The BLM recreation permits authorize the permittees’ use of public lands and/or related waters for specified purposes. Recreating on the public lands and/or related waters is a privilege subject to the terms and conditions of the permits. BLM recreation permits are the basis for BLM’s recreation fee program and are used to implement REA’s standard and expanded amenity fees and special recreation permit fees.
Recreation permits are managed consistent with the management objectives determined in Resource Management Plans (RMPs), Recreation Area Management Plans (RAMPs), or in their absence, through the recreation management objectives resulting from analysis of resources and visitor use for each area. Recreation permits are a tool for managing recreation use; reducing user conflicts; protecting natural and cultural resources; informing users; gathering use information; and obtaining a fair return for commercial and certain other uses of public land.
Successful recreation permitting for activities on the public lands and related waters begins with the planning process. In this context, recreation permitting is a means to implement recreation management plan objectives. Issuance of a recreation permit must serve the public interest and support the goals and objectives of land use plans. The RMP process must be used to identify and quantify the areas that have restrictions on users, such as numbers of permitted users, season of permitted use, location, group size, activity type, or modes of transportation. At a minimum, areas should be identified as sites designated specifically for certain activities. The details to implement the decisions in the RMP would be established in a site specific RAMP. The RAMP identifies the specific recreation prescriptions or actions to implement the decisions made in the RMP. These decisions need to be made with public scrutiny and involvement. Land use allocation decisions made through the planning process with public involvement are definitive and require little to no additional scrutiny or analysis.
The BLM manages the following two types of recreation permits:
- Recreation Use Permits (RUPs). RUPs are issued for the short-term recreational use of specialized sites, facilities, equipment, or services furnished at Federal expense. BLM most often uses RUPs to authorize individual and group recreational use of recreation facilities, commonly known as "fee sites” (such as campgrounds). BLM uses RUPs to implement REA’s standard and expanded amenity fees.
- Special Recreation Permits (SRPs). SRPs are issued to authorize specified and often time-restricted recreational uses of the public lands and related waters. The BLM issues SRPs to manage visitor use; to protect natural and cultural resources; to achieve the goals and objectives of Field Office recreation program as outlined in a land use plan; and to authorize specific types of recreational activities. There are five types of activities for which SRPs are required: commercial use, competitive use, vending, special area use, and organized group activity and event use (as described in BLM Handbook H-2930-1 Recreation & Permit Administration).