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You have to be there! The industry is gathering for the most dynamic and enlightening Marketing and Management Conference in 20 years. Go to http://www.americaoutdoors.org for more information.
Proposed Rule to Expand Use of Motorized Equipment for People with Disabilities in the Backcountry.
Comments Due by August 18th.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) is requesting comments on their intent to publish a rule (Notice of Proposed Rule-Making) that expands the backcountry use of motorized equipment, powered by batteries fuel or other engines, if operated by a person who states they have a a disability. Federal agencies are concerned that the rule will create new user conflicts as motorized uses will be allowed in areas not currently open to motorized vehicles. The rule will also require businesses open to the public to require that their facilities accommodate motorized devices. The Department of Justice (DOJ) oversees the regulations and implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), because it is a civil rights law.
The rule will allow anyone claiming to have a disability to use motorized equipment to access backcountry areas even if those areas have been set aside for non motorized activities. Currently, wheelchairs and other mobility devices that meet the definition of a "wheelchair" are allowed wherever foot travel is allowed, including in wilderness, but the proposed rule would expand that to include, any of a wide range of motorized transportation, including off road vehicles.
Land management would be directly effected due to the associated requirements and restrictions on the application of the new category of "other power-driven mobility device". The rule, with few exceptions, would apply to any areas and facilities open to the public. Aside from creating user conflicts, the proposal could establish a precedent with significant problematic implications for the management of such motorized transportation on federal land.
The proposed regulatory changes related to mobility devices are as follows:
§ 35.104 - Defintions
"Other power driven mobility device means any of a large range of devices powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines—whether or not designed solely for use by individuals with mobility impairments—that are used by individuals with mobility impairments for the purpose of locomotion, including golf cars, bicycles, electronic personal assistance mobility devices (EPAMD’s), or any mobility aid designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes."
"Wheelchair means a device designed solely for use by an individual with a mobility impairment for the primary purpose of locomotion in typical indoor and outdoor pedestrian areas. A wheelchair may be manually operated or power-driven."
NOTE: in the preamble of the DOJ states on page 31: "The Department believes that while this definition (of a wheelchair per the ADA Title V section 507c) is appropriate in the limited context of federal wilderness areas…" However the proposed regulation does not exclude other power driven mobility devices from use in proposed or designated federal Wilderness
What comments should say:
Let the Department of Justice know how you think this proposed regulation to allow other power-driven mobility devices would affect other recreationists and natural, cultural, and social resources. Include specific examples of local situations or potential impact for local situations.
In addition, it is important that the final regulations clarify that the law concerning the use of mobility devices that are currently allowed in federally designated wilderness remains in effect. Therefore, the following proposed additional language is suggested:
§ 35.137 Mobility devices
"(e) Device use in restricted areas. Department of Justice reaffirms that in federally designated wilderness, the only wheelchairs or mobility devices acceptable must comply with the definition in the ADA Title V Section 507c for federally designated wilderness: "Wheelchair (or Mobility Device). A device designed solely for use by a mobility impaired person for locomotion that is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area." A wheelchair or mobility device that meets this definition may be used anywhere foot travel is allowed. That definition also applies in areas with a non-motorized land use designation."
Submit general comments and suggested additional language directly to the DOJ through the link below.
All comments must be received by August 18, 2008. When submitting comments electronically, you must include CRT Docket No. 105 in the subject box, and you must include your full name and address. Submit electronic comments and other data to http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=SubmitComment&o=090000648062a604
The Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed rule is available at http://www.ada.gov/NPRM2008/t2NPRM_federalreg.htm This document can also be reached through the ADA home page at http://www.ada.gov then click on "What’s New" and follow the links to the ADA title II NPRM. The title includes: "Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disability by Public Accommodations and in Commercial Facilities". The proposed rule is posted on Americaoutdoors.org in government affairs under proposed rules.