Permission to Use DNR-Managed Public Lands (State Lands)

  • There are many reasons a company or individual may want to use public land. The examples range from family reunions and birthday parties to commercial filming, scientific research, fish guiding and bike races.

    Below we have outlined the general rules for event, non-event, and commercial use of state land. If you have any questions along the way, you can always call us for help or contact one of our Customer Service Centers.

    All applications, unless otherwise specified, should be submitted to the manager of the location you are requesting permission to use. If you are not sure who to send it to, please contact your local Customer Service Center and they can assist you.

Permission to use state land
Use of state land for events

An event is defined as a single, structured, organized, consolidated, scheduled meeting or occurrence which is on DNR-managed public lands where a fee or donation is required for participation and/or the number of people involved  is 20 or more individuals.

For events held:

At a shelter

To utilize a reservable shelter, visit If the shelter is not reservable, please contact the facility (park, recreation area, etc.) where the shelter is located. If the shelter rental is part of a larger event, and goes beyond typical shelter use (such as a bounce house), a use permit from the facility may be necessary.

At a park, recreation area, boating access site, or rail trail

Complete form PR-4760 (event use permit application). When you submit your application (PR-4760) DNR staff will review it and give it a “level of use score” depending on the impact it will have on DNR staff and the facility where the event will take place. Event fee schedule  – depending on the nature of your event, we may determine that there may be a fee associated with the event. 

In a water body

Complete form PR-9204 (marine event application). You may also be required to complete PR-4760 (event use permit). Please contact the facility (park, recreation area, boating access site, etc.) where the event will occur for more information.

On state forest land

If your event will take place somewhere other than a state park, recreation area, boating access site, or rail trail, please complete form PR-1138 (event use permit for state forest land).

State surface land use fee schedule – depending on nature of your event, monitoring fees and use fees may apply. DNR staff will review your application and determine a “level of use score” depending on the impact it will have on DNR staff and the facility where the event will take place.

Additional event information:

Liability insurance: Depending on the nature of your event on any of the above lands, you may need liability insurance as described in this document. Pages 1-3 apply to forest land use permits (PR-1138) and pages 2-3 apply to non- forest land use permits (PR-4760).

Performance bond: A performance bond may be required when the event has the potential for significant damage or disruption. The facility will notify you after reviewing your application if this is necessary.

Policies: May be obtained through DNR customer service centers

Adding your event to the DNR calendar: If you would like us to add your event to our calendar, please complete form PR-4761 (Exhibit B Event Calendar Form).

Contact information:

If you have any questions about the information above, please contact:

Elissa Buck - Event Coordinator

Non-event use of state land

For any use of state land that is not associated with an event (examples: commercial filming, permission to park vehicles overnight, geocache placement) you need to complete form PR-1138-1 (commercial or non-event use permit application).

Commercial use of state land (includes concessions, liveries, guiding)

Commercial use is defined as any long-term activity, or activity not associated with a one-time event, which involves the buying or selling of goods or services or the exchange or attempt to offer to exchange goods or services for money, barter, or for anything of value.


We currently have open bids for individuals to operate concessions to sell goods and/or services in Michigan state parks.

If you are interested in providing goods or services on public lands, including state parks, trailheads and boating access sites where a concession opportunity has not been advertised, you need to complete form PR-1138-1 (commercial or non-event use permit application).

Liveries (watercraft rental business), watercraft delivery services, RV delivery services:  

For businesses and individuals using state owned lands for commercial operations, you must obtain a permit to do so. Such activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Launching and/or retrieving watercraft
  • Accessing watercraft to provide repair services
  • Installation and/or removal of dockage and/or boat hoists
  • Delivery of RV to a campground.

Please complete form PR-1138-1. In addition to the $50 application and $50 review fees, there will also be an annual monitoring and use fee based on facility impact, resource impact, use level, number of participants, and duration. For liveries, please see the canoe livery scoring criteria for more information.

Some additional information will be required when writing the lease:

  • A complete list of state owned sites to be utilized, including the counties in which they are located
  • The type of activities to be performed on state lands
  • Number of vehicles used to perform this service
  • Dates of service (ex: May 1 through October 31)
  • Size of trailer to be used when servicing watercraft (ex: single, double, triple axle trailer)
  • Size of watercraft to be serviced (ex: recreational boats of 26' or less)

See also - summary of changes to livery laws

Fish guiding:

If you plan to be a fishing guide on inland water bodies, and any part of your guided trip will include the use of state land you must complete PR-8560 (this includes using DNR boating access sites, having lunch or using the restrooms on public land such as a state park or state forest land, etc.).

Pere Marquette River:

No new fish guide permits will be issued for guiding services on the Pere Marquette River (PMR). The PMR has been designated a natural river, therefore commercial use of that river has been capped at the level in place when the designation was enforced.

Contact information:

If you have questions about any of the information above, please contact:
Lori Ruff
989-275-5151 x2006

Hunt guiding:  

In order to provide hunting guiding services on state owned land, you must receive permission to do so.  Please complete form PR-2720 (application and permit for commercial hunting guides to use state land). The Commercial Hunting Guide Permit only gives authorization to have a business on state owned lands. The DNR does not issue permits for the "act" of guiding.

If you have questions about hunt guiding, please contact:
Casey Reitz

Questions: please contact a DNR customer service center

Cultural/scientific research permits

All research activities within state parks, recreation areas, boating access sites and rail trails are required to have a use permit. Research done on state forest land or state game or wildlife areas requires a permit it if violates a land use rule (such as leaving equipment onsite overnight or damaging vegetation).

Application process:

Please complete form PR-1138-1 (commercial or non-event use permit application).

Attach a separate research proposal document to the permit application. At a minimum, this proposal must include:

  • Names of all people to be included on permit (including research associates/students).
  • A map or detailed description of study area location(s) within the park(s) - indicate on a park map if possible.
  • Schedule - start and end dates for field work in the park(s). Note that use permits will only be issued through the end of one calendar year, at which time the applicant must submit a brief progress report and renewal request.
  • Describe the need for the research.
  • Explain why this research should be done at this location.
  • Describe any expected benefits of the project to the natural or cultural resources at the location and/or to more effective protection or management of those resources.
  • Methods - include a description of any plant or animal collection, potential damage to vegetation and a description of all equipment and plot markers that will be used on site and for how long they will remain on site.
  • Type of report expected from this project (i.e., refereed journal article, thesis, dissertation, book, unpublished report) and projected completion date of report.

Send your completed application and proposal to:

Alicia Ihnken, Stewardship Analyst (PRD Research Coordinator)
Parks and Recreation Division
E-mail (preferred method of submittal):
Mail: PO Box 30257, Lansing, MI 48909-7757
Fax: 517-284-6129

Please allow up to three weeks for the application to be processed from the time that a complete application is received.

Use permit applications for research do not need to be accompanied by any application or review fees. Most research projects will require no fees, bonding or insurance, but will require submittal of a report at the conclusion of the project in place of monetary payment.

This use permit does not eliminate the need for other permits which may be required by law. For example, if you plan to collect a threatened or endangered species, a Threatened/Endangered Species Permit is required from the DNR's Wildlife Division. Collection of federally threatened or endangered species requires a federal permit. Collection of certain aquatic, reptile or amphibian species requires a Cultural or Scientific Collectors Permit for Fish, Reptiles, Amphibians, Crustaceans or Mollusks. Certain bird and/or mammal collections require a Scientific Collector's Permit.

Archaeological exploration on state-owned lands

All archaeological exploration to be performed on state-owned lands, except for lands owned and controlled by the Mackinac Island State Parks Commission, is required to have a use permit. Please complete form PR-6412 (Application for permit to perform archaeological exploration on state-owned land).

Applications to perform archaeological explorations on state-owned lands will be considered and may be approved if a proposed exploration is consistent with other public interest, natural resource values, and historical values.

More information regarding archaeological exploration can be found online at

If you have further questions, please contact:
Sandra Clark