MAPPWD Policy (CP-3)
This policy (CP-3) clarifies the Department's authority to issue temporary revocable permits (TRPs) to provide motor vehicle access to certain State lands under the jurisdiction of the Department for qualified people with disabilities. It includes criteria which will be used to determine if a person qualifies for such TRPs. The policy also establishes a procedure for the appeal of TRPs which have been denied, suspended or revoked.
Article XIV, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution
Vehicle and Traffic Law
Department Rules and Regulations, particularly 6 NYCRR Part 196
The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan
The Catskill Park State Land Master Plan
Department Policy and Procedures Manual, Title 8400, Chapter 8426
The purpose of this policy guideline is to clarify the authority of the Department of Environmental Conservation to issue temporary revocable permits (TRPs) to qualifying people with disabilities to allow them motor vehicle access to certain specified State lands under the Department's jurisdiction, thereby facilitating such access. Such a clarification will assist the Department in identifying opportunities to provide access to certain State lands under the Department's jurisdiction to people with disabilities.
The Department manages approximately four million acres of State land in New York State. This land can, consistent with existing law, provide those with disabilities with significant recreational opportunities.
In issuing permits to qualifying people with disabilities to use motor vehicles on State lands, the Department must comply with existing law. On Forest Preserve lands, the Department must comply with the directive in Article XIV, Section 1 of the New York State Constitution which requires that Forest Preserve lands be "forever kept as wild forest lands." Thus, the Department may not issue permits which have the result of diminishing the forever wild character of these forest lands.
The Adirondack Park and Catskill Park State Land Master Plans'(1) restrictions on motor vehicle access into the Forest Preserve, as well as the Department's rules and regulations pertaining to motor vehicle use, place additional legal constraints on where motor vehicles may be used. In both the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, motor vehicle use is prohibited on trails and in areas, is limited to designated and specifically marked roads in lands classified as Wild Forest and Intensive Use, and is prohibited on all lands classified as Wilderness, Canoe and Primitive.
On Department lands outside the Forest Preserve, current restrictions for motor vehicle use are not as stringent and provide a wider range of opportunities: use of motor vehicles is allowed where specifically permitted by posted notice or by permit issued by the Department. Another legal constraint, applicable on all lands under the jurisdiction of the Department, is found at Vehicle and Traffic Law §2405. It provides that all-terrain vehicles may not travel on a road unless it has been specifically marked for such use.
The past three decades have been witness to increased efforts to afford people with disabilities equivalent opportunities of life in all aspects of society. They, along with their families and friends, want to share the experiences that others have. They also do not want to face barriers, either constructed or attitudinal, that artificially prevent the enjoyment of life's benefits. The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 have all compelled federal, state and local governments to analyze their facilities and recreational opportunities and take steps to make them accessible. These acts seek the removal of the barriers to equal opportunity. The legislation that has the most bearing on State recreational programs is the ADA, with guidelines for analysis of facilities, implementation of accessibility minimum standards and a system of accountability. These legislative mandates establish only minimum requirements, and, for the purposes of this policy, do not require amendments to Article XIV, Section 1 of the State Constitution, the Department's rules and regulations, or the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan or Catskill Park State Land Master Plan. The Department is, however, broadening the scope of its consideration to provide people with disabilities access which may involve the use of motor vehicles on certain lands under its jurisdiction.
In the developed recreational facilities that it manages, such as campgrounds, the Department continues to be active in improving access for people with disabilities and has already provided many opportunities for their use. Now, where appropriate, consistent with constitutional, statutory and regulatory provisions and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Catskill Park State Land Master Plan, the Department will provide a means for a greater enjoyment of the lands it manages. All conditions of this policy guideline are directed for the protection of the public and the resource while enhancing access opportunities for people with disabilities.
The Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and the Catskill Park State Land Master Plan and the Department's rules and regulations place various limitations on the availability of roads, trails and geographical areas that can be opened to motor vehicle use. Reforestation and other lands administered by the Department offer opportunities to allow for this type of access. Some Forest Preserve lands (classified as Intensive Use and Wild Forest) offer similar opportunities.
With this policy, the Department is addressing one aspect of making certain lands under its administration accessible to people with disabilities and facilitating recreational opportunities for them where legal and appropriate. For both the Department and the people who enjoy and use public lands, it is expected that everyone will assume increased responsibility for stewardship of those lands. All conditions and implementations of this policy guideline are to be directed for the protection of the public and the resource involved.
For the purposes of this policy guideline, the following definitions shall apply:
a. All terrain vehicle (ATV) means a motor vehicle described as such in Section 2281 (1) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law. It does not include a snowmobile. (See Appendix I).
b. Area means land under the jurisdiction of the Department.
c. Certification/Certified means a signed statement by a licensed physician on a form provided by the Department (see Appendix II), certifying that a person has one or more impairments, disabilities or conditions as defined in paragraph "j" of this policy which document the need for the person to use a motor vehicle, and the nature, degree and term of the disability. The certification shall specify the length of time during which such certification is effective.
All certifications must be dated within one year prior to the date of application.
The approval of the application and the issuance of the Permit may be made without certification of disability, provided that the disability is an obvious, visually identifiable permanent disability which impairs mobility (as defined in paragraph "j"): for example, the loss of all or a portion of a leg. In this instance, a statement of compliance with certification requirements shall be made by the Regional land manager and become a part of the application.
The possession by the person of a Non-Ambulatory Hunter Permit is also acceptable proof of qualifying disability. This document is issued by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, Special Licenses Unit of the Department. (See Appendix III). As with an obvious disability, a statement of compliance with certification requirements shall be made by the Regional land manager and become a part of the application.
d. Companion(s) means person(s) who may accompany the qualified person with a disability as necessary to attend to his/her needs.
e. Department means the Department of Environmental Conservation, its officers and employees.
f. Mechanized Aid means a nonmotorized or motorized wheelchair, or other similar devices, such as a three-wheeled mobility device, designed solely for use by a mobility impaired person for locomotion that is suitable for indoor use in a pedestrian area as well as outdoor use by a person with a disability.
A nonmotorized or motorized wheelchair is considered as a part of the person with a disability and not a motor vehicle.
g. Mobility Impairment means a disability that is a qualified disability as defined in paragraph "j."
h. Motor Vehicle means every wheeled or tracked vehicle or other device including a trailer attached thereto, operated by any power other than muscle power, and includes, but is not limited to, automobiles, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles (RVs), all terrain vehicles (ATVs), electric propelled carts and scooters, whether or not licensed by the Department of Motor Vehicles or other state agency and operated either on or off the public highway. It does not include a mechanized aid, as defined herein, or airplanes, float planes, helicopters or any other device capable of flight and powered by a motor, or boat or vessel powered by a motor.
i. Permit means a nontransferable temporary revocable permit as authorized by the Environmental Conservation Law to allow the use of State lands under the jurisdiction of the Department (See Appendix V).
j. Qualified Person with a Disability is an individual who:
- Cannot walk two hundred feet without stopping to rest; or,
- Cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from, a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wheelchair, or other assistive device; or,
- Is restricted by lung disease to such an extent that the person's forced (respiratory)expiratory volume for one second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter, or the arterial oxygen tension is less than sixty mm/Hg on room air at rest; or,
- Uses portable oxygen; or,
- Has a cardiac condition to the extent that the person's functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV, according to standards set by the American Heart Association; or,
- Is severely limited in their ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
k. Regional land manager means the individual charged with the administrative responsibility for the Department lands on which a qualified person with a disability desires access.
l. Road means an improved or partially improved way designed and maintained for travel by automobile and may also be used by other types of motor vehicles, including snowmobiles, on those ways designated for such use; and is,
- Either maintained by a State agency or local government and open to the general public; or,
- Maintained by private persons or corporations primarily for private use but which may also be open to the general public for all or a segment thereof; or,
- Maintained by the Department or other State agency and is open to the public on a discretionary basis; or,
- Designated by the Department for use by qualified people with disabilities.
- Pursuant to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan and Catskill Park State Land Master Plan, the Department may further restrict the use of motor vehicles where in its judgment the character of the natural resources in a particular area or other factors make such restrictions desirable.
m. Trail means a marked and maintained path for travel by foot, pack or ridden animal, or snowmobile. Outside the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, a trail may also be specifically marked for travel by a qualified individual with a certified disability using a suitable motor vehicle.
It shall be the policy of the Department to provide a qualified person with a certified disability access by a suitable motor vehicle to appropriate lands under its jurisdiction.
A qualified person with a certified disability who wants to access State land by a suitable motor vehicle, where either the desired location is closed to motor vehicles or is open to certain motor vehicles, but not the type of motor vehicle desired to be used by that person, may do so only through the authority of a Permit. Such Permit shall provide that a specified qualified person with a certified disability is authorized to operate a suitable type of motor vehicle as designated in the permit on all roads, trails and geographical areas designated by the Department for such use and elsewhere as specifically approved, consistent with current law and rules and regulations. In the Adirondack Park and the Catskill Park, motor vehicle use is prohibited on trails and in geographical areas, and is limited to designated and specifically marked roads on lands classified as Wild Forest and Intensive Use. Motorized use is prohibited on all lands classified as Wilderness, Canoe and Primitive.
There shall be no restriction on or permit needed by a person with a disability accessing public lands by the use of a mechanized aid.
On lands administered by the Department, a suitable type of motor vehicle shall be allowed to provide motor vehicle access for qualified people with disabilities to operate on designated roads, trails and geographical areas where, in the opinion of the Department with comments from the public where appropriate, the use of such motor vehicles will not have a deleterious effect on the trail, road or geographical area, the land's natural resource values or the experience of other users. Such designation and use must be consistent with current law, including the Environmental Conservation Law, the State Land Master Plan for the Adirondack Park or Catskill Park, as the case may be, Department rules and regulations, a Unit Management Plan for the area, and an administrative directive consistent with current law, and must not endanger the safety and welfare of the general public. Within the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, the motor vehicle may not be used on trails and in geographical areas, and may only be used on designated and specifically marked roads. On lands outside of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, such motor vehicles may also be parked or stopped within twenty five feet of the trail or road corridor. Consistent with Vehicle and Traffic Law §2405, the use of all terrain vehicles on roads is allowed only where the road has been specifically marked for such use.
The use of a motor vehicle for the purposes of this policy guideline shall be in a prudent and safe manner and/or as specifically posted, recognizing that others using the road, trail or area may not expect or be prepared for encountering the motor vehicle and its operator. The qualified person with a disability operating a motor vehicle and hikers, Nordic skiers, bicyclists, equestrians and others shall accord mutual deference to the other's needs.
A suitable motor vehicle designed by the manufacturer for use by more than one person may be used to transport the qualified person with a disability and, when necessary to assist the qualified person with a disability, a companion to accomplish the purpose of the Permit. Where the vehicle is not designed to accommodate more than one person, the qualified person with a disability may be accompanied by a companion using a vehicle designed for use by a single person. Any additional person (s) travelling with the person with a disability must do so on foot.
The companion should remain within sight of the permittee, except in emergencies, and shall carry a photocopy of the Permit on his or her person.
The operators of any type of vehicle must possess proof that they have met the statutory requirements for its operation.
If a qualified person with a disability intends to hunt from a motor vehicle, he/she must have a Non-ambulatory Hunter Permit (41-10-2 and 82-20-162) issued under rules and regulations 6 NYCRR 170.5 and Environmental Conservation Law, Section 11-0931(2) (see Appendix III).
The Permit must be in the possession of the qualified person with a disability to whom issued, and is nontransferable. A photocopy of the Permit must be prominently displayed in or on the vehicle being used to transport the qualified person with a disability and the vehicle of his/her companion(s) and any other motor vehicle to be used by or to transport the qualified person with a disability for the purpose described in the Permit.
If a motor vehicle is used by a qualified person with a disability under Permit to transport legally taken fish or wildlife, only that fish or wildlife legally obtained by the permittee and the companion(s) may be so transported. A motor vehicle may not be used as a general purpose vehicle by another person when operated by the qualified person with a disability. The personal items of the companion(s) may be transported in/on the motor vehicle of the qualified person with a disability. A motor vehicle, for the purposes of this policy, may not be operated on public lands in the absence of the qualified person with a disability, except in an emergency.
The responsibility for interpretation and update of this document, and overall management shall reside with the Office of Natural Resources, or its successor.
A. Application and Permitting
- A qualified person with a disability desiring to use a motor vehicle on designated Department roads, trails or geographical areas where such use is otherwise not permitted must first obtain a Permit.
- The applicant must present certification of his/her qualifying disability upon application, unless the person has an obvious, visually identifiable permanent qualifying disability, or the applicant presents a Non-ambulatory Hunter Permit.
- The applicant must complete the "Application for a Temporary Revocable Permit" (see Appendix IV). The Permit will authorize travel by a suitable motor vehicle on roads, trails or geographical areas which have been designated by the Department for the use of qualified people with disabilities using a motor vehicle. The applicant will submit the application to any Regional office of the Department.
- The Permit shall specify the authorization for a companion(s) to accompany the qualified person with a disability, if he/she chooses to be so accompanied. The permit shall specify that in the Adirondack Park and Catskill Park, motor vehicle access is prohibited on trails and geographical areas and is limited to designated and specifically marked roads in Wild Forest and Intensive Use areas and prohibited on all lands classified as Wilderness, Canoe, and Primitive areas.
- The inspection fee required of applicants for Permits shall be waived by the Department for a qualified person with a disability seeking such a Permit under this policy guideline. If the applicant is applying to use State land for a competitive event, the provisions of the Temporary Revocable Permit Policy and Procedure relating to inspection fees and liability insurance will be followed.
- When hunting from a motor vehicle, the applicant must first obtain a Non-ambulatory Hunter Permit 82-20-162 and Card ID 41-10-2 (see Appendix III).
- Additional restrictions or stipulations may be imposed as necessary by the Regional land manager on a case-by-case basis.
- The application package shall be processed in the region as a routine permit, with a ten workday maximum processing time.
- The Permit may be issued for any time period, not to exceed one year from date of issue, except that a Permit may be issued for a period of five years to a qualified person with a disability either certified or visually obvious as permanent.
- The Permit may be renewed without recertifying the disability, provided that the request for renewal is within the term of the disability as described in the original certification.
- The Department will assure that renewal applications are sent to permittees, other than those with a permanent disability. The reminder notice will include a questionnaire to survey the efficiency of this permit system. Questionnaires will also be sent routinely to those persons with a five-year permit.
B. Denial of Permit
- The Department shall deny the application for a Permit if the applicant does not meet the qualifying requirements. The applicant may reapply at any time, once the conditions for receiving the permit are met.
- The applicant may appeal the denial of a Permit to the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources for the region in which the permit was issued within thirty workdays of the date of notification of denial. If requested by the applicant, the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources will schedule a meeting between the applicant and the Regional land manager. The Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources shall render a decision within ten workdays of receipt of the applicant's appeal or from the date of the meeting. The applicant may appeal the decision of the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources to the Regional Director within thirty workdays of the second denial. The Regional Director will issue a final decision within fifteen workdays of receipt of the appeal.
C. Suspension and/or revocation of Permit
- The Permit may be suspended or revoked at any time during the duration of the Permit if the conditions of the Permit are not met, the permittee and/or the companion(s) is in violation of this policy, in violation of any Department rule and regulation or in violation of state or federal laws. For minor violations, the Regional land manager will follow the procedures for the suspension of a Permit, as described herein. However, for major violations, the Regional land manager may revoke the permit immediately. The permittee may appeal the revocation, following the procedure for appealing a revocation.
- The Permit holder shall be given notice of pending suspension by certified mail, return receipt requested, and shall be allowed ten workdays from date of receipt to conform to the conditions or provisions of the Permit. However, if the situation for compliance is deemed critical by the Regional land manager, he/she may immediately suspend the Permit. If the Permit is suspended, notice shall also be given that, unless the conditions or provisions of the Permit are adhered to, the Permit shall be revoked at the end of the ten-workday suspension period.
- The Regional land manager shall initiate the procedure to suspend the Permit, preparing a memorandum citing the reason(s) for cause for suspension to the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources. The Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources shall notify the permittee in writing of the impending suspension, the reason(s) justifying the suspension and the requirement(s) to rectify the situation.
- If a permittee fails to comply with the conditions to lift the suspension, the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources shall proceed with notification of the revocation of the Permit.
- A permittee may appeal the revocation of a Permit to the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources for the region in which the permit was issued within thirty workdays of the date of notification. If requested by a permittee, the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources will schedule a meeting between the permittee and the Regional land manager. The Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources shall render a decision within ten workdays of receipt of the permittee's appeal or from the date of the meeting. The permittee may appeal the decision of the Regional Supervisor of Natural Resources to the Regional Director within fifteen workdays of the denial of the appeal. The Regional Director will issue a final decision within fifteen workdays of receipt of the appeal.
- A permittee will not be authorized to use the Permit during the term of the suspension, revocation or appeal process.
All aspects pertaining to the implementation, administration, use, and effect of the provisions of this policy and procedure will be reviewed annually. Modification of the policy and its procedures will be done by the Department following consultation with the user group, the general public and concerned organizations.
- These Master Plans establish several classifications of State land within the Parks, such as Wilderness, Wild Forest, and Intensive Use, with each classification representing a different level of protection and public use and a different recreational setting. The Plans also identify different geographic units of State land within the Parks and place them within these classifications. The Master Plans prescribe general guidelines governing permissible uses within these land classifications, including the use of motorized vehicles.
Executive Law §816(1) provides that this Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan, "shall guide the development and management of State lands in the Adirondack Park;" the Master Plan therefore has the effect of law.
The Catskill Park State Land Master Plan was prepared by the Department of Environmental Conservation as a means of enabling it to fulfill its statutory duty, found at ECL §§3-0301(d) and 9-0105(1), to exercise the care, custody and control of lands of the Forest Preserve.