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Frequently Asked Questions



Do I need a Special Use Permit?  

The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round. If you are visiting the Refuge on your own or as a member of a recreational group, no permit is required. If, however, you conduct a commercial activity such as guiding, film-making, or providing commercial transportation; or if you propose to conduct scientific or geological research or other non-recreational activities, a Special Use Permit is required.

When may I apply for a Special Use Permit? 

If you are interested in applying for a commercial, recreation-related permit, which includes sport fishing, recreational guiding and air taxi services (FAA certified, point to point aircraft transportation on Refuge lands and waters), you must apply during the application period: February 15, to April 1. Complete applications received during this time period will be processed within 45 days of receipt. Incomplete applications will be returned to you after the closing date. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the application is complete and all fees are paid by the closing date. Applications received outside of this application period will be processed during the next open period.

Applications for visitor services activities that are limited and awarded by competitive process, such as big game guide or Upper Kenai River sport fishing, will be announced on a case-by-case basis.

Applications for non-visitor services activities may be submitted at any time.

How do I begin the permit process?  

Read through the Permits page to see if a permit is required for your desired activity. If one is, determine which type of permit you should apply for.

Before you request a permit, please become familiar with the wildlife, wilderness, and recreational values for which the Kenai Refuge was established and which must be protected. Additional information about the Refuge is available on this web site. Read these sections to gain further insights about what activities might be allowed on the Refuge.

To apply for a Special Use Permit, contact the appropriate staff member for the type of permit in which you are interested. Review the "Permits" page for a list of uses and appropriate contacts.

How long does the permit process take?  

Once we receive your completed permit application and information the process can take up to 45 days so a request for a Special Use Permit should be submitted as early as possible. In order to protect Refuge values, we may require revision of schedules, location, means of access, party size, and/or methods.

What special considerations do I need to be aware of?  

 All commercial visitor services permits require liability insurance including general guide/outfitter insurance coverage and coverage specific to marine, aircraft, vehicle, horse packer, etc. services offered.

Permits will generally include addendums covering requirements for specific activities and for appropriate access and use for specific refuge management areas.

Sub-contracting is not authorized. Applicants and/or approved employees must conduct all commercial services offered.

Refuge staff members take into consideration Refuge management plans and policies as well as a number of federal and state laws when considering each permit application. Among them are the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), the Refuge Administration Act, the Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, the Wilderness Act, the Marine Mammals Protection Act, and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). These mandates and guidelines require particularly careful scrutiny of any Refuge use not allowed to the general public. Some issues given special attention are:

Motorized equipment - All requests for motorized access not specifically allowed by the Kenai Refuge CCP, ANILCA and Kenai NWR access regulations (e.g., helicopters, all-terrain vehicles, or airboats) are carefully scrutinized and may be prohibited.

Installations - Placement of installations (e.g., data collection stations, weather stations, structures, remote video, and towers, etc.) are carefully scrutinized and may be prohibited.

Areas of special designation - Areas with special designation, including designated Kenai Wilderness, the Swan Lake and Swanson River National Recreational, Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area, four Research Natural Areas, and the Kenai River, may have special considerations and regulatory requirements.

Wildlife - The potential for the proposed activity to interfere with or attract wildlife, or its potential for causing dangerous interactions between wildlife and humans, will be carefully examined and may result in modification or denial of the proposed activity.

Group size - Total group size for permitted commercial recreational activities may be limited for groups on foot, float trips, or other activities. These numbers include guides. Other Special Use Permit holders such as scientific groups are limited to personnel directly involved in program activities.

What type of permit is of interest to you? 

Recreational Guide
Sport fishing Guide
Upper Kenai River Sportfishing Guide
Air Taxi Operator and Transporter
Hunting Guide
Education Group
Scientific or Geological studies
All other proposed activities.



Last Updated: Jun 29, 2012
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