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America Outdoors E-Bulletin
February 14, 2006


 
NPS to Issue CUA's Competitively; Replace Current IBP's Commercial Rafting in Colorado Up 14.1% in 2005
Oil and Gas Development Hot Issue among Outfitters in Utah and Colorado   Plan Ahead Before Firing an Employee

NPS to Issue CUA's Competitively; Replace Current IBP's
  The National Park Service has issued the interim guidelines for issuance of Commercial Use Authorizations in National Parks. The guidelines stipulate:
· Competitive award of CUA's where the superintendent limits the number issued for a specific activity;
· That the process for competitive award for CUA's for two year terms will be approved by each Region;
· Issuance only to qualified entities;
· Requirement for approval of rates and charges where the number of CUA's is limited;
· No preference to incumbent IBP or CUA holders;
· Cost recovery for the issuance and administration of CUA's.
· Non profits are exempted from the requirements to have CUA's unless their service produces taxable income and the Park will require them to state so in a letter and possibly provide other documentation.
· Regional directors must approve the issuance of any CUA that generates more than $100,000 in revenues. NPS intends to make most of those concession contracts instead of CUA's.
· The interim guidelines are not subject to public comment but NPS will later develop rules that are subject to public comment.
The rules are largely the result of a provision that was stuck into the National Parks Omnibus Management Act in 1998 the night before the bill was voted on by House of Representatives. Former Representative Jim Hansen's Resource Committee inserted the language at the last minute. While exempted from the CUA, institutional groups and other non profits will be required to have Park permits and pay fees. Page 3 of the interim guidelines specifies that Park should consider all use when limiting the number of CUA's but goes on to single out commercial operators by stating, "One tool is to limit the number of commercial operators." This bias against commercial operators is not required by the law.

What you should do if you are an IBP holder.
1. Call your Superintendent to find out if he or she plans to limit the number of CUA's issued for your service. If not, you will not be subject to competitive award or price controls, but you will be subject to cost recovery and higher fees.
2. If the Park intends to limit the number, ask how he or she intends to offer CUA's and how he or she will determine who is qualified to provide the service.
3. Call AO immediately if your longstanding operation in a Park is at risk through a competitive award process.
4. Competitive award may favor large concession operations depending on the criteria used for award.
Send an email to dbrown@americaoutdoors.org for a copy of the CUA directive.
   
Commercial Rafting in Colorado Up 14.1% in 2005
The data is in for rafting in the state of Colorado and it confirms a stunning recovery for state's rafting industry, which hit a low point during the fire's and drought of 2002. Commercial rafting grew by 14.1% from 2004 to 2005. Total rafting use for the state was only 4% under the record year in 1999. The Arkansas River is lagging behind a bit, 10% off its peak year. Since the fires and drought of 2002, commercial rafting has rebounded from 319,562 visits to 504,622 visits in 2005, a 57% increase.
 
Oil and Gas Development Hot Issue among Outfitters in Utah and Colorado
The Department of Interior's aggressive campaign to issue oil and gas leases apparently includes a policy to limit public information to landowners and recreation interests who might be impacted by drilling. Leases are being auctioned off by BLM and other agencies for oil and gas development at a frenetic pace. In Colorado one BLM employee recently stated the only notice given to the public about the auction of proposed leases is on a bulletin board in the BLM office. Private landowners, cities and other stakeholders are upset with the agency for issuing leases in sensitive areas with limited public notice. River outfitters have been surprised to see drilling rigs show up in river bottoms.

The indiscriminant issuance of so many leases, even in municipal water supply watersheds, has created a backlash in some areas that are normally supportive of development. Protests are being filed by cities, realtors and private property owners over the lack of protection for watersheds and private property. Drilling can create significant run-off of water with high metal and salt content. Rigs and heavy equipment can damage land. Drilling rigs are showing up on private land where owners do not own subsurface mineral rights to their property

Legislation providing more protection for private property recently passed by unanimous vote in a committee in the Colorado legislature. The goal of the legislation is to reimburse property owners for the damage caused by drilling. A similar law is already in effect in Wyoming. The city of Grand Junction, Colorado recently protested leases for gas drilling in the watershed for the city's water supply. At the same time the city bid on some leases in other areas in hopes of realizing revenues from their own wells.

At the recent meeting of Colorado and Utah outfitters, concern was expressed about BLM's failure to keep the public informed of proposed auctions. Outfitters in the area have also raised concerns about drilling next to the river in Labyrinth Canyon and the lack of information made available to the public.
 
Plan Ahead Before Firing an Employee
Whether you have an employment contract or not, all employees and executives have legal rights, so protect yourself by doing the following:
· Keep a detailed record of the employee's or executive's actions and nonactions which resulted in the termination. You may need this to support your case in a lawsuit.
· Don't hold back any part of an employee's salary without good reason and only after consultation with your lawyer. Most states have laws that require employers to pay salaries promptly.
· Check your company's benefit plans and be sure to pay the terminated employee any accumulated money due.
· Before the employee leaves, make sure all property belonging to the company is returned. This can include such items as: customer list, financial statements, projections, legal contracts, and marketing plans.
· Review any employment contracts for potential problems (e.g., you must give three months' written notice) before terminating any employee; also check with your lawyer about enforcing any noncompete, confidentiality, or trade secret provisions.
· Check the company's bylaws and stockholder agreements for obligations. For example, the executive may have the right to sell his or her stock back to the company or you personally within a certain period of time. Pay attention to the time period and arrange for the cash needed to purchase the stock.
· If a terminated executive has signatory power over the company's bank accounts, withdraw that power immediately.
· When notifying your employees, suppliers, and/or customers that the employee is no longer with the company, be careful that your wording doesn't bring on a libel or slander suit.
· Don't forget to ask the employee or executive for office keys, company credit cards, and his files on the company's business.

Before firing an employee, particularly one with an employment contract, ask your lawyer to review your written memorandum of the reasons for the dismissal as well as any legal documents or memos related to his or her employment.
Free Reports: We have many Reports on our website for review and access by our members. You can download the Reports at no cost by visiting our website at http://www.americaoutdoors.org/member-resources.htm Your password is ao. Go to the Business Library and click on the free downloads hyperlink. Copyright 2006 by The Business Library®, 16 Fox Lane, Locust Valley, NY 11560 800-854-8994o 516-671-8050 (Fax: 516-671-8077) E-mail: triciawalsh@yourbusinesslibrary.com
 
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America Outdoors Staff Title E-mail address
David L. Brown Executive Director dbrown@americaoutdoors.org
Robin Brown Communications Director robin@americaoutdoors.org
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Office Fax 865-558-3598

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