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Group Events and Special Activities

 Content Editor

The following guidelines are in effect through Monday, September 7, 2020, or until otherwise modified: 

  • Events involving 250 or less people will be allowed to proceed as long as they follow proper social distancing and safety measures as listed on the DOH website, unless otherwise notified. The number includes all people at the event regardless of their function (staff, vendors, participants, spectators , etc).

  • Events involving more than 250 people which start and finish off of DCNR lands, but use DCNR lands, must provide a plan on how they will assure that there will not be any one gathering of people more than 250 on DCNR lands and adheres to DOH safety guidance.

  • Events involving more than 250 people, which includes events that start and or finish on DCNR lands, will be canceled.

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Commercial and special activities and organized events are becoming increasingly popular in our state parks and state forests, such as:

  • Organized hikes
  • Fishing tournaments
  • Weddings
  • Races and other competitive challenges

If you are looking to hold an organized recreational event on DCNR lands, you must get approval and obtain the appropriate authorization or agreement to hold a large, group event at a Pennsylvania state park or forest.

Hold an Event in a Pennsylvania State Park

DCNR's Bureau of State Parks welcomes everyone to enjoy our parks for our established recreational activities.

But if you're looking to hold an organized event, like a 10K race or fishing tournament, there are procedures in place to be sure that everyone can safely enjoy the parks:

  1. Contact the state park where you wish to hold your event or activity.
  2. Discuss your event with the park and provide to the park manager a written proposal of your event (include who, what, when, where, and why).
  3. The park manager will assist you in determining which documents you need to supply to hold your event.

Below are descriptions of the most common documents required to hold an event in a state park.

Letter of Authorization for a State Park Event

A Letter of Authorization is required for any group or organized activity. Examples include:

  • Triathlons
  • Dog events
  • Weddings
  • Fishing tournaments
  • Horseback riding
  • Steamboat shows
  • Klondike derbies
  • Kayak meet-ups
  • Paddleboarding
  • Equipment demonstrations
  • Disc golf tournaments
  • Regattas
  • Organized hikes

Special Activities Agreement for a State Park Event

Special short-term events may be granted permission to sell food and refreshment items by use of a Special Activities Agreement.

Hold an Event in a State Forest

DCNR’s Bureau of Forestry uses letters of authorization, special activities agreements, or commercial activities agreements to evaluate and manage large group activities on state forest land.

Any organized or group event occurring on state forest lands must be reviewed and approved through one of these means. Please contact the appropriate the state forest district office where you would like to hold your event with details of your request.

Activities will be reviewed and, if determined appropriate, regulated through one of the below means.

Letter of Authorization for a State Forest Event

A Letter of Authorization is required for any group or organized activity that poses minimal threat of damage to the environment on state forest land. Examples include:

  • Scout camporees
  • Weddings
  • Organized hikes

Special Activities Agreement for a State Forest Event

A special activities agreement allows the Bureau of Forestry to permit and control activities on state forest lands that are organized, potentially dangerous, large, or otherwise atypical of common forest visitor activities. These may include:

  • Races
  • Contests
  • Games of ability
  • Other competitive events

Commercial Activities Agreement

A commercial activities agreement permits the DCNR Bureau of Forestry to consent to and regulate activities that are conducted by organizations on state forest lands, such as:

  • Organized hikes
  • Equestrian rides
  • Canoe excursions
  • Rock climbing
  • Orienteering
  • Snowmobile rides
  • Fishing tournaments
  • Guide services
  • Ecotourism

A commercial activities agreement covers activities in which a person, organization, or association conducts a for-profit event or business, where fees are charged above and beyond the administrative costs of the activity.

It basically covers the same type of activities and events as a special activities agreement, with the added fact that a profit is being realized. It also covers commercial activities that occur off state forest land, but use state forest lands to further their business efforts. This agreement is also a contract and contains event-specific language and requirements.