Mammoth Cave National Park (the Park) was set aside in 1941 to protect and preserve the caves, karst landforms, and scenic river valleys that lie within its boundary. The National Park Service (NPS) is mandated by Congress to:
“…promote and regulate the use of…national parks…conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” (16 U.S.C. 1)
For this purpose the Department of Interior developed RM-53, to govern special use permitting in national parks. The following is a compilation of activities for which a permit from the Superintendent is required: filming, photography, operating a public address system; conducting sporting events, pageants, public spectator attraction, entertainment ceremonies, and similar events; public assemblies, and memorialization. Administrative, monitoring, and other fees may apply.
It is the policy of the NPS to allow special use activities when and where possible, while adhering to this mandate. Therefore, when reviewing permit applications, the primary concerns of the NPS are potential impacts to park resources and disruption of visitor use.
The Park is recognized worldwide as an area set aside and administered with preservation at the core. In order to preserve and protect resources and to assure the enjoyment of those resources by the public, the following guidelines are established by the Superintendent of the Park as they relate to special uses.
Permits are required for special use activities:
- to ensure protection of resources, to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses;
- for access to areas normally closed to the visiting public.
A request for a special use activity permit may be denied if:
the activity requested represents a potential for harm or impact on the park’s natural, cultural, or recreational resources, may create health or safety risks, or disrupt visitor use and enjoyment;
it is determined that monitoring requirements for the proposed project will place unreasonable burdens on park staff, regardless of the applicant’s willingness to pay monitoring costs;
the permittee fails to obtain insurance/bonding, or does not agree to pay assessed cost recovery;
the proposed activity would conflict with the visitor’s normal use of the park;
the request includes entry into areas closed to the general visiting public, or which would allow activities not permitted to the general public.