Guided Paddle Craft Minimum Operating Standards
GUIDED PADDLE CRAFT STANDARDS
(KAYAK, CANOE, ROWBOAT, PADDLEBOARD)
Description - This classification consists of concessioner-guided operations that involve paddle craft vessels (canoes, kayaks, rowboats and paddleboards). Visitors typically paddle crafts provided by the concessioner but an employee of the concessioner guides the group on the trip. Trips may vary in length from hours to days and may involve overnight camping and meal services.
A. In-Park Reservation/Ticket Sales Building - Exterior
- Building Structure - Building exteriors are maintained in good condition and in a good state of repair at all times. Exterior surfaces are painted or treated to protect against deterioration. Painted surfaces are free of peeling paint, soil, and obvious cracks in masonry, and present an attractive appearance. Roofs are maintained with no missing tiles or shingles. Gutters and downspouts are maintained and cleaned to prevent overflow, especially at building entrances. Rooftop ventilation and other systems are in good repair.
- Landscaping/Grounds - Landscaping conforms to park standards. Noxious weeds and invasive plants are removed in coordination with the designated NPS integrated pest management coordinator and in accordance with an approved landscape plan. Grounds are continuously monitored to remove debris and trash from exterior structure areas and from shrubbery and planted areas. Appropriate drainage is maintained to keep water from collecting against buildings.
- Parking - Adequate parking spaces for automobiles, bicycles, etc., are provided. The parking area is paved and well-marked with stripes or other clearly visible method of designating spaces. Gravel and/or dirt parking areas are acceptable and are adequately graded to remove drainage ruts and holes. Accessible spaces are prominently designated, clean, and free of refuse and obstructions. All parking areas, curbing, concrete bumpers, and driveways are well-maintained and free of excessive cracking, crumbling, holes, or unsightly repairs.
- Pathways, Sidewalks, Ramps, Steps and Stairs - All pathways, sidewalks, ramps, steps and stairs are unobstructed and free of debris, obstructions, snow, and ice. These surfaces are maintained in good repair, free of excessive cracking, crumbling, holes, or tripping hazards, with well-maintained hand railings.
- Lighting/Illumination -Lighting is provided and maintained to indicate the entrance to the property and illuminate facades or signage so that guests can identify the building and safely navigate to it. Lighting is consistent with the NPS Night Sky requirements. Down-lighting is preferred on tall structures or post lights. Energy efficient bulbs are used in all fixtures, if feasible.
- Public Signs - Public signs for which the concessioner is responsible are appropriately located, accurate, attractive and well-maintained. Permanent signs are professionally designed and produced, consistent with NPS standards, and appropriate for the purpose they serve. The Superintendent has approved signs prior to installation. Temporary signs are computer-generated, framed or laminated, and professional in appearance.
- Site Utilities, Equipment and Delivery Area - All service areas and equipment, such as above ground tanks and HVAC systems are adequately marked and maintained in a neat and orderly manner. All service areas are well-kept with litter and debris removed. Fencing or screening is preferred, however, all service areas not fenced or screened are well-kept and litter and debris removed. Utility lines are well organized and hidden from guests view as much as possible. Fluctuating water levels may result in slack utility infrastructure; this slack is professionally managed and organized. Ramps or other protection devices are maintained to protect utility lines located in prominent motor vehicle pathways from damage or puncture.
- Garbage and Trash/Recycling/Composting - Trash containers are conveniently located and in sufficient quantity to handle the needs of the site. Dumpster drain holes are plugged to keep liquids from draining onto the site. Waste does not accumulate in trash containers to the point of overflowing. Refuse is stored in covered, waterproof receptacles which comply with all relevant construction standards (such as bear and wildlife proof), as specified by the National Park Service. All market available recyclable products are collected and recycled. Provided compost collection areas are clean and orderly. Central refuse collection sites are screened from public view.
- Fences and Walls - All fences and walls are cleared of vegetative overgrowth and are well-maintained.
- Flags - Any national, state, or park flag displayed at an exterior location near the main entrance is in good condition and adheres to the display guidelines of the United States Flag Code. Flags are a minimum size of 3’x 5’. Any lighted flag display adheres to NPS Night Sky requirements. Other flags of a maritime or nautical nature are displayed below the National Flag.
- ADA Accessibility - Buildings and areas meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and all other applicable laws related to accessibility.
- Ice/Vending – Ice and vending machines are in good working order and well-maintained. Signage on the machine either relates to park interpretive themes or is generic in nature. Any machines temporarily out-of-service or out-of-service for the season has computer-generated signs directing visitors to the closest functioning unit. All machines that accept currency accept the Presidential $1 coin. Any change machines which accept $5 dollar bills or higher denominations are able to dispense $1 coins in change. Each coin vending machine has signs and notices posted on the machines denoting the acceptance of the Presidential $1 coin.
B. In-Park Reservation/Ticket Sales Building - Interior
- Registration/Waiting Area – The guest registration/waiting area is clean and well-lit. Literature racks are attractively displayed and include Park, safety, and concessioner information.
- Public Restrooms - Restrooms are clean, free of litter, well-illuminated, ventilated, and maintained. Restrooms are equipped with hot and cold running water. Toilet bowls, sinks, and urinals are clean, free of stains and in proper operating condition. Toilet tissue, disposable towels, or air drying devices, if provided, are available at all times. Soap is provided, unless prohibited by park wildlife management plans. Walls, floors, ceilings, mirrors, waste receptacles, chairs and other furnishings are clean and well-maintained. Women's or unisex restrooms have a covered waste receptacle in every stall for the disposal of feminine hygiene products. The disposal containers are clean and emptied at least daily. Baby changing areas are provided in both men's and women's restrooms, unless a unisex restroom is available. Quality of decorative finishes is commensurate with the facility. A cleaning inspection log is maintained and posted on the back of the access door noting time of cleaning inspection and initialed by inspector.
- Public Signs - Interior public signs for which concessioner is responsible are appropriately located, accurate, attractive, and well-maintained. Permanent signs are professionally designed and produced, consistent with NPS standards, and appropriate for the purpose they serve. The Superintendent has approved signs prior to installation. Temporary signs are computer-generated, framed or laminated, and professional in appearance. Permanent indoor signs are designed and maintained for the disabled and include applicable international graphical symbols. Handwritten signs within assigned areas are not used unless the Service approves exceptions.
- Illumination - Sufficient energy-efficient lighting, including recessed, spot and flood lighting, are adequate and appropriate, and complementary to the décor of the facility. All light fixtures are clean, functional, and in working condition with no burned out bulbs.
- Ventilation/Climate Control/Temperature - Public spaces are adequately ventilated with working climate control thermostats or other methods used to heat public spaces. Public spaces are maintained at a temperature consistent with guest comfort.
- Drinking Fountains - Public drinking fountains are clean and in good working condition.
- Emergency Lighting/Exit Lights/Emergency Exits - Exit lights on permanent structures are on emergency circuits and in operation at all times. Emergency exits in all areas of the facility are adequately marked and unblocked.
- Fire Extinguishers - Accessible fire extinguishers suitable for use on anticipated type of fires are located in each building, visibly displayed, and appropriately signed with proper, up-to-date operating instructions, and visible inspection certificates or tags.
- Fire Alarms and Pull Boxes - Fire alarms and pull boxes are visible and accessible to guests and employees.
- First Aid Kit - A standard 24-unit first aid kit is provided near the registration or front desk, adequately marked, and staff knows where to locate the unit quickly.
- Automated External Defibrillator (AED) - An automated external defibrillator (AED) is adequately marked, and in good working condition. The AED is accessible after hours if located away from the front desk area.
C. Maintenance Area/Building
- Building Structure – Maintenance building exteriors are maintained in good condition and in a good state of repair at all times. Exterior surfaces are painted or treated to protect against deterioration. Painted surfaces are free of peeling paint, soil, and obvious cracks in masonry, and present an attractive appearance. Roofs are maintained with no missing tiles or shingles. Gutters and downspouts are maintained and cleaned to prevent overflow, especially at building entrances. Rooftop ventilation and other systems are in good repair.
- Landscaping/Grounds – Maintenance area landscaping conforms to park standards. Noxious weeds and invasive plants are removed in coordination with the designated NPS integrated pest management coordinator and in accordance with an approved landscape plan. Grounds are continuously monitored to remove debris and trash from exterior structure areas and from shrubbery and planted areas. Appropriate drainage is maintained to keep water from collecting against buildings.
- Garbage and Trash/Recycling/Composting - Trash containers in maintenance areas are conveniently located and in sufficient quantity to handle the needs of the site. Dumpster drain holes are plugged to keep liquids from draining onto the site. Waste does not accumulate in trash containers to the point of overflowing. Refuse is stored in covered, waterproof receptacles which comply with all relevant construction standards (such as bear and wildlife proof), as specified by the National Park Service. All market available recyclable products are collected and recycled. Provided compost collection areas are clean and orderly. Central refuse collection sites are screened from public view.
- Housekeeping and Cleanliness - The maintenance area is well organized and conveys a professional, well managed appearance. Equipment, supplies and parts are stored in orderly fashion.
- Hazardous/Flammable Material Storage - Adequate collection, storage and disposal of hazardous waste and/or flammable material generated by or used in the operations are managed. Hazardous/flammable materials are stored in metal non-flammable cabinets or in containers that are UL approved and properly labeled with the name of the material they hold and the type of hazard they represent.
- Fire Extinguishers - Accessible fire extinguishers suitable for use on anticipated type of fires are located in each building, visibly displayed, and appropriately signed with proper, up-to-date operating instructions, and visible inspection certificates or tags.
- Eye-Wash Stations - Emergency eyewashes are placed in chemical work areas with instructions on use clearly posted.
- Floors - The maintenance area floor is free of clutter and tripping hazards such as extension cords, power hoses, etc. The floor is reasonably free of grease stains, cracks and chips.
- Shop Lighting - Lighting is adequate to perform boat maintenance while maintaining a high degree of safety. Fixed ceiling lighting as well as portable retractable lights are clean and maintained with no burned out bulbs. Any suspended fluorescent light bulbs are contained in a protective cover.
- Storage/Organization - Parts and other supplies are stored in an organized, secure and uncluttered fashion. To the greatest degree possible, all parts are stored off the floor on industrial shelves suitable for the weight and physical environment in which they are used.
- Safety Data Sheets – Current safety data sheets are visible, legible and readily accessible to all concession maintenance staff.
D. Shuttle Vehicles
- Condition - All vehicles used to transport passengers are safe, clean, well-maintained, and in good physical condition. The vehicle accommodates passengers either seated or standing with appropriate grab bars/straps. Storage areas accommodate passenger luggage and luggage is secured from injuring passengers.
- Registration, Licensing and Insurance - All vehicles used to transport visitors and employees are operated by a licensed and experienced operator. Vehicles are properly registered, licensed, and insured in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations. All vehicles used also receive periodic safety inspections and are properly maintained.
- Identification - All vehicles owned by the concessioner and used in conjunction with the water guide operation are marked with the company name and logo. This includes appropriate permitting and documentation to be carried within the vehicle at all times.
E. Dock, Launch and Disembarkation Facilities
- Dock/Launch/Disembarkation Facilities – Dock and pre-boarding areas include space in which ticketed passengers can comfortably and safely wait to board vessels; dedicated queuing space that facilitates efficient boarding; a security screening area (as determined for the operation by the Department of Homeland Security); access to restrooms; access to and use of the pre-boarding space by handicapped persons.
- Public Signs - Public signs for which the Concessioner is responsible are appropriately located, accurate, attractive, and well-maintained. Permanent signs are professionally designed and produced, consistent with NPS standards, and appropriate for the purpose they serve. The Superintendent has approved signs prior to installation. Temporary signs are computer-generated, framed or laminated, and professional in appearance.
Structure and Equipment
- Watercraft - All United States Coast Guard (USCG) requirements for the specific vessel type, including vessel occupancy, equipment, gear, etc. are met. The watercraft is identified and registered as per Federal, State or local laws. The company name and logo is painted on each watercraft.
- Inspection – Motor vessels are inspected as required by the USCG. The Concessioner maintains written records verifying the completion of such inspections. Basic safety checks are made on a daily basis to ensure seaworthiness and that proper safety equipment is present.
- Spare Vessel Equipment - Each guided paddlecraft contains at a minimum, one spare paddle per every five (5) such vessels. Additionally, each paddlecraft (except paddleboards) also contains a bailing device per vessel in the fleet.
- First Aid Kit – Each water guided trip has a first-aid kit stored in a water-proof container and readily accessible to employees and guests.
- Marine VHF Radios/Satellite Telephones - Not generally required on trips no longer than several hours. For overnight trips, each concessioner lead vessel carries a satellite phone or other effective communication device. Park-required procedures for emergency evacuations are followed.
- Audio and Visual Signaling and Navigational Equipment – Provided emergency signaling equipment for each craft includes a signaling mirror, and/or a set of orange signal panels, 3 feet by 8 feet. Additionally, a craft-appropriate sound device, such as a whistle, bell, or horn, is provided for paddlecraft equipment.
- Boat Capacities – Boat capacities do not exceed maximums defined by the manufacturer or USCG, except at the discretion of the Service for purposes of inspections or in emergencies.
- Overnight Vessel Storage - For overnight trips, vessels (excluding paddleboards) are well-secured to shore via a stable anchor system. At least one vessel remains rigged adequately to respond to any in-water emergencies.
G. Environmental Protection
- Trip Garbage and Trash/Recycling- An effective system for the collection and disposal of garbage and trash is developed for on and off boat. This system includes segregation of all recyclables. All trash is maintained in such a manner as to not attract wildlife or other vermin while in the backcountry. All trash is collected after each trip, contained within a wildlife proof container, transported off site, and properly disposed. Liquid and food waste is disposed of in accordance with Department of Public Health guidelines.
- Sanitation/Human Waste – All applicable USCG and EPA requirements for elimination or storage and pump-out of grey and black water are met. Hand washing facilities are readily available.
A. Reservation Services
- Availability - Reservation services are available, at a minimum, via telephone, mail, and fax. If reservation services are available via the internet, they are available on a 24-hour, real-time on-line availability. If telephone service is utilized, service is available during normal business operating hours.
- Knowledge of Reservation Staff - Reservation agents demonstrate their ability to provide adequate information about rates, cancellation policies, arrival and departure times, amenities and services, local attractions, access, etc.
- Confirmation - Each reservation call concludes with a confirmation number. Rentals are accurately and legibly recorded. Additionally, an e-mail or written confirmation is sent via mail to confirm the reservation and provide additional concessioner and park information.
- Payment Methods - The concessioner honors credit cards to include, but not limited to, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. Debit cards and other types of payment methods including but not limited to travelers’ checks, personal visitor checks and gift cards may be accepted at their discretion or at the direction of the Service.
- Reservation and Deposits - Concessioners may require a deposit to hold a guided trip, but all deposit policies/information are disclosed at the time of the reservation and are approved by the Service. Remaining balance is due in full based on park requirements. Advanced deposits do not exceed the guided trip rate, including tax.
- Rate Changes - The advance rate is honored and customer is refunded the difference if the approved rate is lower than the anticipated rate. Provisions for additional charges are provided for any amenities.
- Trip Cancellations -Cancellation policies are submitted and approved as part of the Concessioner’s rate request. Cancellation policies are communicated to clients in writing at the time of reservation
- Operational Reporting - The reservation system provides comprehensive reporting capabilities that allow the concessioner to comply with reporting requirements. Where relevant, all reservation systems integrate with the Concessioner's Property Management Information System.
- Park Orientation Material - Park-specific material is provided to park visitors to include brochures, maps, newsletters, special notices as part of the reservation and information collection processes either via a website link or in hard copy.
B. Visitor Safety
- Visitor Shuttle Safety Briefing – A brief short safety briefing outlining emergency elements of the bus or shuttle vehicle, and procedures relative to passengers’ actions in the event of an emergency.
- Visitor Safety and Activity Orientation - Every guided paddlecraft tour is preceded by an orientation and safety briefing to all participants. Guides provide briefings about the activity and safety material prior to beginning the trip activity, and repeat such information as needed at appropriate points in the trip. Items to be discussed include; nature and demands of the trip, proper fit and use of personal flotation devices, procedures to use in case a person falls into the water, use of footwear, sunscreen, sunglasses and hat recommendations, restroom facilities, litter and sanitation requirements, etc. If on-shore excursions are part of the visitor experience, visitors are briefed on minimum distance requirements from the boat launch area, Leave No Trace principles, hiking instructions, and instructions on wildlife interaction.
- Crew Safety and Security Responsibilities - Lead guides, or appropriate other professionals inspect all equipment to ensure it is in good working condition and without defects. Lead guides hold pre-trip briefing with any other crew members to ensure all crew members in party have proper licenses and/or certifications, delegate guest orientation tasks, note any guests who will require special assistance, and define pace of trip and boat order (lead and sweep). As applicable, guides define planned stops for hiking, and eating, and camping, as well as tasks related to camp set-up, cooking, etc. Crew leads file a pre-trip plan or log for each excursion. All crew members have required licenses and certifications. Crew members provide extra assistance to guests as necessary. Documented routine drills with all crew including emergencies that require capsized paddlecraft, recovery of persons who have fallen overboard, etc. are routinely conducted.
- Personal Flotation Devices - Properly sized lifejackets (child and adult) are available for all visitors, worn by all guides, and are serviceable and United States Coast Guard approved. Inflatable life vests are not used in whitewater or surf conditions. Life vests outfitted for the specific paddlecraft activity (i.e. canoe, kayak, etc.) are worn by all participants and guides at all times while in or near the water.
C. Trip Requirements
- Restricted Areas and Protection of Natural and Cultural Resources - Guides have knowledge of and follow requirements to protect natural and cultural resources. Restrictions and other requirements as determined by the NPS are honored, and cultural resources protected. Guides brief passengers regarding applicable methods and park rules for protecting resources, especially before hikes or camps.
- Wildlife and Wildlife Reports - Park regulations prohibiting the feeding or disturbing of wildlife is enforced by guides. Guides brief trip participants regarding appropriate interactions with wildlife, and how to avoid unwanted interactions. If required, guides report wildlife sightings.
- Hiking Escorts - Hiking guides have all required first aid medical training.
- Lost and Found - Any and all items found are logged and turned into a designated secure location. Lost and found articles are properly dated, secured and stored. Records are maintained and procedures established to ensure prompt, accurate response to guest inquiries concerning lost articles.
- Trip Log and Reporting Requirements - An accurate trip log is maintained for each regulated trip. The trip log includes at a minimum;, assigned trip leader, names of all guides on trip, trip departure and completion times, and guest information concerning allergies, physical handicaps, limitations, etc. Post-trip reports are filed detailing various aspects of each trip taken, including any problems or accidents that occurred during the trip, noted equipment deficiencies, stop locations (if applicable), etc.
- Use Allocation – All use allocation requirements, as defined by the Service are adhered to.
D. Interpretive Operations
- Interpretive Services Content - An interpretive session, which includes introducing employees and/or guides and their company, welcoming visitors to the park and identifying the park as part of the National Park System is conducted. Format of any interpretive services is approved by the Superintendent to ensure the activity fosters public understanding of park resources and values, conforms to the central park theme, has minimum adverse environmental impact, accurately describes program objectives as intended for the audience, and is free of avoidable religious, cultural and ethnic biases.
- Program Advertising – All activities presented are as depicted in advertising media. Dates, location, duration, physical requirements and learning experience correspond with the publication material.
- Interpretive Presentations - Any group presentations are organized and planned to smoothly and logically convey approved program material. Interpreter(s) possess public speaking skills and exercise judgment and skills in such areas as the presentation, question/answers and announcements.
- Staffing Levels - All facilities and services are properly staffed so as to prevent undue delays in service. In determining what constitutes undue delay, the consideration is given to the kinds and types of services being rendered and which situations or conditions are beyond the Concessioner’s control (e.g. unanticipated influxes of guests, facility or equipment breakdowns, or sudden weather changes). The reasonableness of the delay, based on the above is the determining factor. The number of crew present onboard the vessel is in accordance with USCG guidelines for the vessel's passenger capacity. At both the embarkation and destination points, adequate staffing levels facilitate safe and efficient boarding and deboarding of passengers. Staffs have adequate knowledge to answer visitor questions about the Park, resources, and featured activities.
- Guide/Crew Qualifications and Licenses - Guides have appropriate levels of skill and experiences based on the environment they are expected to operate in, typically defined to be a minimum of fifty (50) hours of on-river training utilizing paddles and/or oars and any other equipment that a guide will be using on regulated trips. Guides have logged additional hours of on-the-job-training, typically twenty (20) additional hours before becoming full-fledged guides, as defined by state regulations or industry trade group/association best practices. Lead guides have additional experience, also as defined by state regulation or industry trade group/association best practices. All guide staff have obtained all NPS-required certifications and/or licenses. All licenses and/or certifications are available for inspection upon request. In general a guide is an effective communicator, trained to the appropriate level of skill for the activity, trained in first aid, vessel rigging and maneuvering, river and lake currents, eddies and waves, river and lake hazards, river and lake rescue and emergency practices and trained in water and wilderness survival.
- Employee Attitude - Each employee projects a friendly, hospitable, helpful, positive attitude and is capable and willing to answer guests' questions (about both job and general park information). Guides act in a positive, respectful and professional manner with trip participants, as well as in their interactions with other visitors using the Area.
- Employee Appearance - On at least the first day of each trip, each employee wears a uniform or name tag identifying them as a concession employee. The uniform is commensurate with the type of service provided. Employees present a neat and clean appearance as appropriate given the outdoor nature of the activity.
- Employee Training Programs - An active training program for all employees for the development of necessary skills and techniques is provided for all employees. These sessions stress work performance and, as appropriate to the position, also includes technical training for specific equipment, first aid, AED, fire and life safety (e.g. CPR and Heimlich maneuver), product and service presentation, cleanliness, employee attitudes, any applicable cultural and natural resource interpretation, NPS philosophy and policy and any other training requirements. Performance is indicative of good training.