Noncommercial Group Use Regulations
F A C T S
- Groups of 75 or more people need a permit to gather on national forest lands. Formerly groups of only 25 or more people needed a permit. The regulations apply only to noncommercial groups.
- A noncommercial activity is one in which the primary purpose is not the sale of a good or service, and where no entry or participation fee is charged.
- The new regulations protect the rights of free speech, assembly, and religious exercise on the national forests for every individual and group.
- The regulations presume that a permit will be issued for the site requested, unless; (1) resource damage caused by the activity cannot be mitigated; (2) the activity will not comply with all federal, state, or local laws; (3) it cannot comply with the applicable forest plan; (4) it poses a threat to public health and safety. If the site is unsuitable or not available, another will be offered if it is available.
- With a permit no fee will be charged and no bond or insurance will be required.
- Requiring permits allows the Forest Service to protect forest resources and improvements, address concerns about public health and safety, and avoid conflicting uses from occurring.
- Paramilitary training by private organizations is prohibited because this type of use may significantly endanger other forest users or damage forest resources. This has been long-standing Forest Service policy that is not being changed with these regulations.
- The Forest Service's prior two versions of the regulations governing noncommercial group uses were struck down by the courts. The first singled out expressive conduct from other other activities, which was unconstitutional. The second was invalid because it was adopted without notice and comment.
Rainbow Case Intro