Filming on Public Lands
The public lands have long been a popular location for the motion picture industry. The western deserts, dry lakebeds, and mountain terrain are strong attractions to national and international television and film production companies. Many major motion pictures and television commercials have been filmed on public lands.
Special permits to use the public lands for commercial film production are issued by the BLM under Section 302(b) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act. Regulations governing filming on public lands are covered in 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 2920, Leases Permits, and Easements.
On May 26, 2000, the President signed Public Law 106-206 (100KB PDF), authorizing land management agencies in the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to regulate commercial filming activities on Federal lands. This legislation gives the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service new authority to require permits for commercial filming and certain still photography activities on the Federal lands they manage. The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management already had authority to do so, via the Organic Administration Act of 1897 and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, respectively.
Public Law 106-206 augments those previous statutes for authorizing commercial filming and still photography activities. In doing so, it clarifies policy on the requirements for commercial filming and still photography permits and establishes limitations on filming activities for the protection of resources. Bureau guidance implementing PL 106-206, was issued under Instruction Memorandum 2004-073.
1. WHEN DO I NEED A FILM PERMIT?
2. THE PERMITTING PROCESS
4. POPULAR FILMING LOCATIONS & OFFICE CONTACTS
5. LINKS TO STATE FILM COMMISSION SITES
LAND USE AUTHORIZATIONS - LEASES AND PERMITS
Section 302 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA) provides the BLM's authority to issue leases and permits for the use, occupancy, and development of the public lands. Leases and permits are issued for purposes such as a commercial filming, advertising displays, commercial or noncommercial croplands, apiaries, livestock holding or feeding areas not related to grazing permits and leases, harvesting of native or introduced species, temporary or permanent facilities for commercial purposes (does not include mining claims), residential occupancy, ski resorts, construction equipment storage sites, assembly yards, oil rig stacking sites, mining claim occupancy if the residential structures are not incidental to the mining operation, and water pipelines and well pumps related to irrigation and non-irrigation facilities. The regulations establishing procedures for the processing of these leases and permits are found in 43 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 2920.