How a Commercial Use Authorization works

These permits, known as a Commercial Use Authorization (CUA), are issued by the park Superintendent to permit certain commercial activities in National Park Service areas, including Big Bend National Park / Rio Grande Wild and Scenic River. Permits are required of all operators who provide any goods, activities, agreements or other services to the general public which take place, at least in part, in the park, uses park resources and are undertaken for or results in compensation, monetary gain, benefit or profit to an individual, organization or corporation. Non-profit organizations are exempted from the CUA requirement, and are instead issued a Special Use Permit.

The commercial aspects of the services, except for the service itself, must occur outside of the park. This includes marketing, advertising, use or construction of temporary or permanent structures, the negotiation of compensation with the customer, or the solicitation or receipt of money or other compensation.

CUAs are issued for a period of one year. The effective date of the permit coincides with the Park’s fiscal year (FY). Each fiscal year starts October 1 and ends September 30 of the following year. For example, permits issued for FY 2010 are effective from October 1, 2009 through September 30, 2010.

To obtain a Commercial Use Authorization, commercial operators must complete an Application. Initially, a fee of $500 is required to process an application for river use (a one-time $100 Application Fee and an annual $400 Administrative Fee). An initial fee of $400 is required for a non-river use CUA (a one-time $100 Application Fee and an annual $300 Administrative Fee)

A One-Trip Special Use permit is now available to organizations that plan to operate only one trip in Big Bend National Park/Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River annually. Initially a fee of $300 is required to process your application (a one-time application fee of $100 and a per trip fee of $200).

The application indicates authorized activities within the park. You may list as many activities as you intend to operate under your permit. Special Conditions may be attached to your permit for each activity selected. These conditions will further define your requirements for operating in each of these areas.

Within sixty days after the end of each year, the CUA holder is required to submit accurate financial data concerning operations within the Park (Financial Report). Additionally, the CUA holder is required to submit accurate records of activities within the park, based on each and every trip conducted within park boundaries (Activity Summary).

Liability insurance is required on all Commercial Use Authorizations. All CUA holders, including educational institutions and non-profit organizations, are required to carry liability insurance that specifically lists the U.S. Government as an “additional insured.” A Certificate of Insurance must be received before the Permit is issued. The specific insurance requirements are attached to the application.

Law and policy require the National Park Service to recover the costs of managing and monitoring the Commercial Use Authorization program. At the end of each permit year, each CUA holder authorized to conduct guided river trips or fishing trips will be sent a Bill of Collection to cover their pro rata share of the park's actual cost to monitor and/or perform needed functions to properly manage CUA river use. Fiscal year 2010’s cost should not exceed $5.00 per user day. A “user day” is calculated by multiplying the number of clients by the number of days. (A “day” is defined as any portion of a 24-hour day). For example, if the CUA holder has two clients on a two day trip, this would equal four user days. These costs will be tabulated using the visitor use data submitted by the CUA holder (Activity Summary) and must accurately represent the activities within the park. These figures should be consistent with the group size limits and regulations pertaining to Backcountry/River Permits that the CUA holder is required to complete and submit for each of their trips. Road-based tours and all other authorizations will be charged on a case-by-case basis for actual costs incurred by the park due to the commercial operation.

Last updated: February 24, 2015

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Big Bend National Park, TX 79834-0129


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