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e-CFR data is current as of October 21, 2020

Title 36Chapter I → Part 3


Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property


PART 3—BOATING AND WATER USE ACTIVITIES


Contents
§3.1   What is the applicability and scope of this part?
§3.2   Do other boating laws and regulations apply to me when I operate my boat on park waters?
§3.3   Am I required to obtain a permit to operate a vessel in a park area?
§3.4   For what purposes may my vessel be inspected?
§3.5   Do I have to report an accident involving a vessel to the National Park Service?
§3.6   What are the requirements to operate a power driven vessel?
§3.7   What are the NPS Personal Floatation Device (PFD) requirements?
§3.8   What vessel operations are prohibited?
§3.9   May I operate my personal watercraft (PWC) in park waters?
§3.10   What are the regulations regarding operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs?
§3.11   When is testing for alcohol or drugs required?
§3.12   May I use a vessel to tow a person for water skiing or other similar activities?
§3.13   What conditions apply to the use of Marine Sanitation Devices (MSD)?
§3.14   Am I required to remove a sunken, grounded, or disabled vessel?
§3.15   What is the maximum noise level for the operation of a vessel?
§3.16   May I swim or wade in park waters?
§3.17   What regulations apply to swimming areas and beaches?
§3.18   May I snorkel or underwater dive in park waters?
§3.19   May I operate a submersible within park waters?

Authority: 54 U.S.C. 100101, 100751, 320102.

Source: 72 FR 13702, Mar. 23, 2007, unless otherwise noted.

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§3.1   What is the applicability and scope of this part?

The applicability of the regulations in this part is described in §1 .2 of this chapter.

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§3.2   Do other boating laws and regulations apply to me when I operate my boat on park waters?

(a) In addition to the regulations contained in this part, the NPS adopts applicable laws and regulations of the United States Coast Guard. The USCG laws and regulations are found in Title 14 United States Code, Title 33 United States Code, Title 46 United States Code, and 33 CFR chapter I, 46 CFR chapter I and III and 49 CFR chapter IV. NPS applies the adopted laws and regulations to vessels and their operation on all waters (navigable and non-navigable) subject to NPS jurisdiction. Therefore, Federal regulations authorizing an action by the “captain of the port” or another officer or employee of the United States Coast Guard, authorize a like action by the superintendent.

(b) Except to the extent that directives of the United States Coast Guard have expressly or implicitly preempted inconsistent state laws and regulations or as otherwise provided by subsection (a), vessels and their operation on all waters subject to NPS jurisdiction are governed by non-conflicting boating safety laws and regulations of the State within whose interior boundaries a park area or portion thereof is located.

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§3.3   Am I required to obtain a permit to operate a vessel in a park area?

Generally, you are not required to obtain a permit to operate a vessel in a park area. However, in certain circumstances, taking into consideration public safety, protection of park resources, and weather and park management objectives, the superintendent may require a permit for use of a vessel within a park area, under §§1.5 and 1.7, and will issue permits consistent with §1.6 of this chapter.

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§3.4   For what purposes may my vessel be inspected?

(a) An authorized person may at any time stop and/or board a vessel to examine documents, licenses or permits relating to operation of the vessel, and to inspect the vessel to determine compliance with regulations pertaining to safety equipment, vessel capacity, marine sanitation devices, and other pollution and noise abatement requirements.

(b) An authorized person who identifies a vessel being operated without sufficient life saving or firefighting devices, in an overloaded or other unsafe condition, as defined in United States Coast Guard regulations, or in violation of a noise level specified in §3.15(a) of this part, may direct the operator to suspend further use of the vessel until the condition is corrected.

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§3.5   Do I have to report an accident involving a vessel to the National Park Service?

(a) The operator of a vessel involved in an accident must report the accident to the superintendent as soon as practical, but in any event within 24 hours of the accident, if the accident involves:

(1) Total property damage of $2000 or more; or

(2) Injury, or death or disappearance of a person

(b) If the operator is physically incapable of making the report, the owner or an occupant of the vessel must report the accident to the superintendent.

(c) Filing a report with the superintendent may satisfy applicable United States Coast Guard, State, and local accident reporting requirements. Superintendents will forward the accident report to the appropriate reporting authority in a timely manner that complies with the requirements of 33 CFR 173.55.

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§3.6   What are the requirements to operate a power driven vessel?

(a) To operate a power-driven vessel on park waters, a person must be either:

(1) At least 16 years old; or

(2) Between 12 and 15 years old and accompanied on the vessel by a person at least 18 years old.

(b) If a park area is located within a State having different age requirements, then the applicable State law is adopted in lieu of paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) If a park area is located within a State having a mandatory boater education requirement, then that State requirement is adopted.

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§3.7   What are the NPS Personal Floatation Device (PFD) requirements?

(a) All requirements in Title 33 CFR part 175 related to PFDs are adopted.

(b) The Superintendent may require that a PFD be worn or carried on designated waters, at designated times and/or during designated water based activities in accordance with §§1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter.

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§3.8   What vessel operations are prohibited?

(a) The following operations are prohibited:

(1) Launching or operating an airboat.

(2) Launching or recovering a vessel, except at a launch site designated by the superintendent.

(3) Operating a power-driven vessel on waters not accessible by road.

(4) Operating a vessel in excess of a length, width, or horsepower restriction established by the superintendent in accordance with §§1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter. For the purposes of this paragraph, vessel length is measured according to criteria established in 46 CFR chapter I or 33 CFR chapter I.

(b) The following operations are inherently unsafe and therefore prohibited:

(1) Operating a power-driven or sailing vessel within 100 feet of a diver's flag except a vessel in support of dive operations, which may not be operated in excess of flat wake speed.

(2) Failing to observe restriction(s) established by a regulatory marker.

(3) Operating a vessel in excess of flat wake speed in designated areas.

(4) Operating a vessel in excess of flat wake speed within 100 feet of:

(i) A downed water skier;

(ii) A person swimming, wading, fishing from shore or floating with the aid of a flotation device;

(iii) A designated launch site; or

(iv) A manually propelled, anchored or drifting vessel. If the park is located within a State specifying different conditions, then that State law is adopted in lieu of this paragraph.

(5) Unless a designated area is marked otherwise, operating a power-driven or sailing vessel within 500 feet of a shoreline designated as a swimming beach. This prohibition does not apply in locations such as a river, channel, or narrow cove where passage is restricted to less than 500 feet. In such restrictive locations where swim beaches are designated, the operation of a vessel in excess of a flat wake speed is prohibited.

(6) Operating a power-driven vessel while a person is riding on the decking over the bow, gunwales, top edge of the transom, motor cover, or in any other unsafe position when the vessel is being operated. This provision does not apply when that portion of the vessel is designed and constructed for the purpose of carrying passengers safely at all speeds or when the vessel is maneuvering for anchoring, docking or mooring.

(7) Operating a power driven vessel engine/s or generator with a person sitting, riding or hanging on to a swim platform or swim ladder.

(8) Operating a vessel, or knowingly allowing another person to operate a vessel in a negligent manner, by failing to exercise that degree of care which a reasonable person, under like circumstances, would demonstrate in order to prevent the endangering of the life, limb, or property of a person(s) through the operator's lack of knowledge, inattention, or general carelessness.

(9) Operating a vessel or knowingly allowing another person to operate a vessel in a grossly negligent manner, by willfully and wantonly creating an unreasonable risk of harm to person(s) or property, regardless of whether the operator intended to cause harm.

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§3.9   May I operate my personal watercraft (PWC) in park waters?

(a) A person may operate a PWC only in park areas where authorized by special regulation. Special regulations may only be promulgated in the 21 parks listed in the following table:

NameWater typeState
Amistad National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeTX
Assateague Island National SeashoreOpen Ocean/BayMD/VA
Bighorn Canyon National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeMT
Big Thicket National PreserveRiverTX
Cape Cod National SeashoreOpen Ocean/BayMA
Cape Lookout National SeashoreOpen Ocean/BayNC
Chickasaw National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeOK
Cumberland Island National SeashoreOpen Ocean/BayGA
Curecanti National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeCO
Delaware Water GapRiverPA/NJ
Fire Island National SeashoreOpen Ocean/BayNY
Gateway National Recreation AreaOpen Ocean/BayNY
Glen Canyon National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeAZ/UT
Gulf Islands National SeashoreOpen Ocean/BayFL/MS
Indiana Dunes National LakeshoreNatural LakeIN
Lake Mead National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeAZ/NV
Lake Meredith National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeTX
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeWA
Padre Island National SeashoreOpen Ocean/BayTX
Pictured Rocks National LakeshoreNatural LakeMI
Whiskeytown-Shasta-Trinity National Recreation AreaImpounded LakeCA

(b) Where authorized, operation of a PWC on park waters is subject to the following conditions:

(1) No person may operate a PWC unless each person aboard is wearing a Type I, II, III, or V PFD approved by the United States Coast Guard.

(2) A person operating a PWC equipped by the manufacturer with a lanyard-type engine cut-off switch must attach such lanyard to his person, clothing, or PFD, as appropriate for the specific vessel.

(3) No person may operate a PWC anytime between sunset and sunrise.

(4) No person may operate a PWC by jumping the wake, becoming partially airborne or completely leaving the water while crossing the wake of another vessel within 100 feet of the vessel creating the wake.

(5) If a park area is located within a State that has more restrictive regulations for the operation of PWC, then applicable State law applies in lieu of paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(4) of this section.

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§3.10   What are the regulations regarding operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs?

(a) Operating or being in actual physical control of a vessel is prohibited while:

(1) Under the influence of alcohol, a drug or drugs, or any combination thereof, to a degree that renders the operator incapable of safe operation; or

(2) The alcohol concentration in the operator's blood or breath is 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 100 milliliters of blood or 0.08 grams or more of alcohol per 210 liters of breath.

(b) If State law that applies to operating a vessel while under the influence of alcohol establishes more restrictive limits of alcohol concentration in the operator's blood or breath, those limits apply rather than the limits specified in paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) The provisions of this section also apply to an operator who is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or drugs.

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§3.11   When is testing for alcohol or drugs required?

(a) At the request or direction of an authorized person who has probable cause to believe that an operator of a vessel has violated provisions of §3.10, the operator must submit to one or more testing procedures of the blood, breath, saliva or urine for the purpose of determining blood alcohol and/or drug content.

(1) Refusal by an operator to submit to a test is prohibited and proof of refusal may be admissible in any related judicial proceeding.

(2) Any test or tests for the presence of alcohol and drugs must be determined by and administered at the direction of an authorized person.

(3) Any test must be conducted by using accepted scientific methods and equipment of proven accuracy and reliability operated by personnel certified in its use.

(b) The results of chemical or other quantitative tests are intended to supplement the elements of probable cause used as the basis for the arrest of an operator charged with a violation of §3.10. If the alcohol concentration in the operator's blood or breath at the time of testing is less than alcohol concentrations specified in §3.10(a)(2), this fact does not give rise to any presumption that the operator is or is not under the influence of alcohol.

(c) The provisions of paragraph (b) of this section are not intended to limit the introduction of any other competent evidence bearing upon the question of whether the operator, at the time of the alleged violation, was under the influence of alcohol, or a drug, or drugs, or any combination thereof.

[72 FR 13702, Mar. 23, 2007, as amended at 80 FR 36476, June 25, 2015]

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§3.12   May I use a vessel to tow a person for water skiing or other similar activities?

(a) The towing of a person by a vessel is allowed only in designated waters, and in accordance with conditions established by the superintendent under §§1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter.

(b) Towing a person using a parasail, hang-glider or other airborne device may be allowed only in accordance with a permit issued by the superintendent under §1.6 of this chapter.

(c) Where towing is designated, the following conditions apply:

(1) Towing is allowed only between the hours of sunrise and sunset.

(2) In addition to the boat operator, a person at least 12 years of age must be present to observe the action of the person being towed.

(3) A person being towed must wear a United States Coast Guard approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD.

(4) A person being towed may not commit any act in a manner that endangers, or is likely to endanger, any person or damage property.

(5) Operating a vessel that does not have the capacity to carry the person(s) being towed in addition to the operator and observer is prohibited.

(6) No person shall operate a power driven vessel using a tow rope 20 feet or less in length when towing a person.

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§3.13   What conditions apply to the use of Marine Sanitation Devices (MSD)?

(a) Discharging sewage from any vessel, whether treated or not, in any body of fresh water is prohibited.

(b) The owner or operator of any vessel on park fresh water that is equipped with toilet facilities and/or a MSD that is capable of discharge, must lock or otherwise secure the valves or mechanism of the device. Acceptable methods of securing the device include:

(1) Closing the seacock and removing the handle;

(2) Padlocking the seacock in the closed position;

(3) Using a non-releasable wire-tie to hold the seacock in the closed position; or

(4) Locking the door to the space enclosing the toilets with a padlock or door handle key lock.

(c) The superintendent may modify the requirements of this section through a special regulation.

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§3.14   Am I required to remove a sunken, grounded, or disabled vessel?

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, the owners or authorized salvager of a sunken, grounded, or disabled vessel must remove the vessel, all component parts and equipment, and all associated cargo thereof in accordance with procedures established by the superintendent. In establishing removal procedures, the superintendent is authorized to:

(1) Establish a reasonable date by which vessel removal operations must be complete;

(2) Determine times and means of access to and from the vessel; and

(3) Specify the manner or method of removal.

(b) The superintendent may waive the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section or prohibit removal of the vessel, equipment, or cargo upon a written determination that:

(1) The removal would constitute an unacceptable risk to human life;

(2) The removal would result in extensive resource damage; or

(3) The removal is impracticable or impossible.

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§3.15   What is the maximum noise level for the operation of a vessel?

(a) A person may not operate a vessel at a noise level exceeding:

(1) 75dB(A) measured utilizing test procedures applicable to vessels underway (Society of Automotive Engineers SAE—J1970); or

(2) 88dB(A) measured utilizing test procedures applicable to stationary vessels (Society of Automotive Engineers SAE—J2005).

(b) An authorized person who has reason to believe that a vessel is being operated in excess of the noise levels established in paragraph (a) of this section may direct the operator of the vessel to submit the vessel to an on-site test to measure the noise level.

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§3.16   May I swim or wade in park waters?

Swimming or wading is allowed in waters, subject to closures or restrictions designated by the superintendent in accordance with §§1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter.

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§3.17   What regulations apply to swimming areas and beaches?

(a) The superintendent may designate areas as swimming areas or swimming beaches in accordance with §§1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter.

(b) Within designated swimming areas, the use of a surfboard or similar rigid device is prohibited.

(c) The superintendent may prohibit the use or possession of flotation devices, glass containers, kites, or incompatible activities in swimming areas or swimming beaches in accordance with §§1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter.

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§3.18   May I snorkel or underwater dive in park waters?

(a) Snorkeling and underwater diving is allowed in park waters, subject to closures or restrictions designated by the superintendent in accordance with §§1.5 and 1.7 of this chapter.

(b) In waters open to the use of vessels, a diver must prominently display a dive flag during dive operations. A dive flag must not be displayed unless dive operations are ongoing.

(c) The dive flag must be illuminated when dive operations take place between sunset and sunrise. The dive flag illumination may not consist of lights that may be confused with navigation lights or aids to navigation lights.

(d) While on the surface, submerging or surfacing the diver must remain within a 100 feet horizontal radius of the diver flag.

(e) If State laws or regulations exist concerning snorkeling activities, those provisions of State law or regulation are adopted.

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§3.19   May I operate a submersible within park waters?

The use of manned or unmanned submersibles may only occur in accordance with a permit issued by the superintendent under §1.6 of this chapter.

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