143B-135.16. Control over State parks; operation of public service facilities; concessions to private concerns; authority to charge fees and adopt rules.

(a) The Department shall make reasonable rules governing the use by the public of State parks and State lakes under its charge. These rules shall be posted in conspicuous places on and adjacent to the properties of the State and at the courthouse of the county or counties in which the properties are located. A violation of these rules is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(b) The Department may adopt rules under which the Secretary may issue a special-use permit authorizing the use of pyrotechnics in State parks in connection with public exhibitions. The rules shall require that experts supervise the use of pyrotechnics and that written authorization for the use of pyrotechnics be obtained from the board of commissioners of the county in which the pyrotechnics are to be used, as provided in G.S. 14-410. The Secretary may impose any conditions on a permit that the Secretary determines to be necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare. These conditions shall include a requirement that the permittee execute an indemnification agreement with the Department and obtain general liability insurance covering personal injury and property damage that may result from the use of pyrotechnics with policy limits determined by the Secretary.

(c) The Department may construct, operate, and maintain within the State parks, State lakes, and other areas under its charge suitable public service facilities and conveniences, and may charge and collect reasonable fees for the use of these facilities and conveniences. The Department may also charge and collect reasonable fees for each of the following:

(1) The erection, maintenance, and use of docks, piers, and any other structures permitted in or on State lakes under rules adopted by the Department.

(2) Fishing privileges in State parks and State lakes, provided that these privileges shall be extended only to holders of State hunting and fishing licenses who comply with all State game and fish laws.

(3) Vehicle access for off-road driving at the beach at Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.

(4) The erection, maintenance, and use of a marina at Carolina Beach.

(d) Members of the public who pay a fee under subsection (c) of this section for access to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area may have 24-hour access to Fort Fisher State Recreation Area from September 15 through March 15 of each year.

(e) The Department may make reasonable rules for the operation and use of boats or other craft on the surface of the waters under its charge. The Department may charge and collect reasonable fees for the use of boats and other watercraft that are purchased and maintained by the Department; however, the Department shall not charge a fee for the use or operation of any other boat or watercraft on these waters.

(f) The Department may grant to private individuals or companies concessions for operation of public service facilities for such periods and upon such conditions as the Department deems to be in the public interest. The Department may adopt reasonable rules for the regulation of the use by the public of the lands and waters under its charge and of the public service facilities and conveniences authorized under this section. A violation of these rules is punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor.

(g) The Department shall validate no less frequently than every five years the number of visitors per car used in the calculation of visitor counts at State Parks.

(h) The authority granted to the Department under this section is in addition to any authority granted to the Department under any other provision of law. (1931, c. 111; 1947, c. 697; 1965, c. 1008, s. 2; 1969, c. 343; 1973, c. 547; c. 1262, ss. 28, 86; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1987, c. 827, s. 92; 1989, c. 727, s. 55; 1993, c. 539, ss. 830, 831; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1997-258, s. 2; 1997-443, s. 11A.119(a); 2003-284, ss. 35.1(b), 35.1A(a), 35.1A(b); 2004-124, s. 12.3(a); 2011-145, s. 13.25(n); 2012-93, s. 2(3); 2015-241, ss. 14.30(e), (l).)