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’ 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.
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:
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.
When is a permit needed?
Still photographers require a permit only when:
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:
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 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
Step 3 – Pay the Application and/or additional fees online (if applicable). The Riverway uses Pay.gov 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 Pay.gov.
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.
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:
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: March 10, 2023