[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 177 (Wednesday, September 12, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 56117-56124]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-22438]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

36 CFR Part 7

[NPS-MACA-10037; 5531-SZM]
RIN 1024-AD80


Special Regulations, Areas of the National Park System; Mammoth 
Cave National Park, Bicycle Routes

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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[[Page 56118]]

SUMMARY: This rule designates four bicycle routes within Mammoth Cave 
National Park to address the interest and demand of the visiting public 
for bicycling opportunities without compromising the National Park 
Service's mandate ``to conserve the scenery and the natural and 
historic objects and the wild life'' in the park. This rule will 
implement portions of the park's Comprehensive Trail Management Plan 
and satisfy the requirement of National Park Service general 
regulations that a special regulation be promulgated to allow off-road 
bicycle use on routes outside of developed areas. This rule allows 
bicycle use on a new Connector Trail in the vicinity of Maple Springs; 
a new Big Hollow Trail in the hilly country of the park north of the 
Green River; the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail; and the White 
Oak Trail.

DATES: The rule is effective October 12, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Kern, Management Assistant, 
Mammoth Cave National Park, National Park Service, P.O. Box 7, Mammoth 
Cave, Kentucky 42259; phone: (270) 758-2187; email: Ken_Kern@nps.gov

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Mammoth Cave National Park (MACA or park) is the core of the 
largest, most complex, and best known karst area in the world. Karst is 
a geologic term which refers to areas of irregular limestone in which 
erosion has produced features such as fissures, sinkholes, underground 
streams, sinking springs, and caverns. The many types of geologic 
features present within the extensive cave system are the product of a 
unique set of conditions found nowhere else. The 365 miles of 
passageways that have been surveyed and mapped define Mammoth Cave as 
the longest cave system in the world.
    The mission of MACA is to protect and preserve the extensive 
limestone caverns and associated karst topography, scenic river-ways, 
original forests, other biological resources, and evidence of past and 
contemporary ways of life. MACA also strives to educate and enrich the 
public through scientific study and to provide for the development and 
sustainable use of recreational resources and opportunities within the 
park.

Legislation and Purpose of the Park

    As early as 1905, Members of the Kentucky Congressional delegation 
suggested Mammoth Cave as a national park. In its April 18, 1926, 
report to the Secretary of the Interior, the Southern Appalachian 
National Park Commission recommended national park status for the 
Mammoth Cave region for, among other reasons, the:

beautiful and wonderful formations * * * great underground labyrinth 
* * * of remarkable geological and recreational interest perhaps 
unparalleled elsewhere * * * [and] thousands of curious sinkholes of 
varying sizes through which much of the drainage is carried to 
underground streams, there being few surface brooks or creeks * * * 
.

The Commission also recommended lands above ground in the region of the 
cave for inclusion in the National Park System because of the:

exceptional opportunity for developing a great national recreational 
park of outstanding service in the very heart of our Nation's 
densest population and at a time when the need is increasingly 
urgent and most inadequately provided for.

The United States Congress saw the value of including surface lands as 
part of the park. The Senate Committee on Public Lands and Surveys 
(Report No. 823, May 10, 1926) and the House of Representatives 
Committee on the Public Lands (Report No. 1178, May 12, 1926) said the 
park would:

insure a great recreational ground * * * where * * * thousands of 
our people may find[hellip]the most delightful outdoor recreation in 
* * * traversing the picturesque and rugged hills and valleys and 
great forests of the region included in the proposed park area.

On May 25, 1926, Congress authorized the establishment of MACA (44 
Stat. 635), and on July 1, 1941, MACA was established as a national 
park. Subsequently, the Great Onyx Cave and Crystal Cave properties 
were purchased and added to the park on April 7, 1961. The park now 
comprises 52,830 acres.

History of Trail Development

    Public interest in outdoor recreation at the Mammoth Cave area has 
not diminished since the Southern Appalachian National Park Commission 
issued its report in 1926. Through the years, park managers have 
responded to changing trends in recreation. The Wild Cave tour began in 
1969, and a system of backcountry trails was initiated in the 1970s. In 
the 1980s, a horse livery on the park boundary began offering guided 
rides on park trails and canoe and kayak liveries began shuttle 
services on the Green and Nolin rivers. In 2007, the Mammoth Cave 
Railroad Bike & Hike Trail was completed, connecting the heart of the 
park with one of the gateway communities (two other gateway communities 
have expressed interest in constructing similar trails); and the 2007 
Comprehensive Trail Management Plan calls for bicycle use on certain 
trails in the park.
    The park currently has approximately 85 miles of open trail. All 
trails are open to hiking, approximately 55 miles of trail are open to 
horses, approximately 17 miles of trail are open to bicycles, and 
approximately 2.4 miles of trail accommodate both horses and bicycles.
    Shortly after the park was designated in 1941, several short trails 
were developed in the vicinity of the Mammoth Cave Hotel and Historic 
cave entrance. Over the years, these trails were improved and expanded 
into a series of loops which compose the first 6.5 miles of the front-
country trail system in the vicinity of the park's visitor center and 
nearby Green River. Other trails, including trails at Sloans Pond, 
Turnhole Bend, Sand Cave, and Cedar Sink, were developed as short hikes 
to park features.
    In the early 1970s, the park planned a series of trails in the more 
than 20,000 acres north of the Green River. In 1974, those trails were 
officially opened to hiking and horseback riding. The main trails of 
that 55-mile system followed old and pre-existing dirt roads, with the 
remaining trails built as connections between those dirt roads to 
create loops.
    In 1999, a local biking club asked park management about the 
possibility of permitting bicycling on one or more trails in the park. 
After consideration by the park, approximately 13 miles of trails were 
opened to bicycling on an experimental basis, while continuing to allow 
hiking and horseback riding on the same trails.
    In February 2005, park officials organized the first Backcountry 
Summit meeting between MACA, the Bowling Green League of Bicyclists, 
the Sierra Club, and the Mammoth Cave Equestrian Trail Riders 
Association. The purpose of this meeting was to provide an avenue of 
communication between park officials and all user groups regarding 
improving and maintaining backcountry trails and other backcountry 
issues.

Comprehensive Trail Management Plan and Environmental Assessment

    The park developed a Comprehensive Trail Management Plan (CTMP) and 
Environmental Assessment (EA) in 2007 to ensure protection of park 
resources and address increasing demand for public use of trails. The 
purpose of the CTMP was to develop and implement objectives and 
strategies for the protection, management, and use of trails park-wide 
for a period of 10 years. The plan identifies designated trails and 
access points as well as the type of

[[Page 56119]]

activity (hiking, biking, horseback riding, or a combination of those 
activities) for which each trail could be used.
    The park staff utilized NPS Management Policies 2006 and the 
purposes for which the park was established by Congress to develop 
objectives and ensure the appropriateness of designating trails and the 
uses allowed for each trail within MACA.
    One of the most important concepts incorporated into the CTMP is 
sustainability. Under the plan, the park will use sustainable material 
and techniques for trail maintenance, future trail design, and 
construction projects. The park will use techniques such as maximum 
grade limits, water bars, and large dips in the trail called grade 
reversals to minimize or slow erosion from water and use. The park will 
build bridges and utilize materials such as gravel, landscape timbers, 
and geotextile to create a more durable trail surface and protect 
potentially vulnerable trail features.
    Because the CTMP proposed actions, such as constructing trails and 
changing trail alignments, that could have environmental consequences, 
NPS was required by the National Environmental Policy Act to evaluate 
the potential environmental impacts of those actions. The associated EA 
evaluated several alternative proposed actions or variations for a 
trail plan, including a ``no action'' alternative that would not change 
the way the trails were then managed. The draft plan and accompanying 
EA were prepared after a public meeting on June 29, 2006, and after a 
public scoping period from June 29, 2006, to July 14, 2006. After the 
draft plan and accompanying EA were prepared and published, NPS held a 
second public meeting on February 7, 2008, in conjunction with a 60-day 
comment period from January 24, 2008, to March 24, 2008.

Selected Alternative

    On November 14, 2008, the park selected Alternative 4 described in 
the EA. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the selected 
alternative was approved on December 17, 2008. The NPS has determined 
bicycle use to be appropriate for certain trails in MACA, with the 
incorporation of sustainable design, construction, and maintenance 
standards and materials. Minimizing trail damage and deterioration and 
environmental impacts is an essential element of Alternative 4. Under 
Alternative 4, the Big Hollow Trail will be constructed for bicycle use 
but will not be open to horses. Bicycle use will be eliminated on the 
Sal Hollow, Buffalo, and portions of the Turnhole Bend Trails, which 
will revert to hiking and horse use only.
    Public comment was overwhelmingly in support of Alternative 4 and 
opposed to the park's preferred alternative, Alternative 5. The primary 
difference between these two alternatives is that under Alternative 4, 
the NPS will construct a new trail primarily for bicycle use whereas 
Alternative 5 called for removal of horses from the existing First 
Creek Trail in order to allow bicycles on that trail. Creating a new 
trail for bicycle use and reverting some trails to hiking and horse use 
only will enhance recreational opportunities for a variety of park 
users.
    The EA is available online at http://www.nps.gov/maca/parkmgmt/planning.htm, and the CTMP and FONSI are available online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=17179, then clicking on 
the link entitled ``Document List.''

Trails Designated for Bicycle Use

Connector Trail

    A new Connector Trail will be designed and constructed for the 
purpose of connecting access points and other areas with trails, 
including the Maple Springs Group Campground, Maple Springs Trailhead, 
Mammoth Cave International Center for Science and Learning, Big Hollow 
Trailhead, and the Raymer Hollow Trailhead. This approximately 1.5 mile 
Connector Trail will run from the Maple Springs Trailhead to the Raymer 
Hollow Trailhead, and will be a wide, hardened-gravel trail to 
withstand heavy, two-way traffic of hikers, bicyclists, and horseback 
riders. The section of the Connector Trail between Maple Springs 
Trailhead and the Big Hollow Trailhead will be designated as multiple-
use, and the section from the Big Hollow Trailhead to the Raymer Hollow 
will be restricted to hikers and horses. As part of the Connector Trail 
development, the existing parking lot at the Maple Springs Trailhead 
will be improved and expanded. This lot will add parking capacity for 
the trail system and allow bicyclists, hikers and equestrian access to 
the horse and hiking trails or Big Hollow Trail without using park 
roads.
    When the Connector Trail is complete, the trailhead and trails at 
the Good Spring Baptist Church will be eliminated, as access will no 
longer be needed to the Raymer Hollow Trail. Elimination of these 
trails and the trailhead will greatly reduce the impact on and 
degradation of the Good Spring Baptist Church cultural site.
    Currently, the only way for equestrians, bicyclists, and hikers to 
access trailheads is by using the Maple Springs Loop Road and the Good 
Spring Church Road, which can be congested with large pickup trucks, 
horse trailers, and other passenger vehicles. Use of these roadways 
creates a potential hazard for trail users. The Connector Trail will 
provide an alternative to using these roads and increase public safety 
by getting these trail users away from the roads and the potential for 
collision with vehicles.

Big Hollow Trail

    The selected alternative (Alternative 4) includes the development 
of the six-mile-long Big Hollow Trail, which will be constructed east 
of the Green River Ferry Road-North and on the ridge west of Big 
Hollow. Bicycling and hiking will be allowed on the Big Hollow Trail, 
but the trail will be closed to horse use. Public comments on the EA 
substantially supported construction of this trail for bicycle use.
    This new trail increases opportunities for bicycle use without 
reducing the number of trails accessible to horse use, while 
maintaining separation of horse and bicycle users. Separation of these 
activities should improve the recreational experience for user groups 
and offer bicyclists access to backcountry scenery.
    Since the trail will involve new construction, the selected 
alternative will have more impact on park resources than other 
alternatives, but we concluded it will not have a significant effect on 
the environment. Vegetation will be removed on the trail surface, and 
cleared along the trail margins, and sustainable materials and 
construction techniques will be used to build the trail, which will 
help control and minimize surface degradation, erosion, and other 
effects on surrounding park resources. The Big Hollow Trail will not 
pass through floodplains, cross streams, or be located near wetlands, 
and therefore is expected to have no new impacts on water resources.
    Vegetation and tree removal identified in the selected alternative 
will be completed in accordance with the ``Biological Opinion for the 
Effects of the Hazard Tree Removal and Vegetation Management Program to 
the Indiana Bat at Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky'' to ensure the 
activities will be considered ``not likely to adversely affect'' the 
species.
    To minimize any effect on archeological resources, the park has 
surveyed areas where ground

[[Page 56120]]

disturbance will take place and adjusted trail alignment to avoid 
adverse impacts.

Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail

    An environmental assessment for the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & 
Hike Trail was completed in 1999 and amended in 2004. Between 2004 and 
2007, the NPS constructed this approximately nine-mile-long, graveled 
hiking and biking trail. The Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail 
follows the general route of a historic railroad bed leading from the 
visitor center to the park boundary at Park City and receives 
significant daily use. The trail passes close enough to the campground 
area to provide hiking and bicycling opportunities for those camping at 
the park. The trail continues past the campground, through valleys and 
higher elevations on the ridge-tops, providing the user with a varied 
ecological view of the park. Several wayside exhibits along the trail 
recount historic facts regarding the old railroad route, including past 
events and structures that played a significant role in the history of 
the area. The Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail was designed and 
constructed utilizing modern technology and sustainable design. The 
eight-foot-wide graveled surface was designed to offer a comparatively 
easy, family-style bicycle trail as opposed to the single-track, 
mountain-biking type of experience.
    The Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail will connect to 
historic Bell's Tavern upon completion of Park City's bike trail. The 
park has received expressions of interest from the communities of Cave 
City and Brownsville to construct similar bike trails that could 
connect with the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail. These 
improvements would provide opportunities for the use of the park and 
contribute to the ``Connecting People to Parks'' initiative of the NPS 
and the President's ``America's Great Outdoors'' initiative.

White Oak Trail

    The CTMP also identified the 2.4-mile-long White Oak Trail as a 
multiple-use trail, and this rule will designate it as a trail for 
bicycle use in addition to hiking and horseback riding. The trail is on 
an old roadbed and is wide, fairly level, and currently has a 
relatively low level of use. The flat and wide nature of the trail 
provides conditions that will tend to minimize user conflicts and 
support the multiple-use designation. The NPS will continue to 
occasionally use the White Oak Trail for administrative vehicle access 
to backcountry sites for emergency response and to conduct maintenance 
and monitoring activities.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    On May 17, 2011, NPS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for 
the designation of bicycle trails at MACA (76 FR 28388). The proposed 
rule for bicycle use was based upon the selected action (Alternative 4) 
described in the EA and FONSI. The proposed rule was available for 
public comment from May 17, 2011, through July 18, 2011.

Summary of and Responses to Public Comments

    Comments were accepted through the mail, hand delivery, and through 
the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. A total of 
21 public comment documents were received during the comment period, 
two from organizations and the rest from individuals. A summary of 
comments and NPS responses is provided below.
    1. Comment: The White Oak Trail needs to remain open to horses in 
the future.
    Response: Under the final rule, the NPS will not close the White 
Oak Trail to equestrians. The White Oak Trail will be a multiple/shared 
use trail for all backcountry users.
    2. Comment: Shared use of the White Oak Trail is acceptable due to 
the low level of trail use. It has been proven that bicyclists can 
successfully share trails with hikers.
    Response: The White Oak Trail consists of an administrative road 
that has a wide, relatively level surface and that receives 
comparatively little traffic by any users and therefore was determined 
appropriate for shared use by hikers, bikers, and equestrians.
    3. Comment: There is no need to open up any new trails in the 
park's backcountry area north of the river or to allow bicycles on the 
Big Hollow Trail since there are ample recreation opportunities for 
families and visitors in the park and for bicyclists to ride.
    Response: The NPS does not agree with this comment, but does 
recognize that individuals have a variety of opinions regarding the 
management and regulation of activities within units of the National 
Park System. The park undertook a diligent planning process involving 
the park's trail user groups and stakeholders, obtaining their input in 
developing the CTMP and the alternatives described in the CTMP. The 
CTMP identified management objectives and strategies to guide the 
protection, management, maintenance, and use of the trails in the park, 
including the development of new trails such as the Big Hollow Trail. 
The CTMP identified appropriate types of trail use and determined that 
bicycle use on designated trails is appropriate. The public interest in 
this planning process was high, and public input was considered and 
incorporated into the plan as part of the decision-making process.
    4. Comment: The park needs to rehabilitate and maintain the 
existing trails before building any new trails. The money spent on new 
trails would be better spent maintaining the established trails.
    Response: To improve trail conditions, the park is implementing 
other elements of the CTMP that address trail maintenance and 
sustainability. The park believes it can accomplish these goals 
concurrently with building the new Big Hollow Trail and Connector 
Trail.
    5. Comment: Mountain bicycling is an activity that is in keeping 
with the mission of the NPS.
    Response: The NPS has a goal of providing high quality bicycling 
opportunities for visitors in appropriate areas and in a manner 
consistent with our stewardship responsibilities. The NPS is committed 
to identifying and providing opportunities for the public to 
participate in outdoor recreation to promote health and wellness. NPS 
Director Jonathan Jarvis unveiled the ``Healthy Parks Healthy People 
US'' initiative to highlight the unique role that our nation's national 
parks play in promoting health and wellness through outdoor recreation 
activities such as bicycling. The President introduced the ``America's 
Great Outdoors'' initiative to reconnect people to the outdoors and 
promote activities that enhance health and wellness. A key goal of this 
initiative for federal agencies is to increase and improve recreational 
access and opportunities. During the CTMP planning process, the park 
received 2,905 public comments on the plan and only one of those 
comments stated a concern that the use of mountain bikes on trails in 
MACA was inconsistent with the mission of the NPS.
    6. Comment: Significant health benefits can be derived from 
bicycling and trail users at the park would benefit from enhanced 
outdoor recreational opportunities and access. Bicycling is a low 
impact, healthy, safe activity which should be encouraged in our parks. 
Biking fights obesity and nature deficit disorder, providing additional 
opportunities to exercise and better quality of life. The First Lady's 
``Let's

[[Page 56121]]

Move!'' campaign specifically addresses these problems and biking is a 
significant part of the solution. Bicycle routes create another method 
of exercise and opportunity to enjoy the park, create high quality 
recreational experiences, and add significant value to park resources. 
Providing biking opportunities will make the Mammoth Cave area more 
attractive to people who appreciate active types of recreation. Adding 
mountain bicycling to trails at MACA is the type of action contemplated 
by the President's ``America's Great Outdoors'' initiative to connect 
Americans to their natural surroundings through outdoor recreation.
    Response: The NPS is engaged in a wide-ranging effort to bring the 
outdoors into the public discussion about public health and to expand 
opportunities for people seeking a more active lifestyle. As part of 
this effort, NPS Director Jarvis initiated the ``Healthy Parks Healthy 
People U.S.'' program to highlight the unique role that our nation's 
national parks play in promoting health and wellness. Studies have 
shown being in the outdoors and participating in outdoor activities can 
reduce stress and anxiety, foster mental and physical health, and 
promote learning and personal growth. The health benefits derived from 
outdoor physical activities such as bicycling are well documented. 
Recently, the media has reported that doctors have been writing ``Park 
Prescriptions'' which prescribe park visits to get patients outside to 
exercise and receive the benefits of sun and fresh air. Implementing 
the final rule will increase and improve recreational opportunities for 
all trail users and high quality backcountry experiences. Equestrians 
have access to the Sal Hollow Trail as they requested. Hikers will have 
access to a backcountry trail which is free of horse impacts and 
manure. Bicyclists will be able to enjoy the Big Hollow Trail, the 
White Oak Trail, the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail, and the 
Connector Trail. Providing these recreational opportunities to the 
public will directly support the First Lady's ``Let's Move'' campaign 
to specifically address the public health crisis of obesity.
    7. Comment: Mountain biking has been managed successfully at other 
NPS units with minimal environmental impact. Other land managing 
agencies have found ways to manage mountain bicycling on their lands.
    Response: Several NPS units offer biking on single track trails, 
and many more allow riding on unpaved or dirt roads, providing numerous 
examples of successful, well-planned cycling venues in the National 
Park System. Scientific studies have shown that the environmental 
impacts of mountain biking are similar to those of hiking and less than 
those of other uses. Under the final rule, NPS will manage appropriate 
use of bicycles on identified trails in accordance with applicable 
laws, regulations, and policies. Such management will assure protection 
of the park's natural, cultural, scenic, wildlife, and aesthetic values 
while promoting visitor connections with the park, increasing 
appreciation of park resources, and providing healthy outdoor 
recreation opportunities.
    8. Comment: Local bicycle clubs and cyclists provide volunteer 
support to the park, making an important contribution to maintaining 
park trails. Local bicycling groups have adopted trails they ride 
providing volunteer backcountry patrols and maintenance to ensure the 
trails are environmentally sustainable. Members of the biking community 
have demonstrated their commitment to preserving and maintaining the 
resources at MACA. The Sal Hollow Trail is currently the best trail in 
the park because the local bicycle clubs and cyclists have volunteered 
over 200 hours of trail maintenance work per year for several years to 
keep the trail in this condition. Volunteer trail work provides service 
opportunities for people interested in helping maintain and create 
sustainable trails.
    Response: Local bicycling organizations have been participating in 
volunteer trail projects at the park for many years, thereby 
demonstrating their commitment to trail stewardship. The conditions of 
the trails they have been working on are among the best in the park. 
Park management will continue to work with the Mammoth Cave Backcountry 
Summit Council as an umbrella organization to coordinate and promote 
trail-related volunteer activities. Encouraging and supporting 
continued volunteer participation in trail maintenance activities by 
all user groups is a key management objective that is vital to 
establishing sustainable trails and protecting park resources.
    9. Comment: The CTMP for the park should be fully implemented, as 
it was developed through sound procedures analyzing a variety of 
alternatives and included a comprehensive analysis of the impacts of 
allowing bicycles on the identified trails and examined the potential 
long term, short term and cumulative impacts of its implementation, 
following both the letter and spirit of the law. The proposed rule is 
in keeping with the decisions reached through the CTMP process. The 
plan was developed with significant public input drawing on the 
expertise and desire of a wide array of trail users. The CTMP is 
environmentally and socially responsible. The plan reflects careful 
attention to preservation of the park's historical and natural 
resources. The park solicited public comment on the options before 
deciding which option would be best for the park and all user groups. 
During the CTMP process, the park received only two substantive 
comments indicating any negative perceptions regarding biking at MACA. 
Those arguments were founded on the lack of a special regulation, not 
on the use of bicycles on trails. The exceptionally low comment total 
and lack of opposition to the actual bicycle use indicates that the 
substance of the CTMP is relatively non-controversial, requiring only 
this final procedure to garner broad community support.
    Response: The park undertook a diligent planning process involving 
the park's trail user groups and stakeholders, obtaining their input in 
developing the CTMP and its alternatives. The plan identified 
management objectives and strategies to guide the protection, 
management, maintenance, and use of the trails in the park, including 
the development of new trails such as the Big Hollow Trail. This plan 
identified appropriate types of trail use and included the 
determination that bicycle use on designated trails is appropriate. 
During civic engagement, the public interest in this planning process 
was high, and the public's input was considered and incorporated into 
the plan as part of the decision making process. This has resulted in 
broad local support for the CTMP. The CTMP, along with the accompanying 
EA and FONSI, were completed and approved in December 2008. Completion 
of this rule-making process will address the concerns that the park 
does not have a special regulation designating the trails outside of 
developed areas that were selected in the CTMP for bicycle use.
    10. Comment: The Organic Act directs the NPS to provide for 
``enjoyment'' of the scenery, wildlife and natural and historic objects 
conserved by the NPS. The NPS Organic Act does not authorize any and 
all forms of outdoor recreation under the rubric of ``enjoyment.'' 
Mountain bicycling on single-track trails in park backcountry is a 
highly suspect form of ``enjoyment'' which may not be consistent with 
the purpose of national parks and of MACA.
    Response: The park completed the CTMP, EA, and FONSI in 2008. The 
CTMP and EA were published for a 60-day review and comment period. 
During

[[Page 56122]]

this civic engagement, the public interest in this planning process was 
high. The park received 2,905 public comments on the plan and only one 
of those comments stated a concern that the use of bikes on backcountry 
trails in MACA was inconsistent with the mission of the NPS. Through 
the park's planning and monitoring efforts, coupled with the input 
received from the public, the park determined that bicycling 
(recreational and mountain biking) is an appropriate use on certain 
park trails. This final rule specifically designates which trails in 
the park are open to bicycle use. Big Hollow Trail will be the only 
single-track trail open to bicycle use in the park. The limitations on 
bicycle use in 36 CFR 4.30 and this rule allow NPS to manage 
appropriate use of bicycles on the trails in accordance with applicable 
laws, regulations, and policies to ensure that the park is protecting 
natural, cultural, scenic, and wildlife resources while also preserving 
the aesthetic values of a backcountry experience for all users. The NPS 
has determined that implementing this special rule at MACA does not 
constitute a violation of the Organic Act or MACA's enabling 
legislation.
    11. Comment: The NPS has decided to construct a mountain bicycle 
trail in a roadless and undeveloped area of MACA and the unprecedented 
nature of that decision has created an impact of great significance for 
the National Park System and the park. This is the first time that the 
NPS has undertaken construction of a mountain bike trail in any area of 
the National Park System.
    Response: The Big Hollow Trail will be located in the area north of 
the Green River and east of the Green River Ferry Road. This area is 
not roadless and undeveloped, but rather contains many signs of past 
human use of the land, including sunken wagon and road traces, fence 
lines, power line corridors, old fields, reforestation plots, gullies 
and erosion control check dams, wells, chimneys, and building 
foundations. The Big Hollow Trail is not exclusively a mountain bike 
trail. It will be a shared use trail designated for use by hikers and 
bikers. This trail was designed and will be constructed to sustainable 
standards to support these uses. The park will be managing the 
appropriate use of bicycles on the designated trails, including the Big 
Hollow Trail, in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and 
policies to assure the protection of the park's natural, cultural, 
scenic, wildlife, and aesthetic values. This trail is not the first 
mountain bike trail constructed in a park area of the National Park 
System. Currently, there are several NPS units that have constructed 
mountain bike trails for riding and many more which allow mountain bike 
riding on unpaved roads. These trails are excellent examples of 
providing new opportunities for enjoying park areas in the National 
Park System. Some of these NPS units have constructed trails with 
bicycling and hiking as the primary intended uses. Several park units 
have completed a public process establishing special regulations which 
designated specific trails as open for bicycle use. Additional park 
units are currently working through the special regulation process to 
designate specific trails outside of developed areas for bicycle use. 
The requirements of 36 CFR 4.30 will still apply to any NPS unit which 
proposes to designate specific trails outside of developed areas for 
bicycle use.
    12. Comment: This rulemaking would establish bicycle use within a 
natural area that was previously studied for wilderness suitability in 
the park's Wilderness Study of 1974. The NPS should reassess the 
roadless tracts of MACA for suitability as wilderness. The special 
regulation would establish a use which would be required to be 
displaced (since bicycles are banned in wilderness) should Congress 
ever designate wilderness in this area.
    Response: The final rule is consistent with the requirements of the 
Wilderness Act. A Wilderness Study of the park was completed and a 
recommendation made that no lands in MACA be added to the National 
Wilderness Preservation System. There is no statutory requirement that 
the park reassess the roadless tracts for suitability as wilderness. 
Although more than 70 years have passed since the establishment of the 
park, the NPS continues to believe that the area is not suitable for 
wilderness because numerous signs of past human use of the land (e.g., 
sunken wagon/road traces, fence lines, power line corridors, old 
fields, reforestation plots, gullies and erosion control check dams, 
wells, chimneys, and building foundations) are still apparent in the 
area where trail development will occur.
    13. Comment: The Big Hollow Trail would be an asset to the park as 
well as the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Big Hollow Trail would be a great 
use of this public land. Big Hollow Trail is definitely a great idea to 
bring more international attention to the area and to highlight a piece 
of natural beauty that our country has to offer.
    Response: We agree that providing these recreational opportunities 
to the public will broaden the park's appeal with visitors looking for 
outdoor recreation activities and high quality backcountry experiences.

Changes from the Proposed Rule

    Paragraph (c)(2)(ii) of the proposed rule has been deleted because 
it is duplicative with 36 CFR 4.30(d)(2). Paragraph (c)(2)(iii) of the 
proposed rule (now paragraph (c)(2)(ii) of the final rule) has been 
revised to make the speed limit 15 miles per hour or as posted in the 
park. This gives MACA the flexibility to adjust the speed limit to 
address visitor safety, health, or resource management concerns. 
Paragraph (c)(3) has been revised to grant the Superintendent of MACA 
the authority to open or close designated bicycle routes, or to impose 
conditions or restrictions for bicycle use after taking into 
consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource 
protection, and other management activities and objectives. This 
authority may be exercised independent of the Superintendent's 
authority under 36 CFR 1.5 and will provide the park with greater 
flexibility to respond to the impacts of bicycle use on designated 
routes. Public notice of any action taken under paragraph (c)(3)(i) 
must be given pursuant to one or more of the methods set forth in 36 
CFR 1.7. Paragraph (c)(3)(ii) was added to clarify that violating a 
closure, condition, or restriction established by the Superintendent 
under paragraph (c)(3) is prohibited. After consideration of the public 
comments, the park has decided that no other changes are necessary to 
the proposed rule.

Compliance With Other Laws and Executive Orders

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant rules. OIRA has 
determined that this rule is not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 
12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system 
to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, 
most innovative, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory 
ends. The executive order directs agencies to consider regulatory 
approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of 
choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, 
and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 
emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available

[[Page 56123]]

science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public 
participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this 
rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    This rule will not have a significant economic effect on a 
substantial number of small entities under the RFA (5 U.S.C. 601 et 
seq.). This conclusion is based on the results of an NPS economic 
analysis of the effects of the rule, dated November 17, 2009, available 
for review at: http://www.nps.gov/maca/parkmgmt/planning.htm, which 
incorporated a regulatory flexibility threshold analysis. The rule will 
reasonably increase park visitation and thereby generate benefits for 
businesses, including small entities, through increased visitor 
spending.

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA)

    This rule is not a major rule under 5 U.S.C. 804(2), the SBREFA. 
This rule:
    (a) Does not have an annual effect on the economy of $100 million 
or more. There are no businesses in the surrounding area economically 
dependent on continued bicycle use on these trails. The November 2009 
NPS economic analysis estimated that the rule will add a benefit to 
local business in the form of new visitors attracted to the area to use 
the trails.
    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, state, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions. The rule will not impose restrictions 
on local businesses in the form of fees, training, record keeping, or 
other measures that would increase costs. The economic analysis 
projected a net benefit for the Federal government and a consumer 
surplus of $24.02/day for new visitors and $12.01/day for current 
visitors.
    (c) Does not have significant adverse effects on competition, 
employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of 
U.S. based enterprises to compete with foreign based enterprises. The 
rule is internal to NPS operations.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA)

    This rule does not impose an unfunded mandate on State, local, or 
tribal governments or the private sector of more than $100 million per 
year. The rule does not have a significant or unique effect on State, 
local or tribal governments or the private sector. This rulemaking 
addresses only actions that will be taken by the NPS. It will not 
require any State, local or tribal government to take any action that 
is not funded. It is an NPS-specific rule and imposes no requirements 
on small governments. A statement containing the information required 
by the UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) is not required.

Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    Under the criteria in section 2 of Executive Order 12630, this rule 
does not have significant takings implications. This rule designates 
park trails inside the park, and though the trails may connect with 
trails external to the park, the rule does not require the taking of 
private land outside the park. A takings implication assessment is not 
required.

Federalism (Executive Order 13132)

    Under the criteria in section 1 of Executive Order 13132, this rule 
does not have sufficient federalism implications to warrant the 
preparation of a Federalism summary impact statement. This rule only 
effects use of NPS administered lands. It has no effect on other areas. 
A Federalism summary impact statement is not required.

Civil Justice Reform (Executive Order 12988)

    This rule complies with the requirements of Executive Order 12988. 
Specifically, this rule:
    (a) Meets the criteria of section 3(a) requiring that all 
regulations be reviewed to eliminate errors and ambiguity and be 
written to minimize litigation; and
    (b) Meets the criteria of section 3(b)(2) requiring that all 
regulations be written in clear language and contain clear legal 
standards.

Consultation With Indian Tribes (Executive Order 13175 and Department 
Policy)

    The Department of the Interior strives to strengthen its 
government-to-government relationship with Indian tribes through a 
commitment to consultation with Indian tribes and recognition of their 
right to self-governance and tribal sovereignty. We have evaluated this 
rule under the Department's consultation policy and under the criteria 
in Executive Order 13175 and have determined that it has no substantial 
direct effects on federally recognized Indian tribes and that 
consultation under the Department's tribal consultation policy is not 
required. The question was considered as part of the EA, and trails 
were configured to avoid areas identified as archeological sites, 
specifically any with known burials. In addition to the EA, past 
consultation with the tribes has been important in the identification 
of concerns or issues of cultural interest.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    This rule does not contain information collection requirements, and 
a submission under the PRA is not required.

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

    We have prepared environmental assessments to determine whether 
this rule would have a significant impact on the quality of the human 
environment under the NEPA. This rule does not constitute a major 
Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human 
environment. A detailed statement under the NEPA is not required 
because we reached a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the 
Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail and also for the other 
designated bicycle routes. The environmental assessment and FONSI for 
the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail and the EA for the 
Comprehensive Trail Management Plan (CTMP) may be reviewed at http://www.nps.gov/maca/parkmgmt/planning.htm. The FONSI for the CTMP may be 
reviewed at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectID=17179, and then clicking on the link entitled 
``Document List.''

Effects on the Energy Supply (Executive Order 13211)

    This rule is not a significant energy action under the definition 
in Executive Order 13211. A Statement of Energy Effects is not 
required.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 7

    National parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    For the reasons stated in the preamble, the National Park Service 
amends 36 CFR part 7 as follows:

PART 7--SPECIAL REGULATIONS, AREAS OF THE NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM

0
1. The authority citation for Part 7 is revised to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1, 3, 9a, 462(k); Sec. 7.96 also issued 
under 36 U.S.C. 501-511, DC Code 10-137 (2001) and DC Code 50-
2201.07 (2001).


0
2. In Sec.  7.36 add paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  7.36  Mammoth Cave National Park.

* * * * *
    (c) Bicycles. (1) The following trails are designated as routes 
open to bicycle use:

[[Page 56124]]

    (i) Connector Trail from the Big Hollow Trailhead to the Maple 
Springs Trailhead;
    (ii) Big Hollow Trail;
    (iii) Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail; and
    (iv) White Oak Trail.
    (2) The following are prohibited:
    (i) Possessing a bicycle on routes or trails not designated as open 
to bicycle use;
    (ii) Unless posted otherwise, operating a bicycle in excess of 15 
miles per hour on designated routes; and
    (iii) Failing to yield the right of way to horses or hikers.
    (3) The Superintendent may open or close designated bicycle routes, 
or portions thereof, or impose conditions or restrictions for bicycle 
use after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural 
and cultural resource protection, and other management activities and 
objectives.
    (i) The Superintendent will provide public notice of all such 
actions through one or more of the methods listed in Sec.  1.7 of this 
chapter.
    (ii) Violating a closure, condition, or restriction is prohibited.

    Dated: August 30, 2012.
Rachael Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2012-22438 Filed 9-11-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-T3-P