[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 39 (Wednesday, February 27, 2013)]
[Notices]
[Pages 13316-13319]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04470]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

RIN 0596-AD06


National Forest System Land Management Planning Directives

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of issuance of agency proposed directives; request for 
comment.

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SUMMARY: The Forest Service has issued proposed directives to Forest 
Service Handbook (FSH 1909.12) and Manual (FSM 1920) establishing 
procedures and responsibilities for implementing the

[[Page 13317]]

National Forest System (NFS) land management planning regulation. 
Issuance of these proposed directives will provide consistent overall 
guidance to Forest Service Line Officers and Agency employees in 
developing, amending, or revising land management plans for units of 
the NFS. Public comment is invited and will be considered in developing 
the final directives.

DATES: Comments must be received in writing by April 29, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments concerning the proposed directives through 
one of the following methods:
    1. Public participation portal: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?Project=30641. Comments may also be 
provided through the Federal rulemaking portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    2. Facsimile: Fax to: 503.224.1851. Please identify your comments 
by including ``RIN 0596-AD06'' or ``planning directives'' on the cover 
sheet or the first page.
    3. U.S. Postal Service: The mailing address is: USDA Forest Service 
Planning Directives Comments, P.O. Box 40088, Portland, OR 97240.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Annie Eberhart Goode, Planning 
Specialist, Ecosystem Management Coordination Staff, 202-205-1056 or 
703-605-4478.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Forest Service has issued proposed 
directives to Forest Service Handbook (FSH 1909.12) and Manual (FSM 
1920) establishing procedures and responsibilities for implementing the 
National Forest System (NFS) land management planning regulation set 
out at 36 CFR part 219. This promulgated rule was published in the 
Federal Register on April 9, 2012 (77 FR 21161).

Public Participation

    Please note that the Forest Service will not be able to receive 
hand-delivered comments. In addition, please note that all comments, 
including names and addresses when provided, will be placed in the 
record and available for public inspection and copying. The Agency 
cannot confirm receipt of comments. Individuals wishing to inspect 
comments should call Jody Sutton at 801-517-1020 to schedule an 
appointment.
    These proposed directives are a revision of Forest Service Handbook 
(FSH) 1919.12 and Forest Service Manual (FSM) 1920. Copies of the 
proposed directives are available on the World Wide Web/Internet at 
http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/planningrule/directives. Copies may be 
obtained by contacting one of the following Regional Offices:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
            Region                  Phone No.             Address
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Northern Region--R1...........       406-329-3511  Street Address: 200
                                                    E. Broadway,
                                                    Missoula, MT 59802.
                                .................  Mailing address: P.O.
                                                    Box 7669, Missoula,
                                                    MT 59807-7669.
Rocky Mountain Region--R2.....       303-275-5350  Street Address: 740
                                                    Simms St., Golden,
                                                    CO 80401.
                                                   Mailing address: P.O.
                                                    Box 25127, Lakewood,
                                                    CO 80225-0127.
Southwestern Region--R3.......       505-842-3292  333 Broadway SE.,
                                                    Albuquerque, NM
                                                    87102.
Intermountain Region--R4......       801-625-5605  324 25th Street,
                                                    Ogden, UT 84401.
Pacific Southwest Region--R5..       707-562-8737  1323 Club Drive,
                                                    Vallejo, CA 94592.
Pacific Northwest Region--R6..       503-808-2468  Street Address: 333
                                                    SW. First Avenue,
                                                    Portland, Oregon
                                                    97204.
                                                   Mailing address: P.O.
                                                    Box 3623, Portland,
                                                    OR 97208-3623.
Southern Region--R8...........       404-347-4095  1720 Peachtree Rd.
                                                    NW., Atlanta, GA
                                                    30309.
Eastern Region--R9............       414-297-3600  626 East Wisconsin
                                                    Ave. Milwaukee, WI
                                                    53202.
Alaska Region--R10............       907-586-8806  P.O. Box 21628,
                                                    Juneau, AK 99802-
                                                    1628.
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    Readers are encouraged to obtain a copy of the proposed directives 
to formulate their comments and provide input for the development of 
the final planning directives.

Background

    On April 9, 2012, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (Department 
or USDA) adopted final planning regulations for the NFS at 36 CFR part 
219 (77 FR 21161). These regulations, known collectively as the 2012 
Planning Rule, provide broad programmatic direction in developing and 
carrying out land management planning. The rule explicitly directs the 
Chief of the Forest Service to establish planning procedures in the 
Forest Service Directives System (36 CFR 219.1(c)).
    The Forest Service is implementing the 2012 Planning Rule. Those 
responsible officials that are implementing the 2012 Planning Rule must 
follow the regulations at 36 CFR 219 and applicable existing Forest 
Service Directives until they are superseded.
    The Forest Service Directives System consist of the Forest Service 
Manual (FSM) and the Forest Service Handbook (FSH), which contain the 
Agency's policies, practices, and procedures, and serves as the primary 
basis for the internal management and control of programs and 
administrative direction to Forest Service employees. The directives 
for all Agency programs are set out on the World Wide Web/Internet at 
http://www.fs.fed.us/im/directives.
    Specifically, the FSM contains legal authorities, objectives, 
policies, responsibilities, instructions, and guidance needed on a 
continuing basis by Forest Service Line Officers and primary staff to 
plan and execute programs and activities. The FSH is the principal 
source of specialized guidance and instruction for carrying out the 
policies, objectives, and responsibilities contained in the FSM.
    For these proposed directives, both the FSM and the FSH provide 
policy direction, objectives, instructions, and guidance for Forest 
Service Line Officers and primary staff to plan and execute the process 
of developing, revising, amending, and making administrative changes to 
plans.

Content of Proposed Directives

    The following is an overview of the contents of the proposed 
directives.

FSM 1920--Land Management Planning Manual

    This Forest Service Manual describes a process for developing, 
revising, amending, and making administrative changes to land 
management plans for the National Forest System (NFS). It includes 
authorities and responsibilities. It should be used in conjunction with 
the FSH.

FSH 1909.12--Land Management Planning Handbook

    This FSH provides policy direction, objectives, instructions and 
guidance for the process of developing, revising, amending, and making 
administrative changes to plans for the NFS. It includes authorities 
and responsibilities.

[[Page 13318]]

Zero Code

    The section known as the zero code contains authorities, 
responsibilities, and select definitions applicable to subsequent 
chapters.

Chapter 10--The Assessment

    This chapter describes the procedures for writing an assessment for 
development, amendment, or revision of land management plans.

Chapter 20--Land Management Plan

    This chapter describes the land management plan under the 2012 
Planning Rule and explains the procedures for developing, amending, and 
revising land management plans.

Chapter 30--Monitoring

    This chapter describes the plan monitoring program, broader-scale 
monitoring strategy, and biennial evaluation of the monitoring 
information for land management planning.

Chapter 40--Key Processes Supporting Land Management Planning

    This chapter describes the adaptive management framework, use of 
best available scientific information, public participation and the 
role of collaboration, and tribal consultation as it relates to land 
management plans.

Chapter 50--Objection Process

    This chapter describes the process for the public to seek 
administrative review of plans, plan revisions, and plan amendments 
before their approval. This process is referred to as the objection 
process.

Chapter 60--Forest Vegetation Resource Planning

    This chapter provides procedures for developing plan components and 
other plan content to meet National Forest Management Act (NFMA) and 
planning rule requirements for identifying lands that are not suitable 
for timber production, plan components for timber harvest for timber 
production or other purposes, limitations on timber harvest, and 
display of the planned timber sale program.

Chapter 70--Wilderness Evaluation

    This chapter describes the process for identifying and evaluating 
lands that may be suitable for inclusion in the National Wilderness 
Preservation System and determining whether to recommend any such lands 
for wilderness designation.

Chapter 80--Wild and Scenic River Evaluation

    This chapter describes the process for identifying and evaluating 
potential additions to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. This 
chapter also addresses interim management of river segments determined 
to be eligible and suitable, documentation of study results, as well as 
the process for notifying Congress of agency wild and scenic river 
recommendations.

Chapter 90--References

    This chapter contains exhibits or references not easily found 
electronically.

Regulatory Certifications

Regulatory Impact

    This notice has been reviewed under USDA procedures and Executive 
Order (E.O.) 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review. The Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) has reviewed this notice and has determined 
that it is a significant action. The proposed directives would not have 
an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy nor adversely 
affect productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health 
or safety, nor State or local governments. The proposed directives 
would not interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency 
nor raise new legal or policy issues. Finally, the proposed directives 
would not alter the budgetary impact of entitlements, grants, user 
fees, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of recipients of 
such programs.
    Moreover, the proposed directives have been considered in light of 
E.O. 13272 regarding proper consideration of small entities and the 
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), 
which amended the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.). No 
direct or indirect financial impact on small businesses or other 
entities has been identified. Therefore, it is hereby certified that 
these proposed directives will not have a significant economic impact 
on a substantial number of small entities as defined by the act.

Environmental Impact

    These proposed directives provide the detailed direction to agency 
employees necessary to carry out the provisions of the final 2012 
Planning Rule adopted at 36 CFR part 219 governing land management 
planning. Forest Service Handbook 1909.15, section 31.12 (57 FR 43208; 
September 18, 1992) excludes from documentation in an environmental 
assessment or impact statement ``rules, regulations, or policies to 
establish Service-wide administrative procedures, program processes, or 
instructions.'' The Agency's conclusion is that these proposed 
directives fall within this category of actions and that no 
extraordinary circumstances exist as currently defined that require 
preparation of an environmental assessment or an environmental impact 
statement.

No Takings Implications

    These proposed directives have been analyzed in accordance with the 
principles and criteria contained in E.O. 12360, Governmental Actions 
and Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights, and 
it has been determined that they would not pose the risk of a taking of 
private property as they are limited to the establishment of 
administrative procedures.

Energy Effects

    These proposed directives have been analyzed under E.O. 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. It has been determined that they do not 
constitute a significant energy action as defined in the Executive 
Order.

Civil Justice Reform

    These proposed directives have been reviewed under E.O. 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. These proposed directives will 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 directives would 
not retroactively affect existing permits, contracts, or other 
instruments authorizing the occupancy and use of NFS lands and would 
not require the institution of administrative proceedings before 
parties may file suit in court challenging their provisions

Unfunded Mandates

    Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 
U.S.C. 1531-1538), which the President signed into law on March 22, 
1995, the effects of these proposed directives on State, local, and 
Tribal governments, and on the private sector have been assessed and 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.

[[Page 13319]]

Federalism

    The Agency has considered these proposed directives under the 
requirements of E.O. 13132, Federalism. The Agency has made a 
preliminary assessment that they conform with the federalism principles 
set out in this Executive Order; would not impose any significant 
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 proposed directives address the land management planning process 
on National Forests, Grasslands or other units of the NFS, which do not 
directly affect the States. Based on comments received on these 
proposed 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

    The Forest Service will conduct government-to-government 
consultation on the planning directives. The Forest Service considers 
tribal consultation as an ongoing, iterative process that encompasses 
development of the proposed directives through the issuance of final 
directives. During development of the 2012 Planning Rule, between 
September 23, 2010, and publication of the final rule on April 9, 2012, 
the Agency held 16 consultation meetings across the Country. In 
addition, Forest Service leaders held one-on-one meetings, as 
requested, with tribal leaders throughout the time period of 
development of the rule.
    The Agency will contact all federally recognized Tribes and Alaska 
Native Corporations by mail to formally initiate consultation on the 
proposed directives and seek comments within 120 days.

Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public

    These proposed directives do 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 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.) and implementing 
regulations at 5 CFR part 1320 do not apply.
    Chapter 50 of these proposed directives contains information 
collection requirements as defined in 5 CFR part 1320. The information 
collection requirements have been approved by the Office of Management 
and Budget and assigned control number 0596-0158.

Conclusion

    The Forest Service has developed these planning directives to set 
forth the legal authorities, objectives, policy, responsibilities, 
direction, and overall guidance for Forest Service Line Officers, 
agency employees, and others to use the 2012 Planning Rule. The 
proposed directives provide consistent interpretation of the 2012 
Planning Rule for Line and Staff Officers, and interdisciplinary teams.
    The 2012 Planning Rule and the proposed FSM and FSH sections 
together provide requirements and guidance for the Agency to adaptively 
manage the NFS to maintain and restore NFS land and water ecosystems 
and protect species while providing for ecosystem services and multiple 
uses. The proposed directives are intended to guide the development, 
revision, and amendment of land management plans to provide for the 
sustainability of ecosystems and resources; meet the need for forest 
restoration and conservation, watershed protection, and species 
diversity and conservation; and assist the Agency in providing a 
sustainable flow of benefits, services, and uses of NFS lands that 
provide jobs and contribute to the economic and social sustainability 
of communities.
    By seeking public notice and comment on these proposed directives, 
the Agency is continuing its commitment to improve public involvement 
and transparency in decisionmaking associated with developing, 
amending, or revising a land management plan.
    When the Agency offers the opportunity for public notice and 
comment on a proposed revision of a Forest Service Manual or Handbook 
revision, the Agency publishes a notice of 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 
made from the propose. At a minimum, this process takes 6 months but 
normally takes 9-12 months.
    The Forest Service is committed to providing adequate opportunities 
for the public to comment on administrative directives that are of 
substantial public interest or controversy, as provided in the 
regulations at 36 CFR part 216. All comments on these proposed 
directives will be considered in the development of the final 
directives. The full text of these proposed directives are available on 
the World Wide Web/Internet at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/planningrule/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 Regional Office, the locations of which are 
also available on the Washington Office headquarters homepage on the 
World Wide Web/Internet: www.fs.fed.us/.

    Dated: February 21, 2013.
Thomas L. Tidwell,
Chief.
[FR Doc. 2013-04470 Filed 2-26-13; 8:45 am]
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