The Integrated River Permit System (IRPS) provides the Dinosaur River Office (River Office) with the ability to issue and manage river permits for both private and non-private permits, assign campsites, manage passenger lists, and monitor and manage launch and take out reports for three rivers (Yampa, Green River, and Split Mountain).

Dinosaur National Monument is unique. The River Office manages permits for three independent rivers that converge and require a unique system for permits, managing permits and camp assignments and usage reports. Each river has its own unique high-use season, low-use season, and low-water season. Additionally, the policies for managing river permits for these rivers are impacted by the combination of private and non-private permits. Finally, the Dinosaur River Permitting policies include many intricate business rules for determining eligibility of permit holders and passengers. These are some of the reasons for the complexity of policies for managing permits, camp assignments, and reporting.

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The IRPS is a hosted service that was configured and deployed within the National Park Service’s Network in less than 90 days. IRPS is a back-end permitting program that is operationally seamless, automates manual processes, eliminates redundancy, improves staff efficiency, reduces the risk of errors and manual tasks, and minimizes training time.

IRPS consolidates relevant features and functions of the Dinosaur River Permit Application, the River Information Line, and the Camp Assignment System, into the Integrated River Permit System (IRPS). In addition to existing features and functions the IRPS automates several manual operations and reports for Dinosaur River Office staff.

The IRPS manages all permits for park concessioners, researchers operating on the river, internal river permitting needs, and is integrated with recreation.gov which handles the bulk of the non-commercial river permits but is unable to complete all necessary tasks (itinerary assignment, monitoring lottery applicants, reporting, assessment that all permit holders are of an appropriate age, etc...), and eliminates several manual operations that are currently necessary to manage all the different kinds of permits.

Overview - why do you need an information system?

In a National Park, there is an awful lot of work to do, typically limited resources, environmental stewardship and many stakeholders to satisfy. For most National Parks, the staff has a variety of responsibilities and not enough time in which to do the work. The work involves lots of policy, and there are a lot of different people with different perspectives to consider. The administrative staff of a National Park balances the needs for park resource management, concessions management, public management, and ensuring that all governmental regulations are met. These are interrelated areas each with their unique challenges, making it critical that a stable and at the same time flexible platform that reflects the park's overall operating framework is readily available to the staff.

An integrated information system that provides the tools necessary for administrators, rangers, and park management to get their jobs done is needed. Such a system must be able to address challenges that are unique to each National Park. This paper will describe some of the challenges unique to Dinosaur National Monument and how the Integrated River Permit System (IRPS) helps them meet those challenges.

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Managing multiple rivers each with multiple seasons and multiple permit types for Commercial, Private, and other Non-Commercial use

The Dinosaur River Office manages six different permit types (each with their own set of rules and policies) for two independent rivers that converge into a third independent river. Each river has its own unique high-use season, low-use season, and low-water season. Additionally, the policies for managing river permits for these rivers are impacted by the combination of private and non-private permits, and Dinosaur River Permitting policies include many intricate business rules for determining eligibility of permit holders and passengers. The Integrated River Permit System (IRPS) is a robust and flexible integrated system that enables Dinosaur River Office to manage the complex policies for managing permits, camp assignments, and reporting.

Concessionaires:

Many National Parks have contracts and working relationships with Concessionaires and may balance the use of the park between Commercial and Non-Commercial users. Commercial users are subject to different polices and typically have different fee structures than those utilized for private users. The IRPS system incorporates management policies, performance metrics, and contract compliance. For example, the IRPS includes a permanent outfitter calendar that includes information about the number of permits allotted to the outfitter in a given year and their preferred camps based on the river and number of days.

Sometimes a Commercial Outfitter wants to trade or gift permits to another outfitter. In this case, the IRPS tracks the information and the river office can refuse the transfer if an outfitter is over their maximum permit limit or some other policy is enforced, such as treatment of cancelled permits within a 2-week timeframe. Commercial reports include automating the workflow for printing Commercial Fee Vouchers and verifying that the Outfitters report on all their permits in order to accurately calculate the outfitters park fees and park visitation. Performance Metrics are included in Commercial reports to determine the usage statistics that may impact the outfitters future operating plan.

Managing Campsites:

Some of the considerations Dinosaur river office staff take into account when issuing camp assignments is the distance between camps, whether there are major rapids between camps, and the size of the group and length of the trip. Many trips request a layover day at a camp which adds to the complexity. And, permits issued for Research, or to Rangers and Administrative permits may actually have an unmarked area designated for their camp.

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Overbooking a campsite (assigning it to more than one permit at a time) results in unhappy clientele because campsites can only comfortably hold certain numbers of people, and one of Dinosaur’s goals is to create what feels like a wilderness experience for all by limiting interactions between groups. Poor itinerary assignment can also create a dangerous situation for rafters safety, because campsites can be located 7, 10 or even 14 river miles apart and the boaters may have already rafted 20 miles in that day. There may be major rapids in between campsites and rafters may not be prepared for additional rowing. Some of the campsites may not accommodate large river trips or have enough room for the boats to land safely. Another significant consideration is the experience and the makeup of a particular group of rafters within a permit.

The IRPS includes a Camp Assignment tool for the River Office Manager that prevents double-booking campsites and enables the river office to see all of the permits that will be on all of the rivers during a specified timeframe. The River Office staff can quickly see the size of the group, number of boats, preferred campsites, and length of the trip for each permit during a specific timeframe. As camps are assigned, the IRPS immediately provides a view of all of the rivers, camps, and permits (including research, administrative, and rangers patrol permits) that have been assigned and does not allow the river office staff to select a camp that is not available.
When Rangers patrol the rivers it is important for them to know who is on what river, when, and where they are. This enables the Ranger patrols to be efficiently scheduled and also lets the Ranger know which camps are available so they can plan their patrol for added safety.

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There are three launch points in Dinosaur National Monument and all trips converge at the Split Mountain multi-lane boat ramp take out-- which can cause tremendous chaos if 5 or 10 trips (and as many as 250 people) land at the same time and it is not managed appropriately. Park Volunteers staff the Split Mountain boat ramp. The IRPS provides a takeout report that lets staff know which permits are taking out that day, and the number of people, number of boats, trip length, and starting point for each permit. This helps staff to plan which boat ramp lane may be best for each arriving permit and reduces the chaos at takeout.

Challenges of managing Multiple Permits for Multiple Rivers

Dinosaur National Monument Permitting Policies are complex to say the least. The Monument has limits on how many total permits can be issued each day depending on the season, depending on the river, and whether the permit is commercial, or non-commercial. Additionally, each river has its own high-use season which further complicates permits. Private boaters cannot hold more than one permit at a time, and are only allowed one high-use trip in Dinosaur National Monument per year, but they can do multiple low-use season permits. The rules are enforced for each permit holder as well as the policies for each river and river season. Below are a few of the policies that impact permits.

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Commercial Permit Governance

A “constant” is the contractually negotiated outfitters launch calendar wherein each outfitter is assigned a total number of commercial launches for specific dates, rivers and trip length, and the launch date is calculated based on the very first day of the high-use season each year. Outfitters can trade, gift, cancel and request to increase or decrease days, change rivers or make other modifications. The IRPS allows the river office to approve these changes, track all changes, and issue permits directly to outfitters. In addition, IRPS includes a Permit Function or Module that allows Dinosaur River Office to issue and track the river permits for Research, Administration, Rangers, and more. All of the permits are integrated into the IRPS (including non-commercial permits) which allows the river office to view every permit, its status, and its history from one system.

Outfitters may trade or gift permits but the Outfitter is still held to a maximum quota of actual permits based on their individual contracts with the Monument. Prior attempts at performance metrics have been manually created with spreadsheets that include limited information and are not integrated within an information system such as the IRPS. Using IRPS, Dinosaur will begin tracking the actual usage and fulfillment of Commercial Outfitters to the permits that they are allowed under their individual contracts with the Park. With IRPS the River Office Staff can check on individual Outfitters and review the permit history for multiple years. These performance metrics include the number of permits that are unused, underutilized, traded, gifted or somehow altered from the original assigned calendar. With these key performance indicators, the Monument can re-negotiate with Commercial Outfitters to ensure the maximum number of people is able to enjoy a guided raft trip on the Yampa or Green rivers and will also provide improved accountability for quarterly billing. Outfitters who are underutilizing their launches will be required to release some of their launch dates to companies who are always maxing out their contractual launch dates.

Role Based Access and Reporting

IRPS includes role-based access to reports for Rangers and River Office. Ranger Reports include Launch Reports, Takeout Reports, Weekly Campsite Reports, and reports for the number of park visitors. Administrative Reports allow the river office to monitor and manage all permits and passengers. Commercial reports include utilization reports that track changes to the permits and fee voucher reports for calculating usage fees for each commercial permit as well as making sure the crew-passenger and number of boats ratios are adhered to.

Overcoming Integration Challenges

The IRPS is a hosted service that was configured and deployed within the National Park Service’s Network in less than 90 days. IRPS is a back-end permitting program that is operationally seamless, automates manual processes, eliminates redundancy, improves staff efficiency, reduces the risk of errors and manual tasks, and minimizes training time. IRPS consolidates relevant features and functions of the Dinosaur River Permit Application, the River Information Line, and the Camp Assignment System, into the Integrated River Permit System (IRPS). In addition to existing features and functions the IRPS automates several manual operations and reports for Dinosaur River Office staff.

The IRPS manages all permits for park concessioners, researchers operating on the river, internal river permitting needs, and is integrated with recreation.gov which handles the bulk of the non-commercial river permits but is unable to complete all necessary tasks (itinerary assignment, monitoring lottery applicants, reporting, assessment that all permit holders are of an appropriate age, etc...), and eliminates several manual operations that are currently necessary to manage all the different kinds of permits.


*Barb Rossner is VP & COO for Corybant, Inc. and is the Solution Architect for IRPS. She can be reached at 303-447-1988 or barb@corybant.com.

About Corybant Corybant has been a vendor to Dinosaur National Monument since January, 2009. With more than 100 combined years of expertise in IT and distributed computing, Corybant’s Management Team anticipated the move to cloud computing and has systematically developed processes, technologies, and information and communication tools for Enterprise System Integration in the 21st century.

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