[Federal Register: December 18, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 242)]
[Rules and Regulations]               
[Page 67059-67075]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18de09-4]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

36 CFR Part 219

RIN 0596-AB86

 
National Forest System Land and Resource Management Planning

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Department of Agriculture (the Department) is issuing this 
final rule to comply with a June 30, 2009, Federal District Court order 
that has the effect of reinstating the National Forest System Land and 
Resource Management Planning Rule of November 9, 2000, as amended (2000 
rule). This action announces the court's decision and takes the 
ministerial (formal) action of reinstating the rule in the Code of 
Federal Regulations. This action also makes technical amendments to 
that rule, including the interpretative rules issued in 2001 and 2004, 
to update transition provisions that will be in effect until a new 
planning rule is issued, as announced elsewhere in today's Federal 
Register.

DATES: Effective Date: This rule is effective December 18, 2009.

ADDRESSES: You can send a written request for more information to the 
Director, Ecosystem Management Coordination Staff, Forest Service, 
USDA, Mail Stop 1104, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 
20250-1104. For more information, including an electronic copy of the 
2000 rule and amendments see http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/2000_
planning_rule.html.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ecosystem Management Coordination 
staff's Assistant Director for Planning Ric Rine at (202) 205-1022 or 
Planning Specialist Regis Terney at (202) 205-1552.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    The 2000 National Forest System Land and Resource Management 
Planning Rule as amended (2000 rule) is available online at http://
www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/2000_planning_rule.html. See also final rule 
at 65 FR 67568 (Nov. 9, 2000); amendments at 67 FR 35434 (May 20, 
2002); 68 FR 53297 (Sept. 10, 2003); and interpretative rules at 66 FR 
1865 (Jan. 10, 2001) and 69 FR 58057 (Sept. 29, 2004). Although this 
rule is now in effect as a consequence of a court injunction, it is not 
found in the most recent version of the Code of Federal Regulations 
(CFR). This final rule reinstates the rule in the Code of Federal 
Regulations. In addition, the Department is making several technical 
amendments to the final rule.

Reinstating the 2000 Rule

    The Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 
(88 Stat. 476 et seq.), as amended by the National Forest Management 
Act of 1976 (NFMA) (90 Stat. 2949 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 1601-1614), 
requires the Secretary of Agriculture (the Secretary) to issue 
regulations under the principles of the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield 
Act of 1960 (MUSYA) that set up the process for the development and 
revision of land management plans (16 U.S.C. 1604(g)).
    The first planning rule, adopted in 1979, was amended on September 
30, 1982 (47 FR 43037) (1982 rule). The 1982 rule was itself amended, 
in part, on June 24, 1983 (48 FR 29122) and on September 7, 1983 (48 FR 
40383). The 1982 rule, as amended, has guided the development, 
amendment, and revision of all the land management plans currently in 
effect throughout the National Forest System (NFS).
    The Department has undertaken rulemaking several times to revise 
the planning rule provisions. The Forest Service published an advance 
notice of proposed rulemaking on February 15, 1991 (56 FR 6508) for 
possible revisions to the 1982 rule. The Forest Service published a 
proposed rule on April 13, 1995 (60 FR 18886); however, the Secretary 
chose not to continue with that proposal. Another proposed rule was 
published on October 5, 1999 (64 FR 54074), and the 2000 rule was 
issued on November 9, 2000 (65 FR 67514). Shortly after the issuance of 
the 2000 rule, a review of the rule found that it would be unworkable. 
The Department proposed a new planning rule on December 6, 2002 (67 FR 
72770).
    In the meantime, on February 16, 2001, a coalition of twelve 
environmental groups sued the Department in Federal District Court to 
challenge the validity of the 2000 rule. The district court did not 
rule on the merits of plaintiffs' claims. Instead, the plaintiffs 
stipulated to a dismissal shortly after the Department issued a new 
planning rule to take the place of the 2000 rule (Citizens for Better 
Forestry v. USDA, No. 01-0728 (N.D. Cal. March 7, 2005) (Stipulation 
and Order dismissing case with prejudice)).
    The 2005 rule, intended to replace the 2000 rule, was issued on 
January 5, 2005 (70 FR 1055). Shortly thereafter, Citizens for Better 
Forestry and others challenged it in Federal District Court. On March 
30, 2007, the United States District Court for the Northern District of 
California enjoined the Department from further carrying out the 2005 
rule pending additional steps to comply with the court's opinion with 
respect to the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA), and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
(Citizens for Better Forestry v. USDA, 481 F. Supp. 2d 1059 (N.D. Cal. 
2007)). The effect of the injunction against the 2005 rule was to 
reinstate the 2000 rule (the rule previously in effect).
    To respond to the district court's injunction of the 2005 rule, the 
Forest Service proposed a new planning rule. A notice of intent to 
prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) was published in the 
Federal Register on May 11, 2007 (72 FR 26775) with a public comment 
period ending June 11, 2007. The proposed rule was published on August 
23, 2007 (72 FR 48514), and the notice of availability for the 
supporting draft EIS was published in the Federal Register on August 
31, 2007 (72 FR 50368). The notice of availability of the final EIS was 
published in the Federal Register on February 15, 2008 (73 FR 8869) and 
the final rule was issued and published in the Federal Register on 
April 21, 2008 (73 FR 21468). Citizens for Better Forestry and others 
promptly challenged the 2008 rule in court.
    On June 30, 2009, the United States District Court for the Northern 
District of California invalidated the Forest Service's 2008 rule, 
holding that it was developed in violation of NEPA and ESA. The 
district court vacated the 2008 rule, enjoined the USDA from further 
implementing it and remanded it to the USDA for further proceedings 
(Citizens for Better Forestry v. USDA, 632 F. Supp. 2d 968 (N.D. Cal. 
2009)). The court stated that, although the effect of invalidating an 
agency rule is to reinstate the rule previously in force, the Agency 
may choose whether to reinstate the 2000 rule or the 1982 rule.

[[Page 67060]]

(See court decision available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/
index.htm.)
    The district court's order allowing the Forest Service to choose 
either the 2000 rule or the 1982 rule did not eliminate the 
responsibility to follow appropriate procedures involved in making that 
choice. Under established legal principles, in circumstances like those 
here, the 2000 rule was immediately back in effect, without any 
process: ``The effect of invalidating an agency rule is to reinstate 
the rule previously in effect,'' Paulsen v. Daniels, 413 F. 3d 999, 
1008 (9th Cir. 2005). A return to the 1982 rule, however, would require 
the entire lengthy process of notice and comment rulemaking, which 
includes issuing a proposed rule for public review and comment before 
issuing a final rule. Re-issuing the 1982 rule is unnecessary because 
the transition provision of the 2000 rule will allow the Forest Service 
to use the provisions of the 1982 rule in revising and amending plans 
until a new rule is issued. Furthermore, because the Department has 
announced that a new rulemaking is in order, as announced elsewhere in 
today's Federal Register, to re-issue the 1982 rule for an interim time 
period would be a costly and time-consuming distraction.
    Therefore, the Department has determined that the 2000 rule, as 
amended in 2002 and 2003 and as clarified by interpretative rules 
issued in 2001 and 2004, is now in effect, and should be reinstated in 
the Code of Federal Regulations.

Technical Amendments

    The 2000 rule included provisions for an orderly transition from 
planning under the prior, 1982 rule (36 CFR 219.35). The Forest Service 
expects that until the Department issues a new rule, responsible 
officials will continue to take advantage of the 2000 rule's transition 
provisions to amend or revise plans. See Forest Service memorandum of 
July 15, 2009, signed by Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief for National Forest 
System. The memorandum is available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/
nfma/2000_planning_rule.html.
    However, the time frames described in the transition provisions are 
out of date. Therefore, the Department has decided to update the 
wording of the 2000 rule's transition provisions to provide that the 
transition will extend until a new planning rule is issued. In 
addition, unnecessary wording is deleted in the transition section and 
interpretative rules issued in 2001 and 2004 and the reference in the 
2001 interpretative rule to the optional appeal procedures is being 
corrected.

Need To Update Transition Provisions With Respect to Plan Revisions and 
Amendments

    36 CFR 219.35(a). The Department is not changing paragraph (a) of 
section 219.35, but acknowledges that a definitive interpretation is in 
order. Paragraph (a) provides that the transition period ends upon 
completion of the revision process for each unit of the NFS, and that 
during that period the responsible official must consider the best 
available science in implementing and, if appropriate, amending the 
current plan. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has interpreted this 
paragraph to mean that the transition period for each unit of the NFS 
ends upon a plan revision developed and completed under provisions of 
the 1982 rule, as well as revisions completed in accordance with the 
2000 rule process (Utah Environmental Congress v. Troyer, 479 F. 3d 
1269 (10th Cir. 2007)). The court held that as a consequence, paragraph 
(a)'s requirement that the best available science be considered in 
amending and implementing current plans ``encompass[ed] only plans that 
pre-dated the 2000 planning rules,'' 479 F. 3d at 1281. Under this 
reasoning, the requirement to consider the best available science would 
not apply on a forest that completed revision after the issuance of the 
2000 rule even if the 1982 rule provisions were used for the revision.
    The Department's position is that the purpose of section 219.35(a) 
has always been, and continues to be, that the transition period for 
each forest ends upon the completion of the revision using the process 
of the 2000 rule. That intent is made evident by the cross-reference in 
paragraph (a) to section 219.9, the revision section of the 2000 rule. 
If a forest plan has not been revised using the 2000 rule process, the 
transition periods of sections 219.35(b) and (d) apply. Furthermore, on 
a unit where the plan has not been revised under the 2000 rule process, 
there must be consideration of the best available science when making 
project decisions or amending the plan. The reference in the paragraph 
to ``the current plan'' simply means the plan in effect during 
transition, prior to plan revision using the 2000 rule process.
    36 CFR 219.35(b). The transition provision at 219.35(b) originally 
provided that planning initiated under the 1982 rule prior to November 
9, 2000, the date the 2000 rule was issued, may continue under the 
provisions of that rule, instead of adjusting to the requirements of 
the 2000 rule (65 FR 67579 (Nov. 9, 2000)). However, shortly after the 
2000 rule was issued, the Department determined that it was unworkable 
and announced the intent to issue a new rule in the December 3, 2001, 
Semiannual Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory 
Actions. So that planning need not comply with the requirements of the 
2000 rule, the Department extended the rule's transition period until 
the issuance of the new rule, and allowed the responsible official to 
elect, not only to continue, but also to initiate, plan amendments or 
revisions under the provisions of the 1982 rule.
    The Department extended the transition provisions in paragraph (b) 
twice; the most recent extension, issued as an interim final rule on 
May 20, 2002, provides that the plan amendment or revision process may 
be continued or initiated under the provisions of the 1982 planning 
regulations under certain circumstances. The interim final rule said 
use of the transition provisions can continue ``[u]ntil the Department 
promulgates the revised final planning regulations announced in the 
December 3, 2001, Semiannual Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and 
Deregulatory Actions'' at 219.35(b) 67 FR 35434 (May 20, 2002). This 
transition provision also explained what was meant by initiation of a 
plan amendment or revision.
    Because paragraph (b) refers to the rulemaking process that 
resulted in the 2005 rule, which the district court held invalid, the 
Department is updating this paragraph to clarify that the transition 
will extend until the issuance of a rule replacing the current 2000 
rule. The notice of intent to prepare an EIS for a new rule appears 
elsewhere in today's Federal Register. The Department is also deleting 
the unnecessary explanation regarding initiation of plan amendment or 
revision.
    Simply put, the changes to paragraph (b) ensure that, until a new 
planning rule is issued, responsible officials may continue to revise 
or amend land management plans under either the 1982 rule provisions or 
the 2000 rule provisions.

Need To Update the Time Frame for Projects' Conformance to the 2000 
Rule

    36 CFR 219.35(d). The 2000 rule includes project-specific 
provisions, and, at 219.35(d), set November 9, 2003, as the deadline 
for compliance with those provisions at 65 FR 67579 (November 9, 2000). 
On September 10, 2003, the Department extended this transition period 
``until the Department promulgates the final planning regulations 
published as proposed on

[[Page 67061]]

December 6, 2002 (67 FR 72770,'' by amending the wording of 36 CFR 
219.35(d) at 68 FR 53297 (Sept. 10, 2003). Because this provision 
refers to the rulemaking process that resulted in the 2005 rule, which 
was held invalid, the Department is updating 36 CFR 219.35(d) to 
clarify that the transition will extend until the issuance of a rule 
superseding the current 2000 rule.
    Therefore, until the Department issues a new planning rule, the 
transition wording of the 2000 rule exempts project and activity 
decisions from the rule's project-specific requirements. As provided in 
paragraph (a), during the transition the responsible official must 
consider the best available science when developing and carrying out 
projects.
    Note that 36 CFR 219.35(g) says that within 1 year of November 9, 
2000, the Chief of the Forest Service must establish a schedule for 
completion of the revision process for each unit of the National Forest 
System. The Chief established the schedule, and the Chiefs schedule is 
now available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/includes/
LRMPschedule.pdf.

Need To Correct the 2001 Interpretative Rule With Respect to the 
Administrative Review Procedures and Delete Unnecessary Wording

    36 CFR 219.35 Appendix A. On January 10, 2001 (66 FR 1864), the 
Department published a interpretative rule related to 36 CFR 219.35(b) 
to make explicit its intent that a responsible official's option of 
using the provisions of the 1982 rule included the further option of 
providing an administrative appeal opportunity, in accordance with 36 
CFR part 217, in effect before the 2000 rule was issued, or the 
objection opportunity set out in the 2000 rule. This interpretative 
rule was published as Appendix A to Section 219.35, ``Interpretive Rule 
Related to Paragraph 219.35(b)'' to explain how section 219.32 
(regarding objections) and section 219.35(b) (a transition provision) 
operate together.
    This interpretative rule cites ``36 CFR part 217'' twice. However, 
citing 36 CFR part 217 is not appropriate because that part no longer 
exists and has not been codified in the CFR since 2000, and refers to 
the July 1, 2000, revision of the CFR that is out of date. This 
reference is likely to confuse the public. Therefore, the Department is 
correcting Appendix A to Section 219.35 of the 2000 rule.
    In the place of 36 CFR part 217 the corrected interpretative rule 
identifies these procedures as the ``optional appeal procedures 
available during the planning rule transition period'' and references 
the Federal Register notices that had established the procedures 
formerly codified at 36 CFR part 217. The ``optional appeal procedures 
available during the planning rule transition period,'' are 54 FR 3357 
(January 23, 1989), as amended at 54 FR 13807 (April 5, 1989); 54 FR 
34509 (August 21, 1989); 55 FR 7895 (March 6, 1990); 56 FR 4918 
(February 6, 1991); 56 FR 46550 (September 13, 1991); and 58 FR 58915 
(November 4, 1993). The ``optional appeal procedures available during 
the planning rule transition period,'' are available at http://
www.fs.fed.us/emc/applit/includes/
PlanAppealProceduresDuringTransition.pdf.
    The interpretative rule also explained what was meant by initiation 
of a plan amendment or revision; the Department is deleting this 
unnecessary provision.
    The effect of these changes is simply that responsible officials 
can continue to choose either the appeals process for plan revisions or 
the objections process for plan revisions established in the 2000 rule.

Need To Delete Unnecessary Wording in 2004 Interpretative Rule

    36 CFR 219.35 Appendix B. On September 29, 2004, the Department 
published an interpretative rule related to 36 CFR 219.35(a) and (b), 
to clarify the intent of the transition provisions in those paragraphs. 
The Department published the interpretative rule as ``Appendix B to 
Section 219.35, Interpretative Rule Related to Paragraphs 219.35(a) and 
(b)'' (69 FR 58057). In explaining the duration of the transition, the 
interpretative rule included two sentences that referred to the 
proposed rule published on December 6, 2002, and stated that a final 
rule had yet to be issued. The Department is deleting these unnecessary 
sentences.

Good Cause Statement

    The Department has determined, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 553(b), that 
prior notice and opportunity for public comment on this rulemaking are 
``impractical, unnecessary, and contrary to the public interest.'' This 
rulemaking is undertaken to reinstate in the Code of Federal 
Regulations the planning rule now in effect and to update and clarify 
the transition time periods set out in that rule. This rulemaking also 
identifies the optional appeal process available during the transition.
    As explained earlier in this notice, the 2000 rule is currently in 
effect. The reinstatement of the entire 2000 rule in the Code of 
Federal Regulations, therefore, is simply a housekeeping matter, to 
make the rule readily available to the public.
    Notice and comment opportunities for the transition updates in 
paragraphs (b) and (d) are unnecessary, as they simply reflect the 
Department's long held intent, evidenced by the 2001, 2002, and 2003 
extensions and the 2004 interpretative rule, to allow the continued use 
of the 1982 planning rule provisions until a successful rulemaking to 
replace the 2000 rule is accomplished. Additionally, the deletion in 
paragraph (b) of the explanation of ``initiation'' of plan amendments 
or revisions does not in any way change the effect of the rule. 
Furthermore, notice and comment rulemaking for this planning rule is 
impractical and against the public interest, as it would distract the 
Department's and the public's attention from the more pressing task at 
hand: to develop, through notice and comment rulemaking, a new, 
replacement planning rule. Notice and comment rulemaking to reinstate 
the 2000 rule would delay the issuance of a new rule. It is also likely 
that the confusion caused by two simultaneous notice and comment 
rulemakings for planning would not be in the public interest. With 
respect to the interpretative rules, good cause is not needed to exempt 
them from the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative 
Procedure Act. In any event, the minor changes to the interpretative 
rules do not affect the Department's interpretation of the 2000 rule.
    This rulemaking merely continues the status quo for forest planning 
by updating 36 CFR Part 219 to reflect the fact that the 2008 rule has 
been held invalid and the 2000 rule is therefore in place until new 
planning regulations are issued.

Regulatory Certifications

    Under Executive Order 12866 (58 FR 51735, October 4, 1993), this 
action is not a ``significant regulatory action'' and is, therefore, 
not subject to review by the Office of Management and Budget. Because 
the Agency has made a ``good cause'' finding that this action is not 
subject to notice-and-comment requirements under the Administrative 
Procedure Act or any other statute, it is not subject to the regulatory 
flexibility provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601, 
et seq.), or to sections 202 and 205 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act of 1995 (UMRA) (Pub. L. 104-4). This rule also is not subject to 
Executive Order 13045 (62 FR 19885, April 23, 1997) because it is not 
economically significant.

[[Page 67062]]

    In addition, this action does not significantly or uniquely affect 
small governments or impose a significant intergovernmental mandate, as 
described in sections 203 and 204 of Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 
1995. This rule also does not significantly or uniquely affect the 
communities of tribal governments, as specified by Executive Order 
13175 (65 FR 67249, November 6, 2000). This rule will not have 
substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between 
the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government, as 
specified in Executive Order 13132 (64 FR 43255, August 10, 1999).
    The rule also does not involve special consideration of 
environmental justice related issues as required by Executive Order 
12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).
    This rule has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 12630, and it has been determined 
that the rule does not pose the risk of a taking of constitutionally 
protected private property.
    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501 et seq.), the information collection or reporting requirements 
included in the rule have been approved by the Office of Management and 
Budget (OMB) and assigned control number 0596-0158.
    This rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. As adopted, (1) All state and local laws and 
regulations that are in conflict with this rule or which would impede 
its full implementation are to be preempted; (2) No retroactive effect 
is given to this rule; and (3) It does not require administrative 
proceedings before parties may file suit in court challenging its 
provisions. Several respondents commented about the Federal 
Government's authority to preempt state and local laws. The Department 
has carefully reviewed this language and finds that this is entirely 
consistent with the legal responsibilities of the Federal Government.
    The Department's compliance with these statutes and Executive 
orders for the rule is discussed in the November 9, 2000, Federal 
Register notice.

List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 219

    Administrative practice and procedure, Environmental impact 
statements, Indians, Intergovernmental relations, National forests, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Science and technology.

0
Therefore, for the reasons set forth in the preamble, part 219 of title 
36 of the Code of Federal Regulations is revised to read as follows:

PART 219--PLANNING

Subpart A--National Forest System Land and Resource Management Planning

Purpose and Principles

Sec.
219.1 Purpose.
219.2 Principles.

The Framework for Planning

219.3 Overview.
219.4 Identification and consideration of issues.
219.5 Information development and interpretation.
219.6 Proposed actions.
219.7 Plan decisions.
219.8 Amendment.
219.9 Revision.
219.10 Site-specific decisions.
219.11 Monitoring and evaluation for adaptive management.

Collaborative Planning for Sustainability

219.12 Collaboration and cooperatively developed landscape goals.
219.13 Coordination among Federal agencies.
219.14 Involvement of State and local governments.
219.15 Interaction with American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.
219.16 Relationships with interested individuals and organizations.
219.17 Interaction with private landowners.
219.18 Role of advisory committees.

Ecological, Social, and Economic Sustainability

219.19 Ecological, social, and economic sustainability.
219.20 Ecological sustainability.
219.21 Social and economic sustainability.

The Contribution of Science

219.22 The overall role of science in planning.
219.23 The role of science in assessments, analyses, and monitoring.
219.24 Science consistency evaluations.
219.25 Science advisory boards.

Special Considerations

219.26 Identifying and designating suitable uses.
219.27 Special designations.
219.28 Determination of land suitable for timber harvest.
219.29 Limitation on timber harvest.

Planning Documentation

219.30 Plan documentation.
219.31 Maintenance of the plan and planning records.

Objections and Appeals

219.32 Objections to amendments or revisions.
219.33 Appeals of site-specific decisions.

Applicability and Transition

219.34 Applicability.
219.35 Transition.

Definitions

219.36 Definitions.
Subpart B [Reserved]

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; and Secs. 6 and 15, 90 Stat. 2949, 
2952, 2958 (16 U.S.C. 1604, 1613).

Subpart A--National Forest System Land and Resource Management 
Planning

Purpose and Principles


Sec.  219.1  Purpose.

    (a) Land and resource management planning guides how the Forest 
Service will fulfill its stewardship of the natural resources of the 
National Forest System to fulfill the designated purposes of the 
national forests and grasslands and honor their unique place in 
American life. The regulations in this subpart set forth a process for 
amending and revising land and resource management plans, hereafter 
referred to as plans, for the National Forest System and for monitoring 
the results of plan implementation under the Forest and Rangeland 
Renewable Resources Act of 1974, as amended by the National Forest 
Management Act of 1976, 16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq. The regulations in this 
subpart also guide the selection and implementation of site-specific 
actions. The principal authorities governing the development and the 
management of the National Forest System include: The Organic 
Administration Act of 1897, as amended (16 U.S.C. 473 et seq.); the 
Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960 (16 U.S.C. 528 et seq.); the 
Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1121 et seq.); the National Environmental 
Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.); the Endangered Species Act 
of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.); the Forest and Rangeland 
Renewable Resource Act of 1974, as amended by the National Forest 
Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1600 et seq.); and the Clean Water 
Act of 1948, as amended by the Federal Water Pollution Control Act 
Amendments of 1977 and the Water Quality Act of 1987 and other laws (33 
U.S.C. 1251 et seq., 1323 et seq.).
    (b) The National Forest System constitutes an extraordinary 
national legacy created by people of vision and preserved for future 
generations by diligent and far-sighted public servants and citizens. 
These are the peoples' lands, emblems of the nation's democratic 
traditions.
    (1) The national forests and grasslands provide a wide variety of 
uses, values,

[[Page 67063]]

products, and services that are important to many people, including 
outdoor recreation, forage, timber, wildlife and fish, biological 
diversity, productive soils, clean air and water, and minerals. They 
also afford intangible benefits such as beauty, inspiration, and 
wonder.
    (2) To assure the continuation of this array of benefits, this 
regulation affirms sustainability as the overall goal for stewardship 
of the natural resources of each national forest and grassland 
consistent with the laws that guide management of these lands.
    (3) Sustainability, composed of interdependent ecological, social, 
and economic elements, embodies the principles of multiple-use and 
sustained-yield without impairment to the productivity of the land. 
Sustainability means meeting needs of the present generation without 
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. 
Planning contributes to social and economic sustainability without 
compromising the basic composition, structure, and functioning of 
ecological systems. The progress toward achievement of sustainability 
is assessed through monitoring and evaluation.


Sec.  219.2  Principles.

    The planning regulations in this subpart are based on the following 
principles:
    (a) The first priority for planning to guide management of the 
National Forest System is to maintain or restore ecological 
sustainability of national forests and grasslands to provide for a wide 
variety of uses, values, products, and services. The benefits sought 
from these lands depend upon long-term ecological sustainability. 
Considering increased human uses, it is essential that uses of today do 
not impair the functioning of ecological processes and the ability of 
these natural resources to contribute to sustainability in the future.
    (1) Planning provides the guidance for maintaining or restoring the 
diversity of plant and animal communities and the productive capacity 
of ecological systems, the core elements of ecological sustainability.
    (2) Planning is based on science and other knowledge, including the 
use of scientifically based strategies for sustainability and benefits 
from independent scientific peer review.
    (3) Planning is based on the temporal and spatial scales necessary 
for sustainability.
    (4) Planning includes the monitoring and evaluation of the 
achievement of goals.
    (b) Planning contributes to social and economic sustainability by 
providing for a wide variety of uses, values, products, and services 
without compromising the basic composition, structure, and function of 
ecological systems.
    (1) Planning recognizes and fosters a broad-based understanding of 
the interdependence of national forests and grasslands with economies 
and communities.
    (2) Planning fosters strategies and actions that provide for human 
use in ways that contribute to long-term sustainability.
    (c) Planning is efficiently integrated into the broader geographic, 
legal, and social landscape within which national forests and 
grasslands exist. Other agencies, governments, corporations, and 
citizens manage land in and around the national forests and grasslands. 
Planning, therefore, is outward looking with the goal of understanding 
the broader landscape in which the national forests and grasslands lie.
    (1) Planning fosters coordination among all affected federal 
agencies.
    (2) Planning proceeds in close cooperation with state, tribal, and 
local governments.
    (3) Planning recognizes the rights of American Indian tribes and 
Alaska Natives.
    (4) Planning is interdisciplinary, providing analyses and options 
that are responsive to a broad range of ecological, social, and 
economic.
    (5) Planning acknowledges the limits and variability of likely 
budgets.
    (d) Planning meaningfully engages the American people in the 
stewardship of their national forests and grasslands. Just as the 
Forest Service can help the American people learn about the limits and 
capabilities of the national forests and grasslands, managers also 
should be guided by the knowledge and values of the American people.
    (1) Planning encourages extensive collaborative citizen 
participation and builds upon the human resources in local communities 
and throughout the nation.
    (2) Planning actively seeks and addresses key issues and promotes a 
shared vision of desired conditions.
    (3) Planning and plans are understandable.
    (4) Planning restores and maintains the trust of the American 
people in the management of the national forests and grasslands.
    (e) Planning is an ongoing process, where decisions are adapted, as 
necessary, to address new issues, new information, and unforeseen 
events.
    (1) Planning is innovative and practical.
    (2) Planning is expeditious and efficient in achieving goals.
    (f) Planning seeks to manage National Forest System resources in a 
combination that best serves the public interest without impairment of 
the productivity of the land consistent with the Multiple-Use 
Sustained-Yield Act of 1960.

The Framework for Planning


Sec.  219.3  Overview.

    (a) The planning framework. Land and resource management planning 
is a flexible process for fitting solutions to the scope and scale of 
needed action. Planning, conducted according to the planning framework 
outlined in Sec. Sec.  219.3 through 219.11, involves engaging the 
public (Sec. Sec.  219.12 through 219.18) and applying the best 
available science (Sec. Sec.  219.22 through 219.25) to contribute to 
sustainability (Sec. Sec.  219.19 through 219.21) in the use and 
enjoyment of National Forest System lands.
    (b) Levels of planning. Planning may be undertaken at the national, 
regional, national forest or grassland, and/or ranger district 
administrative levels depending on the scope and scale of issues.
    (1) The Chief of the Forest Service is responsible for national 
planning. National planning includes the Forest Service national 
strategic plan required under the Government Performance and Results 
Act of 1993 (5 U.S.C. 306, 31 U.S.C. 1115-1119 and 9703-9704) that 
establishes national long-term goals, outcome measures, and strategies 
to be considered in managing the National Forest System and the 
Resources Planning Act Program (16 U.S.C. 1600).
    (2) The Forest or Grassland Supervisor is the responsible official 
for a plan amendment or revision, except to the extent the Regional 
Forester or Chief decides to act as the responsible official.
    (3) When appropriate, two or more Forest or Grassland Supervisors, 
one or more Regional Foresters, or the Chief of the Forest Service may 
undertake planning which may amend or revise one or more plans.
    (4) The Chief of the Forest Service, Regional Foresters, National 
Forest and Grassland Supervisors, or District Rangers may authorize and 
implement site-specific actions.
    (c) An interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to planning. An 
interdisciplinary, collaborative approach to planning may be achieved 
by engaging the skills and interests of appropriate combinations of 
Forest Service staff, consultants, contractors, other federal agencies, 
states, American

[[Page 67064]]

Indian tribes, Alaska Natives, or local government personnel, or other 
interested or affected people consistent with applicable laws.
    (d) Key elements. The planning cycle begins with the identification 
and consideration of issues and concludes with the monitoring and 
evaluation of results. Based upon the scope and scale of issues, 
planning includes one or more of the following key elements:
    (1) Identification and consideration of issues (Sec.  219.4);
    (2) Information development and interpretation (Sec.  219.5);
    (3) Proposed actions (Sec.  219.6);
    (4) Plan decisions (Sec.  219.7);
    (5) Amendment (Sec.  219.8);
    (6) Revision (Sec.  219.9);
    (7) Site-specific decisions (Sec.  219.10); and
    (8) Monitoring and evaluation for adaptive management (Sec.  
219.11).


Sec.  219.4  Identification and consideration of issues.

    (a) Origination of issues. Issues may originate from a variety of 
sources including, but are not limited to: Inventories, assessments, 
analyses, monitoring and evaluation of projects; discussions among 
people and proposals by organizations or governments interested in or 
affected by National Forest System management; Presidential, 
Departmental, and Forest Service conservation leadership initiatives; 
cooperatively developed landscape goals (Sec.  219.12(b)); evaluation 
of sustainability (Sec.  219.9(b)(4)); enactment of new laws; policies 
such as the Forest Service national strategic plan; and applications 
for authorization for occupancy and use of National Forest System 
lands.
    (b) Consideration of issues. The responsible official has the 
discretion to determine, at any time, whether and to what extent an 
issue is appropriate for consideration.
    (1) In making this determination, the responsible official should 
consider:
    (i) The scope, complexity, and geographic scale of potential 
actions that may address an issue;
    (ii) Statutory requirements;
    (iii) Organizational and community capabilities and available 
resources, including current and likely Forest Service budgets;
    (iv) The scientific basis and merit of available data and analyses;
    (v) The relationship of possible actions to the Forest Service 
national strategic plan, other existing plans, adopted conservation 
strategies, biological opinions, or other strategies applicable within 
all or a portion of the plan area; and
    (vi) The opinions of interested or affected individuals, 
organizations, or other entities and the social and cultural values 
related to an issue.
    (2) The responsible official should consider the extent to which 
addressing the issue relates to or provides:
    (i) Opportunities to contribute to the achievement of cooperatively 
developed landscape goals;
    (ii) Opportunities for the national forests and grasslands to 
contribute to the restoration or maintenance of ecological 
sustainability, including maintenance or restoration of watershed 
function, such as water flow regimes to benefit aquatic resources, 
groundwater recharge, municipal water supply, or other uses, and 
maintaining or restoring ecological conditions needed for ecosystem and 
species diversity;
    (iii) Opportunities for the national forests or grasslands to 
contribute to social and economic sustainability;
    (iv) Opportunities to recover threatened or endangered species and 
maintain or restore their habitat;
    (v) The potential for negative environmental effects, including 
human health, economic and social effects, upon minority and low income 
communities;
    (vi) Opportunities to maintain or restore ecological conditions 
that are similar to the biological and physical range of expected 
variability (Sec.  219.20(b)(1)); and
    (vii) Opportunities to contribute to knowledge about and 
preservation of historic and cultural resources.


Sec.  219.5  Information development and interpretation.

    If the responsible official determines an issue should receive 
consideration, the responsible official should review relevant 
information such as inventories, broad-scale assessments, local 
analyses, or monitoring results to determine if additional information 
is desirable and if it can be obtained at a reasonable cost and in a 
timely manner. The responsible official, at his or her discretion, may 
choose the methods and determine the scope of information development 
and interpretation for an issue under consideration. A broad-scale 
assessment or a local analysis may be developed or supplemented if 
appropriate to the scope and scale of an issue. Broad-scale 
assessments, local analyses, monitoring results, and other studies are 
not site-specific or plan decisions or proposals for agency action 
(Sec.  219.6(a)) subject to Forest Service NEPA procedures.
    (a) Broad-scale assessments. Broad-scale assessments provide 
information regarding ecological, economic, or social issues that are 
broad in geographic scale, sometimes crossing Forest Service regional 
administrative boundaries. Ecological information and analyses that may 
be provided in an assessment are addressed in Sec.  219.20(a). Social 
and economic information and analyses that may be provided in an 
assessment are addressed in Sec.  219.21(a).
    (1) Broad-scale assessment should provide the following as 
appropriate:
    (i) Findings and conclusions that describe historic conditions, 
current status, and future trends of ecological, social, and/or 
economic conditions, their relationship to sustainability, and the 
principal factors contributing to those conditions and trends. The 
responsible official may use these findings and conclusions to identify 
other issues (Sec.  219.4), develop proposals for action (Sec.  219.6), 
or for other purposes.
    (ii) Identification of needs for additional research to develop new 
information or address conflicting interpretations of existing 
information.
    (2) Station Directors and Regional Foresters must have joint 
responsibility for Forest Service participation in broad-scale 
assessments. Each broad-scale assessment should be designed and 
conducted with the assistance of scientists, resource professionals, 
governmental entities, and other individuals and organizations 
knowledgeable of the assessment area.
    (b) Local analyses. Local analyses provide ecological, social, or 
economic information as deemed appropriate by the responsible official. 
Local analyses may cover watersheds, ecological units, and social and 
economic units, and may tier to or provide information to update a 
broad-scale assessment. Local analyses should provide the following, as 
appropriate:
    (1) Characterization of the area of analysis;
    (2) Description of issues within the analysis area;
    (3) Description of current conditions;
    (4) Description of likely future conditions;
    (5) Synthesis and interpretation of information; and
    (6) Recommendations for proposals (Sec.  219.6(a)) or 
identification of other issues (Sec.  219.4).


Sec.  219.6  Proposed actions.

    (a) Proposal. The responsible official may propose to amend or 
revise a plan, propose a site-specific action, or both.
    (b) NEPA requirements. Unless otherwise provided by law, the 
responsible official must analyze the effects of the proposal and 
alternative(s) in conformance with Forest Service

[[Page 67065]]

NEPA procedures. The responsible official may use issues identified and 
information reviewed pursuant to Secs. 219.4-219.5 for scoping required 
in Forest Service NEPA procedures.


Sec.  219.7  Plan decisions.

    Plan decisions guide or limit uses of National Forest System 
resources and provide the basis for future agency action. Plan 
decisions link the requirements of laws, regulations, Executive Orders, 
policies, and the Forest Service national strategic plan to specific 
national forests and grasslands. While plan decisions generally do not 
commit resources to a site-specific action, plan decisions provide a 
framework for authorizing site-specific actions that may commit 
resources. In making decisions, the responsible official should seek to 
manage National Forest System resources in a combination that best 
serves the public interest without impairment of the productivity of 
the land consistent with the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960. 
Plan decisions may apply to all or part of a plan area. Paragraphs (a) 
through (e) of this section describe the decisions in a plan.
    (a) Desired resource conditions. These plan decisions define the 
resource conditions sought within all or portions of the plan area. 
Desired resource conditions may include, but are not limited to, the 
desired watershed and ecological conditions and aquatic and terrestrial 
habitat characteristics.
    (b) Objectives. These plan decisions are concise statements 
describing measurable results intended to contribute to sustainability 
(Sec.  219.19), including a desired level of uses, values, products, 
and services, assuming current or likely budgets and considering other 
spending levels as appropriate. Objectives include an estimate of the 
time and resources needed for their completion.
    (c) Standards. These plan decisions are the requirements and 
limitations for land uses and management actions necessary for the 
achievement of desired conditions and objectives and compliance with 
applicable laws, regulations, Executive Orders, and policies. Standards 
include, but are not limited to:
    (1) Limitations on even-aged timber harvest methods;
    (2) Maximum size openings from timber harvest;
    (3) Methods for achieving aesthetic objectives by blending the 
boundaries of vegetation treatments; and
    (4) Other requirements to achieve multiple-use of the national 
forests and grasslands.
    (d) Designation of suitable land uses. These plan decisions 
identify lands within the National Forest System that are or are not 
suitable for specific uses (Sec.  219.26), including, but not limited 
to: the transportation system; livestock grazing; special designations 
as described in Sec.  219.27; and lands where timber production is an 
objective (Sec.  219.28).
    (e) Monitoring strategy. A monitoring strategy is required by each 
plan as described in Sec.  219.11(a).


Sec.  219.8  Amendment.

    (a) Amending plans. A plan amendment may add, modify, or rescind 
one or more of the decisions of a plan (Sec.  219.7). An amendment 
decision must be based on the identification and consideration of 
issues (Sec.  219.4), applicable information (Sec.  219.5), and an 
analysis of the effects of the proposed amendment (Sec.  219.6). In 
developing an amendment, the responsible official must provide 
opportunities for collaboration consistent with Sec.  219.12 through 
Sec.  219.18.
    (b) Environmental review of a proposed plan amendment. For each 
proposal for a plan amendment, the responsible official must complete 
appropriate environmental analyses and public involvement in accordance 
with Forest Service NEPA procedures. A proposed amendment that may 
create a significant environmental effect and thus require preparation 
of an environmental impact statement is considered to be a significant 
change in the plan. If a proposal for amendment requires the 
preparation of an environmental impact statement, the responsible 
official must give public notice and an opportunity to comment on the 
draft environmental impact statement for at least 90 calendar days.


Sec.  219.9  Revision.

    (a) Application of the revision process. Revision of a plan is 
required by 16 U.S.C. 1604(f)(5). The revision process is a review of 
the overall management of a unit of the National Forest System and an 
opportunity to consider the likely results if plan decisions were to 
remain in effect.
    (b) Initiating revision. To begin the revision process, the 
responsible official must:
    (1) Provide opportunities for collaboration consistent with Sec.  
219.12 through Sec.  219.18;
    (2) Summarize those issues the responsible official determines to 
be appropriate for consideration (Sec.  219.4), any relevant 
inventories, new data, findings and conclusions from appropriate broad-
scale assessments and local analyses, monitoring and evaluation 
results, new or revised Forest Service policies, relevant portions of 
the Forest Service national strategic plan, and changes in 
circumstances affecting the entire or significant portions of the plan 
area;
    (3) Develop the information and complete the analyses described in 
Sec.  219.20(a) and Sec.  219.21(a);
    (4) Evaluate the effectiveness of the current plan in contributing 
to sustainability (Secs. 219.19-219.21) based on the information, 
analyses, and requirements described in Sec.  219.20(a) and (b) and 
Sec.  219.21(a) and (b), and provide for an independent scientific peer 
review (Sec.  219.22) of the evaluation;
    (5) Identify new proposals for special areas, special designation, 
or for recommendation as wilderness (Sec.  219.27);
    (6) Identify specific watersheds in need of protective or 
restoration measures;
    (7) Identify lands classified as not suitable for timber production 
(Sec.  219.28);
    (8) Identify and evaluate inventoried roadless areas and unroaded 
areas based on the information, analyses, and requirements in Sec.  
219.20(a) and Sec.  219.21(a). During the plan revision process or at 
other times as deemed appropriate, the responsible official must 
determine which inventoried roadless areas and unroaded areas warrant 
additional protection and the level of protection to be afforded; and
    (9) Develop an estimate of outcomes that would be anticipated, 
including uses, values, products, or services, for a 15-year period 
following initiation of the revision process, if the plan decisions in 
effect at the time the revision process began remain in effect.
    (c) Public notice of revision process and review of information. 
After the responsible official has compiled the information required 
under paragraph (b) of this section, the responsible official must give 
public notice of the plan revision process and make the information 
compiled under paragraph (b) of this section available for public 
comment for at least 45 calendar days.
    (d) Notice of Intent. Based upon the information compiled under 
paragraph (b) of this section and any comments received during the 
comment period required under paragraph (c) of this section, the 
responsible official must publish a Notice of Intent to prepare an 
environmental impact statement to add, modify, remove, or continue in 
effect the decisions embodied in a plan. The responsible official must 
give the public notice and an opportunity to comment on the draft 
environmental impact

[[Page 67066]]

statement for at least 90 calendar days. Following public comment, the 
responsible official must oversee preparation of a final environmental 
impact statement in accordance with Forest Service NEPA procedures.
    (e) Final decision on plan revision. The revision process is 
completed when the responsible official signs a record of decision for 
a plan revision.


Sec.  219.10  Site-specific decisions.

    To the extent appropriate and practicable and subject to valid 
existing rights and appropriate statutes, the responsible official must 
provide opportunities for collaboration consistent with Sec. Sec.  
219.12 through 219.18, follow the planning framework described in 
Sec. Sec.  219.4 through 219.6 and comply with Sec.  219.11 to make 
site-specific decisions. All site-specific decisions, including 
authorized uses of land, must be consistent with the applicable plan. 
If a proposed site-specific decision is not consistent with the 
applicable plan, the responsible official may modify the proposed 
decision to make it consistent with the plan, reject the proposal; or 
amend the plan to authorize the action.


Sec.  219.11  Monitoring and evaluation for adaptive management.

    (a) Plan monitoring strategy. Each plan must contain a practicable, 
effective, and efficient monitoring strategy to evaluate sustainability 
in the plan area (Sec. Sec.  219.19 through 219.21). The strategy must 
require monitoring of appropriate plan decisions and characteristics of 
sustainability.
    (1) Monitoring and evaluation of ecological sustainability. The 
plan monitoring strategy for the monitoring and evaluation of 
ecological sustainability must require monitoring of:
    (i) Ecosystem diversity. Monitoring must be used to evaluate the 
status and trend of selected physical and biological characteristics of 
ecosystem diversity (Sec.  219.20(a)(1)). The plan monitoring strategy 
must document the reasons for selection of characteristics to be 
monitored, monitoring objectives, methodology, and designate critical 
values that will prompt reviews of plan decisions.
    (ii) Species diversity. Monitoring must be used to evaluate focal 
species and species-at-risk as follows:
    (A) The status and trends of ecological conditions known or 
suspected to support focal species and selected species-at-risk must be 
monitored. The plan monitoring strategy must document the reasons for 
the selection of species-at-risk for which ecological conditions are to 
be monitored, including the degree of risk to the species, the factors 
that put the species at risk, and the strength of association between 
ecological conditions and population dynamics.
    (B) In addition to monitoring of ecological conditions, the plan 
monitoring strategy may require population monitoring for some focal 
species and some species-at-risk. This monitoring may be accomplished 
by a variety of methods including population occurrence and presence/
absence data, sampling population characteristics, using population 
indices to track relative population trends, or inferring population 
status from ecological conditions.
    (C) A decision by the responsible official to monitor populations 
and the responsible official's choice of methodologies for monitoring 
selected focal species and selected species-at-risk may be based upon 
factors that include, but are not limited to, the degree of risk to the 
species, the degree to which a species' life history characteristics 
lend themselves to monitoring, the reasons that a species is included 
in the list of focal species or species-at-risk, and the strength of 
association between ecological conditions and population dynamics. 
Monitoring of population trend is often appropriate in those cases 
where risk to species viability is high and population characteristics 
cannot be reliably inferred from ecological conditions. The reasons for 
selection of species, monitoring objectives, and methodologies must be 
documented as part of the plan monitoring strategy. Critical values 
that will prompt reviews of plan decisions must be designated in the 
monitoring strategy.
    (iii) Monitoring effectiveness. As a part of the plan monitoring 
strategy, the responsible official must evaluate the effectiveness of 
selected characteristics of ecosystem diversity and species diversity 
in providing reliable information regarding ecological sustainability.
    (2) Monitoring and evaluation of social and economic 
sustainability. The plan monitoring strategy for the monitoring and 
evaluation of social and economic sustainability should provide for 
periodic review of national, regional, and local supply and demand for 
products, services, and values. Special consideration should be given 
to those uses, values, products, and services that the National Forest 
System is uniquely poised to provide. Monitoring should improve the 
understanding of the National Forest System contributions to social and 
economic sustainability. The plan monitoring strategy must require the 
responsible official to evaluate the effectiveness of information and 
analyses described in Sec.  219.21(a) in providing reliable information 
regarding social and economic sustainability.
    (b) Monitoring of site-specific actions. The decision document 
authorizing a site-specific action should describe any required 
monitoring and evaluation for the site-specific action. The responsible 
official must determine that there is a reasonable expectation that 
anticipated funding is adequate to complete any required monitoring and 
evaluation prior to authorizing a site-specific action.
    (c) Monitoring methods. Unless required by the monitoring strategy, 
monitoring methods may be changed to reflect new information without 
plan amendment or revision.
    (d) Use of monitoring information. Where monitoring and evaluation 
is required by the plan monitoring strategy, the responsible official 
must ensure that monitoring information is used to determine one or 
more of the following:
    (1) If site-specific actions are completed as specified in 
applicable decision documents;
    (2) If the aggregated outcomes and effects of completed and ongoing 
actions are achieving or contributing to the desired conditions;
    (3) If key assumptions identified for monitoring in plan decisions 
remain valid; and
    (4) If plan or site-specific decisions need to be modified.
    (e) Coordination of monitoring activities. To the extent 
practicable, monitoring and evaluation should be conducted jointly with 
other federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, 
scientific and academic communities, and others. In addition, the 
responsible official must provide appropriate opportunities for the 
public to be involved and utilize scientists as described in Sec.  
219.23.
    (f) Annual monitoring and evaluation report. The responsible 
official must prepare a monitoring and evaluation report for the plan 
area within 6 months following the end of each fiscal year. The report 
must be maintained with the plan documents (Sec.  219.30(d)(5)), and 
include the following:
    (1) A list or reference to monitoring required by the plan; and
    (2) A summary of the results of monitoring and evaluation performed 
during the preceding fiscal year and appropriate results from previous 
years. The summary must include:
    (i) A description of the progress toward achievement of desired 
conditions within the plan area; and

[[Page 67067]]

    (ii) A description of the plan area's contribution to the 
achievement of applicable outcomes of the Forest Service national 
strategic plan.

Collaborative Planning for Sustainability


Sec.  219.12  Collaboration and cooperatively developed landscape 
goals.

    (a) Collaboration. To promote sustainability, the responsible 
official must actively engage the American public, interested 
organizations, private landowners, state, local, and Tribal 
governments, federal agencies, and others in the stewardship of 
National Forest System lands. To engage people in the stewardship of 
National Forest System lands, the responsible official may assume many 
roles, such as leader, organizer, facilitator, or participant. The 
responsible official must provide early and frequent opportunities for 
people to participate openly and meaningfully in planning taking into 
account the diverse roles, jurisdictions, and responsibilities of 
interested and affected organizations, groups, and individuals. The 
responsible official has the discretion to determine how to provide 
these opportunities in the planning process.
    (b) Cooperatively developed landscape goals. (1) The responsible 
official and other Forest Service employees involved in planning must 
invite and encourage others to engage in the collaborative development 
of landscape goals. Using information from broad-scale assessments or 
other available information, and subject to applicable laws, the 
responsible official may initiate or join ongoing collaborative efforts 
to develop or propose landscape goals for areas that include National 
Forest System lands.
    (2) During collaborative efforts, responsible officials and other 
Forest Service employees, must communicate and foster understanding of 
the nation's declaration of environmental policy as set forth in 
section 101(b) of the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (42 
U.S.C. 4321-4347), which states that it is the continuing 
responsibility of the Federal Government to use all practicable means, 
consistent with other essential considerations of national policy, to 
improve and coordinate federal plans, functions, programs, and 
resources to the end that the Nation may--
    (i) Fulfill the responsibilities of each generation as trustee of 
the environment for succeeding generations;
    (ii) Assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and 
esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings;
    (iii) Attain the widest range of beneficial uses of the environment 
without degradation, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable and 
unintended consequences;
    (iv) Preserve important historic, cultural, and natural aspects of 
our national heritage, and maintain, wherever possible, an environment 
which supports diversity, and variety of individual choice;
    (v) Achieve a balance between population and resource use which 
will permit high standards of living and a wide sharing of life's 
amenities; and
    (vi) Enhance the quality of renewable resources and approach the 
maximum attainable recycling of depletable resources.
    (3) Cooperatively developed landscape goals, whether the result of 
efforts initiated by the Forest Service or others, must be deemed an 
issue for the purposes under Sec.  219.4.


Sec.  219.13  Coordination among Federal agencies.

    The responsible official must provide early and frequent 
coordination with appropriate Federal agencies and may provide 
opportunities:
    (a) For interested or affected Federal agencies to participate in 
the identification of issues and formulation of proposed actions;
    (b) For the streamlined coordination of Federal agency policies, 
resource management plans, or programs; and
    (c) The development, where appropriate and practicable, of joint 
resource management plans.


Sec.  219.14  Involvement of State and local governments.

    The responsible official must provide early and frequent 
opportunities for State and local governments to:
    (a) Participate in the planning process, including the 
identification of issues; and
    (b) Contribute to the streamlined coordination of resource 
management plans or programs.


Sec.  219.15  Interaction with American Indian tribes and Alaska 
Natives.

    (a) The Forest Service shares in the Federal Government's overall 
trust responsibility for federally recognized American Indian tribes 
and Alaska Natives.
    (b) During planning, the responsible official must consider the 
government-to-government relationship between American Indian or Alaska 
Native tribal governments and the Federal Government.
    (c) The responsible official must consult with and invite American 
Indian tribes and Alaska Natives to participate in the planning process 
to assist in:
    (1) The early identification of treaty rights, treaty-protected 
resources, and American Indian tribe trust resources;
    (2) The consideration of tribal data and resource knowledge 
provided by tribal representatives; and
    (3) The consideration of tribal concerns and suggestions during 
decisionmaking.


Sec.  219.16  Relationships with interested individuals and 
organizations.

    The responsible official must:
    (a) Make planning information available to the extent allowed by 
law;
    (b) Conduct planning processes that are fair, meaningful, and open 
to persons with diverse opinions;
    (c) Provide early and frequent opportunities for participation in 
the identification of issues;
    (d) Encourage interested individuals and organizations to work 
collaboratively with one another to improve understanding and develop 
cooperative landscape and other goals;
    (e) Consult with individuals and organizations who can provide 
information about current and historic public uses within an assessment 
or plan area, about the location of unique and sensitive resources and 
values and cultural practices related to issues in the plan area; and
    (f) Consult with scientific experts and other knowledgeable 
persons, as appropriate, during consideration of collaboratively 
developed landscape goals and other activities.


Sec.  219.17  Interaction with private landowners.

    The responsible official must seek to collaborate with those who 
have control or authority over lands adjacent to or within the external 
boundaries of national forests or grasslands to identify:
    (a) Local knowledge;
    (b) Potential actions and partnership activities;
    (c) Potential conditions and activities on the adjacent lands that 
may affect management of National Forest System lands, or vice versa; 
and
    (d) Issues (Sec.  219.4).


Sec.  219.18  Role of advisory committees.

    (a) Advisory committees. Advisory committees can provide an 
immediate, representative, and predictable structure within which 
public dialogue can occur and the Forest Service can develop 
relationships with diverse communities of interests. The responsible 
official may seek the assistance or advice from a committee, consistent 
with the requirements of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. 
app.) in determining whether there is a

[[Page 67068]]

reasonable basis to propose an action to address an issue. Each Forest 
or Grassland Supervisor must have access to an advisory committee with 
knowledge of local conditions and issues, although an advisory 
committee is not required for each national forest or grassland. 
Responsible officials may request establishment of advisory committees 
and recommend members to the Secretary of Agriculture. Advisory 
committees used by other agencies may be utilized through proper 
agreements.
    (b) Participation in other types of community-based groups. When 
appropriate, the responsible official should consider participating in 
community-based groups organized for a variety of public purposes, 
particularly those groups organized to develop landscape goals (Sec.  
219.12(b)).

Ecological, Social, and Economic Sustainability


Sec.  219.19  Ecological, social, and economic sustainability.

    Sustainability, composed of interdependent ecological, social, and 
economic elements, embodies the Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 
1960 (16 U.S.C. 528 et seq.) without impairment to the productivity of 
the land and is the overall goal of management of the National Forest 
System. The first priority for stewardship of the national forests and 
grasslands is to maintain or restore ecological sustainability to 
provide a sustainable flow of uses, values, products, and services from 
these lands.


Sec.  219.20  Ecological sustainability.

    To achieve ecological sustainability, the responsible official must 
ensure that plans provide for maintenance or restoration of ecosystems 
at appropriate spatial and temporal scales determined by the 
responsible official.
    (a) Ecological information and analyses. Ecosystem diversity and 
species diversity are components of ecological sustainability. The 
planning process must include the development and analysis of 
information regarding these components at a variety of spatial and 
temporal scales. These scales include geographic areas such as 
bioregions and watersheds, scales of biological organization such as 
communities and species, and scales of time ranging from months to 
centuries. Information and analyses regarding the components of 
ecological sustainability may be identified, obtained, or developed 
through a variety of methods, including broad-scale assessments and 
local analyses (Sec.  219.5), and monitoring results (Sec.  219.11). 
For plan revisions, and to the extent the responsible official 
considers appropriate for plan amendments or site-specific decisions, 
the responsible official must develop or supplement the following 
information and analyses related to ecosystem and species diversity:
    (1) Characteristics of ecosystem and species diversity. 
Characteristics of ecosystem and species diversity must be identified 
for assessing and monitoring ecological sustainability. In general, 
these identified characteristics should be consistent at various scales 
of analyses.
    (i) Ecosystem diversity. Characteristics of ecosystem diversity 
include, but are not limited to:
    (A) Major vegetation types. The composition, distribution, and 
abundance of the major vegetation types and successional stages of 
forest and grassland systems; the prevalence of invasive or noxious 
plant or animal species.
    (B) Water resources. The diversity, abundance, and distribution of 
aquatic and riparian systems including streams, stream banks, coastal 
waters, estuaries, groundwater, lakes, wetlands, shorelines, riparian 
areas, and floodplains; stream channel morphology and condition, and 
flow regimes.
    (C) Soil resources. Soil productivity; physical, chemical and 
biological properties; soil loss; and compaction.
    (D) Air resources. Air quality, visibility, and other air resource 
values.
    (E) Focal species. Focal species that provide insights to the 
larger ecological systems with which they are associated.
    (ii) Species diversity. Characteristics of species diversity 
include, but are not limited to, the number, distribution, and 
geographic ranges of plant and animal species, including focal species 
and species-at-risk that serve as surrogate measures of species 
diversity. Species-at-risk and focal species must be identified for the 
plan area.
    (2) Evaluation of ecological sustainability. Evaluations of 
ecological sustainability must be conducted at the scope and scale 
determined by the responsible official to be appropriate to the 
planning decision. These evaluations must describe the current status 
of ecosystem diversity and species diversity, risks to ecological 
sustainability, cumulative effects of human and natural disturbances, 
and the contribution of National Forest System lands to the ecological 
sustainability of all lands within the area of analysis.
    (i) Evaluation of ecosystem diversity. Evaluations of ecosystem 
diversity must include, as appropriate, the following:
    (A) Information about focal species that provide insights to the 
integrity of the larger ecological system to which they belong.
    (B) A description of the biological and physical properties of the 
ecosystem using the characteristics identified in paragraph (a)(1)(i) 
of this section.
    (C) A description of the principal ecological processes occurring 
at the spatial and temporal scales that influence the characteristic 
structure and composition of ecosystems in the assessment or analysis 
area. These descriptions must include the distribution, intensity, 
frequency, and magnitude of natural disturbance regimes of the current 
climatic period, and should include other ecological processes 
important to ecological sustainability, such as nutrient cycling, 
migration, dispersal, food web dynamics, water flows, and the 
identification of the risks to maintaining these processes. These 
descriptions may also include an evaluation of the feasibility of 
maintaining natural ecological processes as a tool to contribute to 
ecological sustainability.
    (D) A description of the effects of human activities on ecosystem 
diversity. These descriptions must distinguish activities that had an 
integral role in the landscape's ecosystem diversity for a long period 
of time from activities that are of a type, size, or rate that were not 
typical of disturbances under which native plant and animal species and 
ecosystems developed.
    (E) An estimation of the range of variability of the 
characteristics of ecosystem diversity, identified in paragraph 
(a)(l)(i) of this section, that would be expected under the natural 
disturbance regimes of the current climatic period. The current values 
of these characteristics should be compared to the expected range of 
variability to develop insights about the current status of ecosystem 
diversity.
    (F) An evaluation of the effects of air quality on ecological 
systems including water.
    (G) An estimation of current and foreseeable future Forest Service 
consumptive and non-consumptive water uses and the quantity and quality 
of water needed to support those uses and contribute to ecological 
sustainability.
    (H) An identification of reference landscapes to provide for 
evaluation of the effects of actions.
    (ii) Evaluations of species diversity. Evaluations of species 
diversity must include, as appropriate, assessments of the risks to 
species viability and the identification of ecological conditions 
needed to maintain species viability over time based on the following:

[[Page 67069]]

    (A) The viability of each species listed under the Endangered 
Species Act as threatened, endangered, candidate, and proposed species 
must be assessed. Individual species assessments must be used for these 
species.
    (B) For all other species, including other species-at-risk and 
those species for which there is little information, a variety of 
approaches may be used, including individual species assessments and 
assessments of focal species or other indicators used as surrogates in 
the evaluation of ecological conditions needed to maintain species 
viability.
    (C) Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2)(ii)(A) of this section, 
for species groups that contain many species, assessments of 
functional, taxonomic, or habitat groups rather than individual species 
may be appropriate.
    (D) In analyzing viability, the extent of information available 
about species, their habitats, the dynamic nature of ecosystems and the 
ecological conditions needed to support them must be identified. 
Species assessments may rely on general conservation principles and 
expert opinion. When detailed information on species habitat 
relationships, demographics, genetics, and risk factors is available, 
that information should be considered.
    (b) Plan decisions. When making plan decisions that will affect 
ecological sustainability, the responsible official must use the 
information developed under paragraph (a) of this section. The 
following requirements must apply at the spatial and temporal scales 
that the responsible official determines to be appropriate to the plan 
decision:
    (1) Ecosystem diversity. Plan decisions affecting ecosystem 
diversity must provide for maintenance or restoration of the 
characteristics of ecosystem composition and structure within the range 
of variability that would be expected to occur under natural 
disturbance regimes of the current climatic period in accordance with 
paragraphs (b)(1)(i) through (v) of this section.
    (i) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(1)(iv) of this section, in 
situations where ecosystem composition and structure are currently 
within the expected range of variability, plan decisions must maintain 
the composition and structure within the range.
    (ii) Except as provided in paragraph (b)(1)(v) of this section, 
where current ecosystem composition and structure are outside the 
expected range of variability, plan decisions must provide for 
measurable progress toward ecological conditions within the expected 
range of variability.
    (iii) Where the range of variability cannot be practicably defined, 
plan decisions must provide for measurable progress toward maintaining 
or restoring ecosystem diversity. The responsible official must use 
independently peer-reviewed scientific methods other than the expected 
range of variability to maintain or restore ecosystem diversity. The 
scientific basis for such alternative methods must be documented in 
accordance with (Sec. Sec.  219.22 through 219.25).
    (iv) Where the responsible official determines that ecological 
conditions are within the expected range of variability and that 
maintaining ecosystem composition and structure within that range is 
ecologically, socially or economically unacceptable, plan decisions may 
provide for ecosystem composition and structure outside the expected 
range of variability. In such circumstances, the responsible official 
must use independently peer-reviewed scientific methods other than the 
expected range of variability to provide for the maintenance or 
restoration of ecosystem diversity. The scientific basis for such 
alternative methods must be documented in accordance with (Sec. Sec.  
219.22 through 219.25).
    (v) Where the responsible official determines that ecological 
conditions are outside the expected range of variability and that it is 
not practicable to make measurable progress toward conditions within 
the expected range of variability, or that restoration would result in 
conditions that are ecologically, socially or economically 
unacceptable, plan decisions may provide for ecosystem composition and 
structure outside the expected range of variability. In such 
circumstances, the responsible official must use independently peer-
reviewed scientific methods other than the expected range of 
variability to provide for the maintenance or restoration of ecosystem 
diversity. The scientific basis for such alternative methods must be 
documented (Sec. Sec.  219.22 through 219.25).
    (2) Species diversity. (i) Plan decisions affecting species 
diversity must provide for ecological conditions that the responsible 
official determines provide a high likelihood that those conditions are 
capable of supporting over time the viability of native and desired 
non-native species well distributed throughout their ranges within the 
plan area, except as provided in paragraphs (b)(2)(ii) through (iv) of 
this section. Methods described in paragraph (a)(2)(ii) of this section 
may be used to make the determinations of ecological conditions needed 
to maintain viability. A species is well distributed when individuals 
can interact with each other in the portion of the species range that 
occurs within the plan area. When a plan area occupies the entire range 
of a species, these decisions must provide for ecological conditions 
capable of supporting viability of the species and its component 
populations throughout that range. When a plan area encompasses one or 
more naturally disjunct and self-sustaining populations of a species, 
these decisions must provide ecological conditions capable of 
supporting over time viability of each population. When a plan area 
encompasses only a part of a population, these decisions must provide 
ecological conditions capable of supporting viability of that 
population well distributed throughout its range within the plan area.
    (ii) When conditions outside the authority of the agency prevent 
the agency from providing ecological conditions that provide a high 
likelihood of supporting over time the viability of native and desired 
non-native species well distributed throughout their ranges within the 
plan area, plan decisions must provide for ecological conditions well 
distributed throughout the species range within the plan area to 
contribute to viability of that species.
    (iii) Where species are inherently rare or not naturally well 
distributed in the plan area, plan decisions should not contribute to 
the extirpation of the species from the plan area and must provide for 
ecological conditions to maintain these species considering their 
natural distribution and abundance.
    (iv) Where environmental conditions needed to support a species 
have been so degraded that it is technically infeasible to restore 
ecological conditions that would provide a high likelihood of 
supporting viability, plan decisions must provide for ecological 
conditions to contribute to supporting over time viability to the 
degree practicable.
    (3) Federally listed threatened and endangered species. (i) Plan 
decisions must provide for implementing actions in conservation 
agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National 
Marine Fisheries Service that provide a basis for not needing to list a 
species. In some situations, conditions or events beyond the control or 
authority of the agency may limit the Forest Service's ability to 
prevent the need for federal listing. Plan decisions should reflect the 
unique opportunities

[[Page 67070]]

that National Forest System lands provide to contribute to recovery of 
listed species.
    (ii) Plan decisions involving species listed under the Endangered 
Species Act must include, at the scale determined by the responsible 
official to be appropriate to the plan decision, reasonable and prudent 
measures and associated terms and conditions contained in final 
biological opinions issued under 50 CFR part 402. The plan decision 
documents must provide a rationale for adoption or rejection of 
discretionary conservation recommendations contained in final 
biological opinions.


Sec.  219.21  Social and economic sustainability.

    To contribute to economic and social sustainability, the 
responsible official involves interested and affected people in 
planning for National Forest System lands (Sec. Sec.  219.12 through 
219.18), provides for the development and consideration of relevant 
social and economic information and analyses, and a range of uses, 
values, products, and services.
    (a) Social and economic information and analyses. To understand the 
contribution national forests and grasslands make to the economic and 
social sustainability of local communities, regions, and the nation, 
the planning process must include the analysis of economic and social 
information at variable scales, including national, regional, and local 
scales. Social analyses address human life-styles, cultures, attitudes, 
beliefs, values, demographics, and land-use patterns, and the capacity 
of human communities to adapt to changing conditions. Economic analyses 
address economic trends, the effect of national forest and grassland 
management on the well-being of communities and regions, and the net 
benefit of uses, values, products, or services provided by national 
forests and grasslands. Social and economic analyses should recognize 
that the uses, values, products, and services from national forests and 
grasslands change with time and the capacity of communities to 
accommodate shifts in land uses change. Social and economic analyses 
may rely on quantitative, qualitative, and participatory methods for 
gathering and analyzing data. Social and economic information may be 
developed and analyzed through broad-scale assessments and local 
analyses (Sec.  219.5), monitoring results (Sec.  219.11), or other 
means. For plan revisions, and to the extent the responsible official 
considers to be appropriate for plan amendments or site-specific 
decisions, the responsible official must develop or supplement the 
information and analyses related to the following:
    (1) Describe and analyze, as appropriate, the following:
    (i) Demographic trends; life-style preferences; public values; 
land-use patterns; related conservation and land use policies at the 
state and local level; cultural and American Indian tribe and Alaska 
Native land settlement patterns; social and cultural history; social 
and cultural opportunities provided by national forest system lands; 
the organization and leadership of local communities; community 
assistance needs; community health; and other appropriate social and 
cultural information;
    (ii) Employment, income, and other economic trends; the range and 
estimated long-term value of market and non-market goods, uses, 
services, and amenities that can be provided by national forest system 
lands consistent with the requirements of ecological sustainability, 
the estimated cost of providing them, and the estimated effect of 
providing them on regional and community well-being, employment, and 
wages; and other appropriate economic information. Special attention 
should be paid to the uses, values, products, or services that the 
Forest Service is uniquely poised to provide;
    (iii) Opportunities to provide social and economic benefits to 
communities through natural resource restoration strategies;
    (iv) Other social or economic information, if appropriate, to 
address issues being considered by the responsible official (Sec.  
219.4).
    (2) Analyze community or region risk and vulnerability. Risk and 
vulnerability analyses assess the vulnerability of communities from 
changes in ecological systems as a result of natural succession or 
potential management actions. Risk may be considered for geographic, 
relevant occupational, or other related communities of interest. 
Resiliency and community capacity should be considered in a risk and 
vulnerability analysis. Risk and vulnerability analysis may also 
address potential consequences to communities and regions from land 
management changes in terms of capital availability, employment 
opportunities, wage levels, local tax bases, federal revenue sharing, 
the ability to support public infrastructure and social services, human 
health and safety, and other factors as necessary and appropriate.
    (b) Plan decisions. When making plan decisions that will affect 
social or economic sustainability, the responsible official must use 
the information analyses developed in paragraph (a) of this section. 
Plan decisions contribute to social and economic sustainability by 
providing for a range of uses, values, products, and services, 
consistent with ecological sustainability.

The Contribution of Science


Sec.  219.22  The overall role of science in planning.

    (a) The responsible official must ensure that the best available 
science is considered in planning. The responsible official, when 
appropriate, should acknowledge incomplete or unavailable information, 
scientific uncertainty, and the variability inherent in complex 
systems.
    (b) When appropriate and practicable and consistent with applicable 
law, the responsible official should provide for independent, 
scientific peer reviews of the use of science in planning. Independent, 
scientific peer reviews are conducted using generally accepted 
scientific practices that do not allow individuals to participate in 
the peer reviews of documents they authored or co-authored.


Sec.  219.23  The role of science in assessments, analyses, and 
monitoring.

    (a) Broad-scale assessments. If the Forest Service is leading a 
broad-scale assessment, the assessment must be led by a Chief Scientist 
selected by the Deputy Chief of Research and Development. When 
appropriate and practicable, a responsible official may provide for 
independent, scientific peer review of the findings and conclusions 
originating from a broad-scale assessment. Independent, scientific peer 
review may be provided by scientists from the Forest Service, other 
federal, state, or tribal agencies, or other institutions.
    (b) Local analyses. Though not required, a responsible official may 
include scientists in the development or technical reviews of local 
analyses and field reviews of the design and selection of subsequent 
site-specific actions.
    (c) Monitoring. (1) The responsible official must include 
scientists in the design and evaluation of monitoring strategies. 
Additionally, the responsible official must provide for an independent, 
scientific peer review of plan monitoring on at least a biennial basis 
to validate adherence to appropriate protocols and methods in 
collecting and processing of monitoring samples and to validate that 
data are summarized and interpreted properly.
    (2) When appropriate and practicable, the responsible official 
should include scientists in the review of monitoring

[[Page 67071]]

data and analytical results to determine trends relative to ecological, 
economic, or social sustainability.


Sec.  219.24  Science consistency evaluations.

    (a) The responsible official must ensure that plan amendments and 
revisions are consistent with the best available science. The 
responsible official may use a science advisory board (Sec.  219.25) to 
assist in determining whether information gathered, evaluations 
conducted, or analyses and conclusions reached in the planning process 
are consistent with the best available science. If the responsible 
official decides to use a science advisory board, the board and the 
responsible official are to jointly establish criteria for the science 
advisory board and the responsible official to use in reviewing the 
consistency of proposed plan amendments and revisions with the best 
available science.
    (b) The science advisory board is responsible for organizing and 
conducting a scientific consistency evaluation to determine the 
following:
    (1) If relevant scientific (ecological, social, or economic) 
information has been considered by the responsible official in a manner 
consistent with current scientific understanding at the appropriate 
scales;
    (2) If uncertainty of knowledge has been recognized, acknowledged, 
and adequately documented; and
    (3) If the level of risk in achievement of sustainability is 
acknowledged and adequately documented by the responsible official.
    (c) If substantial disagreement among members of the science 
advisory board or between the science advisory board and the 
responsible official is identified during a science consistency 
evaluation, a summary of such disagreement should be noted in the 
appropriate environmental documentation within Forest Service NEPA 
procedures.


Sec.  219.25  Science advisory boards.

    (a) National science advisory board. The Forest Service Deputy 
Chief for Research and Development must establish, convene, and chair a 
science advisory board to provide scientific advice on issues 
identified by the Chief of the Forest Service. Board membership must 
represent a broad range of scientific disciplines including, but not 
limited to, the physical, biological, economic, and social sciences.
    (b) Regional science advisory boards. Based upon needs identified 
by Regional Forester(s) or Research Station Director(s), the Forest 
Service Research Station Director(s), should establish and convene 
science advisory boards consistent with the Federal Advisory Committee 
Act (5 U.S.C. app.) to provide advice to one or more Regional Foresters 
regarding the application of science in planning and decisionmaking for 
National Forest System lands. At least one regional science advisory 
board must be available for each national forest and grassland. The 
Station Director(s) must chair the board or appoint a chair of such 
boards. The geographical boundaries of the boards need not align with 
National Forest System Regional boundaries. Board membership must 
represent a broad range of science disciplines including, but not 
limited to, the physical, biological, economic, and social sciences. 
Regional science advisory board tasks may include, but are not limited, 
to:
    (1) Evaluating significance and relevance of new information 
related to current plan decisions, including the results of monitoring 
and evaluation; and
    (2) Evaluating science consistency as described in Sec.  219.24.
    (c) Work groups. With the concurrence of the appropriate chair and 
subject to available funding, the national or regional science advisory 
boards may convene work groups to study issues and provide 
recommendations.

Special Considerations


Sec.  219.26  Identifying and designating suitable uses.

    National forests and grasslands are suitable for a wide variety of 
public uses, such as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, timber 
harvest, off-road vehicle travel, or other uses except where lands are 
determined to be unsuited for a particular use. Lands are not suited 
for a particular use if that use: is prohibited by law, regulation, or 
Executive Order; is incompatible with the mission or policies of the 
National Forest System; or would result in substantial and permanent 
impairment of the productivity of the land. Through a plan amendment or 
revision, the responsible official may determine whether specific uses 
may begin, continue, or terminate within the plan area. Planning 
documents should describe or display lands suitable for various uses in 
areas large enough to provide sufficient latitude for periodic 
adjustments in use to conform to changing needs and conditions.


Sec.  219.27  Special designations.

    The Forest Service may recommend special designations to higher 
authorities or, to the extent permitted by law, adopt special 
designations through plan amendment or revision. Special designations 
are areas within the National Forest System that are identified for 
their unique or special characteristics and include the following:
    (a) Congressionally designated areas. Congressionally designated 
areas may include, but are not limited to, wilderness, wild and scenic 
rivers, national trails, scenic areas, recreation areas, and monuments. 
These nationally significant areas must be managed as required by 
Congress and may have specific requirements for their management.
    (b) Wilderness area reviews. Unless federal statute directs 
otherwise, all undeveloped areas that are of sufficient size as to make 
practicable their preservation and use in an unimpaired condition must 
be evaluated for recommended wilderness designation during the plan 
revision process. These areas may be evaluated at other times as 
determined by the responsible official.
    (c) Administratively designated areas. Administratively designated 
areas may include, but are not limited to, critical watersheds, 
research natural areas, national monuments, geological areas, 
inventoried roadless areas, unroaded areas, motorized and non-motorized 
recreation areas, botanical areas, and scenic byways.


Sec.  219.28  Determination of land suitable for timber harvest.

    (a) Lands where timber may not be harvested. The plan must identify 
lands within the plan area where timber may not be harvested. These 
lands include:
    (1) Lands where timber harvest would violate statute, Executive 
Order, or regulation and those lands that have been withdrawn from 
timber harvest by the Secretary of Agriculture or the Chief of the 
Forest Service;
    (2) Lands where technology is not available for conducting timber 
harvesting without causing irreversible damage to soil, slope, or other 
watershed conditions or produce substantial and permanent impairment of 
the productivity of the land; and
    (3) Lands where there are no assurances that such lands can be 
adequately restocked within 5 years after harvest;
    (b) Lands where timber may be harvested for timber production. The 
responsible official may establish timber production as a multiple-use 
plan objective for lands not identified in paragraph (a) of this 
section if the costs of timber production are justified by the 
ecological, social, or economic benefits considering physical, 
economic, and other pertinent factors to the extent

[[Page 67072]]

feasible. Lands where timber production is not established as a plan 
objective are deemed not suited for timber production. These lands must 
be reviewed by the responsible official at least once every 10 years, 
or as prescribed by law, to determine their suitability for timber 
production considering physical, economic, and other pertinent factors 
to the extent feasible. Based on this review, timber production may be 
established as a plan objective for these lands through amendment or 
revision of the plan.
    (c) Lands where timber may be harvested for other multiple-use 
values. Except for lands identified in paragraph (a) of this section, 
timber may be harvested from land where timber production is not 
established as a plan objective if, based on a site-specific analysis, 
the responsible official determines and documents that such timber 
harvest would contribute to achievement of desired conditions and 
ecological sustainability, and is necessary to protect multiple-use 
values other than timber production.


Sec.  219.29  Limitation on timber harvest.

    (a) Estimate of the limitation of timber harvest. The responsible 
official must estimate the amount of timber that can be sold annually 
in perpetuity on a sustained-yield basis from National Forest System 
lands other than those identified in Sec.  219.28(a). This estimate 
must be based on the yield of timber that can be removed consistent 
with achievement of objectives or desired conditions in the applicable 
plan. In those cases where a national forest has less than 200,000 
acres of forested land identified in lands other than those in Sec.  
219.28(a), two or more national forests may be combined for the purpose 
of estimating amount of timber that can be sold annually on a 
sustained-yield basis. Estimations for lands where timber production is 
established as a plan objective Sec.  219.28(b) and estimations for 
lands identified in Sec.  219.28(c) cannot be combined.
    (b) Limitation of timber harvest. The responsible official must 
limit the sale of timber from the lands where timber production is an 
objective and from other lands to a quantity equal to or less than that 
estimated in paragraph (a) of this section.
    (c) Exceptions to limitations of timber harvest. For purposes of 
limiting the sale of timber, the responsible official may sell timber 
from areas that are substantially affected by fire, wind, or other 
events, or for which there is an imminent threat from insects or 
disease, and may either substitute such timber for timber that would 
otherwise be sold or, if not feasible, sell such timber over and above 
the plan limit established in paragraph (b) of this section. If 
departure from the quantity of timber removal established in paragraph 
(b) of this section is necessary to meet overall multiple-use 
objectives, the requirements in 16 U.S.C. 1611 must be followed.

Planning Documentation


Sec.  219.30  Plan documentation.

    A plan is a repository of documents that integrates and displays 
the desired conditions, objectives, standards, and other plan decisions 
that apply to a unit of the National Forest System. The plan also 
contains maps, monitoring and evaluation results, the annual monitoring 
and evaluation report, and other information relevant to how the plan 
area is to be managed. Planning documents should be clear, 
understandable, and readily available for public review. Plan documents 
should be updated through amendments, revision, and routine maintenance 
(Sec.  219.31). Plan documents include, at a minimum, the following:
    (a) A summary of the plan. The summary is a concise description of 
the plan that includes a summary of the plan decisions and a 
description of the plan area and appropriate planning units. The 
summary should include a brief description of the ecological, social, 
and economic environments within the plan area and the overall strategy 
for maintenance or restoration of sustainability, including desired 
conditions and objectives for their achievement. The summary also 
includes appropriate maps, a description of the transportation system, 
utility corridors, land ownership patterns and proposed land ownership 
adjustments, charts, figures, photographs, and other information to 
enhance understanding.
    (b) Display of public uses. The plan documents must identify the 
suitability of the plan area for various uses (Sec.  219.26) such as 
recreation uses, livestock grazing, timber harvest, and mineral 
developments. The plan documents must identify land where timber may 
not be harvested and where timber production is an objective (Sec.  
219.28). The plan documents also must describe the limitations on the 
removal of timber (Sec.  219.29) and the standards for timber harvest 
and regeneration methods (Sec.  219.7(c)).
    (c) Plan decisions. The plan documents must display or describe the 
plan decisions (Sec.  219.7).
    (d) Display of actions and outcomes. The plan documents must also 
contain:
    (1) An annually updated list or other display of proposed, 
authorized, and completed actions to achieve desired conditions and 
objectives within the plan area;
    (2) A 2-year schedule, updated annually, of anticipated outcomes 
which may include anticipated uses, values, products, or services based 
on an estimate of Forest Service budget and capacity to perform the 
identified program of work. The estimate of Forest Service budget and 
capacity should be based on recent funding levels;
    (3) A 2-year summary, updated annually, of the actual outcomes 
which may include specific uses, values, products, or services provided 
as a result of completed site-specific actions;
    (4) A projected range of outcomes which may include anticipated 
uses, values, products, and services for the next 15 years, assuming 
current or likely budgets while considering other spending levels as 
appropriate. These projections are estimates and as such often contain 
a high degree of uncertainty; they are intended to describe expected 
progress in achieving desired conditions and objectives within the plan 
area. The projections are to be updated during revision of each plan;
    (5) A description of the monitoring strategy to occur in the plan 
area and the annual monitoring and evaluation report; and
    (6) A summary of the projected program of work, updated annually, 
including costs for inventories, assessments, proposed and authorized 
actions, and monitoring. The projected program of work must be based on 
reasonably anticipated funding levels. Reasonably anticipated funding 
levels should be based on recent funding levels. The plan documents 
must also include a description of the total current-year budget, 
funded actions, projections for future budgets over the next 2 years; 
and a display of the budget trends over at least the past 5 years.
    (e) Other components. A plan must contain or reference a list of 
materials, Forest Service policies, and decisions used in forming plan 
decisions. The information should include, but is not limited to, lists 
of previous decision and environmental documents, assessments, 
conservation agreements and strategies, biological opinions, 
inventories, administrative studies, monitoring results, and research 
relevant to adoption of plan decisions.


Sec.  219.31  Maintenance of the plan and planning records.

    (a) Each National Forest or Grassland Supervisor must maintain a 
complete

[[Page 67073]]

set of the planning documents required under Sec.  219.30 that 
constitute the plan for the unit. The set of documents must be readily 
available to the public using appropriate and relevant technology.
    (b) The following administrative corrections and additions may be 
made at any time, are not plan amendments or revisions, and do not 
require public notice or the preparation of an environmental document 
under Forest Service NEPA procedures:
    (1) Corrections and updates of data and maps;
    (2) Updates to activity lists and schedules as required by Sec.  
219.30(d)(1) through (6);
    (3) Corrections of typographical errors or other non-substantive 
changes; and
    (4) Changes in monitoring methods other than those required in a 
monitoring strategy (Sec.  219.11(c)).

Objections and Appeals


Sec.  219.32  Objections to plan amendments or plan revisions.

    (a) Any person may object to a proposed amendment or revision 
prepared under the provisions of this subpart, except for an amendment 
or revision proposed by the Chief. The objection must be filed within 
30 calendar days from the date that the Environmental Protection Agency 
publishes the notice of availability of a final environmental impact 
statement regarding a proposed amendment or revision in the Federal 
Register, or within 30 calendar days of the publication of a public 
notice of a proposed amendment not requiring preparation of an 
environmental impact statement. Within 10 days after the close of the 
objection period, the Responsible Official shall publish notice of all 
objections in the local newspaper of record. An objection must be filed 
with the reviewing officer identified in the notice and contain:
    (1) The name, mailing address, and telephone number of the person 
filing the objection;
    (2) A specific statement of the basis for each objection; and
    (3) A description of the objector's participation in the planning 
process for the proposed amendment or revision, including a copy of any 
relevant documents submitted during the planning process.
    (b) Objectors may request meetings with the reviewing officer and 
the responsible official to discuss the objection, to narrow the 
issues, agree on facts, and explore opportunities for resolution. The 
reviewing officer must allow other interested persons to participate in 
such meetings. An interested person must file a request to participate 
in an objection within ten days after publication of the notice of 
objection as described in paragraph (a) of this section.
    (c) The reviewing officer must respond, in writing, to an objection 
within a reasonable period of time and may respond to all objections in 
one response. The reviewing officer's response regarding an objection 
is the final decision of the Department of Agriculture.
    (d) The responsible official may not approve a proposed amendment 
or revision until the reviewing officer has responded to all 
objections. A decision by the responsible official approving an 
amendment or revision must be consistent with the reviewing officer's 
response to objections to the proposed amendment or revision.
    (e) Where the Forest Service is a participant in a multi-agency 
decision subject to objection under this subpart, the responsible 
official and reviewing officer may waive the objection procedures of 
this subpart to adopt the administrative review procedure of another 
participating federal agency, if the responsible official and the 
responsible official of the other agencies agree to provide a joint 
response to those who have filed for administrative review of the 
multi-agency decision.
    (f) The information collection requirements of this section have 
been approved by the Office of Management and Budget and assigned 
control number 0596-0158.


Sec.  219.33  Appeals of site-specific decisions.

    If a site-specific decision is proposed in conjunction with a plan 
amendment or revision, a person may object to the proposed plan 
amendment or revision as described in (Sec.  219.32). If a decision is 
made to authorize a site-specific action, a person may request 
administrative review of that decision as described in 36 CFR part 215.

Applicability and Transition


Sec.  219.34  Applicability.

    The provisions of this subpart are applicable to all units of the 
National Forest System as defined by 16 U.S.C. 1609.


Sec.  219.35  Transition.

    (a) The transition period begins on November 9, 2000, and ends upon 
the completion of the revision process (Sec.  219.9) for each unit of 
the National Forest System. During the transition period, the 
responsible official must consider the best available science in 
implementing and, if appropriate, amending the plan.
    (b) Until the Department promulgates superseding planning 
regulations pursuant to the National Forest Management Act, a 
responsible official may elect to continue or to initiate new plan 
amendments or revisions under the 1982 planning regulations in effect 
prior to November 9, 2000 (See 36 CFR parts 200 to 299, Revised as of 
July 1, 2000), or the responsible official may conduct the amendment or 
revision process in conformance with the provisions of this subpart.
    (c) If a review of lands not suited for timber production is 
required before the completion of the revision process, the review must 
take place as described by the provisions of Sec.  219.28, except as 
provided in paragraph (b) of this section.
    (d) The date by which site-specific decisions made by the 
responsible official must be in conformance with the provisions of this 
subpart is extended from November 9, 2003, until the Department 
promulgates superseding planning regulations pursuant to the National 
Forest Management Act.
    (e) Within 1 year of November 9, 2000, the Regional Forester must 
withdraw the regional guide. When a regional guide is withdrawn, the 
Regional Forester must identify the decisions in the regional guide 
that are to be transferred to a regional supplement of the Forest 
Service directive system (36 CFR 200.4) or to one or more plans and 
give notice in the Federal Register of these actions. The transfer of 
direction from a regional guide to a regional supplement of the Forest 
Service directive system or to one or more plans does not constitute an 
amendment, revision, or site-specific action subject to Forest Service 
NEPA procedures.
    (f) Within 3 years after completion of the revision process for a 
unit, the responsible official must complete the first monitoring and 
evaluation report as required in Sec.  219.11(f).
    (g) Within 1 year of November 9, 2000, the Chief of the Forest 
Service must establish a schedule for completion of the revision 
process for each unit of the National Forest System.

Appendix A to Sec.  219.35

Interpretive Rule Related to Sec.  219.35(b)

    The Department is making explicit its preexisting understanding of 
Sec.  219.35(b) with regard to the appeal or objection procedures that 
may be applied to amendments or revisions of land and resource 
management plans during the transition from the appeal procedures in

[[Page 67074]]

effect prior to November 9, 2000, to the objection procedures of Sec.  
219.32 as follows:
    1. During the transition period, the option to proceed under the 
1982 regulations or under the provisions of this subpart specifically 
includes the option to select either the objection procedures of this 
subpart or the optional appeal procedures published at 54 FR 3357 
(January 23, 1989), as amended at 54 FR 13807 (April 5, 1989); 54 FR 
34509 (August 21, 1989); 55 FR 7895 (March 6, 1990); 56 FR 4918 
(February 6, 1991); 56 FR 46550 (September 13, 1991); and 58 FR 58915 
(November 4, 1993).

Appendix B to Sec.  219.35

Interpretative Rule Related to Sec.  219.35(a) and (b)

    The Department is clarifying the intent of the transition 
provisions of paragraphs (a) and (b) of Sec.  219.35 with regard to the 
consideration and use of the best available science to inform project 
decisionmaking that implements a land management plan as follows:
    1. Under the transition provisions of paragraph (a), the 
responsible official must consider the best available science in 
implementing and, if appropriate, in amending existing plans. Paragraph 
(b) allows the responsible official to elect to prepare plan amendments 
and revisions using the provisions of the 1982 planning regulation 
until a new final planning rule is adopted.
    2. Until a new final rule is promulgated, the transition provisions 
of Sec.  219.35 remain in effect. The 1982 rule is not in effect. 
During the transition period, responsible officials may use the 
provisions of the 1982 rule to prepare plan amendments and revisions. 
Projects implementing land management plans must comply with the 
transition provisions of Sec.  219.35, but not any other provisions of 
the 2000 planning rule. Projects implementing land management plans and 
plan amendments, as appropriate, must be developed considering the best 
available science in accordance with Sec.  219.35(a). Projects 
implementing land management plans must be consistent with the 
provisions of the governing plan.

Definitions


Sec.  219.36  Definitions.

    Definitions of the special terms used in this subpart are set out 
in alphabetical order in this section as follows:
    Adaptive management: An approach to natural resource management 
wherein the effects of policies, plans, and actions are monitored for 
the purpose of learning and adjusting future management actions. 
Successive iteration of the adaptive process is essential in 
contributing to sustainability.
    Assessment or analysis area: The geographic area included within 
the scope of a broad-scale assessment or local analysis.
    Candidate species: Species identified by the United States Fish and 
Wildlife Service (USFWS) or the National Marine Fisheries Service 
(NMFS), which are considered to be candidates for listing under the 
Endangered Species Act as published in the Federal Register.
    Conservation agreement: A formal agreement between the Forest 
Service and the USFWS and/or NMFS identifying management actions 
necessary to prevent the need to list species under the Endangered 
Species Act.
    Current climatic period: The period of time since establishment of 
the modern major vegetation types, which typically encompass the late 
Holocene Epoch including the present, including likely climatic 
conditions within the planning period. The climatic period is typically 
centuries to millennia in length, a period of time that is long enough 
to encompass the variability that species and ecosystems have 
experienced.
    Desired condition: A statement describing a common vision for a 
specific area of land or type of land within the plan area. Statements 
of desired conditions should include the estimated time required for 
their achievement.
    Desired non-native species: Those species of plants or animals 
which are not indigenous to an area but valued for their contribution 
to species diversity or their high social, cultural or economic value.
    Disturbance regime: Actions, functions, or events that influence or 
maintain the structure, composition, or function of terrestrial or 
aquatic ecosystems. Natural disturbances include, among others, 
drought, floods, wind, fires, insects, and pathogens. Human-caused 
disturbances include actions such as recreational use, livestock 
grazing, mining, road construction, timber harvest, and the 
introduction of exotic species.
    Diversity of plant and animal communities: The distribution and 
relative abundance of plant and animal communities and their component 
species occurring within an area.
    Ecological conditions: Components of the biological and physical 
environment that can affect the diversity of plant and animal 
communities, including species viability, and the productive capacity 
of ecological systems. These could include the abundance and 
distribution of aquatic and terrestrial habitats, roads and other 
structural developments, human uses, and invasive and exotic species.
    Ecological sustainability: The maintenance or restoration of the 
composition, structure, and processes of ecosystems including the 
diversity of plant and animal communities and the productive capacity 
of ecological systems.
    Ecosystem composition: The plant and animal species and communities 
in the plan area.
    Ecosystem processes: Ecological functions such as photosynthesis, 
energy flow, nutrient cycling, water movement, disturbance, and 
succession.
    Ecosystem structure: The biological and physical attributes that 
characterize ecological systems.
    Focal species: Focal species are surrogate measures used in the 
evaluation of ecological sustainability, including species and 
ecosystem diversity. The key characteristic of a focal species is that 
its status and trend provide insights to the integrity of the larger 
ecological system to which it belongs. Individual species, or groups of 
species that use habitat in similar ways or which perform similar 
ecological functions, may be identified as focal species. Focal species 
serve an umbrella function in terms of encompassing habitats needed for 
many other species, play a key role in maintaining community structure 
or processes, are sensitive to the changes likely to occur in the area, 
or otherwise serve as an indicator of ecological sustainability. 
Certain focal species may be used as surrogates to represent ecological 
conditions that provide for viability of some other species, rather 
than directly representing the population dynamics of those other 
species.
    Forest Service NEPA procedures: The Forest Service policy and 
procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act 
(NEPA) and the Council on Environmental Quality regulations (40 CFR 
chapter V) as described in Chapter 1950 of the Forest Service Manual 
and Forest Service Handbook 1909.15, Environmental Policy and 
Procedures Handbook (See 36 CFR 200.4 for availability).
    Inherently rare species: A species is inherently rare if it occurs 
in only a limited number of locations, has low population numbers, or 
has both limited occurrences and low population numbers, and those 
conditions are natural characteristics of the life history and ecology 
of the species and not

[[Page 67075]]

primarily the result of human disturbance.
    Inventoried roadless areas: Areas are identified in a set of 
inventoried roadless area maps, contained in Forest Service Roadless 
Area Conservation, Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 2, 
dated May 2000, which are held at the National headquarters office of 
the Forest Service, or any subsequent update or revision of those maps.
    Major vegetation types: Plant communities, which are typically 
named after dominant plant species that are characteristic of the 
macroclimate and geology of the region or sub-region.
    Native species: Species of the plant and animal kingdom indigenous 
to the plan area or assessment area.
    Plan area: The geographic area of National Forest System lands 
covered by an individual land and resource management plan. The area 
may include one or more administrative units.
    Productive capacity of ecological systems: The ability of an 
ecosystem to maintain primary productivity including its ability to 
sustain desirable conditions such as clean water, fertile soil, 
riparian habitat, and the diversity of plant and animal species; to 
sustain desirable human uses; and to renew itself following 
disturbance.
    Range of variability: The expected range of variation in ecosystem 
composition, and structure that would be expected under natural 
disturbance regimes in the current climatic period. These regimes 
include the type, frequency, severity, and magnitude of disturbance in 
the absence of fire suppression and extensive commodity extraction.
    Reference landscapes: Places identified in the plan area where the 
conditions and trends of ecosystem composition, structure, and 
processes are deemed useful for setting objectives for desired 
conditions and for judging the effectiveness of plan decisions.
    Responsible official: The officer with the authority and 
responsibility to oversee the planning process and make decisions on 
proposed actions.
    Reviewing officer: The supervisor of the responsible official.
    Social and economic sustainability: Meeting the economic, social, 
aesthetic, and cultural needs and desires of current generations 
without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for the 
needs and desires of future generations, considering both local 
communities and the nation as a whole. It also involves the capacity of 
citizens to communicate effectively with each other and to make sound 
choices about their environment.
    Species: Any member of the animal or plant kingdom that is 
described as a species in a peer-reviewed scientific publication and is 
identified as a species by the responsible official pursuant to a plan 
decision, and must include all species listed under the Endangered 
Species Act as threatened, endangered, candidate, or proposed for 
listing by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    Species-at-risk: Federally listed endangered, threatened, 
candidate, and proposed species and other species for which loss of 
viability, including reduction in distribution or abundance, is a 
concern within the plan area. Other species-at-risk may include 
sensitive species and state listed species. A species-at-risk also may 
be selected as a focal species.
    Species viability: A species consisting of self-sustaining and 
interacting populations that are well distributed through the species' 
range. Self-sustaining populations are those that are sufficiently 
abundant and have sufficient diversity to display the array of life 
history strategies and forms to provide for their long-term persistence 
and adaptability over time.
    Successional stages: The different structural and compositional 
phases of vegetation development of forests and grasslands that occur 
over time following disturbances that kill, remove, or reduce 
vegetation and include the major developmental or seral stages that 
occur within a particular environment.
    Timber production: The sustained long-term and periodic harvest of 
wood fiber from National Forest System lands undertaken in support of 
social and economic objectives identified in one or more land and 
resource management plans. For purposes of this regulation, the term 
timber production includes fuel wood.
    Undeveloped areas: Areas, including but not limited to inventoried 
roadless areas and unroaded areas, within national forests or 
grasslands that are of sufficient size and generally untrammeled by 
human activities such that they are appropriate for consideration for 
wilderness designation in the planning process.
    Unroaded areas: Any area, without the presence of a classified 
road, of a size and configuration sufficient to protect the inherent 
characteristics associated with its roadless condition. Unroaded areas 
do not overlap with inventoried roadless areas.

Subpart B--[Reserved]

     Dated: December 8, 2009.
Harris D. Sherman,
Under Secretary, NRE.
[FR Doc. E9-30171 Filed 12-17-09; 8:45 am]

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