ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comment.
SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service is
proposing to amend regulations pertaining to the National Forest System
Land Management Planning. The proposed rule would amend the
administrative procedures to amend land management plans developed or
revised in conformance with the provisions under a prior planning rule.
DATES: Comments must be received in writing by November 14, 2016
Agency will consider and place comments received after this date in the
record only if practicable.
ADDRESSES: Submit comments concerning the proposed rule through one of
the following methods:
1. Public participation portal: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=NP-1403.
2. Facsimile: Fax to: 202-649-1172. Please identify your comments
by including ``RIN 0596-AD28'' or ``planning rule amendment'' on the
cover sheet or the first page.
3. U.S. Postal Service: The mailing address is: USDA Forest Service
Planning Rule Comments, 2222 W. 2300 S., Salt Lake City, UT 84119.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ecosystem Management Coordination
staff's Assistant Director for Planning Andrea Bedell Loucks at 202-
205-8336 or Planning Specialist Regis Terney at 202-205-1552.
The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health,
diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to
meet the needs of present and future generations. In accomplishing this
mission, the Agency is required by statute to develop land management
plans to guide management of the 154 national forests, 20 grasslands,
and 1 prairie that comprise the 193 million acre National Forest System
The National Forest Management Act required the Secretary of
Agriculture to develop a planning rule ``under the principles of the
Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, that set out the process
for the development and revision of the land management plans, and the
guidelines and standards'' (16 U.S.C. 1604(g)). The Secretary fulfilled
this requirement by issuing a rule, codified at title 36, Code of
Federal Regulations, part 219 (36 CFR part 219), which sets
requirements for land management planning and content of plans. In
1979, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Department) issued the first
regulations to comply with this statutory requirement. The 1979
regulations were superseded by the 1982 planning rule.
Numerous efforts were made over the past three decades to improve
on the 1982 planning rule. On November 9, 2000, the Department issued a
new planning rule that superseded the 1982 rule (65 FR 67514). Shortly
after the issuance of the 2000 rule, a review of the rule found that it
would be unworkable and recommended that a new rule should be
developed. The Department amended the 2000 rule so that responsible
officials could continue
to use the 1982 planning rule provisions until a new rule was issued
(67 FR 35431, May 20, 2002). Attempts to replace the 2000 rule, in 2005
and 2008, were set aside by the courts on procedural grounds, with the
result that the 2000 rule remained in effect. In 2009, the Department
reinstated the 2000 rule in the Code of Federal Regulations to
eliminate any confusion over which rule was in effect (74 FR 67062,
December 18, 2009; 36 CFR part 219, published at 36 CFR parts 200 to
299, revised as of July 1, 2010). In reinstating the 2000 rule into the
CFR, the Department specifically provided for the continued use of the
1982 rule provisions, which the Agency used for all planning done under
the 2000 rule. The 1982 planning rule procedures have therefore formed
the basis of all existing Forest Service land management plans.
On April 9, 2012, the Department issued title 36, Code of Federal
Regulations, part 219--Planning (the 2012 planning rule), setting forth
directions for developing, amending, revising, and monitoring land
management plans (77 FR 21161). The 2012 planning rule is available
online at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2013-title36-vol2/pdf/CFR-2013-title36-vol2-part219.pdf.
On February 6, 2015, the Forest Service issued National Forest
System, Land Management Planning Directives (planning directives; 80 FR
6683). The planning directives are the Forest Service Handbook (FSH)
1909.12 and Manual (FSM) Chapter 1920 that establish procedures and
responsibilities for carrying out the 2012 planning rule. The planning
directives are available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/im/directives/.
After the issuance of the 2012 planning rule, the Secretary of
Agriculture chartered a Federal Advisory Committee (Committee) to
assist the Department and Agency in implementing the new rule. The
Committee is made up of 21 diverse members who provide balanced and
broad representation on behalf of the public; State, local, and tribal
governments; the science community; environmental and conservation
groups; dispersed and motorized recreation users; hunters and anglers;
private landowners; mining, energy, grazing, timber, and other user
groups; and other public interests. The Committee has convened
regularly since 2012 to provide the Department and Agency with
recommendations on implementation of the 2012 planning rule, including
recommendations on the planning directives, assessments, and on lessons
learned from the first forests to begin revisions and amendments under
the 2012 planning rule. More information about the Committee's
membership and work is available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/planningrule/committee
.Read the full notice ... https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2016-10-1/html/2016-24654.htm