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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.

The variety of landscapes within a 20-mile radius of Moab has made the Moab area a popular filming area since the late 1940s.  Filming of Western films has now been replaced by 30 to 40 BLM authorizations each year for television programs or commercials and commercial stills for magazine advertisements and billboards. 


Film permits are issued under the authority of Section 302(b) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of October 21, 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1732) and the regulations in 43 CFR 2920. The film permit authorizes a short-term commercial activity at fair market value.

Filming Location PhotoApplications for permits must be analyzed through the environmental assessment process. Resource values which must be considered include Archaeology*, Wildlife, Recreation Areas, Range, Wilderness, Watershed.

For most projects, the company is required to hire a BLM approved film monitor.

Applications, for projects that meet minimum impact criteria, are generally processed within 5 days of the filing of a complete application. Projects that do not meet minimum impact criteria require a 30-day appeal period, and are generally processed in 40 days.

Click here for more information on the permitting process.  For more information on film permit fees click here.

*Archaeological clearances may be necessary. Proponents may need to contract for archaeological surveys to meet established deadlines.