NPS Essentials: Regulations


The NPS Organic Act grants the Secretary of the Interior the authority to implement “such regulations as the Secretary considers necessary or proper for the use and management of [National Park] System units.”  (54 USC 100751).

Regulations may also be authorized or required under other specific legislation passed by Congress.

Regulations Program

The primary function of the Regulations Program is to develop and coordinate the publication of regulations that govern visitor use and resource protection in NPS units.  Personnel in this program help parks and program areas meet management goals through the rule-making process, by writing, editing and coordinating the legal review of proposed and final regulations. They ensure consistency with federal law, seek and analyze public comment, and interact with Congress regarding regulatory action.

When management actions in a park unit have the potential to do any of the following they shall be published as rule-making in the Federal Register (36 CFR 1.5(b)):

  • Significantly alter public use patterns
  • Have an adverse affect on the park’s natural, aesthetic, scenic or cultural values
  • Require a long-term or significant modification in the resource management objectives of the unit
  • Are of a highly controversial nature

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