Monday, December 19, 2011

Exercising Rights in National Parks

The National Park Service disrupted the long-time pickup game at the Polo field, on Saturday December 17th, claiming they were enforcing a “rule enacted 2 months ago and being enforced this weekend.” The issue was temporarily resolved when the NPS representative allowed the games to continue for the day, but would require a permit for next weekend (Sat, Dec 24).

NPS may be the only federal agency that is required by statute to provide for “enjoyment.” The Ultimate players – a collection of all skill levels – have been enjoying playing at this location in this friendly, no-fee, year-round game for the past 15 years. We treat this space with respect, and seek preservation of the grounds to enjoy it week after week.

The growing Occupy movements seem to be the real target, yet the enforcement to have any/all activities on NPS grounds to be permitted seems misinterpreted, misguided, and, well...ungrounded.

Profile of the Saturday Ultimate pickup game(s):
  • Game starts at/around 10am every Saturday at the Polo fields in West Potomac Park
  • Individuals & families arrive at/around 10am
  • Removable cones are placed to signify field space
  • Trash is removed upon departure
  • Equal Opportunity
  • Free
  • By 1pm, traces of the amazing game of Ultimate have vanished, only to return in 6 days, 21 hours.

Ultimate is not camping; both are outdoor recreational activities, but Ultimate doesn't continue overnight. [NPS Memo]
Ultimate is not dancing in a solemn atmosphere; both are fun, though Ultimate is played in wide open spaces.
Ultimate is not an exercise of our First Amendment Rights; Ultimate frisbee is an exercise (sport).

Update 12/21:

(From Rob via Andrew) Last weekend a National Park Service worker in uniform tried to stop us from playing on the MLK fields. He said we need a permit.

This week I went to the Permit Management office for the NPS and learned that NO PERMITS ARE NEEDED during the winter.

The fields are available on a first come/first served basis.

I am trying to get an e-mail to that effect that we can print out and show the NPS guy if he shows up again, but so far have had no luck on that front.

In any case if he shows again tell him Marisa Richardson & Nika Phillips at the NPS Permit Management office says we’re allowed to use the fields and if he has any questions to call them at 202.245-4715.

If this NPS guy bugs us again this Sat. or in the future politely inform him of this.

But please avoid a confrontation. We and WAFC need the cooperation of the NPS to use these fields. While we may be right it won’t serve us to piss off an individual NPS worker.

If you approached about field use please get the attention of some of the “old hands” to talk to these folks...myself, Andrew, Charlie, Henry, Joe etc.

If we’re approached again please get the worker's full name with spelling so I can get NPS folks to give him the lowdown.

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