[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 44 (Wednesday, March 6, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 14447-14450]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-05250]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

36 CFR Part 7

[NPS-CHAT-11887; PPSECHAT00; PPMPSPD1Z.YM0000]
RIN 1024-AD94


Special Regulations; Areas of the National Park System, 
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, Bicycle Routes

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: This rule designates certain multi-use pathways in 
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area as routes for bicycle use. 
National Park Service general regulations require promulgation of a 
special regulation to designate new routes for bicycle use off park 
roads and outside developed areas. Several segments of multi-use 
pathways at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area have been, or 
are planned to be, constructed to replace eroded social trails with a 
sustainable trail system. Allowing bicycling on the new trail system 
improves connectivity to regional trail networks, enhances 
opportunities for non-motorized enjoyment of the park, and encourages 
the use of alternate transportation by park visitors and staff.

DATES: The rule is effective April 5, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Slade, Chief of Science and 
Resource Management, Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, 1978 
Island Ford Parkway, Sandy Springs, GA 30350, (678) 538-1321.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    In 1973, the State of Georgia enacted the Metropolitan River 
Protection Act (MRPA) to ensure the protection of the corridor located 
within 2,000 feet of each bank of the Chattahoochee River, or the 
corridor located within the 100-year floodplain, whichever is larger. 
Five years after the enactment of the MRPA, the United States Congress 
found that the:

natural, scenic, recreation, historic, and other values of a forty-
eight mile segment of the Chattahoochee River and certain adjoining 
lands in the State of Georgia from Buford Dam downstream to 
Peachtree Creek are of special national significance, and that such 
values should be preserved and protected from developments and uses 
which would substantially impair or destroy them. (16 U.S.C. 460ii)

    On August 15, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed legislation 
creating the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area (CHAT), a 
unit of the National Park System consisting of ``the river and its bed 
together with the lands, waters, and interests therein. * * *'' (16 
U.S.C. 460ii). The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for 
management of this significant stretch of riverside park.
    In 1984, Congress amended CHAT's enabling legislation through 
Public Law 98-568, which declared the corridor located within 2,000 
feet of each bank along the 48-mile river segment ``an area of national 
concern.'' A subsequent amendment, passed in 1999, expanded the 
authorized boundary of CHAT and provided funding to support acquisition 
of land-based linear corridors to link existing units of the recreation 
area and to ensure that they are managed to standardize acquisition, 
planning, design, construction, and operation of the linear corridors. 
The NPS manages the 48-mile stretch of the Chattahoochee River from 
top-of-bank to top-of-bank, including all adjacent land elements that 
occur below the high water mark. The NPS also manages over 5,000 acres 
of park land, including riverside units and upland forested areas with 
hiking trails and other recreational opportunities.
    In September 2009, the NPS completed a General Management Plan/
Environmental Impact Statement (GMP/EIS). Consistent with 36 CFR 4.30, 
the GMP/EIS states that bicycles are prohibited except on roads, 
parking areas, and designated routes, noting that this regulation is 
especially important in light of comments received during the GMP/EIS 
process from some visitors who view the park corridor as an opportunity 
to promote non-motorized and less polluting alternatives to 
automobiles, such as bicycle use. Public comments during the GMP/EIS 
process also reflected the desire to increase the use of bicycles off-
road in the park through development of an interconnected trail system. 
The final GMP/EIS describes off-road bicycling on trails as an 
appropriate use in the developed, natural area recreation, and rustic 
zones.

History of Trail Development

    This rule adds a special regulation for CHAT, designating segments 
of trails in

[[Page 14448]]

the Vickery Creek, Johnson Ferry South, and Cochran Shoals units as 
multi-use trails, allowing both pedestrian and bicycle use.

Vickery Creek Unit

    In 2001, the City of Roswell planned and constructed a multi-use 
paved trail along the Chattahoochee River, a portion of which crosses 
the Vickery Creek unit of CHAT. Pursuant to the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969, the park completed a Categorical Exclusion in 2001 
that determined there would be minimal impacts from the approximately 
500-foot segment of paved multi-use trail that crosses a portion of the 
Vickery Creek unit. This trail was constructed prior to the GMP/EIS and 
was consistent with former park planning zones.

Johnson Ferry South Unit

    The January 2010 Proposed Trail Connection Project Environmental 
Assessment (EA) evaluated projects to improve trail connectivity and 
sustainability within the Bowmans Island West, Johnson Ferry South, and 
Cochran Shoals park units, including new bicycle access in the Johnson 
Ferry South and Cochran Shoals units. The selected alternative in the 
EA for the Johnson Ferry South unit includes construction of a 0.1 mile 
segment of new trail to connect the existing multi-use trail on a park 
administrative road to a planned underpass below the Johnson Ferry Road 
Bridge. The existing 2.2 mile long trail is located on an old dirt farm 
roadbed that is currently being used by both pedestrians and 
bicyclists. The 0.1 mile trail segment will allow bicyclists and 
pedestrians to connect to an alternative transportation network both 
within and beyond the park boundary. The new 0.1 mile trail segment 
will use sustainable design principles including routing along the 
terrain contours, sloping the trail surface to allow for runoff during 
rain events, and a natural trail surface. This trail segment was 
evaluated by the EA, and in March 2010 the park completed a Finding of 
No Significant Impact (FONSI) which concluded that the selected 
alternative for the Johnson Ferry South unit will not have a 
significant adverse effect on the human environment. The Johnson Ferry 
South unit is zoned in the GMP/EIS as a rustic zone, which identifies 
off-road bicycling as an appropriate use.

Cochran Shoals Unit

    The selected alternative in the EA for the Cochran Shoals unit 
allows pedestrian-only access on a number of trails, but also 
incorporates a loop-style multi-use trail for both pedestrians and 
bicyclists. The project will close and revegetate heavily eroded social 
trails and construct new trail segments along the terrain contours, 
with natural and sloping trail surfaces to allow for runoff during rain 
events, creating a sustainable, aesthetically pleasing trail network. 
An existing multi-use trail follows an old farm road that is used for 
park administrative purposes for 2.4 miles, where off-road bicycling is 
currently allowed. The final trail plan has 3 miles of hiking-only 
trails and 6.7 miles of multi-use trails allowing both pedestrians and 
bicycles. Public comments received during scoping overwhelmingly 
supported expanding access for bicycling in the Cochran Shoals unit.
    During the EA process, some public comments raised concerns 
regarding bicyclists and hikers sharing trails in Cochran Shoals, 
citing safety and erosion issues. Conflicts between pedestrians and 
bicyclists are primarily caused by the difference in speeds between the 
users. Bicyclists can often travel at higher speeds, and the speed 
differential between bicyclists and pedestrians may reduce the 
communication between the users, startle pedestrians, and increase the 
odds of conflict. To minimize the potential for conflict, the Cochran 
Shoals trail network was designed to create a 6.7 mile loop-style 
system, rather than an out-and-back style trail, thereby reducing 
traffic and congestion at any given point on the trail. The new loop-
style trail also reduces the number of users that could potentially cut 
through or create unauthorized trails in order to avoid repetitive 
scenery. In addition, park management will implement directional 
traffic on the trails in the Johnson Ferry South and Cochran Shoals 
units to limit bicycle-pedestrian conflicts. The Superintendent will 
exercise discretion to temporarily close bicycle access to these trails 
following a rain event to address issues concerning erosion and water 
quality impacts that were also raised during the EA process.
    The FONSI concluded that the selected alternative for the Cochran 
Shoals unit will not have a significant adverse effect on the human 
environment. The Cochran Shoals unit is zoned in the GMP/EIS as a 
natural area recreation zone, which identifies off-road bicycling as an 
appropriate use.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

    On July 10, 2012, the NPS published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking 
for the designation of certain multi-use pathways in Chattahoochee 
River National Recreation Area as routes for bicycle use (77 FR 40547). 
The proposed rule was available for a 60-day public comment period, 
from July 10, 2012, through September 10, 2012.

Summary of and Responses to Public Comment

    Comments were accepted by email and through the Federal eRulemaking 
Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. The NPS received 205 public 
comments during the comment period. Of these responses, all but one 
expressed clear support for the proposed rule. One of the responses was 
from an organization, and the rest were from individuals. The 
organization that responded in support of the proposed rule is the 
International Mountain Bicycling Association. There were no responses 
from organizations opposed to the proposed rule.
    The NPS received 204 comments in support of the proposed rule. 
Representative comments include:
    1. I support the proposed regulation to allow bicycles on the Sope 
Creek trails in Chattahoochee River National Recreation area because:
    (a) The new trails offer expanded access to bicycles and bring a 
unique combination of recreational opportunities to an urban area that 
is starved for more diverse forms of recreation and ways to connect 
people with natural resources;
    (b) Mountain biking is a popular activity with children and will 
attract a younger demographic to the park, helping to foster a love for 
outdoors and national parks; and
    (c) The Atlanta chapter of the Southern Off-Road Bicycle 
Association has a long standing commitment to trail maintenance and 
education at Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.
    2. Outdoor recreation is difficult to find in the metro Atlanta 
area and often requires a long trip. This is a chance to increase 
recreational opportunities close to the city, saving gas and time for 
local residents.
    3. I support expanded bicycle use throughout Chattahoochee River 
National Recreation Area, which will promote outdoor exercise for 
individuals and families and reduce congestion on trails currently open 
to bicycling.
    4. Implementing directional travel of bicycles can help to limit 
user conflict and trail erosion.
    5. Bicycling is a healthy, family activity and can reduce obesity 
among adults and children.
    6. Expanded opportunities for mountain biking will increase tourism 
and benefit local economies.

[[Page 14449]]

    One comment expressed a limited objection to the proposed rule, 
which is summarized below along with the NPS response.
    1. Comment: We are adjacent neighbors to the Sope Creek/Cochran 
Shoals area and have a view of one of the trails that is proposed to be 
opened to bicycles. Although bicycles are not currently allowed on the 
trail, we have observed frequent bicycle use on the trail, which runs 
down a ridgeline. Cyclists start at the top of the hill and head down 
the trail at a rapid pace, creating a danger for pedestrians and others 
at the lower end of the trail. We suggest making bicycle traffic one-
way along the trail in the uphill direction, eliminating the potential 
danger.
    Response: The NPS recognizes the potential for conflicts between 
pedestrians and bicyclists and included language in the proposed rule 
regarding the implementation of directional traffic for bicycles on the 
trails in the Cochran Shoals unit. Directional traffic will be 
implemented on all of the trails included in the loop-style system, 
which will reduce the potential for congestion and conflict throughout 
the unit. Specific guidelines for the directional system will be 
developed and communicated to the public prior to implementation of the 
new regulation.

Changes From the Proposed Rule

    After consideration of the public comments, the park has decided 
that no changes are necessary in the final rule.

Compliance With Other Laws, Executive Orders and Department Policy 
Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Order 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 
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.). There are no businesses in the surrounding area economically 
dependent on bicycle use on these trails. The park does not have any 
bicycle rental concessioners and the users are mainly private 
individuals using the trails for recreational purposes. This 
certification is based on the cost-benefit and regulatory flexibility 
analysis found in the report entitled ``Cost-Benefit and Regulatory 
Flexibility Analysis: Proposed Regulations for Trail Management in 
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area'' which can be viewed on 
the park's planning Web site, http://www.nps.gov/chat/parkmgmt/planning.htm, then clicking on the link entitled ``Chattahoochee River 
Trail Connection Plan.''

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.
    (b) Will not cause a major increase in costs or prices for 
consumers, individual industries, Federal, State, or local government 
agencies, or geographic regions.
    (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.

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. It addresses public 
use of national park lands, and imposes no requirements on other 
agencies or 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. 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 
affects use of NPS administered lands and waters and has no outside 
effects 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)

    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. Representatives of the tribes potentially affiliated with 
CHAT were contacted during the preparation of the EA.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

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

National Environmental Policy Act (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 (i) the selected action for the 
Vickery Creek unit is covered by a categorical exclusion and (ii) we 
reached a FONSI for the selected actions for the Johnson Ferry South 
and Cochran Shoals units. We have also determined that this rule does 
not involve any of the extraordinary

[[Page 14450]]

circumstances listed in 43 CFR 46.215 that would require further 
analysis of the selected action for the Vickery Creek unit under NEPA. 
A copy of the EA and FONSI can be downloaded from the park's planning 
Web site, http://www.nps.gov/chat/parkmgmt/planning.htm, then clicking 
on the link entitled ``Chattahoochee River Trail Connection Plan.''

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 in not 
required.

Drafting Information

    The primary authors of this regulation were Joel Brumm, 
Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, and Jay P. Calhoun, 
Regulations and Special Park Uses, National Park Service.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 7

    National parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service amends 
36 CFR part 7 as set forth below:

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

0
1. The authority for part 7 continues 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, D.C. Code 10-137 (2001) and D.C. Code 50-
2201.07 (2001).

0
2. Add Sec.  7.90 to read as follows:


Sec.  7.90  Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area.

    (a) Bicycling. (1) Where may I ride a bicycle within Chattahoochee 
River National Recreation Area? The following routes are designated for 
bicycle use:
    (i) The approximately 500-foot-long segment of paved multi-use 
trail along the Chattahoochee River located within the boundary of the 
Vickery Creek unit.
    (ii) The approximately 2.2-mile-long multi-use trail in the Johnson 
Ferry South unit that connects to the bridge underpass at Johnson Ferry 
Road.
    (iii) The approximately 6.7-mile-long loop-style multi-use trail in 
the Cochran Shoals unit.
    (2) Will the routes be identified on the ground? Yes, the three 
trails will be posted at trail junctions indicating they are open to 
bicycle use.
    (3) Where can I find maps depicting routes designated for bicycle 
use? Maps depicting designated bicycle routes are available in the 
office of the Superintendent and online at www.nps.gov/chat/planyourvisit/bike-maps.htm.
    (4) How will the Superintendent manage the designated bicycle 
routes? (i) 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, carrying capacity and other 
management activities and objectives.
    (ii) Following a rain event, the Superintendent may exercise 
discretion to temporarily close the trails in the Johnson Ferry South 
and Cochran Shoals units to mitigate soil erosion and water quality 
impacts from bicycle use.
    (iii) 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.
    (iv) Violating a closure, condition, or restriction is prohibited.
    (b) [Reserved]

    Dated: February 21, 2013.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2013-05250 Filed 3-5-13; 8:45 am]
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