National Park Service Residency Definition

By Taggart Rogers, Past Commodore

In the course of research I was conducting for a different issue, I found that NPS has made a change in the definition of “residency” contained in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area Superintendent’s Compendium.

Homesteading or otherwise establishing residence in any unit managed by NPS is, quite reasonably, prohibited (United States Code of Federal Regulations 36 CFR 2.61). Because there are significant differences in visitation among the various units managed by NPS, the superintendent of each unit is empowered to define what constitutes prohibited residency in that unit and what constitutes a reasonable length of stay. The Glen Canyon NRA Superintendent does this through the Superintendent’s Compendium, which is revised each spring.

Up through 2006, the Superintendent’s definition permitted a visitor to spend as much time in the GCNRA as the visitor wished, so long as no stay in a specific location (like a beach or campsite) lasted more than 14 consecutive nights or more than 30 nights total in a year. In 2007, the definition was reworded to limit the visitor to no more than 30 nights in the NRA no matter where the visitor stayed.

This was a significant change. It meant that after 2006, a boater who rented a slip from ARAMARK for 365 nights a year could spend only 30 of those nights on board his boat in the NRA – not just in the slip or on a particular beach, but anywhere in the NRA. The 30 nights would also include nights camping out on land without a boat.

We didn’t think this was really the result NPS intended, and we sent a letter explaining how enforcement of this change would adversely impact boaters, particularly those who reside in Page and expect to be able to recreate in the NRA year round. NPS response was quick; within a few days of receiving our letter Chief Ranger Brent McGinn contacted the Club Manager, Gary Yantis, and set up a meeting the next week to discuss this issue.

On October 9, Gary and Commodore Mark Giebelhaus met with Ranger McGinn in his office at NPS headquarters in Page. I was able to participate by telephone. Ranger McGinn first told us that the 2007 change was intended to clarify the definition of residency and that the consequences described in our letter were not what NPS intended. Specifically, he said that NPS does not intend to limit visitors to only 30 nights total in the NRA. He said that while NPS prohibits establishing residence in the NRA, it encourages visitors to spend as much time as possible enjoying the NRA.

Ranger McGinn told us that the definition of residency would be revised in the next issue of the Superintendent’s Compendium, and he invited us to work with NPS to develop a more appropriate definition. We discussed several possible revised definitions, and one that Ranger McGinn thought might work was simply “occupancy of a specific location for more than 15 nights in any 30-day period.”

While NPS assured us that it will not enforce the strict definition of residency in the current Superintendent’s Compendium, this by itself didn’t completely resolve the issue for boaters who rent slips or buoys from ARAMARK. All the ARAMARK moorage agreements contain the following provision:

“This Agreement may be terminated by Concessioner upon… any violation
by Owner of the rules and regulations of [the] NPS… ”

Thus technically, until the Superintendent’s Compendium is revised, any boater who spends more than 30 nights in the NRA could find his moorage agreement terminated by ARAMARK. Ranger McGinn has since called ARAMARK management and explained that the definition of residency was going to be changed and that moorage tenants will not be considered in violation of the rules and regulations of NPS if they stay overnight in their slips for more than 30 days in a year.

Ranger McGinn asked whether there were other issues the Yacht Club wished to discuss with him. The 2009 moorage fee increases (up to 18% in the current economy), fire suppression systems at the marina, issues with ARAMARK, the adequacy of the measures instituted to prevent zebra and quagga mussels from entering Lake Powell, and the decrease in NPS presence on the lake all were discussed. Ranger McGinn said he would do what he can to help us resolve these issues. Specifically, he said that Superintendent Stan Austin was excited about working collaboratively with our organization and expressed his interest in working with us on a regular basis.

At the conclusion of the meeting Gary, Mark, and I all agreed that this was one of the most productive meetings we have had with NPS in a very long time. Ranger McGinn appears truly interested in the issues we raised. We will continue to keep you informed.

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