[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 161 (Wednesday, August 20, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 49232-49239]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-19740]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

36 CFR Part 13

[NPS-WRST-15781; PPAKWRSTPO, PPMPSAS1Z.YP0000]
RIN 1024-AE14


Special Regulations, Areas of the National Park System, Wrangell-
St. Elias National Park and Preserve; Off-Road Vehicles

AGENCY: National Park Service, Interior.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The National Park Service is amending its special regulations 
for Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve to designate trails 
in the portion of the Nabesna District located within the National 
Preserve where motor vehicles may be used off roads for recreational 
purposes. The rule prohibits the use of certain types of vehicles based 
upon size and weight, and closes certain areas in designated wilderness 
within the Nabesna District that are located outside of established 
trails and trail corridors to the use of motor vehicles for 
subsistence.

DATES: This rule is effective September 19, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rick Obernesser, Superintendent, 
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, P.O. Box 439, Copper 
Center, Alaska 99573. Phone (907) 822-7202. Email: AKR_Regulations@nps.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The approximately 13.2-million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias National 
Park and Preserve (Wrangell-St. Elias) was established in 1980 by the 
Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) (Pub. L. 96-
487, Dec. 2 1980; 16 U.S.C. 410hh-410hh5; 3101-3233). Wrangell-St. 
Elias consists of approximately 8.3 million acres of land designated as 
a National Park and approximately 4.8 million acres of land designated 
as a National Preserve. Section 201(9) of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 410hh(9)) 
directed that Wrangell-St. Elias be managed for the following purposes:
     To maintain unimpaired the scenic beauty and quality of 
high mountain peaks, foothills, glacial systems, lakes and streams, 
valleys, and coastal landscapes in their natural state.
     To protect habitat for, and populations of, fish and 
wildlife including but not limited to caribou, brown/grizzly bears, 
Dall's sheep, moose, wolves, trumpeter swans and other waterfowl, and 
marine mammals.
     To provide continued opportunities, including reasonable 
access for mountain climbing, mountaineering, and other wilderness 
recreational activities.

That provision of ANILCA also directed that subsistence uses by local 
residents be permitted in the park, where such uses are traditional, in 
accordance with the provisions of Title VIII of ANILCA.
    Section 203 of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 410hh-2) directed the Secretary of 
the Interior, acting through the National Park Service (NPS), to 
administer Wrangell-St. Elias as a new area of the National Park 
System, pursuant to the provisions of the National Park Service Organic 
Act of 1916 (Organic Act) (16 U.S.C. 1 et seq.). In the Organic Act, 
Congress granted the NPS broad authority to regulate the use of areas 
under its jurisdiction provided that the associated impacts will leave 
the ``scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life 
[in these areas] unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.'' 
Section 3 of the Organic Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, 
acting through NPS, to ``make and publish such rules and regulations as 
he may deem necessary or proper for the use and management of the 
parks.''

Wilderness

    Section 701 of ANILCA designated approximately 9.6 million acres 
within Wrangell-St. Elias as wilderness, a portion of which is located 
within the Nabesna District. Section 707 of ANILCA provides that, 
``[e]xcept as otherwise expressly provided for in this Act . . . ,'' 
wilderness designated by ANILCA shall be administered in accordance 
with the Wilderness Act. According to the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 
1131-1136), these lands are to be ``administered for the use and 
enjoyment of the American people in such manner as will leave them 
unimpaired for future use and enjoyment as wilderness, and so as to 
provide for the protection of these areas, [and] the preservation of 
their wilderness character . . . .''

Access for Subsistence Uses

    ANILCA authorizes certain methods of access for subsistence 
purposes that would otherwise be prohibited under Federal law or 
general NPS regulations. Section 811(a) of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 3121(a)) 
provides that ``rural residents engaged in subsistence uses shall have 
reasonable access to subsistence resources on the public lands.'' 
Section 811(b) of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 3121(b)) provides that 
``[n]otwithstanding any other provision of this Act or other law, the 
Secretary shall permit on the public lands appropriate use for 
subsistence purposes of snowmobiles, motorboats, and other means of 
surface transportation traditionally employed for such purpose by local 
residents, subject to reasonable regulation.''
    NPS implemented Section 811 of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 3121) in 36 CFR 
13.460(a), which states ``[n]otwithstanding any other provision of this 
chapter, the use of . . . other means of surface transportation 
traditionally employed by local rural residents engaged in subsistence 
uses is permitted within park areas except at those times and in those 
areas restricted or closed by the Superintendent.'' The 1986 General 
Management Plan for Wrangell-St. Elias determined off-road vehicles 
(ORVs) were a means of surface transportation traditionally employed by 
local rural residents for subsistence purposes. Title 36, Code of 
Federal Regulations, section 13.460(b)-(c) authorizes the 
Superintendent to restrict or close routes or areas to a certain use 
after notice and a public hearing ``if the Superintendent determines 
that such use is causing or is likely to cause an adverse impact on 
public health and safety, resource protection, protection of historic 
or scientific values, subsistence uses, conservation of endangered or 
threatened species, or the purposes for which the park was 
established.''

Off-Road Vehicles

    The subsistence use of motor vehicles off roads in Wrangell-St. 
Elias is governed by Section 811(b) of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 3121(b)) and 
36 CFR 13.460. Separate legal authorities govern other uses of motor 
vehicles off roads in Wrangell-St. Elias. Under 43 CFR 36.11(g)(1), 
non-subsistence use of off-road vehicles is generally prohibited, 
except on routes designated by NPS in accordance with Executive Order 
11644, or pursuant to a valid permit issued under 43 CFR 36.11(g)(2), 
43 CFR 36.10, or 43 CFR 36.12.
    Executive Order 11644, ``Use of Off-Road Vehicles on the Public 
Lands,'' issued in 1972 and amended in 1977 by Executive Order 11989, 
required federal agencies to issue regulations designating specific 
areas and routes on public lands where the use of ORVs may be

[[Page 49233]]

permitted. NPS implemented these Executive Orders in 36 CFR 4.10, which 
prohibits the use of motor vehicles off established roads unless routes 
and areas are designated for off-road motor vehicle use by 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.'' Under 36 CFR 4.10(b), the 
designation of ORV routes must comply with Executive Order 11644, as 
amended, which requires that they be located:
     To minimize damage to soil, watershed, vegetation, or 
other resources of the public lands.
     To minimize harassment of wildlife or significant 
disruption of wildlife habitat.
     To minimize conflicts between ORV use and other existing 
or proposed recreational uses of the same or neighboring public lands, 
and to ensure the compatibility of such uses with existing conditions 
in populated areas, taking into account noise and other factors.
     In areas of the National Park System only if the 
respective agency head determines that ORV use in such locations will 
not adversely affect their natural, aesthetic, or scenic values.

Executive Order 11644 also requires that NPS ensure adequate 
opportunity for public participation when designating areas and trails 
for ORV use.

History of ORV Use in the Nabesna District of Wrangell-St. Elias

    ORV use in the Nabesna District commenced after World War II when 
surplus military vehicles were used by hunters, miners, and others for 
personal use and access to remote areas. In the late 1970s, the all-
terrain vehicle (typically three- or four-wheelers) emerged as a new 
and more affordable mode of cross-country travel in rural Alaska. When 
Wrangell-St. Elias was created in 1980, there was an established trail 
network in the Nabesna District. These trails were used by recreational 
and subsistence users, as well as a means to access private inholdings. 
The 1986 General Management Plan for Wrangell-St. Elias determined that 
ORVs are a traditional means of accessing subsistence resources by 
local residents.
    In 1983, Wrangell-St. Elias began issuing permits for recreational 
ORV use on nine established trails under 43 CFR 36.11(g)(2). This 
regulation provides superintendents authority to issue permits allowing 
ORV use on existing trails in areas that are not designated wilderness 
upon a finding that the ORV use ``would be compatible with the purposes 
and values for which the area was established.'' The permits require 
users to stay on existing trails and adhere to certain conditions. The 
number of permits issued for recreational ORV use rose from 64 in 1985 
to 263 in 2010.
    Since 1986, Wrangell-St. Elias has conducted two major studies of 
ORV impacts, and a detailed survey and inventory of physical conditions 
along the existing trails in the Nabesna District. These studies 
demonstrated that ORV use over wet areas leads to trail braiding and 
widening. Vegetation does not recover quickly, soils erode, permafrost 
depth changes, and impacts to surface hydrology occur. Of the nine 
trails in the Nabesna District, the Tanada Lake, Copper Lake, Reeves 
Field, and Suslota trails have substantial sections with degraded 
conditions.
    On June 29, 2006, the National Parks Conservation Association, 
Alaska Center for the Environment, and the Wilderness Society filed a 
lawsuit against NPS in the United States District Court for the 
District of Alaska. The plaintiffs challenged the method used by NPS to 
issue recreational ORV permits for the nine trails within the Nabesna 
District. They asserted that when issuing recreational ORV permits, NPS 
failed to make the compatibility finding required by 43 CFR 36.11(g)(2) 
and failed to prepare an environmental analysis of recreational ORV use 
as required by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). 
The plaintiffs did not challenge the use of ORVs for subsistence uses.
    In a settlement agreement announced on May 15, 2007, NPS agreed to 
suspend issuing recreational ORV permits for three specific trails 
unless the ground is frozen. NPS also agreed to prepare an 
environmental impact statement under NEPA and issue a record of 
decision.

Environmental Impact Statement and Selected Action

    On December 21, 2007, NPS published a Notice of Intent to prepare 
an environmental impact statement in the Federal Register. The initial 
planning process included extensive public involvement, public 
meetings, agency consultation, and tribal consultation. The Nabesna 
Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement 
(DEIS) was released to the public on August 11, 2010. During the 90-day 
public comment period, which included public meetings and briefings, 
NPS received 153 comment letters. NPS responses to public comments were 
included in the Final Environmental Impact Statement Nabesna Off-Road 
Vehicle Management Plan (FEIS) published in August 2011. The FEIS 
describes major impacts to soils, wetlands, and vegetation associated 
with ORV use on unimproved trails. It also describes moderate to major 
impacts to wilderness character associated with subsistence ORV use in 
designated wilderness.
    On December 14, 2011, the Regional Director signed a Record of 
Decision (ROD) which identified Alternative 6 in the FEIS as the 
selected action. The selected action provides continued opportunities 
for appropriate and reasonable access to backcountry recreation. The 
selected action also accommodates subsistence use and access to 
inholdings, and protects scenic views, fish and wildlife habitat, and 
other resources and values of Wrangell-St. Elias.
    Under the selected action, NPS will improve the most degraded 
segments of ORV trails in the Nabesna District through trail re-routing 
or reconstruction to a design-sustainable or maintainable condition (as 
those terms are defined in the FEIS). A design-sustainable or 
maintainable condition ensures that ORV users can stay on one trail 
alignment and that damage to soils, watersheds, vegetation, and other 
resources are minimized. The FEIS estimates that for the six trails in 
the National Preserve, trail improvements will result in the recovery 
of 204.6 acres of wetland habitat and 212.7 acres of vegetation 
habitat. The FEIS also projects that each of the improved trails in the 
National Preserve will have between 50 and 180 ORV round trips per year 
(depending upon the trail and including both recreational and 
subsistence use), most of these occurring during hunting season.
    In accordance with 36 CFR 4.10(b), the rule authorizes recreational 
ORV use on improved or frozen trails in the portion of the Nabesna 
District located within the National Preserve, but not in the National 
Park. In the area of designated wilderness included in the FEIS (FEIS 
Wilderness Area), subsistence ORV users generally must stay on 
designated trails; however, off-trail ORV use is authorized in 
designated trail corridors (i.e., 0.5 miles on either side of the 
trail) for the sole purpose of game retrieval. All other areas of the 
FEIS Wilderness Area are closed to subsistence ORV use. The FEIS 
Wilderness Area is approximately 541,000 acres of designated 
wilderness, bordered by Drop Creek on the west, the Nabesna Glacier on 
the east, and Mt. Sanford and Mt. Jarvis on the south. Trails and trail 
corridors in the FEIS

[[Page 49234]]

Wilderness Area, and the boundaries of the FEIS Wilderness Area, are 
identified on the Upper Copper/Jacksina Wilderness map available at the 
Slana Ranger Station, the Main Park Visitor Center, the Tanada and 
Copper Lake trailheads, and on the park's Web site at http://www.nps.gov/wrst. In the portion of the Nabesna District located 
outside of the FEIS Wilderness Area, subsistence ORV use is allowed on 
or off ORV trails before and after trail improvements. NPS will monitor 
the use and take management actions as described in the FEIS. The rule 
precludes the use of certain types of vehicles based upon vehicle size 
and weight.
    The DEIS, FEIS, ROD, and other supporting documents can be found 
online at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/wrst, by clicking on the link 
entitled ``Nabesna ORV Management Plan EIS'' and then clicking on the 
link entitled ``Document List.''

Final Rule

Summary of Final Rule

    The rule amends the special regulations for Wrangell-St. Elias at 
36 CFR part 13, subpart V, to implement the selected action in the ROD. 
Pursuant to 36 CFR 4.10(b), the rule designates six trails in the 
National Preserve for recreational ORV use. Recreational ORV users are 
required to obtain a permit to use the designated trails. Permits will 
be issued only for frozen trails or trails in a design-sustainable or 
maintainable condition, as determined by the Superintendent. The rule 
requires that subsistence ORV users stay on trails or within trail 
corridors in the FEIS Wilderness Area. The rule also establishes 
vehicle weight and size limits to protect park resources. Through 
implementation of the selected action in the ROD, Wrangell-St. Elias 
will continue to protect and preserve natural and cultural resources 
and natural processes, and provide a variety of safe visitor 
experiences while minimizing conflicts among users.

Recreational ORV Use

    The following trails in the National Preserve are designated for 
recreational ORV use: Suslota, Caribou Creek, Trail Creek, Lost Creek, 
Soda Lake, and Reeve Field. Recreational ORV users are required to 
obtain a permit to use the designated trails. Prior to trail 
improvements, permits will be issued only for trails in fair or better 
condition (Lost Creek, Soda Lake, and Trail Creek), except that permits 
may be issued for any of the six designated trails in the National 
Preserve when the Superintendent determines they are frozen. Frozen is 
defined as frost depth of 6 inches as measured with a soil probe. NPS 
will announce the completion of trail improvements and when trails are 
frozen through a press release and notices posted at the Slana Ranger 
Station, the Main Park Visitor Center, and on the park's Web site at 
http:[sol][sol]www.nps.gov/wrst/planyourvisit/orv-trails.htm. After 
trail improvements, permits will be issued for the additional trails in 
the National Preserve (Suslota, Caribou Creek, and Reeve Field) 
regardless of whether the trails are frozen. Recreational ORV use 
permits will include the following conditions to protect park 
resources:
     Travel is only authorized on designated trails listed on 
the permit.
     ORVs must stay on the designated trails.
     If hunting, gathering, or otherwise walking off the trail, 
park ORVs off to the side of the trail; vehicles may not be used to 
retrieve game off of the designated trail alignment.
     Creating new trails is prohibited.
     ORV use is prohibited in designated wilderness areas.

The rule prohibits recreational ORV use in the portion of the Nabesna 
District located within the National Park. Maps of the trails 
designated for recreational ORV use will be available at the Slana 
Ranger Station and the Main Park Visitor Center, and on the park's Web 
site at http:[sol][sol]www.nps.gov/wrst.

Subsistence ORV Use

    For trails in the FEIS Wilderness Area (Black Mountain Trails and 
the southern portions of the Tanada Lake Trail), the rule requires that 
subsistence ORV users stay on trails or, when for the purpose of game 
retrieval only, within identified trail corridors. The trail corridors 
consist of 0.5 miles on either side of the trail. Travel outside of 
these designated trail corridors in the FEIS Wilderness Area is 
prohibited. Trails and trail corridors in the FEIS Wilderness Area, and 
the boundaries of the FEIS Wilderness Area, are identified on the Upper 
Copper/Jacksina Wilderness map available at the Slana Ranger Station 
and the Main Park Visitor Center, and on the park's planning Web site 
at http:[sol][sol]www.nps.gov/wrst. They are also identified at the 
Tanada and Copper Lake trailheads.

Authorized Off-Road Vehicles

    The rule also establishes the types of ORVs that may be operated 
for recreational as well as subsistence uses. The following types of 
vehicles, because of their size, width, weight, or high surface 
pressure (measured, for example, in pounds per square inch) are 
prohibited for recreational or subsistence uses:
     Nodwells or other tracked rigs greater than 5.5 feet in 
width or 4,000 pounds curb weight.
     Street-legal highway vehicles.
     Custom 4x4 jeeps, SUVs, or trucks designed for off-road 
use.
     Original or modified ``deuce and a half'' cargo trucks.
     Dozers, skid-steer loaders, excavators, or other 
construction equipment.
     Motorcycles or dirt bikes.
     Log skidders.
    The rule requires that all wheeled vehicles (including all-terrain 
vehicles, utility vehicles, and Argos) be less than 1,500 pounds curb 
weight, not including trailers. Nothing in this rule supersedes the 
applicable provisions of 36 CFR part 4 and 36 CFR 13.460(d), which 
require that ORVs be operated in compliance with applicable state and 
federal laws, and prohibit damaging park resources or harassing 
wildlife.

Frequently Asked Questions

    This section explains some of the principal elements of the rule in 
a question and answer format.

What is an ``Off-Road Vehicle'' (ORV)?

    Any motor vehicle, including all-terrain vehicles, designed for or 
capable of cross-country travel on or immediately over land, water, 
sand, snow, ice, marsh, wetland, or other natural terrain, except 
snowmachines or snowmobiles. This definition does not include 
snowmachines and the rule does not affect the use of snowmachines in 
Wrangell-St. Elias.

What is recreational ORV use?

    Any ORV use by individuals not engaged in subsistence uses as 
defined in 36 CFR 13.420 or accessing an inholding. Recreational ORV 
use in the portion of the Nabesna District located within the National 
Preserve includes, but is not limited to, access for sport hunting, 
fishing, and dispersed camping.

Do I need a permit to operate an ORV for recreational purposes?

    Yes, if you are using the ORV for recreational use as defined 
above. Permits for recreational ORV use may be obtained at the Main 
Park Visitor Center in Copper Center or the Slana Ranger Station in 
Slana.

Do I need a permit to operate an ORV for subsistence purposes?

    No, not if you are a local rural resident as defined by 36 CFR 
13.420

[[Page 49235]]

and are actively engaged in subsistence uses.

Is there a limit to the number of ORV permits available?

    No, there is no limit to the number of permits that the 
Superintendent may issue for recreational ORV use.

Several of my family members have ORVs that we would like to use for 
recreational purposes on trails in the National Preserve. Do we need a 
permit for each vehicle?

    Yes, you need to obtain a permit for each vehicle that you want to 
use for recreational purposes on designated ORV trails. The operator of 
the ORV must have the permit in his or her possession when the ORV is 
in use.

How long will permits be valid for ORV use?

    When you apply for a permit, you must indicate how long you intend 
to operate an ORV for recreational use. The NPS will determine the 
duration of the permit based upon the requested time period and other 
factors such as public health and safety, resource protection, 
protection of cultural or scientific values, subsistence uses, 
endangered or threatened species conservation, or other management 
considerations necessary to ensure that ORV use is being managed in a 
manner compatible with the purposes for which the park was established. 
The duration of each permit will be stated in the terms and conditions 
of the permit.

Where can I operate my ORV?

    For recreational ORV users, designated trails will be listed on the 
face of the permit and identified on maps available at the Slana Ranger 
Station and the Main Park Visitor Center, and on the park's Web site at 
http://www.nps.gov/wrst. Travel is only permitted on the trails listed 
on the permit, which will include all of the trails designated for ORV 
use by this rule that are either frozen or improved.

Will designated trails for recreational ORV users be marked on the 
ground?

    Yes, trails designated for recreational ORV use will be shown on a 
map on a kiosk at the trailhead and will be marked on the ground with 
carsonite posts.

Can I tow a trailer with my ORV on designated trails?

    Yes, NPS recommends the use of low-pressure ``balloon'' style tires 
on ORV trailers.

Are there any vehicle requirements for my ORV?

    Yes, all ORVs are required to comply with the weight and size 
limits specified in the rule. The rule also prohibits the use of 
certain types of vehicles.

I am a local rural resident engaged in subsistence uses. What effect 
does the rule have on me?

    Your ORV must comply with the weight and size limits described in 
the rule, and certain types of vehicles listed in the rule are 
prohibited. On the trails in the FEIS Wilderness Area (Black Mountain 
Trails and the southern portions of the Tanada Lake Trail), subsistence 
ORV users generally must stay on trails; however, off-trail ORV use in 
the FEIS Wilderness area is authorized in designated trail corridors 
(i.e., 0.5 miles on either side of the trail) for the sole purpose of 
game retrieval. All other areas of the FEIS Wilderness Area are closed 
to subsistence ORV use.

How will designated trails and trail corridors for subsistence ORV 
users in the FEIS Wilderness Area be identified?

    The designated trails and trail corridors are identified on the 
Upper Copper/Jacksina Wilderness map available at the Slana Ranger 
Station and the Main Park Visitor Center, and on the park's Web site at 
http://www.nps.gov/wrst. They are also identified at the Tanada and 
Copper Lake trailheads.

Summary of and Responses to Public Comments

    The NPS published the proposed rule at 79 FR 2608 (January 15, 
2014). The NPS accepted comments through the mail, hand delivery, and 
through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. 
Comments were accepted through March 17, 2014, and the NPS received 
nine comments. A summary of comments and NPS responses is provided 
below. Several comments supported the proposed rule and did not request 
any change. After considering the public comments and after additional 
review, the NPS did not make any substantive changes in the final rule. 
The definition of ``ORV'' in the proposed rule was removed because 
``off-road vehicle'' is already defined in 36 CFR 13.1. Other minor 
changes were made for clarity.
    1. Comment: One comment stated that the NPS should not allow any 
recreational ORV use in the National Preserve because it would 
detrimentally affect the National Park and cause severe degradation of 
the National Preserve and its biodiversity.
    NPS Response: Section 1313 of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 3201) allows for 
sport hunting and fishing in national preserves in Alaska. As noted in 
the FEIS, there is a network of trails in the Nabesna District that 
predates the establishment of Wrangell-St. Elias. These trails were 
used by ORVs to access areas for sport and subsistence hunting, mining, 
and access to private property. Part of the purpose of the Nabesna Off-
Road Vehicle Management Plan, as stated in the FEIS, is to provide 
``access to sport hunting in the National Preserve'' that is compatible 
with park purposes and values. The FEIS concluded that permitting 
recreational ORV use on improved trails in the National Preserve was a 
reasonable and appropriate means of access. The FEIS also concluded 
that permitting recreational ORV use on frozen or improved trails in 
the portion of the Nabesna District located within the National 
Preserve would not result in significant impacts on the environment or 
severe degradation of natural resources, including wildlife, in either 
the National Park or the National Preserve.
    2. Comment: One comment stated that the NPS should not allow any 
recreational ORV use in the National Preserve because it would not 
result in any economic benefit or increased tourism.
    NPS Response: The NPS completed a cost-benefit analysis of the 
selected action in a report entitled ``Cost-Benefit and Regulatory 
Flexibility Analyses: Proposed Regulations for Management of Off Road 
Vehicles in The Nabesna District of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park 
and Preserve'' which can be viewed online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/wrst, by clicking the link entitled ``Nabesna ORV 
Management Plan EIS'' and then clicking the link entitled ``Document 
List.'' This report concluded that the selected action will have 
beneficial effects on trail condition, visitor opportunities, and 
socioeconomics. It also concluded that the selected action will improve 
economic efficiency.
    3. Comment: The Alaska Quiet Rights Coalition stated that the NPS 
should not allow any recreational ORV use in the National Preserve 
because it would eliminate a quiet alternative to less protected public 
lands.
    NPS Response: The FEIS concluded that permitting recreational ORV 
use on improved trails in the National Preserve would have ``minor, 
long-term, adverse direct and indirect impacts to soundscapes'' because 
of the low anticipated level of ORV use and because of the small 
affected area

[[Page 49236]]

relative to other areas available for non-motorized activities. Because 
of the minor impacts and relatively small area, the NPS determined that 
recreational ORV use on certain trails in the National Preserve is an 
appropriate way for individuals to experience and enjoy Wrangell-St. 
Elias National Preserve.
    4. Comment: Some commenters stated that it will be difficult for 
the NPS to regulate and enforce the rules related to ORV use.
    NPS Response: The NPS believes that it will be able to enforce the 
rules related to ORV use for the following reasons:
     Recreational ORV users are required to obtain a permit. 
Most users will get their permit at the Slana Ranger Station where they 
will receive information about local trail conditions and restrictions. 
Recreational ORV users are required to have their permit with them when 
the ORV is in use.
     Trailheads are well-signed with kiosks that will indicate 
whether or not the trail is open to recreational ORV use. Trails will 
be marked on the ground with carsonite posts. Maps showing trails and 
trail corridors for subsistence ORV users in designated wilderness will 
be posted at the Copper Lake and Tanada Lake trailheads.
     There is a full-time ranger stationed in Slana. Patrol of 
the trails is a priority during hunting season.
     This rule applies only to the Nabesna District, not the 
entire 13.2 million acres of Wrangell St. Elias.
    5. Comment: One commenter stated that ORVs should not be allowed 
outside of trails and trail corridors when frozen because this could 
damage soil and vegetation.
    NPS Response: Recreational ORV users are required to stay on 
trails. Within the FEIS Wilderness area, subsistence ORV users are 
limited to trails and, for the purpose of game retrieval only, off-
trail in trail corridors. Outside the FEIS Wilderness Area, subsistence 
ORV users are not limited to trails or trail corridors; however, the 
NPS expects that ORV use under frozen conditions will be light to non-
existent because ORV use is driven by hunting seasons which typically 
end on or before September 20th.
    6. Comment: The State of Alaska ANILCA Implementation Program and 
Citizen's Advisory Committee on Federal Areas (CACFA) suggested 43 CFR 
36.11(g) as a mechanism to authorize recreational ORV use on improved 
trails in the National Park since these trails are ``existing.''
    NPS Response: Because the proposed re-routes of the most degraded 
segments of ORV trails would take substantial resources to build, 
deviate significantly from the current alignment, and result in a 
different set of environmental impacts, the NPS does not believe these 
re-routed trails are ``existing'' within the meaning of 43 CFR 
36.11(g).
    7. Comment: The State of Alaska ANILCA Implementation Program and 
CACFA stated that recreational ORV use should be allowed on improved or 
frozen trails in the National Park to provide affordable access to 
hunting and fishing opportunities.
    NPS Response: The NPS does not believe it is appropriate to allow 
recreational ORV use in the National Park for the following reasons:
     The primary use of recreational ORVs is to access areas 
for sport hunting. Section 1313 of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 3201) allows for 
sport hunting in national preserves in Alaska, but this activity is not 
permitted in the National Park.
     This decision meets the objectives for the project as 
stated in the FEIS and represents a balanced approach based upon public 
comments received on the DEIS. This is further described in the section 
entitled ``Basis for the Decision'' in the ROD that can be found online 
at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/wrst, by clicking on the link 
entitled ``Nabesna ORV Management Plan EIS'' and then clicking on the 
link entitled ``Document List.''
     Air taxis provide an alternative means of accessing remote 
sport hunting in the National Preserve.
     Improved trails in the National Park (e.g., Tanada Lake 
Trail) will provide enhanced non-motorized access for recreational 
activities.
    8. Comment: CACFA stated that recreational ORV use should be 
allowed on improved or frozen trails in the National Park because 
ANILCA guarantees that these types of traditional uses would be allowed 
to continue.
    NPS Response: ANILCA does not address recreational ORV use in NPS 
areas. Section 811 (16 U.S.C. 3121) speaks to subsistence access for 
local rural residents. While section 1110(a) (16 U.S.C. 3170(a)) speaks 
to the use of non-motorized surface transportation (as well as 
snowmachines, motorboats, and airplanes) for traditional activities and 
for travel to and from villages and homesites, it does not address 
ORVs.
    9. Comment: The State of Alaska ANILCA Implementation Program 
stated that recreational ORV use should be allowed on improved or 
frozen trails in the National Park because the same monitoring 
protocols and management tools being applied to subsistence ORV use in 
the National Park and National Preserve and non-subsistence ORV use in 
the National Preserve would also detect and mitigate impacts from 
recreational ORV use in the National Park.
    NPS Response: It is true that the monitoring identified in the ROD 
will help the NPS mitigate direct impacts to soils, vegetation, and 
wetlands from all ORV use. However, the NPS is not monitoring impacts 
to visitor opportunities, hunting competition (subsistence), or 
soundscape that would occur if recreational ORV use were permitted in 
the National Park.
    10. Comment: One commenter stated that all wilderness areas should 
be open to subsistence ORV use and that subsistence ORV use should not 
be confined to trails and trail corridors.
    NPS Response: The FEIS concludes that the closures in the FEIS 
Wilderness Area are needed to prevent major impacts to the undeveloped 
character of the designated wilderness. The closures are consistent 
with the 1986 WRST GMP and Section 811(b) of ANILCA (16 U.S.C. 
3121(b)), which states that the Secretary shall permit subsistence use 
of ORVs traditionally employed by local residents, subject to 
reasonable regulation.

Compliance With Other Laws, Executive Orders, and Department Policy

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

    Executive Order 11644, as amended by Executive Order 11989, was 
adopted to address impacts on public lands from ORV use. The Executive 
Order applies to ORV use on federal public lands that is not authorized 
under a valid lease, permit, contract, or license. Section 3(a)(4) of 
Executive Order 11644 provides that 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 the National Environmental Policy Act of 
1969 (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.

[[Page 49237]]

    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. Wrangell-St. Elias is an area 
of the National Park System. Therefore, NPS interprets the Executive 
Order term ``adversely affect'' consistent with its 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 Wrangell-St. Elias's desired future conditions for 
natural and cultural resources as identified in the FEIS. 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 Wrangell-St. Elias. Therefore, 
within the context of the resources and values of Wrangell-St. Elias, 
motor vehicle use on the routes and areas designated by this rule 
(which are also subject to resource closures and other management 
measures that will be implemented under the selected action in the ROD) 
will not cause an unacceptable impact to the natural, aesthetic, or 
scenic values of Wrangell-St. Elias.
    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 may from time to time 
amend or rescind designations of areas or other actions as necessary to 
further the policy of the Executive Order. The selected action in the 
ROD includes monitoring and resource protection procedures and periodic 
review to provide for the ongoing evaluation of impacts of motor 
vehicle use on protected resources. The Superintendent has authority to 
take appropriate action as needed to protect park 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 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 cost-benefit and regulatory 
flexibility analyses found in the report entitled ``Cost-Benefit and 
Regulatory Flexibility Analyses: Proposed Regulations for Management of 
Off Road Vehicles in The Nabesna District of Wrangell-St. Elias 
National Park and Preserve'' which can be viewed online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/wrst, by clicking the link entitled ``Nabesna ORV 
Management Plan EIS'' 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 taking 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. The rule is 
limited in effect to federal lands managed by the NPS and does not have 
a substantial direct effect on state and local government in Alaska. 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) and ANCSA Corporations

    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 and Alaska Native Claims 
Settlement Act (ANCSA) Native Corporation policies. While the NPS has 
determined the rule would not have a substantial direct effect on 
federally recognized Indian tribes or ANCSA Native Corporation lands, 
water areas, or resources, the NPS has consulted Alaska Native tribes 
and Alaska Native Corporations regarding implementation of this rule. 
Consultation occurred through bi-annual government to government 
meetings with Cheesh`na tribal council and Mentasta traditional village 
council. In addition, a letter was sent to each tribal entity within 
the park's resident zone communities and to Ahtna Native Corporation, 
Inc. when the proposed rule was published in the Federal Register.

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

    This rule does not contain any new collections of information that 
require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under the 
Paperwork Reduction Act. OMB has approved the

[[Page 49238]]

information collection requirements associated with NPS Special Park 
Use Permits and has assigned OMB Control Number 1024-0026 (expires 08/
31/16). An agency may not conduct or sponsor and a person is not 
required to respond to a collection of information unless it displays a 
currently valid OMB control number.

National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA)

    This rule constitutes a major Federal action significantly 
affecting the quality of the human environment. We have prepared the 
FEIS under the NEPA. The FEIS is summarized above and available online 
at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/wrst, by clicking on the link 
entitled ``Nabesna ORV Management Plan EIS'' 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.

Drafting Information

    The primary authors of this rule are Bruce Rogers, Norah Martinez, 
and Peter Christian, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve; 
Paul Hunter and Andee Sears, NPS Alaska Regional Office, and Jay P. 
Calhoun, Regulations Program Specialist, National Park Service, 
Regulations and Special Park Uses.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 13

    Alaska, National Parks, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the National Park Service amends 
36 CFR part 13 as set forth below:

PART 13--NATIONAL PARK SYSTEM UNITS IN ALASKA

0
1. The authority citation for part 13 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1, 3, 462(k), 3101 et seq.; Subpart N also 
issued under 16 U.S.C. 1a-2(h), 20, 1361, 1531, 3197; Pub. L. 105-
277, 112 Stat. 2681-259, October 21, 1998; Pub. L. 106-31, 113 Stat. 
72, May 21, 1999; Sec. 13.1204 also issued under Sec. 1035, Pub. L. 
104-333, 110 Stat. 4240.

Subpart V--Special Regulations--Wrangell-St. Elias National Park 
and Preserve

0
2. Add Sec.  13.1914 to subpart V to read as follows:


Sec.  13.1914  Off-road motor vehicle use in the Nabesna District.

    (a) What is the scope of this regulation? The regulations contained 
in paragraphs (b) through (e) of this section apply to the use of motor 
vehicles off roads within the boundaries of the Nabesna District within 
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve. This section does not 
affect the use of snowmobiles or snowmachines.
    (b) What terms do I need to know? The following definitions apply 
only to the regulations in this section:
    FEIS Wilderness Area means an area of designated wilderness 
identified on the Upper Copper/Jacksina Wilderness map available at the 
Slana Ranger Station, the Main Park Visitor Center, the Tanada and 
Copper Lake trailheads, and on the park Web site.
    Frozen means frost depth of 6 inches as measured with a soil probe 
and determined by the Superintendent.
    Improved means a trail that is in a design-sustainable or 
maintainable condition as determined by the Superintendent.
    Nabesna District means a designated area in the northern portion of 
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve as shown on a map 
available at the Slana Ranger Station, the Main Park Visitor Center, 
and on the park Web site.
    Recreational use means the use of an off-road vehicle for any 
purpose other than for subsistence uses, which are defined in Sec.  
13.420, or access to inholdings in accordance with 43 CFR 36.10.
    Trail corridor means an area extending 0.5 miles from either side 
of the centerline on the Black Mountain trails and portions of the 
Tanada Lake trail within the FEIS Wilderness Area.
    (c) Must I obtain a permit to operate an off-road vehicle for 
recreational use? (1) You must obtain a permit before operating an off-
road vehicle for recreational use. Permits may be obtained at the Slana 
Ranger Station in Slana or the Main Park Visitor Center in Copper 
Center.
    (2) The Superintendent may issue permits for the recreational use 
of off-road vehicles on any of the following trails in the National 
Preserve:
    (i) Suslota Trail.
    (ii) Caribou Creek Trail.
    (iii) Trail Creek Trail.
    (iv) Lost Creek Trail.
    (v) Soda Lake Trail.
    (vi) Reeve Field Trail.
    (3) Permits may be issued for the recreational use of off-road 
vehicles only on designated trails that are either frozen or improved. 
A map showing trails designated for recreational off-road vehicle use, 
and a current list of frozen and improved trails, are available at 
Slana Ranger Station, the Main Visitor Center, and on the park's Web 
site.
    (4) You must obtain a permit for each off-road vehicle that you 
want to use for recreational purposes on designated off-road vehicle 
trails. The operator of the off-road vehicle must have the permit in 
his or her possession when the off-road vehicle is in use.
    (5) Violating any term or condition of a permit is prohibited.
    (6) The recreational use of off-road vehicles without a permit is 
prohibited.
    (d) May I operate an off-road vehicle for subsistence uses in the 
FEIS Wilderness Area?
    (1) In the FEIS Wilderness Area, local rural residents may operate 
off-road vehicles for subsistence uses as defined by this part on the 
following trails:
    (i) Black Mountain Trails.
    (ii) Tanada Lake Trail.
    (2) In the FEIS Wilderness Area, off-road vehicles may be operated 
off the designated trails only for the purpose of game retrieval in the 
designated trail corridors.
    (3) All other areas of the FEIS Wilderness Area are closed to 
subsistence ORV use and local rural residents may not operate an off-
road vehicle for subsistence uses outside of the trails and trail 
corridors identified in paragraphs (d)(1)-(2) of this section.
    (4) Trails and trail corridors in the FEIS Wilderness Area, and the 
boundaries of the FEIS Wilderness Area, are shown on the Upper Copper/
Jacksina Wilderness map available at the Slana Ranger Station, the Main 
Park Visitor Center, the Tanada and Copper Lake trailheads, and on the 
park Web site.
    (e) Are there limits on the types of off-road vehicles that may be 
operated off roads in the Nabesna District of Wrangell-St. Elias 
National Park and Preserve? The following types of vehicles may not be 
used off roads for recreational or subsistence uses in the Nabesna 
District of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve:
    (1) Nodwells or other tracked rigs greater than 5.5 feet in width 
or 4,000 pounds curb weight.
    (2) Street-legal highway vehicles.
    (3) Custom 4x4 jeeps, SUVs, or trucks designed for off-road use.
    (4) Original or modified ``deuce and a half'' cargo trucks.
    (5) Dozers, skid-steer loaders, excavators, or other construction 
equipment.
    (6) Motorcycles or dirt bikes.
    (7) Log skidders.
    (8) Wheeled vehicles (including all terrain vehicles, utility 
vehicles, and

[[Page 49239]]

Argos) exceeding 1,500 pounds curb weight, not including trailers.

    Dated: July 30, 2014.
Rachel Jacobson,
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
[FR Doc. 2014-19740 Filed 8-19-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4310-EJ-P