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Special Use Permit

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A special park use is a short term activity (not to exceed five years) that:

  • provides a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large;
  • requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the NPS in order to protect park resources and the public interest;
  • is not prohibited by law or regulation;
  • is neither initiated, sponsored, nor conducted by the NPS;
  • does not include any activity managed under the Concessions Policy Act, the National Historic Preservation Act, or the National Park Omnibus Act;
  • or any recreation use covered by section 4 of the LWCFA or the Recreation Demonstration Act (See DO 53 Special Park Uses).

The Special Use Permit is the document issued by the superintendent to allow such uses. It is used for all special park uses that do not have their own permitting instrument.

The superintendent is responsible for evaluating all proposals for special park uses to determine that it: will not conflict with law or policy; will not result in impairment or derogation of the resources, values or purposes for which the park was established; will not be inconsistent with the park's enabling legislation; would not have a reasonable potential to cause or threaten illness, personal injury, or property damage; and would not unduly interfere with normal park operations, resource protection, or visitor use (paraphrased from Management Policies and DO 53).

Obviously, special park uses can have negative effects on park natural resources. In some instances, such as a minor, one-time activity (for instance a wedding), the effects would be negligible. But in other instances, especially those that are to be permitted over a period of months or even years, the impacts might be more severe, especially the cumulative impacts. The primary filter the superintendent uses to determine whether or not to grant a request for a special use is the determination of whether or not the use would cause or threaten impairment or derogation of the resource. Because of this, the park resource manager becomes a key support to the superintendent by evaluating special use permit applications and by analyzing and documenting both the immediate and potential threats to the resource of a proposed use. The resource manager should recommend permit conditions aimed at eliminating or at least mitigating threats to the resource, health and safety issues, or other managerial concerns.

The resource manager is the best trained park staff member to advise the superintendent on potential threats and monitor the effects on natural resources of existing permitted uses. Documentation of those findings would ultimately control the activity, terminate the use, or offer significant considerations for renewal requests.

DO/RM 53 Special Park Uses should be consulted for specific guidance on the requirements, regulations, procedures, and criteria associated with the review, determination, and administration of special park use requests, and the evaluation and renewal of existing permitted special park use activities. The special park uses coordinator in the regional office can provide further guidance on the management of special park uses.

Special Use Permit Table of Contents | RM#77 Table of Contents
update on 02/05/2004  I   http://nature.nps.gov/Rm77/specuse.cfm   I  Email: Contact Us
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