MDC expands opportunities for commercial photography and filming on conservation areas

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) on a proposed change to the Wildlife Code of Missouri regulations that would require permits for commercial or for-profit photography and videography on MDC areas. Professional photographers and videographers can apply for MDC's commercial-use permit at

Commercial use is defined as any activity that directly or indirectly results in financial gain, or where money is exchanged in connection with the activity. MDC notes commercial-use permits are not required for news agencies, hobby photographers and videographers, or those taking personal pictures or videos. Photography and filming on MDC areas for non-commercial use have been and remain allowed on MDC areas without the need for a commercial-use permit.

Professional, for-profit photography and filming have historically been restricted on MDC areas as “commercial use” activities. The new regulations, effective July 1, will allow commercial photography and filming on MDC areas through new commercial use permits. The new regulations come amidst requests from photographers and videographers to allow commercial photography and videography on conservation areas.

A Commercial Photography Permit will be required for commercial photographers on department areas with an associated fee of $100 annually (expires June 30 each year). A Commercial Videography Permit will be required for all commercial videography on MDC areas with an associated fee of $500 per day.

Commercial photographers will also need to apply for a no-cost Special Use Permit in certain situations (allow 30 days for processing):

  • Special accommodations requested (activities normally not allowed on conservation areas, such as after-hour access, vehicles on non-public roads, etc.);
  • Use of unmanned aerial system (UAS) or drone;
  • Use of props (larger than average person could carry);
  • When more than ten people are involved;
  • On MDC areas associated with nature and education centers, staffed ranges, offices, and on the following department areas:
    • Burr Oak Woods Conservation Area
    • August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area
    • James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area
    • Rockwoods Reservation

Other county, state, and federal land management agencies allow commercial photography and filming on their areas through the use of commercial permits with associated fees. MDC staff reviewed other agencies within and outside the state to determine a price structure.

The proposed regulations were initially approved by the Missouri Conservation Commission in September 2020. Following initial Commission approval, the proposed regulations were submitted by MDC to the Office of the Secretary of State for a 30-day public comment period in October 2020. Following a review of comments received, the Commission gave final approval to the proposed regulations in December 2020. The regulations go into effect July 1.

For more information on commercial photography and videography permits, visit

Professional photographers and videographers can apply for MDC’s commercial-use permits online at Please allow 10 business days for processing Commercial Photography Permits and 30 days for processing Commercial Videography Permits.