CUA Law and Policy

Man snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park
Woman snorkeling at Dry Tortugas National Park

National Park Service

What Laws Govern CUAs?

Congress enacted the 1998 Concessions Management Improvement Act (Public Law 105-391) to improve commercial services in the NPS. The law outlines the requirement for CUAs and provides the framework for the NPS CUA program.

What Policies Govern CUAs?

In order to implement the requirements of the law, the NPS has a specific set of Management Policies that guide agency operations. These policies are an indispensable tool to help NPS employees manage parks responsibly and make rational, well-informed decisions. Chapter 10 of NPS Management Policies provides management guidance specific to commercial visitor services, including CUAs.

On December 13, 2021, NPS issued updated CUA guidance to assist superintendents in understanding how to implement the NPS Management Policies and guide them in managing CUAs. That updated guidance, included in the NPS Commercial Service Guide (Chapter 11 - CUAs), consolidates and supercedes the previously issued CUA guidance listed below:

Law, policy, and guidance all require NPS at a minimum to recover the cost of administering and managing CUAs. The Charging Fees for Commercial Use Authorizations Guidance (.pdf, 282 KB) explains the methods parks may use to meet this requirement.
The Commercial Use Authorization Accounting Guidance (.pdf, 54 KB) provides a brief description of how parks may spend collected CUA fees.
CUAs must be managed to protect visitors and provide for their enjoyment of the resource, as well as protect the resources and values of the park and the purposes for which it was established. The Limiting Commercial Use Authorizations Guidance (.pdf, 71 KB) describes how parks may go about limiting CUA activity to mitigate existing or potential visitor and resource impacts.
All commercial operators in the NPS must carry appropriate insurance and meet minimum coverage requirements. The Commercial Use Authorization Insurance Guidance (.pdf, 264 KB) explain the various types of required insurance and minimum coverage amounts.
The Directive for Required CUA Forms (.pdf, 42.1 KB) instructs parks to use only the current OMB approved CUA application and annual/monthly reports.

Last updated: December 16, 2021