New permit requirements for commercial refuge tours

LIHU‘E — Beginning in 2020, commercial tour operators will be required to apply for and hold a Special Use Permit for operating commercial activities within the Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex (KNWRC).

As established in Title 50 Code of Federal Regulations 27.97, any person or business, including non-profit organizations, that charges or includes a fee for guiding on a refuge is required to have a commercial guide permit. The permit application process allows staff to review and make a decision for all uses within its management responsibility.

“The Comprehensive Conservation Plan for Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) which was reviewed by the public and finalized in 2016, as well as other past management and planning documents such as appropriate use findings and compatibility determinations for the KNWRC, contain the analysis and basis for allowance of this activity on our refuges within the complex. We have been working on the details for this permitting program and are at a point of initiation,” stated Project Leader Heather Abbey Tonneson.

The KNWRC will accept new applications for a Commercial Tour Special Use Permit for Kilauea Point NWR between February 1-March 31. An application fee of $60 will be required upon submittal. Permits will be issued in May for a period lasting one year.

By ensuring compliance with operation of commercial tours allowed only by Special Use Permit on the KNWRC, we are able to ensure that guides have the knowledge, skills, and resources to exhibit safe recreational and educational use of KNWRC and that guides are trained on the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System, local flora/fauna, refuge history/facts, historical significance. In addition, we can better promote high-quality visitor experiences on the refuge, and continue to ensure protection of the natural habitat at refuge and surrounding areas.

The Form 3-1383-COFWS application and specific information regarding the application process for KPNWR can be found at: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/kilauea_point/. Applications must be submitted before the deadline of March 31.

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