NEW NPS Insurance Regulations Could Force Most Whitewater Rafting Companies Out of Business in National Parks
NPS has once again issued crippling insurance regulations. If the new NPS insurance requirements for Dinosaur National Monument become the standard for float trips and whitewater rafting in National Parks, most outfitters will be unable to compete for contracts or obtain commercial use authorizations (CUA's). We are not prone to hyperbole. This is the opinion of three different insurance providers who cover most of the outfitter operations in National Parks. The NPS staff views insurance as a compensation fund for visitors unless the visitors are injured on NPS guided trips (for which they have no coverage). Whatever their motives, the NPS concessions staff in Denver is setting policy for much of the concessions program and they are making it impossible for existing outfitters to submit responsive proposals or stay in business with these insurance requirements.
After reviewing the requirements, AOA insurers estimated the general liability insurance requirements alone for $5,000,000 in aggregate liability insurance and $4,000,000 per occurrence will increase those premiums by 60% to 80%. But that's not all. Some of the coverage is not readily available and taken together could increase overall insurance and workers compensation premiums by 300% to 400% in some states. Here's the rundown of Exhibit D for the Dinosaur contracts:
- Coverage for collapse, total pollution, and underground property damage are generally not appropriate for outfitting and guiding businesses. These coverages may not even be available for outfitters who do not have facilities on federal lands.
- Symbol 1 coverage for commercial auto is also not generally available for outfitters and guides and livery operations.
- NPS is also requiring a Longshoremen and Harborworkers endoresment on workers compensation coverage on federally navigable waters. While this coverage doesn't apply to Dinosaur, it will apply to many other rivers.
- $5 million aggregate for general liability and $4 million per occurence.
AOA is working with the major insurance providers to outfitters operating in National Parks to push back against these new requirements. Hang on out there. We'll get this fixed.
FERC Cancels Preliminary Permit for Francis Walter Project on the Lehigh. Whitewater Recreation Is a Purpose of the Corps Project.
FERC just canceled the preliminary permit for Francis Walter Hydro, LLC for failure to file a progress report. The project was probably not economically feasible. But one safeguard for whitewater rafting on the Lehigh is contained in the Water Resources Development Act of 1988, a provision advanced by Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) and sought by the Eastern Professional River Outfitters Association, one of the precursor organizations to America Outdoors Association.
Whitewater rafting is a project purpose of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Dam.
SEC. 5. Operation of Certain Projects to Enhance Recreation
(a) ENHANCEMENT OF RECREATION.-The Secretary shall ensure, to the extent compatible with other project purposes. that each water resources project referred to in this subsection is operated in such manner as will protect and enhance recreation associated with such project. The Secretary is authorized to manage project lands at each such project in such manner as will improve opportunities for recreation at the project. Such activities shall be included as authorized project purposes of each project. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to affect the authority or discretion of the Secretary with respect to carrying out other authorized project purposes or to comply with other requirements or obligations of the
Secretary which are legally binding as of the date of the enactment of this Act. The provisions of this subsection shall apply to the following projects:
(1) Beechfork Lake. West Virginia..
(2) Bluestone Lake. West Virginia.
(3) East Lynn Lake. West Virginia.
(4) Francis E. Walter Dam. Pennsylvania.
(5) Jennings Randolph Lake (Bloomington Dam), Maryland and West Virgins.
(6) R.D. Bailey Lake. West Virginia.
(7) Savage River Dam. Maryland.
(8) Youghiogheny River Lake. P"Pennsylvania and Maryland.
(9) Summersville Lake, West Virginia.
(10) Sutton Lake. West Virginia.
(11) Stonewall Jackson Lake. West Virginia.
(b) RECREATION DEFlNED.-As used in this section, in addition to recreation on lands associated with the project. the term '''recreation" includes (but shall not be limited to) downstream whitewater recreation which is dependent on project operations, recreational fishing and boating on water at the project.