturday through Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.. Call (718) 819-7574 for more information.
Crooke's Point: A $50 Nature Study Permit is available. Call (718) 819-7574 or (718) 351-6970 for more information.
World War Veterans Park at Miller Field: Permits are required for community garden plots, sports fields, and picnicking. Call (718) 351-6970 for more information. The Miller Field Ranger Station is open Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Staten Island Unit sells fishing parking permits at the Great Kills Park Ranger Station Wednesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information call (718) 819-7574.
In order to receive a permit, you must first register with the
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. You can register for Marine Fishing online or by calling (866) 933-2257 Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. You need to present your fishing rod and vehicle registration when buying a permit. Permits are $50.
Please note that fishing/parking permits are good for the whole park, no matter which unit they were purchased in. However, to access Breezy Point Tip, you must purchase an off road permit at the Ryan Visitor Center.