Doing Business With The Park

Commercial Use Authorization

A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) is a permit authorizing appropriate commercial services to park visitors in limited circumstances. The term of a CUA at the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (Riverway) is one year and no preferential rights of renewal or similar provisions may be provided to any vendor at any location. Commercial Use Authorizations are not concessions contracts, and they are not transferable. CUAs are intended to provide a simple means to authorize appropriate commercial services to visitors in park areas. At the Riverway, CUAs as a general rule:
  • Behave as cooperators and partners to represent the National Park Service and its mission.
  • Do not use fixed commercial facilities within the park.
  • Originate and terminates outside the park boundaries.
  • Do not permit commercial sales or money exchanges within park boundaries.
  • Do not permit any commercial solicitation from occurring within park boundaries.
  • At this time, the park is permitted to authorize the following commercial services and activities: Rental of watercraft, including: kayaks, canoes, tubes, stand-up paddleboards.
  • Guide services for bear hunting, fishing (all species), and single or multi-day canoeing and kayaking.
  • Log rolling demonstrations.
  • Paddleboat rides.
  • Shuttle services for private and vendor-owned watercraft.
  • Marina slip rentals.

In 2018-2020, the park will conduct reviews of all existing commercial services and activities, as well as several potential new services and activities that should be considered for compliance with mission, etc. Until compliance and planning for the existing commercially provided activities is complete, the Riverway will freeze the number of CUA permits it issues to 50 per year. All permits signed by the Superintendent are valid for one calendar year, expiring on December 31 for the year an application is submitted and approved. The Superintendent will
issue CUA permits on an ongoing basis until 50 CUAs have been issued.

If you have questions about the program purpose or permitted activities , please contact the Riverway CUA Program Manager.

Laws, Regulations, and Policies

Section 418 of the National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998, Public Law 105-391, directs the NPS to issue Commercial Use Authorations (CUAs) to authorize a private person, corporation, or other entity to provide commercial services in national parks. Approval from the area superintendent through a CUA is required before any commercial operations can begin in a park. Visit the National Park Service CUA website for more information about this program.

CUA Application and Procedure

Step 1 – Download the Application

The Commercial Use Authorization Application Form 10-550 is necessary to be considered for a CUA permit can be downloaded, or can be obtained by contacting the CUA Program Office. The application is three pages long, which is standard for all park units permitted to issue CUAs.
Then, there are 4 pages of Park Special Conditions, which further define the limits of the permit and its use by commercial vendors. And then, 3 attachments specific to the Riverway for processing the application (Attachments A-C), and then 1 attachment to be returned with the final application (Attachment D).

Additional notes to the response content for the application:
  • Applications should include specific landings that will be used for each proposed commercial activity. For example, "tube rentals, Lower Tamarack Landing" or "canoe rentals".
  • Only one application per vendor is necessary, meaning each activity type identified in Attachment A does not need its own application.
  • Attachment D (Visitor Acknowledgment of Risk) must be completed by the applicant, and it must reflect the possible risks associated with use of the applicant’s equipment, conditions of the river activity, as well as ambient weather conditions.
  • Do not submit any drivers license for any representative of the business, but you are welcome to send along any additional licensure information (e.g., First Aid certification).
A completed application includes pages 1-3 of Form 10-550, and payment of the Application Fee (step 2), and providing a copy of the certificate of insurance (step 3). The complete Form 10-550 with an original signature can be forwarded to the CUA Program Office, or to the address on the top of the application.

Step 2 – Pay the Application Fee

The authority for the NPS to impose user charges to recover costs associated with managing commercial operations is found in 31 U.S.C. 9701 and 16 U.S.C. 3a. The Application Fee is $165.00 per application, and is applicable to the 2018 and 2019 calendar year of operation. Application Fees are non-refundable regardless of whether the application is approved. Administration and Management Fees may also apply.

Attachment C to the application gives step by step guidance in making payment for the Application Fee. No checks, cash, or other method of payment will be accepted for any reason.

The ongoing use of reduces the check-handling or cash-handling requirements by park staff, and thus reduces the cost of processing the application.

Step 3 – Send necessary insurance documents

Proof of insurance is required for all parties seeking a CUA permit at the Riverway. Attachment A identifies the type and volume of insurance. Applicants should make sure to list the “United States of America” as an additionally insured party. Sending in the insurance information with the application is not necessary, as NPS staff will combine all materials on behalf of the applicant.

Step 4 – Review the draft permit

Once a signed Form 10-660 has been approved, the CUA Program Manager will distribute the draft permit to the applicant. The applicant should review the Park Special Conditions, and then sign, date and return the permit to the CUA Program Manager. The CUA Program Manager will retrieve the Superintendent’s signature, and then send
the final permit to the business owner.


CUA Operations and Post-Application

Once an application is approved, the Superintendent will issue an Authorization to a business owner (CUA Holder). The CUA Holder is required to maintain the insurance types and levels identified on their permit for the duration of the holder's operating season.

Attachment D, which references a Visitor Acknowledgement of Risks (VAR), must be use by the CUA Holder when in operations on the Riverway. No "waiver of liability" or any documents containing "waiver of liability" or indemnification language can be issued to a customer.

The NPS requires an annual report of operations for each CUA Holder’s business NPS Form 10- 660 to cover the annual statistics, gross receipts, trip reporting, etc. This form must be postmarked within 30 days of closure of the CUA Holder’s operations at the Riverway, or November 16, 2018, whichever is sooner. A complete Form 10-660 must include an original signature by the CUA Holder.

Management Fees

Beginning in 2019, the park will collect Management Fees on CUA Holder’s operations within the park. Management Fees will be assessed in writing and must be paid before applying for a subsequent Authorization. Within 30 days of receipt of the annual report (Form 10-660), the CUA Program Manager will prepare a "Memorandum of Assessed Management Fees" to the business owner(s) identifying the total fees that will be assessed and must be paid.

The business owner(s) must pay the full amount at the time of submitting the next year's Application (Form 10-550). In the event the business owner(s) opt to not reapply for subsequent years, the business owner(s) must make one or multiple payments totaling the full amount by February 28 of the year immediately following the year of operation. Payment will only be collected via the "St Croix NSR CUA" public form on

The specific Management Fee schedule associated with the program is in discussion with existing CUA Holders at this time. The final Management Fee schedule will be available soon.

For more information on the CUA program, please contact the CUA Program Manager, Sarah Waterworth at e-mail us.

Last updated: April 21, 2019

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