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Commercial Use of State Lands (includes concessions, liveries, guiding, photography)

Businesses and individuals using DNR-managed public land for commercial operations must obtain a permit to do so. We issue permits for commercial use of Michigan state parks, trails, and boat access sites. Using state land for commercial operations without a permit can result in being turned away from the site, receiving a citation and/or a fine.

Commercial use is defined as use of a state-managed property or land for profit or benefit. Benefit may include the exchange of money, goods, services, creation of good will, or the growth or promotion of a business or organization.

Commercial use activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Launching or retrieving watercraft.
  • Watercraft test runs for repair services.
  • Installation or removal of piers, docks or boat hoists.
  • Delivery of rented camping units to a campground.
  • Guiding services which may include backpacking, hiking, biking, camping or hunting.
  • Filming or photography.

Please use the information below to determine what type of permit you may need and how to apply for that permit.

Commercial use categories

  • To use DNR-managed public lands for any of the following, you must first obtain a permit.

    1. Please complete the commercial use permit application.
    2. Use the interactive “commercial use of public lands contact map” to assist you in filling out and submitting your completed application to the correct contact for the area your business is located in. You can also view the contact information as a list.
    3. Please note that there is a $100 application and review fee (not due until invoiced). There may also be additional annual fees depending on use. *

    Boating access site use

    Businesses (such as marinas and watercraft repair shops) and individuals who use DNR boating access sites for delivery and retrieval of watercraft, docks, hoists or piers, or for repair services.

    *There will be a use fee based on the impact to natural resources and facilities.

    Camp unit rental delivery and retrieval

    Business and individuals who deliver rental camping units (such as RVs/motor homes) onto state land.

    *There will be an annual use fee of $100 per unit.

    Livery operation (paddle sports rentals)

    Businesses who use state land for launching and retrieving rental canoes, kayaks, tubes, rafts, and standup paddleboards.

    *There may be an annual fee based on facility impact, resource impact, use level, number of participants and duration. See the canoe livery scoring criteria for more information.

    See also - summary of changes to livery laws

  • We routinely schedule competitive bid lettings for all types of concession opportunities such as mobile food, park stores, watercraft rentals, and horse riding stables in Michigan's state parks.

    If you are interested in providing food and beverage, goods or services on public lands, including state parks, trailheads and boating access sites where a concession opportunity has not been advertised, please complete the commercial use permit application and submit it to Lori Green at GreenL9@michigan.gov or fax completed form to 989-275-5167.

  • If using state land for up to two locations for commercial filming or photography, an application is required to be submitted to each individual location. Please complete the non-event use permit application and submit it to the unit manager.

    If requesting use for multiple locations (three or more), please submit your application to Elissa Buck. In addition to the $50 application fee, which will be collected at the time the permit is approved, there may be additional review and use fees required. Please submit one application but provide a list that outlines the locations you are requesting to use, date(s) and time(s) of use, and a detailed explanation of how, what and where you will be filming for each location. Please include maps if possible.

    For questions regarding commercial filming and photography please contact Elissa Buck at 989-313-0000.

  • At this time, a commercial fish guide permit is NOT needed to use state land, including DNR-managed boating access sites for the purpose of providing fish guiding services except for guides who provide fish guiding services on the Pere Marquette River. The number of permitted fishing guides on the Pere Marquette River system has been capped and no new permits are being issued at this time.

    All others simply need:

    • A valid inland pilot or captains license (see below - to carry customers on your boat)
    • A valid fishing license
    • Recreation Passport (for vehicle access to DNR boating access sites)
    • Appropriate liability insurance coverage (consult an insurance agent)

    If you have questions about providing fish guiding services on the Pere Marquette River, please contact:
    Lori Green, 989-889-9178
    GreenL9@michigan.gov

    Carrying Customers on your Boat

    To carry customers on your boat, you must also obtain a DNR-issued inland pilot license or a U.S. Coast Guard Captain License (issued by the U.S. Coast Guard).

    If you have questions about the DNR inland pilot license, please contact a DNR Customer Service Center.

  • Hunting guides in Michigan are required to obtain written permission in the form of a permit in order to provide hunting guiding services on DNR-managed public land. The Commercial Hunting Guide Permit only gives the authorization to have a business on DNR-managed public lands. The DNR does not issue permits for the "act" of guiding.

    If you have questions about hunt guiding, please contact:
    Casey Reitz
    517-284-6210
    reitzc@michigan.gov

  • If you plan to provide commercial services on DNR-managed public land which are not outlined above please do the following:

    1. Complete the commercial use permit application.
    2. Use the interactive “commercial use of public lands contact map” to assist you in filling out and submitting your completed application to the correct contact for the area your business is located in. You can also view the contact information as a list.
    3. Please note that there is a $50 application fee and a $50 review fee. There may also be an annual fee based on the impact to the natural resources and facilities.