Record of Determination: Public Use Limitations of Permitted Events and Demonstrations

Record of Determination: Public Use Limitations of Permitted Events and Demonstrations

The National Park Service (NPS) at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is implementing an immediate public use limitation for all permitted events and demonstrations covered by the regulations at 36 CFR 2.50 and 2.51. This temporary closure is implemented under section 36 CFR 1.5(a) and is based on a determination that such action is necessary for the maintenance of public health and safety. Specifically, the NPS will not accept applications for permits for demonstrations or for special events that are scheduled to occur over the next eight weeks. All events currently scheduled will be cancelled or postponed to a later date, at the discretion of the applicant. The purpose of this temporary limitation is to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus/COVID-19 within the park and the broader community.

This temporary limit on permitted events and demonstrations is informed by public health advisories and recommendations from the CDC, the States of West Virginia, Maryland, Commonwealth of Virginia, and the World Health Organization’s declaration that COVID-19 is a global pandemic. NPS makes this decision in response to CDC guidance regarding mass gatherings and events and the spread of COVID-19.

Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities. Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals. The governor of the State of West Virginia has issued a stay at home order. The governors of Maryland and Virginia have issued orders limiting the sizes of gatherings.

The NPS regulations allow small events in open areas of the park where no permit would otherwise be required. Some park amenities that are not amenable to maintaining appropriate social distances may be closed. Events of any size, however, should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to CDC guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing.

During this unprecedented public health emergency, the NPS will continue to coordinate and consult with Federal, state, and local public health agencies, and will revisit this decision as circumstances change.

The temporary use limitation will not adversely affect the park’s natural, aesthetic or cultural values; nor require significant modification to the resource management objections; nor, given the circumstances should it be of a highly controversial nature. Accordingly, the NPS determines publication as rulemaking in the Federal Register is unwarranted under 36 C.F.R. §1.5(c). This is consistent with hundreds of earlier partial and temporary park closures or public use limitations, the legal opinion of the Office of the Solicitor, and judicial adjudications. Mahoney v. Norton, No. 02-1715 (D.D.C. August 29, 2002), plaintiff’s emergency motion for injunction pending appeal denied Mahoney v. Norton, No. 02-5275 (D.C. Cir. September 9, 2002) (per curiam); Picciotto v.United States, No. 99-2113 (D.D.C. August 6, 1999); Picciotto v. United States, No. 94-1935 (D.D.C. September 9, 1994); Picciotto v. Lujan, No. 90-1261 (D.D.C. May 30, 1990); Picciotto v. Hodel, No. 87-3290 (D.D.C. January 26, 1988); Spiegel v. Babbitt, 855 F.Supp. 402 (D.D.C.1994), aff'd in part w/o op. 56 F.3d 1531 (D.C. Cir. 1995), reported in full, 1995 US App. Lexis15200 (D.C. Cir. May 31, 1995). Pursuant to 36 C.F.R. §1.7, notice of this public use limitation will be made through media advisories, maps, and by posting at conspicuous locations in the affected park areas. Finally, pursuant to 36 C.F.R. §1.5(c), this determination is available to the public upon request.

/s/ H. Tyrone Brandyburg
Superintendent, Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
March 26, 2020

Last updated: April 20, 2020

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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
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PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


304 535-6029

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