Filming and Photography Permits


Those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Do I need a permit to film?

Non-low-impact filming activities may require a permit to address their potential impacts on park resources and visitor activities. Low-impact filming activities may also require a permit. Please contact the Riverway Special Use Permit Coordinator for more information.

Low-Impact Filming

“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 may not need a permit and are suggested to contact the park in advance. If low-impact filmers have questions about areas where they want to film, they should contact the park directly.

Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, news and other staff associated with filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors, including park hours and closed areas, still apply to filming activities even if a permit is not required. Check with the park staff for more information on closures, sensitive resources, and other safety tips.

Non-Low-Impact Filming

Filming activities that do not meet the description of low-impact filming require at least ten days advance notice to the National Park Service by contacting the park directly in writing. The park’s superintendent will determine whether the filming activities will require a special use permit for filming. Based on the information provided, a permit may be required to:

  • maintain public health and safety;

  • protect environmental or scenic values;

  • protect natural or cultural resources;

  • allow for equitable allocation or use of facilities; or

  • avoid conflict among visitor use activities.

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, 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 may require a permit.

Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Still photographers require a permit only when:

  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or
  2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or
  3. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

How do I apply for a permit?

A Special Use Permit for Still Photography is required by 36 CFR Section 5.5 for activities providing a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than to the public at large. These activities require some degree of management from the National Park Service if there is:

  • the potential to interfere with usual visitor use patterns.
  • congestion of highly visited areas such as the Osceola Landing and Picnic Area.
  • possible impact on park resources.

Special use permits for still photography must be obtained in advance and a fee may or may not be charged depending on the activity. Permit fees are non-refundable and include the cost of permit processing and monitoring of the event. If resources are damaged or trash is left, additional fees may be charged.

Step 1 – Determine if your activity needs a permit. Below is short list of example special events and activities which would require a Special Use Permit for Still Photography. It is not a complete list. Please contact the Riverway Special Use Permit Coordinator, 715-483-2244, to determine if your potential event will need a permit.

  • Professional or commercial still photography
  • Use of talent (e.g., paid models)
  • Use of tripod or other props
  • Use of speakers

Step 2 – Fill out the Special Use Permit application (Form 10-932 long form). Please contact the Riverway Special Use Permit Coordinator, 715-483-2244, for assistance

Make sure to provide an original signature, and either mail in the original document or scan and email it to the Special Use Permit Coordinator. Unsigned documents will be returned to the requesting party, and may delay the processing time needed to issue a final permit. When completing the application, you will need to identify a location. If your location requires use of the Osceola picnic shelter(s), please indicate as such in the project/program description. If your application is approved, the reservation for the specific shelter(s) you indicated on the application form will be reserved for you. Confirmation and final permit of the shelter reservation will be distributed to you, but it may arrive ahead of your final SUP paperwork.The following locations are areas permitted for use under the SUP program:

  • Any section of the Namekagon or St Croix rivers between Namekagon Dam to Riverside, Gordon Dam to Riverside, and Riverside to Boom Site, Stillwater, MN
  • NPS-owned landings (e.g., Osceola Landing) or its adjacent facilities
  • Auditorium or meeting room spaces
  • Parking lots
  • Picnic shelters
  • Campgrounds

Step 3 – Pay the Application and/or additional fees online (if applicable). The Riverway uses to process payments. Doing so, reduces internal procedural work that increases the costs of the program to the public. Follow the steps below only if the Special Use Permit Coordinator contacts you, and instructs you to pay an Application Fee, Location Fee, or other required fees. No paper checks, cash, or other methods of payment will be accepted, but EFTs, credit card, AmazonSmile, etc are acceptable forms of payment on

  1. Go to: And ensure that the page states "SACN Special Use Permit Fees" before making Payment.
  2. Once at the page, Please click the red button to "Continue to the Form"
  3. Your Permit Number will be provided to you once your application is approved.
  4. Please fill in the Event Name and Contact information.
  5. Check the box(es) and complete the appropriate financial information provided to you by the SUP Coordinator.
  6. The Total Payment Due at the bottom should match what was provided to you by the SUP Coordinator, then press "Continue" to complete your payment.

Step 4 – Provide the necessary insurance information (if applicable). Not all parties will be required to provide proof of insurance. The SUP Coordinator will determine whether insurance is required, and then itemize the type and volume necessary. The requestor must ensure the “United States of America” is listed as an Additionally Insured Party on the insurance. Additionally, the requestor must provide proof of insurance before a draft Special Use Permit will be sent to the requesting party.

Step 5 – Review the draft Special Use Permit for Still Photography. If no changes are needed, sign and date, and return the Permit with the original signature to the SUP Coordinator. Your permit is not finalized until it is signed by the Superintendent, and sent back to your attention. Questions about the program can be sent to the Special Use Permit Coordinator at any time at 715-483-2244.

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:

  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day

Are there other permit requirements?

You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

What about photography workshops?

If you are planning a photography workshop, you may need a commercial use authorization. Please contact the Special Use Permit Coordinator at 715-483-2244.

Last updated: July 29, 2023

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715 483-2274

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