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America Outdoors E-Bulletin
July 27, 2006

Bill to Extend NPS CUA's to 5-Year Term Gets Approval in the House Resources Committee Log Jam on Middle Fork Blocks River and Strands Hundreds of Rafters
Unique Accredited High School Joins America Outdoors Fran Mainella Resigns as NPS Director

Bill to Extend NPS CUA's to 5-Year Term Gets Approval in the House Resources Committee
  Supported by America Outdoors, H.R. 5802 will modify existing law governing the issuance of Commercial Use Authorizations in National Parks by extending the term from a maximum of 2 years (under current law) to up to 5 year terms when NPS limits the number of CUA's issued. The House Resources Committee approved the measure as a non-controversial measure during a committee mark-up last week. We hope the bill will be included in a package of non-controversial provisions and be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives next week.

The current law governing Commercial Use Authorizations, which replaces Incidental Business Permits in National Parks, was passed in 1998. The CUA language was a last minute addition to the bill and did not go through the hearing process so did not receive adequate review. The 1998 law:
  • gives NPS the authority to limit the number of CUA's issued,
  • prohibits any kind of preference for incumbent CUA holders when the number of authorizations is limited,
  • requires cost recovery for CUA administration,
  • limits the term to two years.
  • Non-profits are exempted from the requirement to obtain CUA's unless their income from the authorized activity is taxable.

Under the 1998 law, NPS originally proposed a random drawing for CUA's when NPS limited the number, but withdrew that proposal under a howl of criticism. A rule is expected this year on the issuance of CUA's, which will likely include some form of competitive process. AO predicts a log-jam and significant costs for processing hundreds of applications every two years, especially where they are offered competitively. Furthermore, the potential for many long-standing CUA holders to lose their access when NPS limits the number of CUA's is significant. Some NPS rangers have suggested they don't have the time to deal with the paperwork necessary for new CUA applications for incidental activities.

H.R. 5802 provides a more realistic process for issuing CUA's when the number issued is limited. The bill also extends preferential right of renewal to in Park concessions contracts from $500,000 to $750,000 in gross revenues and indexes that amount for inflation. NPS will also be required to provide a debriefing to those who are not awarded a contract citing the reasons they lost.

The changes to the current CUA language proposed by H.R. 5802 include:

  • Where the number of CUA's is limited the term may be increased to 5 years.
  • NPS may consider demonstrated capability to provide quality visitor services and experience with the resources and values in the park unit for which the authorization is issued.
  • Cost recovery shall not seek to recover costs from applicants or authorized holders related to capacity studies and recreation activities and monitoring of use not associated with authorizations.
Outfitters holding CUAs should contact their Senators and urge them to support the Senate version of H.R. 5802 after the bill is passed by the House. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator's office.
Log Jam on Middle Fork Blocks River and Strands Hundreds of Rafters
Up to 200 rafters are stranded on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River because a massive washout clogged the wilderness river with logs. The U.S. Forest Service has suspended raft launches at Boundary Creek until it dynamites the logs from the river. Two rangers were dispatched on Tuesday to begin blasting the logs out of the river.

The blowout at Lake Creek, in the upper third of the 100-mile Middle Fork trip, sent about 50 logs into the river, creating a river-wide obstruction. The washout probably was caused by isolated rainstorms that swept through Central Idaho on Sunday night. Residents at a backcountry ranch at Pistol Creek sent a horseback rider upstream to warn rafters. Rafters from various trips were sharing food until the long jam is removed. It is expected that the obstruction will be cleared today.
Fran Mainella Resigns as NPS Director
  In a surprise announcement, NPS Director Fran Mainella announced her resignation Wednesday. The resignation comes a day after a hearing in the House Subcommittee on National Parks about NPS Management Policies. Mainella had served for six years.
Unique Accredited High School Joins
America Outdoors
  Huge Experiences was founded in 2001 with the goal of providing top level kayak instruction for high school students. The successful kayak instructional and training camps soon evolved into an accredited high school division, New River Academy. This unique high school offers accredited private school academics, cultural studies, international travel, exploration of world-class whitewater, professional kayak coaching, and classes with a ratio of 2.5 students to each educator.

New River Academy quickly became what director David Hughes envisioned in college as the idea educational model. Students are actually excited to go to school, and they often speak about what they learned over dinner. Hughes states, "We seek the greatest whitewater destinations and take advantage of their inspiring environment within our classes."

This fall semester Huge Experiences' New River Academy will tour eastern US rivers prior to embarking on an exploration of Costa Rica. The classes are almost full with only three openings still available. www.kayakschool.org
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