For the complete federal register document go here: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/E8-29041.htm
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Travel Management Directives; Forest Service Manual 2350, 7700,
and 7710 and Forest Service Handbook 7709.55
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Final directives.
SUMMARY: The Forest Service is amending internal directives regarding
travel management to make them consistent with and to facilitate
implementation of the agency's final travel management rule. The travel
management rule requires each Forest Service administrative unit or
ranger district to designate those National Forest System (NFS) roads,
NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands that are open to motor vehicle use.
Changes to existing travel management directives are needed to
provide guidance on implementation of the travel management rule, to
conform terminology to the rule, to provide consistent direction on the
process of designating roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use,
and to provide direction on travel analysis.
These final directives consolidate direction for travel planning
for both NFS roads and NFS trails in Forest Service Manual (FSM) 7710
and Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 7709.55. The final directives rename
roads analysis ``travel analysis'' and streamline some of its
procedural requirements. In addition, for purposes of designating
roads, trails, and areas for motor vehicle use, the final directives
expand the scope of travel analysis to encompass trails and areas being
considered for designation. Definitions and delegations of authority
for the travel management directives are found in FSM 7700. Direction
for trail management remains in FSM 2350.
DATES: Effective Date: The final directives are effective January 7,
ADDRESSES: The record for these final directives is available for
inspection and copying at the office of the Director, Recreation,
Heritage, and Volunteer Resources Staff, USDA, Forest Service, 4th
Floor Central, Sidney R. Yates Federal Building, 1400 Independence
Avenue, SW., Washington, DC, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through
Friday, except holidays. Those wishing to inspect or copy these
documents are encouraged to call Deidre St. Louis at (202) 205-0931 to
facilitate entry into the building.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Deidre St. Louis, Recreation,
Heritage, and Volunteer Resources Staff, (202) 205-0931.
On November 9, 2005, the Forest Service published the travel
management rule, governing use of motor vehicles on NFS lands. The
travel management rule (36 CFR part 212, subpart B) requires each
administrative unit or ranger district to designate those NFS roads,
NFS trails, and areas on NFS lands that are open to motor vehicle use
by vehicle class and, if appropriate, by time of year. The travel
management rule also requires designated roads, trails, and areas to be
identified on a motor vehicle use map (MVUM). After designated roads,
trails, and areas have been identified on an MVUM, motor vehicle use
inconsistent with those designations is prohibited under 36 CFR 261.13.
The travel management rule combines regulations governing
administration of the forest transportation system and regulations
governing use of motor vehicles off NFS roads into part 212, Travel
Management, covering the use of motor vehicles on NFS lands. The travel
management rule implements Executive Order (E.O.) 11644 (February 8,
1972), ``Use of Off-Road Vehicles on the Public Lands,'' as amended by
E.O. 11989 (May 24, 1977).
Nationally, the Forest Service manages approximately 280,000 miles
of NFS roads and 47,000 miles of NFS trails that are open to motor
vehicle use. Other NFS roads and NFS trails are managed for non-
motorized uses or are closed to all public use. Motor vehicle routes in
the forest transportation system range from paved roads designed for
all vehicle types, including standard passenger cars, to single-track
trails used by motorcycles. Many roads designed for high-clearance
vehicles (such as logging trucks and sport utility vehicles) are also
used by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and other off-highway vehicles
(OHVs) not normally found on city streets. Almost all NFS trails serve
non-motorized users such as hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians, alone
or in combination with motorized users. NFS roads accept non-motorized
use as well.
In addition to this managed system of NFS roads and NFS trails,
many national forests contain user-created roads and trails. These
routes are usually in areas where cross-country travel by motor
vehicles has been allowed and sometimes include dense, braided networks
of criss-crossing trail. There has been no comprehensive national
inventory of user-created routes (and continuing proliferation of these
routes has made a definitive inventory difficult), but they are
estimated to number in the tens of thousands of miles.
Wilderness areas are closed to motor vehicles by statute, unless
the applicable enabling legislation authorizes motor vehicle use. On
some national forests and portions of others, motor vehicle use is
restricted by order to designated routes and areas. On other national
forests, motor vehicle use is not restricted to designated routes and
Need for Final Directives
The Forest Service provides internal direction to field units
through its directive system, consisting of the Forest Service manuals
and Forest Service handbooks. Directives provide guidance to field
units in implementing programs established by statute and regulation.
Forest Service directives establish agency policy for delegations of
authority, consistent definitions of terms, clear and consistent
interpretation of regulatory language, and standard processes.
The travel management rule is being implemented on administrative
units and ranger districts, each of which will complete the designation
process and publish an MVUM identifying those NFS roads, NFS trails,
and areas on NFS lands open to motor vehicle use. The Forest Service
plans to complete that task on all units of the NFS within 4 years of
publication of the final rule.
Current policy in the Forest Service directive system was written
prior to the travel management rule and reflects previous travel
management direction and terminology. For example, current directives
use the terms ``classified road'' and ``unclassified road,'' which were
removed by the travel management rule. Until this policy is updated,
inconsistent terminology may result in confusion and inconsistent
application of the travel management rule. The final directives are
also needed to provide a procedural approach to implementing the travel
management rule in conformance with agency policy on land management
planning, environmental analysis, roads analysis, and other
requirements of law and policy.
Some comments on the proposed travel management rule requested an
opportunity for public input in development of Agency directives
implementing the travel management rule.
Summary of Comments on the Proposed Directives
The Forest Service published the proposed travel management
directives in the Federal Register for public notice and comment on
March 9, 2007 (72 FR 10632). The agency received 33 comments from
organizations and individuals. Most comments were submitted by
organizations or their representatives.
Many comments were editorial, suggesting minor word changes,
referencing errors, or identifying inconsistencies between policy
statements. The Forest Service accepted many of these suggestions in
developing the final directives.
The following iterates the substantive comments and the agency's