Visitor Services & Fire Management
Alaska Region

Refuge Permits


Big Game Guide Prospectus

Alaska Guide Service Evaluation Form

A special use permit is not required for the general public to visit a national wildlife refuge to engage in wildlife-dependent recreational activities such as wildlife watching, hunting, fishing, photography, environmental education, interpretation, hiking, and camping. Visitors must comply with all pertinent refuge regulations, State and Federal laws, and State hunting and fishing regulations.

Special use permits are required for, but not limited to, the following types of activities: 

Commercial Operations:
            -  Guiding and outfitting (hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, river trips, etc.)
            -  Big game transporting
            -  Air and water taxi
            -  Sand and gravel removal
            -  Commercial filming and videographers

Scientific Research and Monitoring:
            -  Biological research
            -  Archeological research
            -  Geological research
            -  Research and Monitoring Installations* (i.e., weather, climate, seismic, etc.)

Use and Occupancy of Refuge Lands*:
            -  Commercial guide cabins
            -  Subsistence cabins
            -  Trapping cabins
            -  Tent platforms and long term tent camps
            -  Commercial fishing cabins and other support facilities

* Transportation and utility systems, and other long-term installations, require a right-of-way permit from the regional Division of Realty.

Permits issued for commercial uses are subject to a $100 administrative fee which must accompany the application. Please review the notice (pdf) regarding our Paper Check Conversion Program. The administrative fee is in addition to any applicable reserved site use (rental) or client use day fees.

Special use permits are obtained by submitting a permit application to the appropriate refuge. Please contact the appropriate refuge office before completing the permit application. 

Most Alaska refuges accept permit applications throughout the year; however, some refuges have specific application periods for commercial visitor services permits, as shown on the following table:

Innoko NWR Koyukuk NWR Nowitna NWR
Require 30 days to process all special use permit applicaitons.

Selawik NWR
January 1 - March 15
October 1 – November 30

Arctic NWR
Received : January 1 - April 15 and
October 1 - November 30

Kenai NWR
January 1 - April 1

Yukon Flats NWR
The application periods are October 1 - November 30 and January 1 - April 15

Businesses seeking to operate in the winter and spring of 2016 should apply October 1 to November 30, 2015, and those seeking to operate in summer and fall of 2016 should apply January 1 to April 15, 2016. Permit applications postmarked by the end-date of each application period will be accepted. 

For additional information on special use permits, please contact the appropriate refuge office.

Last updated: September 2015

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