What Guides It?

Council Position Papers

The two position papers document the council’s position on visitor use management and visitor capacity, and serve as guidance for all subsequent council activities.

Visitor Use Management on Public Lands and Waters: A Position Paper to Guide Policy defines visitor use management and visitor capacity and clarifies how these two concepts interrelate. It outlines how these concepts should be used by managers of federal lands and waters to meet agency goals. This paper reflects the council’s position that best practices involve excelling in visitor use management with visitor capacity as one of the many management strategies that is used as appropriate and/or where legally required. The major elements of the visitor use management framework are also outlined in this position paper.

Visitor Capacity on Federally Managed Lands and Waters: A Position Paper to Guide Policy compliments the previous position paper by providing specific recommendations for interpreting the concept of capacity and associated legal requirements for wild and scenic rivers, national historic and scenic trails, and in units of the National Park Service.

Visitor Use Management on Public Lands and Waters: A Position Paper to Guide Policy can be found here (council position paper, Visitor Use Management).

Visitor Capacity on Federally Managed Lands and Waters: A Position Paper to Guide Policy can be found here (council position paper, Visitor Capacity).

* Please note the position papers were prepared prior to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) joining the Interagency Visitor Use Management Council in May 2014. Future versions of these and other council products will address key concepts as they apply to marine protected areas managed by NOAA, including the National Marine Sanctuaries.

National Laws and Agency Policies

Agencies that manage federally-owned public lands and waters have laws and policies that address the need for visitor use or recreation management. Through these authorities, these agencies are directed to provide opportunities for recreational uses to the extent that recreation is compatible with each agency’s mission and can be sustained without unacceptable impact to other resources and values/purposes.

Laws and policies vary for each agency; however, there are many similarities. The council's work builds on the shared aspects of the agencies' laws and policies, while recognizing the need for flexibility in application given the unique differences among the agencies. Please note specific information about NOAA statutes, policies, and regulations regarding visitor/recreational use management, and its applicability to the agency’s programs, will appear here in the coming months (June 2014).

Below is a list of current statutes, policies, regulations, and other guidance relating to visitor use management among federal agencies responsible for managing our nation’s lands and waters.

The following laws mandate agencies to plan for and manage visitor use:

The following policies and regulations set the framework and provide direction for agencies to plan for and manage visitor use:

The following are references to visitor use or recreation management guidance specific to the council agencies.

  1. These policies or regulations provide a foundation in legislation, purpose, and significance for visitor use management:
  2. These policies or regulations provide for the establishment of desired conditions and/or management objectives/targets/standards:
  3. These policies or regulations provide for an analysis of the management actions needed to ensure that desired conditions/objectives/targets/standards are met:
  4. These policies or regulations establish the requirement for monitoring:
  5. These policies or regulations establish the need to adjust management actions as required ensuring that desired conditions/objectives/targets/standards are met:
  6. These policies or regulations establish the requirement for public involvement:
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Information last updated
08/08/2017 8:00 am