USFS

Porterville, CA – Each year the Kern River Ranger District receives applications for temporary special use permits (SUPs) for recreation events, other commercial and non-commercial activities, and scientific research on National Forest System lands. Various civic groups, schools, individuals, and companies submit these applications. The activities are minor or short term (one time and/or less than one year) in nature.

If no extraordinary circumstances are related to these proposals, they may be categorically excluded from documentation in an environmental assessment under the following:

  • 36 CFR 220.6(d)(8) – Approval, modification, or continuation of minor, short-term (1 year or less) special uses of National Forest System lands; or
  • 7 CFR 1b.3(a)(3) – Inventories, research activities, and studies, such as resource inventories and routine data collection, when such actions are clearly limited in context and intensity.

Examples include but are not limited to:

  • Approving, on an annual basis, the intermittent use and occupancy by a State-licensed outfitter or guide, approving the gathering of forest products for personal use.

Over the years, the District has issued SUPs for weddings, filming and still photography, bass tournaments, other water-based recreation events on Isabella Lake and the Kern River, a variety of gatherings, outfitter guided trips (backpacking, rock climbing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, mountain biking, dual-sport motorcycle events on trails and roads open for such use, and non-wilderness pack and saddle stock trips), and research activities (inventories and studies). Group size could often be larger than 75-people, depending on the type of activity and proposed location. Refer to the attached table for temporary SUPs issued on the Kern River Ranger District in 2019.

The SUPs issued for these activities often require an operating plan. These plans specify the responsibilities and limitations placed on the Permittee ensuring resource protection and public safety. For 2020, these will include measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In some cases, operating plans include resource-related service projects such as trail maintenance or litter clean up. In some cases where the use is minor and does not require any ground-disturbing activities, an operating plan is not included, and permit holder responsibilities and limitations are included in the SUP.

This letter is to inform you the District is considering approving applications for similar activities during the 2020 season. If you know of any extraordinary circumstances, have any questions, or need additional information regarding the issuance of these SUPs, please e-mail Special Use Permit Administrator Joey Martin at Joseph.martin@usda.gov or contact him at (760) 376-3781 x632. Please respond by July 3, 2020.