April 28, 2017

CHNS Commercial Services Orientation and Open
House Explains Commercial Uses within the Park

By JOY CRIST

On Friday, April 28, a collection of local business owners and Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) representatives met at the Hatteras Realty Avon office to review the Commercial Use Authorization Program that allows for-profit businesses to conduct activities, tours, etc. in the National Seashore.

The Seashore's Commercial Services program permits businesses to provide visitor services through Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs), and more than one National Park Service speaker at the meeting noted that it was a valuable partnership.

“This allows us to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation [to the public], and you all play a big part in that,” said Jennifer Pierce, who manages the public program for the Bodie, Cape Hatteras, and Ocracoke Lighthouses.

“We would love for you to share these stories of what makes our seashore so unique.”

The way the program works is fairly straightforward. Local business owners who want to conduct a service within the National Seashore can apply for a CUA via an application and an application fee of $200. The authorization is annual and expires on 12/31, and there are a couple requirements once the CUA is in hand, such as reporting on details like the number of visitors and revenue, and adhering to liability insurance and commercial vehicle insurance requirements, when applicable.

While the program has already been established for some time, with 20 businesses obtaining CUAs in 2016 and 15 signed up so far for 2017, there were some new additions in the services available for the 2017 season.

Essentially, the different types of services or activities that businesses can provide within the National Seashore are divvied up into the following categories:

•    Beach Fire Services for interpretation or demonstrations – (new for 2017)
•    Guided Fishing Services including fishing instruction, and non-motorized and motorized fishing trips
•    Guided Horseback Tours
•    Guided Waterfowl Hunting, which includes instruction, non-motorized and motorized hunting trips – (new for 2017)
•    Interpretive and Educational Programs, such as walks, guided hikes, astronomy, or birdwatching programs - (new for 2017)
•    Non-motorized Boat Tours (for example, kayak tours)
•    Off-Road Vehicle Driving Tours
•    Outdoor Fitness Classes (for example, yoga or Pilates)
•    Photography Instruction
•    Road-Based Commercial Tours and Transportation, or tours that stick to NPS areas but don’t use the ORV ramps – (new for 2017)
•    Watersport Instruction (for example, surfing or stand-up paddleboarding lessons)

With a CUA for a specific category, a local business can conduct any number of services, tours, instruction, or other activities that use the National Seashore as a backdrop.

In addition to the orientation to the program, safety measures and other info was shared with the room at Friday’s meeting, such as using 911 as an initial resource for any potential problems while on the seashore, and utilizing the new local rip current forecast webpage to ensure safety, which is available at http://www.weather.gov/beach/mhx.

While many folks in the room were already connected with the National Park Service CUA program, the open house was a new element for 2017, and was part of an effort to engage new partners and work more closely with the Seashore’s many long-standing commercial partners, per a Cape Hatteras National Seashore press release.

For information about the Seashore’s Commercial Use Authorization program and instructions on how to apply, visit: https://www.nps.gov/caha/getinvolved/dobusinesswithus.htm.



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