Permits and Passes

Duck Banding by USFWS
  • Special Use Permits

    Planting trees by USFWS

    Special use permits may be issued for compatible secondary uses such as research, commercial still and video photography (includes professional wedding and family photography, e.g.), trapping, and other activities.  Permits are also available for hunters with disabilities.  To inquire or apply, contact the Refuge for more information at

    Refuges are first and foremost national treasures for the conservation of wildlife. Through careful planning, consistent Refuge System-wide application of regulations and policies, diligent monitoring of the impacts of uses on wildlife resources, and preventing or eliminating uses not appropriate to the Refuge System, we can achieve the Refuge System conservation mission while also providing the public with lasting opportunities to enjoy quality, compatible, wildlife-dependent recreation.

    Through consistent application of this policy and these procedures, we will establish an administrative record and build public understanding and consensus on the types of public uses that are legitimate and appropriate within the Refuge System.  Visitors should be aware of permitted activities, and inquire if their proposed or planned use is permitted.  

    Please note: 

    • Drone use is not a permitted activity on any Refuge unit, including, but not limited to: launching or retrieving drones, or operating drones in airspace above Refuge lands.
      • Drone restriction is to protect the public from hazards and preserve the refuge’s natural, aesthetic, and scenic values. The use of unmanned aircraft devices, such as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or drones, has the potential to interfere with public safety by posing an in-flight hazard to other legal aircraft use in the area. The use of these devices also has the potential to disrupt wildlife by interrupting migration, nesting, mating, and hunting as well as native birds and mammals, which could result in harassment of wildlife, 50 CFR 27.51(a).
      • This drone use restriction is in accordance with 50 CFR 26.31 General Provisions; public recreation will be permitted on National Wildlife Refuges as an appropriate incidental or secondary use, only after it has been determined that such recreation use is practicable and not inconsistent with the primary objectives for which each particular area was established or with other authorized Federal operations. All public recreational activities are closed until opened.
    • Commercial use of the Refuge is not allowed without a Special Use Permit.  Charging fees for tour services, operating concessions, and/or commercial videography or photography (including professional wedding and/or family photography) is not allowed without a Special Use Permit.


    For policy and regulations related to Appropriateness, visit

    For policy and regulations related to Compatibility, visit


  • Federal Recreation Passes

    Federal Lands Pass by USFWS

    *There is no entrance fee or parking permit required to visit the refuge*

    Staff and volunteers are issuing passes Friday- Sunday, 12 pm to 4 pm at Bloomington Visitor Center.

    For fee-based passes, we can only accept cash or check payment. We cannot accept credit card payment.

    Some passes are available for purchase online. To purchase a 2021 Senior Annual, 2021 Annual, Access or Senior Lifetime Pass, visit the U.S. Geological Survey Online Store. You can find more information about these passes and fee areas, order online or plan your trip to federal public lands at

    Learn more about the passes available: