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The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that the moratorium on permitted sporting events in Death Valley National Park issued on October 1st, 2013, has been lifted. The NPS also released the findings of its safety assessment report and the required conditions on future permitted sporting events at the park.
Death Valley National Park is now accepting applications for sporting events scheduled after October 1, 2014. Safety conditions will be included in future permits and are focused on decreasing risks and providing a safer and more enjoyable experience for participants, visitors, and employees, visitors. Specific requirements for future permits include increasing visitor awareness of events taking place, increased traffic control, strategic locations for aid stations, increased warning signs, specific conditions for medical support teams, restrictions on time of year and time of day, and increased monitoring and enforcement of permit conditions.
The safety assessment was conducted to evaluate risks associated with permitted sporting events at Death Valley National Park. Previously, park employees who monitored these events and responded to emergency situations were exposed to unsafe conditions, including extreme weather and locations of events on high-speed roads. Visitors to the park experienced increased congestion and traffic conflicts with participants during events. Additional risks noted during events included limited visibility of participants on some sections of roads;cyclists and runners participating in events side-by-side on narrow, two-lane park roads, causing traffic back-ups and dangerous passing situations;extreme temperatures and other weather conditions;and events held at night with limited and low visibility.
Sporting events within National Parks are a conditional use that may be allowed with the issuance of a Special Use Permit. In the past ten years, Death Valley National Park averaged ten large scale sporting events per year with up to 300 participants, plus support teams, for each event. The safety assessment was conducted in conjunction with state and federal partners and reviewed by regional and national level NPS officials. A copy of the safety assessment report is available at https://www.nps.gov/deva/parkmgmt/businesswithpark.htm.