Freedom of speech, press, religion, and assembly are constitutional rights. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect park resources. Therefore, some first amendment activities require special use permit. The National Park Service may regulate the time, place, and manner in which they are conducted.
First Amendment Activities
The necessity of permit to conduct first amendment activities is determined by the group size as wells as:
1. Group wants to hold a demonstration or distribute and/or sell printed matter somewhere outside a designated first amendment area
2. Group wants to use equipment (i.e. tables, banners, platforms, etc.) even if it is within a designated area.
3. Group is merely an extension of another group already availing itself of the 25-person maximum.
4. Group wants to guarantee they will have priority for the use of a location, including the designated first amendment areas.
A large group is defined as "more than 25 people." Groups with more than 25 people are required to obtain a first amendment permit even if they are utilizing a park designated First Amendment site. Per 36 CFR 2.51(c) and 2.52(b)(1), “demonstrations and the sale or the distribution of printed matter by 25 or fewer persons may be conducted without a permit in the available areas designated…”
Some Examples of Special Events that Fall under First Amendment Activities
Distribution and/or sale of printed matter
Public demonstrations or assemblies, etc.
Designated First Amendment Activities Areas
First amendment and public assembly activities are limited to designated fist amendment activity areas as described in the Superintendent's Compendium.
There are no permit fees associated with first amendment activities permits.
How to Exercise Your First Amendment Right
1. Complete and submit the special use permit application. The application must be received by the park no less than 14 working days prior to the start of the event.
For submitting application via email, scan both documents and email them to the Special Use Permit Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org and write in the subject line “first amendment activity permit.”
If sending permit application via mail, mail application to:
Special Park Uses
White Sands National Park
PO Box 1086
Holloman AFB, NM 88330
4. Once received, most applications for permits requests will be processed within fourteen working days. Requests that involve multiple locations, complex logistics, or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 30 working days to process. Projects that require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted no less than 90 days before the start of proposed activity(ies).
5. After your first amendment activities permit application is reviewed, you may be contacted to provide additional information or to discuss the details of your permit if the permit cannot be approved with the information provided.
6. After favorable review of your application, your permit will be mailed to you or you may pick it up in person at the park by appointment with the Special Parks Uses Permit Coordinator. To make an appointment, email the Special Use Permit Coordinator and write in the subject line “appointment.”