[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 231 (Monday, December 2, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 72028-72032]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-28788]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

36 CFR Part 7

[NPS-CURE-13810; 122PPIMCURES1,PPMPSPD1Z.YM0000]
RIN 1024-AD76


Special Regulations, Areas of the National Park System, Curecanti 
National Recreation Area, Snowmobiles and Off-Road Motor Vehicles

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The National Park Service amends the special regulations for 
Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado, to designate routes, 
water surfaces, and areas where snowmobiles or motor vehicles may be 
used off park roads.

DATES: This rule is effective January 2, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ken Stahlnecker, Chief of Resource 
Stewardship and Science, Curecanti National Recreation Area, 102 Elk 
Creek, Gunnison, CO 81230. Phone: (970) 641-2337x225. Email: ken_stahlnecker@nps.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

History of Curecanti National Recreation Area

    The Blue Mesa Dam and Reservoir, Morrow Point Dam and Reservoir, 
and Crystal Dam and Reservoir make up the Curecanti Unit, one of the 
four main units authorized by the Colorado River Storage Project Act of 
April 11, 1956 (Pub. L. 84-485) (CRSPA). The Curecanti Unit is also 
known as the Wayne N. Aspinall Storage Unit.
    Section 8 of CRSPA directed the Secretary of the Interior 
(Secretary) ``to investigate, plan, construct, operate, and maintain 
(1) public recreational facilities on lands withdrawn or acquired for 
the development of [the Colorado River Storage Project] to conserve the 
scenery, the natural, historic, and archeological objects, and the 
wildlife on said lands, and to provide for public use and enjoyment of 
the same and of the water areas created by these projects by such means 
as are consistent with the primary purposes of said projects. . . .''
    Pursuant to that provision, the National Park Service (NPS) began 
managing natural and cultural resources and recreational uses within 
the Aspinall Storage Unit and established the Curecanti National 
Recreation Area (CURE or recreation area) in 1965 under a Memorandum of 
Agreement (MOA) with the Bureau of Reclamation. In 1978, Bureau of 
Reclamation lands in the East Portal area were added to CURE and placed 
under the management authority of the NPS pursuant to the MOA.

NPS Authority and Jurisdiction

    The NPS manages CURE under the NPS Organic Act of 1916 (Organic 
Act) (16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.), which gives the NPS broad authority to 
regulate the use of the park areas under its jurisdiction. The Organic 
Act authorizes the Secretary to ``make and publish such rules and 
regulations as he may deem necessary or proper for the use and 
management of the parks.''
    The purpose of the recreation area, as provided for in the MOA, is 
to conserve its scenery, natural and cultural resources, and wildlife, 
and to manage its lands, waters, fish, wildlife, and recreational 
activities consistent with section 8 of CRSPA and the Federal Water 
Project Recreation Act (16 U.S.C. 460l-12; Pub. L. 89-72, July 9, 1965, 
as amended).

Description and Significance of CURE

    CURE is located in Gunnison and Montrose Counties in southwestern

[[Page 72029]]

Colorado. The reservoirs and the surrounding lands provide recreational 
opportunities amidst a variety of natural, cultural, and scenic 
resources, including recently discovered dinosaur fossils, a 5,000-acre 
archeological district, and traces of 6,000 year-old dwellings. 
Approximately one million people visit CURE annually to take advantage 
of numerous recreational opportunities. Most visitors come during the 
summer months when temperatures are warmer and water-based activities 
are more popular.
    The recreation area contains water resources, including three 
reservoirs that provide a variety of recreational opportunities in a 
spectacular geological setting. Blue Mesa Reservoir is one of the 
largest high-altitude bodies of water in the United States. It provides 
exciting and diverse water recreation opportunities for windsurfers, 
sail boaters, and water skiers.

Motor Vehicle and Snowmobile Use at CURE

    Visitors to CURE use motor vehicles to access campsites, fishing 
spots, marinas, trailheads, and other destinations throughout the 
recreation area, both on and off roads. Motor vehicle access is also an 
important means for disabled or mobility impaired visitors to 
experience the recreation area.
    Motor vehicles have traditionally been used to access certain sites 
within the recreation area, including areas below the high-water mark 
of Blue Mesa Reservoir. The high-water mark is defined as the point at 
which the reservoir is at maximum capacity (full pool), an elevation of 
7,519 feet. NPS policy at the recreation area has been to allow the 
operation of motor vehicles between the high-water mark and the water 
surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir for the purpose of fishing access and 
boat launching. In addition, the NPS has established several access 
roads that service power lines as roads open for motor vehicle access. 
Access to areas below the high-water mark is primarily from maintained 
roads. However, unmaintained routes off established roads also provide 
access for travel below the high-water mark in a few areas. The most 
common motor vehicles that access these areas are cars and trucks. 
During the winter months, snowmobiles are used to reach popular fishing 
locations on the frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir. Snowmobiles 
access the frozen surface from designated access points.

Off-Road Motor Vehicle and Snowmobile Regulation

    Executive Order 11644, Use of Off-Road Vehicles on the Public 
Lands, issued in 1972 and amended by Executive Order 11989 in 1977, 
required federal agencies to issue regulations designating specific 
areas and routes on public lands where the use of off-road vehicles may 
be used. The NPS has implemented these Executive Orders in 36 CFR 2.18 
and 4.10.
    Under 36 CFR 4.10, the use of motor vehicles off established roads 
is prohibited unless routes and areas are designated for off-road motor 
vehicle use by a special regulation. Under 36 CFR 4.10(b), such routes 
and areas ``may be designated only in national recreation areas, 
national seashores, national lakeshores and national preserves.'' 
Similarly, under 36 CFR 2.18, the use of snowmobiles is prohibited 
except on routes and water surfaces used by motor vehicles or 
motorboats during other seasons. Under 36 CFR 2.18(b), routes and water 
surfaces must be designated for snowmobile use by special regulation.
    The NPS is issuing this rule to designate routes, water surfaces, 
and areas where motor vehicles and snowmobiles may be used off park 
roads, in compliance with 36 CFR 2.18 and 4.10 and Executive Orders 
11644 and 11989.

Motorized Vehicle Access Plan/Environmental Assessment

    This rule implements the preferred alternative (Alternative C) for 
CURE described in the October 2010 Motor Vehicle Access Plan/
Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA was open for public review and 
comment from November 17, 2010 until January 15, 2011. CURE completed a 
Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on July 10, 2012, which 
selected for implementation the preferred alternative (Alternative C). 
The EA and FONSI are available for review at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cure by clicking the link entitled ``Motorized 
Access Plan/Environmental Assessment'' and then clicking the link 
entitled ``Document List.'' An analysis of potential costs and benefits 
of this rule is available for review in the report entitled ``Summary 
of Economic Analyses'' found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cure then 
clicking the link entitled ``Motorized Access Plan/Environmental 
Assessment'' and then clicking the link entitled ``Document List.''

Proposed Rule and Public Comment Period

    The NPS published the proposed rule on May 9, 2013, (78 FR 27132) 
with request for public comment through the Federal eRulemaking portal 
at regulations.gov, or by mail or hand delivery. The 60-day comment 
period ended on July 8, 2013. No comments were received. There are no 
changes from the proposed rule in the final rule other than a few 
minor, non-substantive edits. The final rule revises the section 
heading for Sec.  7.51 from ``Curecanti Recreation Area'' to 
``Curecanti National Recreation Area,'' which is the actual name of the 
recreation area.

 Final Rule

    This rule amends the special regulations for CURE at 36 CFR 7.51 to 
implement the selected action in the FONSI. The rule designates frozen 
water surfaces where snowmobiles may be used, designates new access 
points, and designates routes from the access points to the frozen 
surface of the Blue Mesa Reservoir. The rule also designates routes and 
areas where motor vehicles may be used off park roads within the 
recreation area, and access routes at various locations throughout the 
recreation area.

Snowmobiles

    This rule amends section 7.51(c) to modify the designated access 
routes and frozen water surface where snowmobiles may be used. 
Snowmobiles may continue to operate on designated routes and areas 
within the boundaries of CURE provided their use conforms to the 
regulations governing the use of snowmobiles in 36 CFR 2.18 and 
applicable State laws. The rule retains the frozen surface of Blue Mesa 
Reservoir as a designated area for snowmobile use and designates 
specific access points and access routes to the reservoir. Routes are 
designated for travel by snowmobiles from the access points to the 
frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir. These access routes are limited 
to the most direct route from the access points to the frozen surface. 
Traveling parallel to the reservoir, before accessing the frozen 
surface, is prohibited. Routes may be marked where possible, but 
changing weather conditions and terrain often make posting routes 
difficult. The rule also creates three new snowmobile access points: 
one at the Lake Fork Visitor Center boat ramp; one on the southeast 
shore of Iola Basin near Willow Creek; and one near McIntyre Gulch. The 
new access points will reduce environmental impacts by shortening the 
distance some

[[Page 72030]]

visitors travel over the frozen surface by snowmobile to fish. A map of 
the water surfaces and routes open to snowmobile use and designated 
access points will be available in the office of the Superintendent, at 
the Elk Creek Visitor Center, at the Lake Fork Visitor Center, at the 
Cimarron Visitor Center, and on the recreation area's Web site.
    Snowmobile gross weight continues to be limited to a maximum of 
1,200 pounds (including cargo but excluding the weight of the driver 
and any passenger). The snowmobile speed limit remains 45 mph (36 CFR 
2.18(d)(4)).

Off Road Vehicles

    The final rule adds paragraph 7.51(e) to designate three groups of 
routes and areas where motor vehicles may be used off park roads in the 
recreation area. First, the frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir is 
designated for use by motor vehicles, in addition to snowmobiles. 
Second, the exposed lake bottom of Blue Mesa Reservoir is a designated 
area for motor vehicle use. This designated area between the high water 
mark and the actual water level of the reservoir is limited to a 
maximum area of approximately 958 acres. Third, approximately 24 miles 
of off-road routes are designated open to public motor vehicle use. 
These designated routes provide access to Blue Mesa Reservoir, other 
CURE lands, and to adjacent public lands. A map of routes and areas 
open to off-road motor vehicle use will be available in the office of 
the Superintendent, at the Elk Creek Visitor Center, at the Lake Fork 
Visitor Center, at the Cimarron Visitor Center, and on the recreation 
area's Web site. Under 36 CFR 1.4, the term ``motor vehicle'' does not 
include snowmobiles. As a result, paragraph 7.51(e) does not apply to 
snowmobiles.
    The provisions of 36 CFR Part 4, including state law adopted by 36 
CFR 4.1, apply within the recreation area. Unless posted otherwise, the 
speed limit is 15 mph for motor vehicles on all designated off-road 
routes and areas. Speed limits are implemented for visitor safety and 
to prohibit driving that may damage resources. The 45 mph speed limit 
for snowmobiles is higher than the 15 mph speed limit for motor 
vehicles, even though both will be allowed to travel on the frozen 
surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir, because snowmobiles are more easily 
controlled on snow and ice due to vehicle design and a lower center of 
gravity. As a result, there are less safety and resource concerns with 
driving snowmobiles in excess of 15 mph. Motor vehicle gross weight is 
limited to a maximum of 1,800 pounds (including cargo but excluding the 
driver and any passenger) on the frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir. 
This vehicle restriction is intended to allow only lightweight all-
terrain vehicles (ATV) or utility task vehicles (UTV or sometimes 
referred to as a side-by-side) onto the frozen surface.
    To prevent impacts to areas outside of existing routes, wheelbase 
width for motor vehicles on all designated routes may not exceed 8 
feet, 6 inches. The NPS may also recommend, but will not require, four-
wheel drive and/or high-clearance vehicles on particular routes, based 
on visitor safety and route conditions.

Superintendent's Authority

    Routes, water surface, areas, or access points designated for 
snowmobile, personal watercraft, or off-road motor vehicle use will be 
subject to year-round, seasonal, or temporary site-specific closures, 
conditions, or restrictions with public notice provided under 36 CFR 
1.7. The Superintendent's authority in Sec.  7.51(d)(5), related to 
personal watercraft use, is removed because it is redundant with the 
Superintendent's authority in paragraph (e) of this rule.

Compliance With Other Laws, Executive Orders and Department Policy

Use of Off-Road Vehicles on the Public Lands (Executive Orders 11644 
and 11989)

    Section 3(a)(4) of Executive Order 11644 provides that off-road 
vehicle (ORV) ``[a]reas and trails shall be located in areas of the 
National Park system, Natural Areas, or National Wildlife Refuges and 
Game Ranges only if the respective agency head determines that off-road 
vehicle use in such locations will not adversely affect their natural, 
aesthetic, or scenic values.'' Since the Executive Order clearly was 
not intended to prohibit all ORV use everywhere in these units, the 
term ``adversely affect'' does not have the same meaning as the 
somewhat similar terms ``adverse impact'' and ``adverse effect'' used 
in NEPA. In analyses under NEPA, a procedural statute that provides for 
the study of environmental impacts, the term ``adverse effect'' 
includes minor or negligible effects. Section 3(a)(4) of the Executive 
Order, by contrast, concerns substantive management decisions and must 
be read in the context of the authorities applicable to such decisions. 
CURE is an area of the National Park System. Therefore, the NPS 
interprets the Executive Order term ``adversely affect'' consistent 
with NPS Management Policies (2006). Those policies require that the 
NPS only allow ``appropriate use'' of parks and avoid ``unacceptable 
impacts.''
    This rule is consistent with those requirements. It will not impede 
attainment of CURE's desired future conditions for natural and cultural 
resources as identified in the EA. The NPS has determined that this 
rule will not unreasonably interfere with the atmosphere of peace and 
tranquility or the natural soundscape maintained in natural locations 
within CURE. Therefore, within the context of the resources and values 
of CURE, motor vehicle use on the routes and areas designated by this 
rule (which are also subject to resource closures and other species 
management measures that would be implemented under the preferred 
alternative in the EA) will not cause an unacceptable impact to the 
natural, aesthetic, or scenic values of CURE.
    Section 8(a) of the Executive Order requires agency heads to 
monitor the effects of ORV use on lands under their jurisdictions. On 
the basis of information gathered, agency heads shall from time to time 
amend or rescind designations of areas or other actions as necessary to 
further the policy of the Executive Order. The preferred alternative 
(Alternative C) for the EA identifies monitoring and resource 
protection procedures and periodic review to provide for the ongoing 
and future evaluation of impacts of motor vehicle use on protected 
resources. The Superintendent has the existing authority under both 
this final rule and 36 CFR 1.5 to close portions of CURE as needed to 
protect recreational area resources.

Regulatory Planning and Review (Executive Orders 12866 and 13563)

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget 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

[[Page 72031]]

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.). This certification is based on the regulatory flexibility 
analysis found in the report entitled ``Summary of Economic Analyses'' 
that may be reviewed on the recreation area's planning Web site at 
http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cure, then clicking the link entitled 
``Motorized Access Plan/Environmental Assessment'' and then clicking 
the link entitled ``Document List.''

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. A statement 
containing the information required by the UMRA (2 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.) 
is not required.

Takings (Executive Order 12630)

    This rule does not affect a taking of private property or otherwise 
have takings implications under Executive Order 12630. 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. 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.
    Recreation area staff consulted with representatives from the 
Southern Ute Indian tribe, Uintah and Ouray Tribal Business Committee, 
Ute tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, and the Ute Mountain Ute 
tribe. The tribes have not commented or identified any concerns to 
date.

Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)(44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.)

    This rule does not contain information collection requirements, and 
a submission to the Office of Management and Budget under the PRA is 
not required. We may not conduct or sponsor and you are not required to 
respond to a collection of information unless it displays a currently 
valid OMB control number.

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 NEPA is not required because we reached the FONSI. The EA and 
FONSI are available for review at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cure then 
clicking the link entitled ``Motorized Access Plan/Environmental 
Assessment'' 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.

    In consideration of the foregoing, 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 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, DC Code 10-137 (2001) and DC Code 50-
2201.07 (2001).


0
2. Amend Sec.  7.51 by revising the section heading and the 
introductory text of paragraph (c), revising paragraphs (c)(2) and 
(c)(3), adding paragraph (c)(4), removing paragraph (d)(5), and adding 
paragraphs (e) and (f). The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  7.51  Curecanti National Recreation Area.

* * * * *
    (c) Snowmobiles. Operating a snowmobile is allowed within the 
boundaries of Curecanti National Recreation Area under the following 
conditions:
* * * * *
    (2) Designated water surface and routes. Snowmobile use is confined 
to the following water surface and routes:
    (i) The frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir; and
    (ii) Lake Fork Visitor Center access point, McIntyre Gulch access 
point, Sapinero Beach access point, Dillon Pinnacles access point, 
Windsurf Beach access point, Elk Creek Marina, Dry Creek access point, 
North Willow access point, Old Stevens access point, Iola access point, 
Willow Creek access point, and the most direct route from each of these 
access points to the frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir.
    (3) Identification of designated water surface and routes. The 
designated water surface and routes are identified on maps available at 
the office of the Superintendent, Elk Creek Visitor Center, Lake Fork 
Visitor Center, Cimarron Visitor Center, and on the recreation area Web 
site.

[[Page 72032]]

    (4) Snowmobile requirements. Snowmobiles are limited to a maximum 
of 1200 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW), including cargo but 
excluding the weight of the driver and any passenger.
* * * * *
    (e) Off-road motor vehicle use. Operating a motor vehicle is 
allowed within the boundaries of Curecanti National Recreation Area off 
park roads under the following conditions:
    (1) Designated routes and areas. Motor vehicle use off park roads 
is confined to the following routes and areas:
    (i) Via the access points and routes listed in paragraph (c)(2)(ii) 
of this section, directly to the frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir;
    (ii) A maximum area of approximately 958 acres of the exposed lake 
bottom of Blue Mesa Reservoir between the high-water mark and the water 
of the reservoir; and
    (iii) Posted designated access routes through the recreation area 
described and selected in the Curecanti Motor Vehicle Access Plan/
Finding of No Significant Impact dated July 10, 2012.
    (2) Identification of designated routes and areas. These routes and 
areas are identified on Maps 6a and 6b, dated January 1, 2011, which 
are available at the office of the Superintendent, Elk Creek Visitor 
Center, Lake Fork Visitor Center, Cimarron Visitor Center, and on the 
recreation area Web site.
    (3) Vehicle requirements. Motor vehicles operating off park roads 
must meet the following requirements:
    (i) Wheelbase width must not exceed 8 feet, 6 inches.
    (ii) Maximum gross vehicle weight for motor vehicle use on the 
frozen surface of Blue Mesa Reservoir is 1800 pounds GVW, including 
cargo but excluding the weight of the driver and any passenger. This 
restricts vehicle use on the frozen surface to all-terrain and utility 
task type vehicles.
    (4) Speed limits. Unless otherwise posted, motor vehicles may not 
exceed 15 miles per hour on designated off-road routes and areas.
    (f) Superintendent's authority. The Superintendent may open or 
close designated routes, water surfaces, access points, or areas open 
to snowmobile, PWC, or off-road motor vehicle use, or portions thereof, 
or impose conditions or restrictions for snowmobile, PWC, or off-road 
motor vehicle use after taking into consideration public health and 
safety, natural and cultural resource protection, and other management 
activities and objectives.
    (1) 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.
    (2) Violating a closure, condition or restriction is prohibited.

    Dated: November 20, 2013.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2013-28788 Filed 11-29-13; 8:45 am]
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