Angeles Volunteer Association

SOURCE:  Federal Register, December 18, 2008


Vehicles and Traffic Safety

ACTION: Proposed Rule.


SUMMARY: This rule proposes to amend current regulations for

designating bicycle use on National Park Service (NPS) lands. The

proposed rule authorizes park superintendents to open existing trails

to bicycle use within park units in accordance with appropriate park

plans and compliance documents under the National Environmental Policy

Act (NEPA), the National Historic Preservation Act, the NPS Organic

Act, and the park's enabling legislation, and other applicable law. The

proposed rule continues to require promulgation of a special regulation

to build a new trail for bicycle use outside developed areas, or to

open an existing trail to bicycle use if such action triggers one of

the existing regulatory criteria requiring rulemaking in Section 1.5 of

Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

DATES: Comments must be received by February 17, 2009.


Current regulations provide for the use of bicycles on park roads,

parking areas and routes designated for bicycle use. A special

regulation, specific to the individual park, must be adopted if

bicycles are to be used in areas outside developed areas and special

use zones. The NPS promulgated the current bicycle use regulation in

1987 and adopted the special regulation requirement as a way of ensuring

maximum public input on decisions to allow bicycle use outside developed areas.

Promulgation of special regulations requires various types of

analyses and approval by the NPS Director and the Assistant Secretary

for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, a process that takes more than two

years on average. The proposed rule achieves a primary benefit of the

special regulations process, notice and public comment, while

eliminating the other steps of rulemaking deemed unnecessary in certain

circumstances for designating areas for bicycle use.

For existing trails, the proposed rule provides for public notice

and participation but does not require the promulgation of special

regulations unless the trail designation has the type of significant

effect that triggers rulemaking under the NPS' general regulation

governing public use in units of the National Park System (see 36 CFR

1.5(b)). The NPS would continue to require the promulgation of special

regulations for bicycle trails outside developed areas involving new

trail construction.

As a general matter, the proposed rule provides park

superintendents with a more efficient and effective way to determine

whether opening existing trails to bicycles would be appropriate in the

park unit they manage. The NPS Management Policies emphasize that "(t)he Service

must ensure that [park] uses are appropriate to the

park in which they occur,'' and establish a process for determining

whether a particular use is appropriate in a park unit. See NPS

Management Policies 2006, p. 97 and ] 8.1.2.

Whether or not bicycle use is an appropriate activity in a unit of

the National Park System should be considered through an individual

park planning process that involves environmental compliance and input

from the public. In addition, any particular trail use should be

considered as part of a comprehensive plan for trail use in a park

area. Parks that don't currently address bicycle use in existing

planning documents could accomplish this comprehensive plan as either a

specific plan for bicycle use in the park or as part of another plan,

such as a recreation use plan.

The planning process can help determine, for example, if

opportunities for bicycling will offer the potential to increase

overall visitation, generate new youth interest in parks, or expand

appreciation for our national parks. Proper planning with public

participation also provides the opportunity to consider a range of

alternatives to avoid or minimize impacts on natural, historic and

cultural resources and reduce conflicts with other user groups. No

matter what type of planning is conducted, "(i)n its role as steward

of park resources, the National Park Service must ensure that park uses

that are allowed would not cause impairment of, or unacceptable impacts

on, park resources and values.'' NPS Management Policies 2006 ] 1.5.

 [NOTE:  see Federal Register for complete announcement] 

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