Commercial Operations on Public Lands
Oregon has incredible wild and scenic areas perfect for outdoor adventures and nature exploration. There is a diverse range of landowners and managers overseeing management of these lands. It is your responsibility to know the rules and requirements needed to operate commercially on public land. It can be very difficult to navigate the patchwork of permits required to bring your guests to visit public land, and there is no guarantee that a permit exists or is available for the activities and locations you want to work in.
It is advised that you fully research the permit requirements early to ensure your business will be able to operate in the area of your choice before you invest significant resources in developing the business. Determine the location you wish to operate in and then contact the agency or organization that manages the area in which you hope to operate. The most common agencies are listed here:
- State Land
- Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) – Information ODF permits is online here.
- Oregon Parks and Recreation Department (OPRD) – Permits are only required for large group events and for non-traditional uses of state parks. More information is online here.
- City Land – Concession or commercial use permits can be required. We recommend that you consult with local government to understand individual requirements.
- County Land – Concession or commercial use permits. We recommend that you consult with local government to understand individual requirements.
- The United States Forest Service (USFS) – The USFS is part of the US Department of Agriculture and manages a large amount of land in Oregon. While it is possible to get a multi-forest permit, generally permits can be obtained from the district ranger who manages the area in which you want to operate. For businesses that operate in multiple locations throughout the state, this can be cumbersome. Additionally, permits may not be available for areas that already receive a large amount of visitors. Information on USFS permitting is online here.
- The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) – The BLM is part of the Department of the Interior and manages a considerable amount of land throughout the state. Information on obtaining a permit with the BLM for commercial use, outfitting and guiding, and vending is online here.
- The National Park Service (NPS) – The NPS is also part of the Department of the Interior. There are four bodies of land in Oregon managed by the NPS. Each one has a separate mandate from Congress, therefore requiring a separate permit.
- Crater Lake National Park: The application for a Commercial Use Permit in Crater Lake is online here.
- Oregon Caves: Information on permits for the Oregon Caves is online here.
- John Day Fossil Beds: Information about fees and passes to the John Day Fossil Beds is online here.
- Lewis and Clark National Historic Park: Information on special use permits for Lewis and Clark National Historic Park is online here.
- National Wildlife Refuges – There are several world-class wildlife refuges in Oregon. The most famous is Malheur. The application form for commerical operation in National Wildlife Refuges is online here.
- U.S. Coast Guard – If you plan on guiding with a motorized boat on federally navigable waters, an USCG Merchant Mariner’s license is required. Information on obtaining a USCG Merchant Mariner’s license is online here.