[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 165 (Friday, August 24, 2001)]
[Notices]
[Pages 44590-44591]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-21464]


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Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

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Federal Register / Vol. 66, No. 165 / Friday, August 24, 2001 / 
Notices

[[Page 44590]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service


Forest Transportation System; Interim Direction

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice; request for comment.

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SUMMARY: On January 12, 2001, corollary with adopting revisions to the 
Transportation System rules at 36 CFR part 212, the Forest Service 
adopted a revised administrative policy to guide transportation 
planning, analysis, and management, especially road management in the 
National Forest System. Following intensive training of field employees 
on implementing the new policy, the agency has determined that allowing 
only a six-month period, ending July 12, 2001, to prepare for use of 
the roads analysis process is insufficient. Also, the agency has 
concluded that decisions to extend the deadline for completing forest-
scale roads analyses are best made on a case-by-case basis by the 
Regional Forester, not the Chief. These changes are embodied in Interim 
Directive No. 7710-2001-1 which the Chief signed on May 25, 2001. 
Because of the impending July 12, 2001, deadline, and the need for 
orderly adjustments in the local programs of work, it was not 
practicable to solicit public comment prior to implementing this 
Interim Directive. However, public comments are now invited and will be 
considered in developing any final policy.

DATES: Interim Directive No. 7710-2001-1 became effective May 31, 2001. 
Comments must be submitted on or before October 23, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Written comments concerning this Interim Directive (ID) 
should be sent to USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy, P.O. Box 22914, 
Salt Lake City, UT, 84122; via email to roads_id@fs.fed.us; or via 
facsimile to 801-517-1021, Attention: Road Policy.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mike Ash, Deputy Director, Engineering 
Staff, 703-605-4646.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Current Rule and Policy

    The Forest Service Road Management policy initiative resulted in 
adoption of a final rule at 36 CFR part 212, on January 12, 2001 (66 FR 
3219). This rule directs the Responsible Official of each national 
forest, national grassland, experimental forest, and any other unit of 
the National Forest System to perform a comprehensive roads analysis on 
the transportation system within that unit and to document the forest 
transportation system in a transportation atlas. Concurrent with the 
rule, the Forest Service implemented an administrative policy that 
gives Forest Service employees more detailed instruction on building 
the road atlas and conducting road analyses. Issued as an amendment to 
Forest Service Manual Chapters 7700 Zero Code and 7710, the policy 
directs that decisions and final forest plan revisions or amendments 
adopted after July 12, 2001, must be informed by a roads analysis.

Need for Revision

    Since adoption of the policy on January 12, 2001, the Forest 
Service has provided almost 1,000 employees in-depth training on how to 
conduct the roads analysis process and how to build the road atlas. 
Subsequently, many managers have informed the Chief's office that the 
deadlines for compliance are unworkable considering the level of 
detail, the variety of information required, and the amount of training 
necessary before the analysis can begin. Moreover, conducting roads 
analysis is often not compatible with meeting routine seasonal workload 
demands, especially in light of the need for restoration work after 
last year's devastating fire season. For these reasons, the Chief has 
determined that it is necessary to extend the deadline by which project 
and plan decisions must be informed by roads analysis from July 12, 
2001, to January 12, 2002.
    The administrative direction in FSM 7710 also directs all Forest 
Service units to complete a forest-scale roads analysis of their entire 
transportation system by January 12, 2003. As adopted, the policy 
provided that extensions to that deadline could be approved only by the 
Chief of the Forest Service. Requiring that only the Chief can approve 
extensions for completing the forest-scale roads analysis is not only 
inefficient but also inconsistent with the Chief's goal of encouraging 
and relying on local expertise and authority over forest-level issues 
as much as possible. The Chief has reconsidered this reservation of 
authority and concluded that Regional Foresters, to whom Forest 
Supervisors report, are in a better position to make judgments about 
local forest programs of work than the office of the Chief. Therefore, 
the Chief has redelegated to the Regional Foresters the authority to 
approve requests for extensions of forest-scale roads analysis beyond 
January 12, 2003. These changes have been issued in an Interim 
Directive to Forest Service Manual Chapter 7710, the text of which 
appears at the end of this notice.

Conclusion

    The Forest Service is committed to providing adequate opportunities 
for the public to comment on all administrative directives that are of 
substantial public interest or controversy. However, because of the 
impending July 12, 2001, deadline, it was important to provide Forest 
Service units with sufficient advance notice of the changes so that 
they can adjust their plans of work in an orderly way. Accordingly, the 
agency issued the Interim Directive and made it effective immediately. 
However, as provided for in 36 CFR 216.7, the Forest Service is also 
requesting public comment on the Interim Directive. All comments will 
be reviewed and considered in determining a final policy.

    Dated: June 28, 2001.
Dale N. Bosworth,
Chief.

    Note: The Forest Service organizes its directive system by 
alphanumeric codes and subject headings. Only those sections of the 
FSM that are the subject of this notice are set forth here. Those 
who wish to see the entire chapter to which the Interim Direction 
(ID) applies may do so at http://www.fs.fed.us/im/directives.

FSM 7700--Transportation System

Chapter 7710--Transportation Atlas, Records, and Analysis

    Interim Directive No.: 7710-2001-1.
    Effective Date: May 31, 2001.

[[Page 44591]]

    Duration: This interim directive expires on 11/30/2002.
    Approved: Dale N. Bosworth, Chief.
    Date Approved: 5/25/2001.
    Posting Instructions: Interim directives are numbered consecutively 
by title and calendar year. Post by document at the end of the chapter. 
Retain this transmittal as the first page(s) of this document. The last 
interim directive was 7710-99-2 to FSM 7710.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
        New Document                 id__7710-2001-1           2 Pages
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Superseded Document(s)        None........................
 (Interim Directive Number
 and Effective Date).
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Digest:

    7710.42--Delegates to the Regional Forester the responsibility 
previously reserved to the Chief to approve a Forest Supervisor request 
for additional time to complete forest-scale roads analysis (para. 6).
    7712.15--Extends the deadlines for requiring roads analysis for 
road management decisions (para. 1a and 1b) and forest plan revisions 
or amendments (para. 2a) from July 12, 2001, to January 12, 2002. For 
clarity, subdivides paragraph 2a (as it appears in Amendment No. 7700-
2001-2) into two paragraphs to distinguish deadlines applicable to 
those units that will complete a plan revision or amendments by January 
12, 2002 (para. 2a) from those that have begun such amendments or 
revisions but will not be completed by January 12, 2002 (para. 2b). In 
new paragraph 2c (formerly para. 2b), permits Forest Supervisors to 
request that the Regional Forester grant an extension for completion of 
forest-scale roads analysis.

FSM 7700--Transportation System

Chapter 7710--Transportation Atlas, Records, and Analysis

7710.42--Regional Forester
    6. Authority to approve, on a case-by-case basis, Forest Supervisor 
requests for additional time to complete forest-scale roads analysis.
7712.15--Deadlines for Completing Roads Analysis
    1. Analysis Needed to Inform Road Management Decisions. Section 
7712.13 identifies proposed road management decisions other than forest 
plan revisions or amendments that require roads analysis and provides 
guidance on the scope and scale of various levels of analysis that 
might inform those decisions. The following deadlines govern the 
application of roads analysis to the proposed road management decisions 
identified in sections 7712.13 through 7712.13c:
    a. Decisions made before January 12, 2002, do not require a roads 
analysis.
    b. Decisions made after January 12, 2002, must be informed by a 
roads analysis.
    2. Forest-Scale Road Analyses. Every National Forest System 
administrative unit must have a forest-scale roads analysis completed 
by January 13, 2003, except as follows:
    a. Those units that will complete a forest plan revision or 
amendment by January 12, 2002, do not need to complete a forest-scale 
roads analysis (FSM 7712.1) prior to adopting the plan revision or 
amendment. However, these units are still required to complete a 
forest-scale roads analysis by January 13, 2003.
    b. Those units that have begun revision or amendment of their 
forest plans but will not adopt a final revision or final amendment by 
January 12, 2002, must complete a roads analysis prior to adoption of 
the final plan revision or amendment.
    c. Where additional time is needed for completion of forest-scale 
roads analysis, a Forest Supervisor may request approval from the 
Regional Forester for an extension. In making such a request, the 
Forest Supervisor must provide a statement of the reason(s) the 
extension is needed.

[FR Doc. 01-21464 Filed 8-23-01; 8:45 am]
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