[Federal Register Volume 66, Number 245 (Thursday, December 20, 2001)]
[Notices]
[Pages 65796-65804]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 01-31276]



[[Page 65795]]

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Part V





Department of Agriculture





-----------------------------------------------------------------------



Forest Service



-----------------------------------------------------------------------



Forest Transportation System Analysis; Roadless Area Protection; Notice

Federal Register / Vol. 66 , No. 245 / Thursday, December 20, 2001 / 
Notices

[[Page 65796]]


-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

RIN 0596-AB90


Forest Transportation System Analysis; Roadless Area Protection

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of interim administrative directives, request for 
comment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: On January 12, 2001, corollary with revisions to the Forest 
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. One element of that policy authorized road 
construction and reconstruction in inventoried roadless areas and 
contiguous unroaded areas only if the Regional Forester determined that 
the project met a compelling need, a roads analysis was conducted, and 
an EIS prepared. The interim requirements were to remain in effect 
until each unit completed a forest-scale roads analysis and forest plan 
review, amendment, or revision. Following extensive roads analysis 
implementation training and field review of the entire road management 
policy, new Interim Directives (ID's) to Forest Service Manual Chapters 
1920 and 7710 have been issued. These ID's streamline, clarify, and 
consolidate, with related planning direction, the inventoried roadless 
area interim requirements. The new ID to FSM 7710 also clarifies the 
flexibility of line officers in determining the application of the 
roads analysis process. The intended effect is to improve the agency's 
ability to implement these policies consistently and to stabilize 
roadless area management. Comments are invited and will be considered 
in adoption of final revised directives.

DATES: Interim Directive Nos. 1920-2001-1 and 7710-2001-3 were 
effective December 14, 2001. Comments must be submitted in writing on 
or before February 19, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Written comments concerning these Interim Directives should 
be sent to USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy, P.O. Box 221150, Salt Lake 
City, UT, 84122; via e-mail to roads_id@fs.fed.us; or via facsimile to 
USFS CAT, Attention: Road Policy, at 801-517-1021.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Questions about this action should be 
addressed to Mike Ash, Deputy Director of Engineering, 703-605-4646, or 
Heidi Valetkevitch, Office of Communications, 202-205-0914.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Contents

 Background
 Revisions to Road Management Directives
 Regulatory Certifications
 Conclusion
 Revisions to Forest Service Road Mangement Directives
 Inventoried Roadless Areas

Background

    The Forest Service Road Management Strategy adopted January 12, 
2001, (66 FR 3219) consisted of revisions to the rules governing the 
Forest Transportation System at 36 CFR part 212 and revisions of the 
agency's administrative directives on the transportation system in 
Forest Service Manual (FSM) Chapter 7700 Zero Code and Chapter 7710, 
transportation atlas, records, and analysis. The rule directs the 
Responsible Official of each National Forest, Grassland, or other unit 
of the National Forest System to perform a comprehensive analysis of 
the road system within the unit and to document the overall forest 
transportation system in a transportation atlas.
    Issued concurrently with the final rule, the Forest Service 
administrative directives to FSM Chapter 7710 established standards for 
creation of the road atlas and for determining the scope and scale of 
roads analyses needed to inform road management decisions; that is, 
road construction, reconstruction, or decommissioning. Additionally, 
the revision of Forest Service Manual Chapter 7710 included interim 
requirements that, rather than addressing the transportation atlas, 
record, or analysis, imposed a significant restriction on road 
construction or reconstruction in inventoried roadless areas and 
contiguous unroaded areas until a forest-scale roads analysis was 
completed and incorporated into the Forest plan.
    Upon adoption of the road management rule and directives in January 
2001, the Forest Service began extensive implementation training on 
application of the science-based roads analysis process mandated by FSM 
7712.1; on creating the road atlas; and on complying with the other 
elements of the road management directives. Since the training began, 
many Forest Service transportation managers have informed the Chief's 
office that the deadlines for compliance are unworkable, considering 
the level of detail and the variety of information required and the 
amount of training necessary before the analysis can begin. Moreover, 
conducting the newly required roads analysis has, in some cases, 
conflicted with seasonal workload demands, especially in light of the 
need for restoration work after last year's devastating fire season. 
Additionally, pursuant to a late January memorandum from the 
President's Chief of Staff to cabinet members, the Secretary of 
Agriculture began a review of the roadless area rule, also adopted on 
January 12, 2001, and the Chief of the Forest Service undertook a 
review of the road management policy. These reviews have led the agency 
to initiate several Interim Directives (ID's).
    The first Interim Directive (ID No. 7710-2001-1, issued May 31, 
2001) reflected the Chief's goal of encouraging and relying on local 
expertise and authority over forest-level issues as much as possible. 
As adopted January 12, 2001, Forest Service Manual section 7712.15, 
paragraph 2a, (FSM 7712.15, para. 2a,) required, with some exceptions, 
all units to complete a forest-scale roads analysis by January 13, 
2003. Further, under paragraph 2b, of this section, only the Chief 
could approve an extension. Recognizing that Regional Foresters are 
better informed of particular management challenges facing individual 
national forests and grasslands and their annual programs of work, ID 
No. 7710-2001-1 (May 31, 2001) delegated the authority to extend the 
deadline for completing the forest-scale roads analysis to Regional 
Foresters. Secondly, in response to field concerns about the impending 
July 12 deadline by which all road management decisions must be 
informed by a roads analysis, ID No. 7710-2001-1 extended the deadline 
to January 12, 2002. Notice of the May 31 ID was published in the 
Federal Register on August 24, 2001 (66 FR 44590), with a request for 
comment.
    The Chief announced in a June 7, 2001, letter the importance of 
managing and protecting inventoried roadless areas as an important 
component of the National Forest System and that he would reserve the 
authority to make decisions, except in specific circumstances, 
regarding road management activities and timber harvesting in those 
areas. Two Interim Directives, ID No. 7710-2001-2 and ID No. 2400-2001-
3, were issued on July 27, 2001, to implement the Chief's announcement.
    In a letter to Regional Foresters dated June 12, 2001, the Deputy 
Chief for National Forest Systems, noting the Chief's June 7, 
announcement, asked Regional Foresters and Forest Supervisors to review 
the road management policy to identify any provisions that they believe 
should be revised.

[[Page 65797]]

    Responses from field units to the Deputy Chief's June 12 letter 
included the following recommendations:
    1. Retain the rule revisions at 36 CFR part 212 without change, as 
there are no burdensome or confusing provisions in the rule and FSM 
Chapter 7700 Zero Code or this directive;
    2. Allow for decisions to be made as close to the ground as 
practicable;
    3. Clarify the local manager's flexibility and discretion to 
conduct roads analysis for proposed actions (FSM Chapter 7710); and
    4. Limit the scope of the interim requirements (FSM 7712.16) to 
inventoried roadless areas, because of the ambiguities of identifying 
and mapping contiguous unroaded areas as described in FSM 7712.16 and 
because some of the maps of inventoried roadless areas cover some 
contiguous unroaded lands.
    In addition to these recommendations, the Forest Service recognized 
that the incremental issuance of directives on road management and 
roadless areas had caused confusion for some employees and the public 
alike and, therefore, that the agency needed to consolidate earlier 
directives in a way that clarified intent.

Revisions to Road Management Directives

    The review of the road management policy has resulted in the 
issuance of two new Interim Directives--one to FSM Chapter 7710--
Transportation Atlas, Records, and Analysis, and another to FSM Chapter 
1920--Land and Resource Management Planning. The changes related to the 
interim requirements are explained first, followed by identification of 
other changes to Chapter 7710.
     Interim Requirements (FSM 7712.16-7712.16d). When Chapter 
7710 was adopted in January 2001, it included a new section 7712.16 
entitled ``Interim Requirements for Road Construction/Reconstruction in 
Inventoried Roadless and Contiguous Unroaded Areas.'' This section was 
based on a similar section, entitled ``Transition Procedures,'' in the 
proposed policy published March 3, 2000, in Part III of the Federal 
Register (65 FR 11676-11693). This section of the proposed policy was 
controversial and was substantially revised in the final directive, 
both to strengthen restrictions on entering these areas and to clarify 
the agency's intent.
    As adopted, January 12, 2001, the interim requirements set out in 
FSM 7712.16-7712.16d provided the following:
    1. Road construction or reconstruction in inventoried roadless 
areas and contiguous unroaded areas could not be authorized unless 
there was a compelling need for the activity; an Environmental Impact 
Statement was prepared; a science-based roads analysis was conducted on 
the proposal; and the Regional Forester served as the Responsible 
Official.
    2. Examples of compelling needs for roads were provided. 
Additionally, the Regional Forester for the Alaska Region was given 
authority to determine that meeting market demand for timber from the 
Tongass National Forest constitutes a compelling need.
    3. Environmental mitigation or restoration activities on 
unclassified roads were appropriate but not reconstruction and 
maintenance of unclassified roads.
    4. Certain road management actions were exempted from the interim 
requirements:
    a. Roads needed for public health and safety in cases of imminent 
threat of catastrophic events threatening loss of life or property;
    b. Roads needed to conduct a response action under the 
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act 
(CERCLA) or to conduct a natural resource restoration under CERCLA, the 
Clean Water Act, or Oil Pollution Act; and
    c. Road construction needed in conjunction with the continuation, 
extension, or renewal of an existing mineral lease or issuance of a new 
lease upon expiration of an existing lease.
    Based on the internal review of the road management direction (FSM 
7712.16-7712.16d), the agency has made several modifications to the 
interim requirements.
    1. Contiguous Unroaded Areas. Given the difficulty of identifying 
contiguous unroaded areas, the agency has concluded that the interim 
requirements of FSM 7712.16b could be interpreted as preventing the 
agency from undertaking any road management activity within proximity 
of an inventoried roadless area. This ambiguity would lead to confusion 
and inconsistencies across the agency. Moreover, the protection of 
unroaded values should not be determined solely on the basis of 
acreage, which is the approach adopted in the January directive. 
Instead, the boundaries of unroaded areas should be based on conditions 
and characteristics of the landscape and identified within the context 
of land and resource management planning. The agency already has a 
regulatory requirement to review inventoried roadless areas during the 
forest plan revision process. At that time, the Responsible Official 
determines the need to add contiguous land or to subtract from 
previously identified inventoried roadless areas and establishes their 
management direction. For all these reasons, the agency has removed 
``contiguous unroaded areas'' from the interim requirements.
    2. EIS Requirement. The agency also has dropped the requirement for 
an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for road management activities 
proposed in inventoried roadless areas. The National Environmental 
Planning Act (NEPA) rules and procedures established by the Council on 
Environmental Quality (CEQ) govern the level of analysis required when 
the agency considers proposed actions. Briefly, under the Act and CEQ 
regulations, it is the nature of a proposed action that determines the 
environmental analysis and documentation required. A blanket 
requirement for an EIS would result in needless expenditures of public 
resources in those cases where only minor surface disturbance would 
occur. In fact, in the course of the agency's review of the interim 
requirements, a number of forests reported situations where a new road 
or road reconstruction would traverse a quarter mile or less of 
roadless areas and, therefore, require preparation of an EIS, even 
though the effects would be so minimal as to be sufficiently disclosed 
in an Environmental Assessment. Several of these situations were 
reported to be impeding access to oil and gas leasing or other mining 
operations.
    Removal of the EIS requirement does not reduce the agency's 
environmental analysis and disclosure obligation. The Forest Service 
has a directive provision that requires preparation of an EIS whenever 
any activity would substantially alter the character of an inventoried 
roadless area (FSH 1909.15, sec. 20.6). All projects remain subject to 
NEPA requirements. Involvement by the public, States, Tribes, and other 
interested parties will continue to help identify the issues to be 
addressed related to inventoried roadless areas, and issues associated 
with roadless values will continue to be addressed through roads 
analysis and compliance with regulations and procedures of NEPA, 40 CFR 
part 1500-1508, and Forest Service Handbook 1909.15.
    3. Relocation of Interim Requirements. In addition to the preceding 
modifications, the agency has concluded that the interim requirements 
should be removed from Chapter 7710 because the primary focus of 
Chapter

[[Page 65798]]

7710 is on transportation records and analysis, not protection of 
special areas. Consequently, the modified interim requirements have 
been moved to a new section 1925 in the planning chapter of the Forest 
Service Manual (FSM Chapter 1920) to provide guidance for addressing 
road management activities until land management plans are amended or 
revised. With this change, Chapter 7710 now focuses appropriately on 
transportation analysis needed to make better decisions about the scope 
and funding of the transportation network on each National Forest, 
Grassland, and Prairie. This relocation of the interim requirements to 
Chapter 1920 remains consistent with the agency's intent in adopting 
the final road management directive in January 2001. As explained in 
the January Federal Register notice, the agency retained the transition 
procedures of the proposed policy (renamed ``interim requirements'' in 
the final directive) to ensure that the ``values associated with 
inventoried roadless and contiguous unroaded areas are fully considered 
within the context of forest planning'' (66 FR 3226, Col. 3).
    Therefore, simultaneously with issuance of the latest ID No. 7710-
2001-3, the agency has issued Interim Directive No. 1920-2001-1 to 
consolidate the direction on inventoried roadless areas. This ID 
establishes a policy of protecting the values of these areas and 
restricts entry for road management activities or timber harvest until 
a forest scale roads analysis is incorporated into the forest plan. ID 
No. 1920-2001-1 also incorporates the protections for roadless areas 
announced by the Chief on June 7, 2001, which were issued in ID Nos. 
7710-2001-2 and 2400-2001-3. These previous ID's reserved to the Chief 
the authority to approve certain road management activities and timber 
harvest in inventoried roadless areas.
     Scope and Scale of Roads Analysis. The other substantive 
revision of the road management policy in FSM Chapter 7710 is to 
clarify the local Responsible Official's discretion and flexibility to 
conduct roads analysis. While the January 2001 directive provided for 
discretion, many employees did not interpret the directive as allowing 
much flexibility. Therefore, FSM 7712.13 has been revised to make 
clearer the use of roads analysis at each of the various scales and the 
actions that are subject to roads analysis. Also, in response to field 
employee queries, examples of circumstances where roads analysis may 
not be necessary have been added to FSM 7712.13c. These include 
temporary roads for short-term access or a minor extension of a road 
into a forest campground. Additionally, Exhibit 01 of FSM 7712.13 has 
been modified to reflect the removal of the interim requirements from 
FSM Chapter 7710.

Regulatory Certifications

Regulatory Impact

    This notice has been reviewed under USDA procedures and Executive 
Order 12866 on Regulatory Planning and Review. The Office of Management 
and Budget (OMB) has reviewed this notice and has determined it 
constitutes a significant action as defined by Executive Order 12866. 
ID No. 7710-2001-3 provides Service-wide direction to forest and 
regional personnel about analyzing, planning for, and managing the 
forest transportation system. ID No. 1920-2001-1 relocates interim 
requirements regarding inventoried roadless areas from FSM 7712 and FSM 
2400 to Chapter 1920.
    The costs and benefits of these Interim Directives are necessarily 
speculative. These directives revise a strategy that provides guidance 
for transportation planning, but does not dictate land management 
decisions. Therefore, the agency has chosen to perform a qualitative 
analysis. As with the effects identified in the Environmental 
Assessment, the costs and benefits associated with the revisions made 
by the Interim Directives fall within the range of the Cost-Benefit 
Analysis (Appendix E) prepared for the January 2001 policy. With the 
changes made by the Interim Directives, FS estimates that these Interim 
Directives will have an overall positive economic benefit compared to 
the January 2001 final policy. In the Environmental Assessment, the 
Cost-Benefit Analysis (Appendix E) cited a reduction in direct and 
total jobs as well as timber receipts as a result of the decrease in 
timber harvest and mineral exploration and extraction in inventoried 
roadless areas and contiguous unroaded areas as negative effects of the 
January 2001 policy. The costs of the January 2001 road management 
policy were based on estimates of miles of road to be constructed or 
reconstructed and loss of jobs associated with reduced timber harvest 
in inventoried roadless areas and contiguous unroaded areas. The Forest 
Service estimated that the eventual implementation of the preferred 
alternative/final road management strategy on all National Forests 
could result in an annual decrease in timber harvesting by as much as 
170 million board feet, a decrease of 5 percent from current levels if 
no roads were constructed in any inventoried roadless or contiguous 
unroaded areas for the purpose of serving timber harvests. This 
represents a value of 1,039 direct jobs and 1,850 total jobs 
nationwide. However, in the January EA, it was pointed out that this 
level of impact was highly unlikely. Since the modified road management 
policy removes contiguous unroaded areas from the interim requirements, 
it will be even more unlikely that these levels of impacts would be 
reached. Additionally, dropping the mandatory requirement to prepare an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for all road management activities 
proposed in inventoried roadless areas and contiguous unroaded areas 
will eliminate needless expenditures of public resources in those cases 
where an EIS would not be appropriate.
    Under the new Interim Directives, the values and characteristics of 
these contiguous unroaded areas will still be considered through the 
roads analysis process, NEPA analysis, and forest planning procedures. 
Consequently, the agency believes that these areas will not necessarily 
be at greater risk of road construction/reconstruction, or resource 
development than was the case when they were subject to the interim 
requirements of the January 2001 policy. Implementation of the final 
road management strategy as modified by these Interim Directives would 
still result in additional protection of watersheds and air resources; 
wildlife; fish; and threatened, endangered, and sensitive species. It 
would also still reduce access to some forest resources and the 
economic and social values associated with those resources. Thus, the 
impacts of these Directives would fall between the impacts described in 
the January 2001 Environmental Assessment and accompanying Cost-Benefit 
Analysis. However, while necessarily speculative, the Forest Service 
estimates the economic impacts under these Interim Directives will 
likely be less severe than the estimated impacts associated with the 
January 2001 policy.
    These Interim Directives also have been considered in light of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 USC 601 et seq.). No direct or indirect 
financial impact on small businesses or other entities has been 
identified. Therefore, it is hereby certified that this action will not 
have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small 
entities as defined by the Act.

Unfunded Mandates

    Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 
USC

[[Page 65799]]

1531-1538), the Department has assessed the effects of these Interim 
Directives on State, local, and Tribal governments, and on the private 
sector. These directives do not compel the expenditure of $100 million 
or more by any State, local, or Tribal government, or anyone in the 
private sector. Therefore, a statement under section 202 of the Act is 
not required.

Federalism

    The agency has considered these Interim Directives under the 
requirements of Executive Order 13132, Federalism, and Executive Order 
12875, Government Partnerships. The agency has made a preliminary 
assessment that the Directives conform with the federalism principles 
set out in these Executive Orders; would not impose any compliance 
costs on the States; and would 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. Moreover, these directives address 
transportation and land management planning processes on National 
Forests, Grasslands or other units of the National Forest System, which 
do not directly affect the States. Based on comments received on these 
directives, the agency will consider if any additional consultation 
will be needed with State and local governments prior to adopting final 
directives.

Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    These Interim Directives do not have Tribal implications as defined 
in Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian 
Tribal Governments, and, therefore, advance consultation with Tribes is 
not required.

Environmental Impact

    Section 31.1(b) of Forest Service Handbook 1909.15 (57 FR 43180, 
September 18, 1992) excludes from documentation in an environmental 
impact statement ``rules, regulations, or policies to establish 
service-wide administrative procedures, program processes, or 
instructions.'' The Forest Service's assessment is that these new 
Interim Directives to the Forest Service Manual fall within this 
category of exclusion. However, the Forest Service elected to prepare 
an Environmental Assessment (EA) in association with development of the 
January 12, 2001, administrative policy. In that EA (issued January 
2001), the Forest Service examined the potential environmental impacts 
associated with road policy in effect prior to January 12, 2001, (the 
``no action'' alternative), the road management strategy as originally 
proposed in March 2000, and the final road management strategy 
ultimately adopted January 12, 2001. These impacts arose, for the most 
part, from the interim requirements associated with inventoried 
roadless areas and contiguous unroaded areas. They included both 
potential adverse and beneficial impacts to access and public safety; 
fire, insect, and disease management; timber harvesting and mineral 
resource development; recreational and non-recreational land uses; fish 
and wildlife; wilderness values; watershed and air; and social and 
economic effects.
    Overall, the Forest Service expected that, under the final road 
management strategy analyzed in the EA, more miles of roads would be 
decommissioned and reconstructed than under the ``no-action'' 
alternative, and fewer miles of roads would be constructed than under 
the ``no-action'' alternative. Under the latest Interim Directives to 
FSM Chapters 1920 and 7710, more miles of roads could be constructed or 
reconstructed in unroaded areas contiguous to inventoried roadless 
areas than expected under the final road management strategy adopted in 
January 12, 2001, but there will still be less than the miles of roads 
than would be constructed or reconstructed under the ``no action'' 
alternative.
    However, given the difficulty of identifying contiguous unroaded 
areas, the number of miles of road cannot be quantified. As a 
consequence of using the science-based roads analysis process, 
implementation of the final road management strategy as modified by 
these Interim Directives would still result in additional protection of 
watersheds and air resources; wildlife; fish; and threatened, 
endangered, and sensitive species. It would also reduce access to some 
forest resources and the economic and social values associated with 
those resources. Thus, the impacts of these new Interim Directives 
would fall between the impacts described in the January EA for the 
``no-action'' alternative and those described for the final road 
management strategy.
    Because the impacts would fall within the impacts described in the 
January Road Management Strategy EA, there is no need to modify or 
reissue the EA prior to issuing these Interim Directives. A new Finding 
of No Significant Impact (FONSI) has been prepared and is available on 
the Internet at www.fs.fed.us/news/roads, or by writing to the Director 
of Engineering at the address shown earlier in this notice.

Civil Justice Reform Act

    The Interim Directives were reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. The Interim Directives direct the work of Forest 
Service employees and are not intended to preempt any State and local 
laws and regulations that might be in conflict or that would impede 
full implementation of these Directives. The ID's would not 
retroactively affect existing permits, contracts, or other instruments 
authorizing the occupancy and use of National Forest System lands and 
would not require the institution of administrative proceedings before 
parties may file suit in court challenging these provisions.

Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public

    The Interim Directive does not contain any record keeping or 
reporting requirements or other information collection requirements as 
defined in 5 CFR part 1320 and, therefore, impose no paperwork burden 
on the public. Accordingly, the review provisions of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act of 1995 (44 USC 3501, et seq.) and implementing 
regulations at 5 CFR part 1320 do not apply.

Energy Effects

    The effects on energy supply and distribution resulting from these 
Interim Directives were reviewed under Executive Order 13211 of May 18. 
It was determined that removing the mandatory EIS requirement 
provisions in FSM 7712.16 will expedite access to oil and gas leases 
and other energy related projects in a few cases. Otherwise, no other 
effects were identified. Because these Directives do not significantly 
affect energy supply, distribution, or use, a Statement of Energy 
Effects is not required. Additionally, these Interim Directives are 
also consistent with the intent of the Executive Order 13212 of May 18, 
2001, Actions to Expedite Energy Related Projects.

Conclusion

    Following the issuance of the road management policy and the 
roadless area conservation rule on January 12, 2001, the Department and 
the agency have reviewed those documents to determine if there are 
impediments to implementation. ID No. 7710-2001-3 represents the 
culmination of the agency's internal reviews of these practices. With 
this action, interim requirements related to road construction and 
reconstruction in inventoried roadless areas are separated from the 
roads analysis direction and,

[[Page 65800]]

instead, revised and relocated to a new section 1925 in FSM Chapter 
1920--Land and Resource Management Planning. Additionally, ID No. 1920-
2001-1 reflects the decision to remove ``contiguous unroaded areas'' 
from the scope of the interim requirements. In ID No. 7710-2001-3, FSM 
7710.13 is revised to clarify the line officer's discretion and 
flexibility to determine the scope and scale of roads analysis needed 
to inform road management decisions. The May 31 Interim Directive also 
is incorporated into this new Interim Directive.
    These ID's remove implementation impediments associated with the 
road management strategy and roadless area conservation. As a 
consequence, the agency can fulfill its commitment to improve 
decisionmaking associated with road construction, reconstruction, and 
decommissioning and its commitment to protect and conserve roadless 
areas.
    Normally, when the agency determines that public notice and 
opportunity to comment are necessary on a Forest Service Manual 
revision, the agency publishes a proposed revision with a minimum 60-
day comment period. The agency then considers the comments, makes any 
changes, drafts and publishes a final Federal Register notice 
explaining the final directive and the rationale for any changes. At a 
minimum, this process takes 6 months and usually takes 9-12 months. 
Such a delay in revising the road management policy would perpetuate 
uncertainty and confusion when undertaking decisions that involve road 
management activities. The agency could also incur environmental 
analysis costs that would be disproportionate to the potential effects 
in inventoried roadless areas and delay access to oil and gas leases, 
or other mining operations.
    Consequently, the agency has elected to issue Interim Directives 
and to make them immediately effective. An Interim Directive expires 18 
months from issuance and may be reissued only once for a total duration 
of 36 months. Thereafter, the direction must be incorporated into an 
amendment or allowed to expire.
    In the meantime, public comment is invited and will be considered 
in adopting a final policy. The agency will consider all comments 
received in determining a final policy. Respondents should note that 
greater weight is given to original substantive comments than to post 
cards, forms, questionnaires, or duplicated letters or messages. Only 
the sections of FSM 7710 that are being revised are set out at the end 
of this notice along with the text of the roadless area Interim 
Directive No. 1920-2001-1. The full text of Chapter 7710 and 1920-2001-
1 is available on the World Wide Web at http://
www.fs.fed.us.directives. Single paper copies are available upon 
request from the address and phone numbers listed earlier in this 
notice as well as from the nearest National Forest Office or Regional 
Office, the location of which are also available on the headquarters 
homepage on the World Wide Web at http://www.fs.fed.us.
    The agency recognizes that the issuance of five Interim Directives 
on roadless areas and road management may be confusing to the public. 
Had the agency been able to undertake and complete the overview of the 
road management policy before issuing the roadless area Interim 
Directives, the sequence of revision to agency policy would have flowed 
in a more understandable manner. However, roadless litigation on the 
roadless area conservation rule required the agency and the Department 
to address roadless areas first.
    Charts are provided at the end of this notice to assist readers in 
tracking the various actions and modifications of the roadless area 
rule and the road management policy since January 12, 2001. The first 
chart is organized by policy or rule; the second, by date, in 
chronological order.
    Comments received in response to Federal Register notices of 
earlier Interim Directives (ID No. 7700-2001-1, ID No. 7700-2001-2, 
2400-2001-3) will be considered along with comments received on the 
Interim Directives that are the subject of this notice.

    Dated: October 9, 2001.
Sally D. Collins,
Associate Chief.

Revisions to Forest Service Road Management Directives

    Note: The Forest Service organizes its directive system by 
alphanumeric codes and subject headings. Only those sections of the 
Forest Service Manual that are the subject of this notice are set 
forth here. Those who wish to see the entire document in which the 
changes are being incorporated may do so at www.fs.fed.us/news/
roads. In the directives that follow, Forest Service employees 
charged with decisionmaking responsibilities concerning the National 
Forest Transportation System are referred to as Responsible 
Officials and are the intended audience of these administrative 
directives.

FSM TITLE 7700--TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM

Chapter 7710--Transportation Atlas, Records, and Analysis

    Interim Directive No. 7710-2001-3.
    Effective Date: December 14, 2001.
    Duration: 18 months from effective date.
    Approved: SALLY D. COLLINS, Associate Chief.


7710.42  Regional Forester

    It is the responsibility of the Regional Forester to:
    1. Ensure that roads analysis is a component of sub-basin, multi-
Forest, and sub-regional scale assessments.
    2. Develop multi-year regional schedules of proposed transportation 
facility projects (FSM 1920).
    3. Establish policy for traffic surveillance and classification to 
be used in transportation analysis (FSM 7731.5).
    4. Coordinate State and Federal transportation involvement in land 
and resource management planning to ensure that their plans are 
included in land management policy development and that their policy 
development has the benefit of Forest plans.
    5. To determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether or not to approve 
a Forest Supervisor request for additional time to complete a forest-
scale roads analysis.
    6. Oversee and evaluate the use of roads analysis process within 
the Region (FSM 7712.1).
* * * * *


7712.13  Scope and Scale of Roads Analysis

    There are multiple scales at which roads analysis may be conducted 
to inform road management decisions. Generally, road management 
decisions should be informed by roads analysis at a broad scale. 
Accordingly, all units of the National Forest System must conduct a 
forest-scale roads analysis (FSM 7712.13b and FSM 7712.15).
    The Responsible Official has the discretion and duty to determine 
whether or not a roads analysis below the forest-scale is needed and 
the degree of detail that is appropriate and practicable. Guidance on 
selecting the appropriate scale and those proposed actions which may 
trigger a need for a roads analysis is set forth in FSM 7712.13, 
paragraphs a-c.
* * * * *


7712.13c  Roads Analysis at the Watershed and Project Scale

    Roads analysis at the forest-scale will generally provide the 
context for informing road management decisions and activities at the 
watershed, area, and project level. Where a forest-scale roads analysis 
has been conducted, the Responsible Official must consider the 
decision(s) to be made and determine how to apply the results of the 
forest-scale roads analysis to best inform

[[Page 65801]]

management decisions. However, it is generally expected that road 
inventories and road condition assessments as identified in FSM 7712.14 
would be completed at the watershed or project scale, not the forest-
scale.
    When higher scale analyses are not available to inform a project 
decision, the Responsible Official must consider the decisions to be 
made (FSM 7712.13) and the potential environmental and access effects 
and determine whether or not additional analysis is needed at the 
watershed or project scale. Roads analysis below the forest-scale is 
not automatically required, but may be undertaken at the discretion of 
the Responsible Official. When the Responsible Official determines that 
additional analysis is not needed for a project, the Responsible 
Official must document the basis for that conclusion. Examples where 
roads analysis may not be necessary include: temporary roads for short-
term access; or a minor extension of a campground road.
    When proposed road management activities (road construction, 
reconstruction, and decommissioning) would result in changes in access, 
such as changes in current use, traffic patterns, and road standards, 
or where there may be adverse effects on soil and water resources, 
ecological processes, or biological communities, those decisions must 
be informed by roads analysis (FSM 7712.1). Site-specific projects may 
be informed by a watershed roads analysis, if the Responsible Official 
determines that the scope and scale of issues under consideration 
warrants such use. FSM 7712.13, exhibit 01, provides a snapshot of the 
scope and scale of roads analysis and its integration into planning and 
decisionmaking.
    When needed, the outcomes of roads analysis at the watershed and 
area-scale would result, at a minimum, in the following:
    1. Identification of needed and unneeded roads.
    2. Identification of road associated environmental and public 
safety risks.
    3. Identification of site-specific priorities and opportunities for 
road improvements and decommissioning.
    4. Identification of areas of special sensitivity, unique resource 
values, or both.
    5. Any other specific information that may be needed to support 
project-level decisions.
* * * * *


7712.15  Deadlines for Completing Roads Analyses

    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, except as provided in FSM 7712.13c.
    2. Forest-Scale Roads 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.

Inventoried Roadless Areas

FSM TITLE 1900--PLANNING

Chapter 1920--Land and Resource Management Planning

    Interim Directive No. 1920-2001-1.
    Effective Date: December 14, 2001.
    Duration: 18 months from effective date.
    Approved: SALLY D. COLLINS, Associate Chief.

FSM 1925--Management of Inventoried Roadless Areas


1925.03  Policy

    Inventoried roadless areas contain important environmental values 
that warrant protection. Accordingly, until a forest-scale roads 
analysis (FSM 7712.13b) is completed and incorporated into a forest 
plan, inventoried roadless areas shall, as a general rule, be managed 
to preserve their roadless characteristics. However, where a line 
officer determines that an exception may be warranted, the decision to 
approve a road management activity or timber harvest in these areas is 
reserved to the Chief or the Regional Forester as provided in FSM 
1925.04a and 1925.04b.


1925.04  Responsibility


1925.04a  Chief

    The Chief reserves the following:
    1. The authority to approve or disapprove road construction or 
reconstruction in inventoried roadless areas (FSM 1925.05) except those 
decisions delegated to the Regional Foresters at FSM 1925.04b, 
paragraph 1.
    This reservation remains in effect until a forest-scale roads 
analysis is completed and incorporated into each forest plan (FSM 
7712.13b). When an inventoried roadless area road construction, road 
reconstruction, or timber harvest decision falls under the Chief's 
authority, the Chief, for purposes of administrative efficiency and 
timeliness, may designate, on a case-by-case basis by official 
memorandum, the Associate Chief, a Deputy Chief, or an Associate Deputy 
Chief to serve as the Responsible Official.
    2. The authority to approve or disapprove proposed timber harvest 
in inventoried roadless areas, except for the following:
    a. The timber is generally small-diameter material and the removal 
of timber is needed for one of the following purposes:
    (1) To improve habitat for listed or proposed threatened and 
endangered species, or for sensitive species (FSM 2670), or
    (2) To maintain or restore the desirable characteristics of 
ecosystem composition and structure, for example, to reduce the risk of 
uncharacteristic wildfire effects.
    b. The cutting, sale, or removal of timber is incidental to the 
implementation of a management activity and not otherwise prohibited 
under the land and resource management plan.
    c. The cutting, sale, or removal of timber is needed and 
appropriate for personal or administrative use as provided for in part 
223 of Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations (36 CFR Part 223).
    d. The harvest is in a portion of an inventoried roadless area 
where construction of a classified road and subsequent timber harvest 
have previously taken place, and the roadless area characteristics have 
been substantially altered by those activities.

[[Page 65802]]

    This reservation applies until revision of a land and resource 
management plan or adoption of a plan amendment that has considered the 
protection and management of inventoried roadless areas (FSM 1923). If 
a Record of Decision for a Forest Plan revision has been issued as of 
July 27, 2001, the requirement for the Chief's review does not apply. 
By official memorandum, the Chief may designate, on a case-by-case 
basis, the Associate Chief, a Deputy Chief, or an Associate Deputy 
Chief to serve as the Responsible Official.
    The delegation of authority to approve or disapprove the timber 
harvest projects described in preceding paragraphs a through d; remain 
unchanged by this Interim Directive (FSM 2404.2).


1925.04b  Regional Forester

    It is the responsibility of the Regional Forester to:
    1. Serve as the Responsible Official for any of the following 
decisions on a road construction or reconstruction project in an 
inventoried roadless area:
    a. A road is needed to protect public health and safety in cases of 
an imminent threat of flood, fire, or other catastrophic event, that 
without intervention would cause the loss of life or property.
    b. A road is needed to conduct a response action under the 
Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act 
(CERCLA) or to conduct a natural restoration action under CERCLA, 
section 311 of the Clean Water Act, or Oil Pollution Act.
    c. Road construction is needed in conjunction with the 
continuation, extension, or renewal of a mineral lease on lands that 
are under lease by the Secretary of the Interior as of January 12, 
2001.
    d. Road access is needed pursuant to reserved or outstanding rights 
or as provided by statute or treaty.
    e. A road is needed for critical resource restoration and 
protection.
    f. Road realignment is needed to prevent resource damage by an 
existing road that is deemed essential for public or private access, 
management, or public health or safety, and where such damage cannot be 
corrected by maintenance.
    g. A road is needed to restore wildlife habitat.
    2. Review and determine whether to recommend to the Chief a 
decision for any road construction or reconstruction project in an 
inventoried roadless area within the Chief's decision authority (sec. 
1925.04a, para. 1).
    3. For road construction, reconstruction, and timber management 
projects in inventoried roadless areas where it has been determined 
that an environmental impact statement EIS is required, review and 
agree to the purpose and need statements for the notice of intent to 
prepare an (EIS).
    4. Review and determine whether to recommend to the Chief a 
decision for any timber harvest project in inventoried roadless areas 
within the Chief's decision authority (sec. 1925.04a, para. 2).


1925.05  Definitions

    Inventoried Roadless Areas. Those areas identified in a set of 
inventoried roadless area maps, contained in Forest Service Roadless 
Area Conservation, Final Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 2, 
dated November 2000, which are held at the National headquarters of the 
Forest Service, or any update, correction, or revision of those maps.
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P

[[Page 65803]]

[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN20DE01.004


[[Page 65804]]


[GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] TN20DE01.005

[FR Doc. 01-31276 Filed 12-19-01; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-C