United States Department of the Interior
December 6,1982

A5639 (NCR-PPOD)


To: Operations Division Personnel

From: Commander, Operations Division

Subject: Camping and Temporary Structures (36 CFR 50.19)

Recent amendments to 36 CFR 50, effective June 4, 19 82, have clarified the prohibitions in that part concerning the use of temporary structures and camping in park areas. Regulations contained in 36 CFR 50.19 (e) (8) prohibit the use of temporary structures for living accommodation purposes in park areas not designated as camping areas. Regulations contained in 36 CFR 50.27(a) prohibit camping in park areas not designated by the Superintendent as public camping grounds. Camping is defined in the regulations as the use of park land for living accommodation purposes .

Tents may be erected as a means of symbolizing the message of demonstrating groups or of providing support and logistical services. Examples of activities where the erection of tents in connection with demonstration activities has been permitted include: a demonstration by ACORN in which a number of tents symbolized the need for housing for the homeless; demonstrations by anti-war veterans groups where the tents symbolized conditions in Vietnam; Indian teepees by Indian rights groups to symbolize the plight of Indians; and numerous other demonstrations where support services tents were used for first aid facilities, for lost children areas, and to shelter electrical and/or sensitive equipment or displays.

Although tents may be authorized as temporary structures for the aforementioned purposes in connection with permitted demonstration activities, the regulations prohibit camping or the erection of tents for camping in connection with de~monstration activities in other than formally designated campgrounds. Camping is defined as the use of park land for living accommodation purposes such as sleeping activities, or making preparation to sleep (including the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping), or storing perronal belongings or making any fire, or using any tent or shelter or other structure or vehicle for the purpose of sleeping or doing any digging or earth breaking or carrying on cooking activities. These activities constitute camping when it reasonabl.y appeaars, in light of all the circumstances, that the participants, in conducting these activities, are in fact using the area as a living accommodation reqardless of the intent of the Participants or the nature of any other activities in which they may also be engaging.

The enforcement of these regulations in which the activity mav be a part of a First Amendment expression should be delayed until consultation with a supervisor and a representative of the Solicitor's Office who can be reached through the Force Communications Center. However, enforcement of these regulations should be positive and immediate when the activity is ciearly not a part of-a First Amendment expression.

This policy is not intended to prohibit traditional picnicking activities in areas designated for Picnicking pursuant to 36 CFR 50.14.

James C. Lindsey, Deputy Chief