NPS Emergency Response Requirements

The following items should be considered by response officials prior to commencing response activities within or near the jurisdiction of a National Park unit.

Certain Activities Require Park Superintendent Approval:

The Superintendent's approval is required for the following emergency response activities:

  • Cleanup and Response Measures - All cleanup and response measures occurring on NPS owned/managed lands require prior authorization of the Superintendent. This includes in-situ burning and use of chemical countermeasures.

  • Ground Disturbance- Any activities that might result in disturbance of soil or vegetation must be approved by the Superintendent. These would include activities such as the installation of camps and staging areas, and the use of vehicles, vessels or earth-moving equipment.

  • Aircraft Operations- Any fixed wing or helicopter landings in the Park must be approved by the Superintendent.

  • Access to NPS lands- Any traffic across, through or over NPS owned/managed lands requires prior notification and authorization by the Superintendent.

  • Park Land or Beach Closures- Any closures occurring on NPS owned/managed lands require notification and prior authorization of the Superintendent. The Superintendent must issue a formal closure according to NPS regulations outlined in 36 CFR 1.5.

  • Completion of Clean-up- Superintendent must approve completion of clean-up on NPS owned or managed lands and waters.

Oiled Equipment and Debris:

The transporting of oiled equipment and debris through NPS lands has the potential to injure sensitive park resources. Collection and removal of oiled debris and transport of oiled equipment during spill response should be handled in such a manner that does not impact those resources. Special Use Permits may be required for any necessary and/or appropriate movement of oiled materials across NPS lands.

Places of Refuge / Decontamination Sites

NPS lands are federally protected for their valuable natural and cultural resources; when practical, they should be considered last for potential use as places of refuge or decontamination sites. Anchorage areas may be more appropriate for these uses.

Air Quality

The use of in-situ burning as a spill response countermeasure has the potential to damage air quality or air quality-related values within park units. Emissions of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, hazardous and other air pollutants from a spill burn may degrade such values as visibility of scenery in and from national park lands located in the region of the burn whether the burn is on park lands or not. Under the Clean Air Act, federal land managers have a responsibility to protect the air quality related values (including visibility) in all park units, and they have an “affirmative responsibility” to protect air quality in park units designated Class I areas. Thus, any actions that cause or contribute to denigration of air quality in any Class I area are subject to specific review by the NPS.

Although in-situ burns are usually of short duration and unlikely to violate EPA prescribed short-term air quality standards, the NPS will also have to consider potential localized impacts on park visitors. If an in-situ burn is proposed in the vicinity of a visitor use area, (e.g. visitor center, campground, picnic area, etc.), it may be necessary to temporarily close these areas during a burn. Therefore, the NPS must be notified of and agree to the use of in-situ burning where the smoke may affect the air quality and related values of the park unit.

Last updated: June 30, 2017


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