Who needs to have a Special Recreation Permit?
Special Recreation Permits (SRPs) are required for a variety of recreational activities on BLM public lands. They are used to ensure public health and safety, protect recreational and natural resources, and ensure that the public receives a fair monetary return for certain recreational uses of BLM public lands. SRPs are required for commercial activities, competitive events, certain organized group activities, and in some designated special areas.
Commercial SRPs are required for any business activities that are recreational in nature. Generally, these permits are administered to outfitters that offer guided recreation activities, such as river trips, bicycle tours, hunting trips or jeep tours. Also included are recreation-related business activities, such as advertising and selling food or merchandise. Refer to the BLM Special Recreation Permit Information Handbook (see link above) for a complete definition of commercial activities.
Competitive SRPs are required when two or more people compete in a recreational activity or when one person or team contests an established record. Contact your local BLM field office for details.
Certain organized group events that are neither commercial nor competitive require SRPs. Examples include but are not limited to scout campouts, club hikes or rides, company or church picnics, and large family reunions. To determine if an SRP is required for a particular group, the authorized officer at the associated field office will evaluate a proposal using the following criteria:
- Will the event create conflicts with other users?
- Will the event cause resource damage?
- Will the event be inconsistent with BLM recreation management objectives?
- Will the event create unacceptable risk to public health and safety?
If the answer to all of these questions is "no," the authorized officer may determine that the event does not require an SRP. If the answer to any of these questions is "yes" and the activity requires additional management, a permit may be needed. This decision is made by each individual BLM field office. If an organized group permit is not required, a Letter of Agreement may be issued at no charge to the organized group. Check with your local field office for additional information.
Certain special areas designated for specific management objectives require permits even for individual visitors. These include wilderness areas, national conservation areas, special recreation management areas, and areas of critical environmental concern. For example, a permit may be required for private boaters on a river section that runs through a designated wilderness area. Some special areas have limits on the number of permits issued, while others do not; some have associated fees, and others do not. Your local BLM field office will be able to tell you where special area SRPs apply, as well as where fees are charged.
Why should I use permitted outfitters and service providers?
Outfitters and river guides must be registered and licensed in order to take game and fish, and they must be bonded and insured to operate in the State of Colorado. Furthermore, permits are required for outfitters to operate on BLM and U.S. Forest Service public lands, as well as associated waters. Other commercial recreation service providers who operate on public lands, such as guided hiking, bicycle trips, and horse tours, must also be insured and have a permit to operate on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands.
There are many benefits of using licensed and permitted commercial recreation service providers. Firstly, this indicates that the outfitter is legal and has met all of the required standards, meaning that the outfitter is familiar with all local regulations and laws regarding outdoor activities and wildlife. Furthermore, users can take comfort in knowing that their provider has the professional knowledge and skills necessary to ensure a safe recreational experience.
If your outfitter, commercial recreation service provider, or guide is operating illegally, your trip or hunt could be canceled in progress. When an outfitter, service provider, or guide is arrested, users can have their game or fish confiscated. Knowingly contracting with an illegal outfitter can result in felony convictions for all parties involved. In addition, you may not have legal recourse if you are injured during a trip or if your commercial provider does not does not actually provide the services you purchased.
To determine whether your recreation service provider is properly registered, you can ask the following.
If it involves the taking of game or fish:
- Are you registered with the Colorado Office of Outfitters Registration?
- If so, what is your registration number?
- Will we be hunting or fishing on public lands or related waters at any time?
- If so, do you have a BLM or U.S. Forest Service permit?
If it involves river running:
- Are you registered with Colorado Parks and Wildlife?
- If so, what is your River Outfitter license number?
- Will we be running rivers that are on or pass through public lands at any time?
- If so, do you have a BLM or U.S. Forest Service permit?
Certain indications can help you to spot illegal providers. You should look out for outfitters that do not provide a written contract describing the services you have purchased. If you are counseled not to talk to state or federal officers or to claim that you are just friends or family members hunting, fishing, or recreating together, it is likely that you are dealing with an illegal service provider.
You can verify registration using the following methods:
If the activity involves the taking of game or fish, you can verify your outfitter's registration by contacting the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies at:
Verify your river guide's license by contacting Colorado Parks and Wildlife at:
If any portion of your activity takes place on BLM or U.S. Forest Service public lands, please contact the local BLM field office or ranger district for additional information.
What should I do if I find an illegal outfitter?
Firstly, you should know that you can remain anonymous to avoid putting yourself at risk. If you come across an illegal outfitter, these are the steps you can take:
- Gather and write down as much information as possible: who, what, when and where. Record the date, time and location of the activities you have observed. Other relevant information includes the number of people involved, any associated names, vehicle license plate numbers, colors, descriptions, etc.
- Report suspected illegal activities to your local BLM field office or USFS ranger district as soon as possible.
- If activity involves taking of game or fish, contact Operation Game Thief at this toll free number: 1-800-332-4155; or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You may be entitled to a reward offered by the Colorado Outfitters Association or Operation Game Thief.