[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 197 (Wednesday, October 12, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 70373-70382]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-24654]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Forest Service

36 CFR Part 219

RIN 0596-AD28


National Forest System Land Management Planning

AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comment.

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

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service is 
proposing to amend regulations pertaining to the National Forest System 
Land Management Planning. The proposed rule would amend the 
administrative procedures to amend land management plans developed or 
revised in conformance with the provisions under a prior planning rule.

DATES: Comments must be received in writing by November 14, 2016. The 
Agency will consider and place comments received after this date in the 
record only if practicable.

ADDRESSES: Submit comments concerning the proposed rule through one of 
the following methods:
    1. Public participation portal: https://cara.ecosystem-management.org/Public/CommentInput?project=NP-1403.
    2. Facsimile: Fax to: 202-649-1172. Please identify your comments 
by including ``RIN 0596-AD28'' or ``planning rule amendment'' on the 
cover sheet or the first page.
    3. U.S. Postal Service: The mailing address is: USDA Forest Service 
Planning Rule Comments, 2222 W. 2300 S., Salt Lake City, UT 84119.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ecosystem Management Coordination 
staff's Assistant Director for Planning Andrea Bedell Loucks at 202-
205-8336 or Planning Specialist Regis Terney at 202-205-1552.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    The mission of the Forest Service is to sustain the health, 
diversity, and productivity of the Nation's forests and grasslands to 
meet the needs of present and future generations. In accomplishing this 
mission, the Agency is required by statute to develop land management 
plans to guide management of the 154 national forests, 20 grasslands, 
and 1 prairie that comprise the 193 million acre National Forest System 
(NFS).
    The National Forest Management Act required the Secretary of 
Agriculture to develop a planning rule ``under the principles of the 
Multiple-Use Sustained-Yield Act of 1960, that set[s] out the process 
for the development and revision of the land management plans, and the 
guidelines and standards'' (16 U.S.C. 1604(g)). The Secretary fulfilled 
this requirement by issuing a rule, codified at title 36, Code of 
Federal Regulations, part 219 (36 CFR part 219), which sets 
requirements for land management planning and content of plans. In 
1979, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (Department) issued the first 
regulations to comply with this statutory requirement. The 1979 
regulations were superseded by the 1982 planning rule.
    Numerous efforts were made over the past three decades to improve 
on the 1982 planning rule. On November 9, 2000, the Department issued a 
new planning rule that superseded the 1982 rule (65 FR 67514). Shortly 
after the issuance of the 2000 rule, a review of the rule found that it 
would be unworkable and recommended that a new rule should be 
developed. The Department amended the 2000 rule so that responsible 
officials could continue

[[Page 70374]]

to use the 1982 planning rule provisions until a new rule was issued 
(67 FR 35431, May 20, 2002). Attempts to replace the 2000 rule, in 2005 
and 2008, were set aside by the courts on procedural grounds, with the 
result that the 2000 rule remained in effect. In 2009, the Department 
reinstated the 2000 rule in the Code of Federal Regulations to 
eliminate any confusion over which rule was in effect (74 FR 67062, 
December 18, 2009; 36 CFR part 219, published at 36 CFR parts 200 to 
299, revised as of July 1, 2010). In reinstating the 2000 rule into the 
CFR, the Department specifically provided for the continued use of the 
1982 rule provisions, which the Agency used for all planning done under 
the 2000 rule. The 1982 planning rule procedures have therefore formed 
the basis of all existing Forest Service land management plans.
    On April 9, 2012, the Department issued title 36, Code of Federal 
Regulations, part 219--Planning (the 2012 planning rule), setting forth 
directions for developing, amending, revising, and monitoring land 
management plans (77 FR 21161). The 2012 planning rule is available 
online at https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2013-title36-vol2/pdf/CFR-2013-title36-vol2-part219.pdf.
    On February 6, 2015, the Forest Service issued National Forest 
System, Land Management Planning Directives (planning directives; 80 FR 
6683). The planning directives are the Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 
1909.12 and Manual (FSM) Chapter 1920 that establish procedures and 
responsibilities for carrying out the 2012 planning rule. The planning 
directives are available online at http://www.fs.fed.us/im/directives/.
    After the issuance of the 2012 planning rule, the Secretary of 
Agriculture chartered a Federal Advisory Committee (Committee) to 
assist the Department and Agency in implementing the new rule. The 
Committee is made up of 21 diverse members who provide balanced and 
broad representation on behalf of the public; State, local, and tribal 
governments; the science community; environmental and conservation 
groups; dispersed and motorized recreation users; hunters and anglers; 
private landowners; mining, energy, grazing, timber, and other user 
groups; and other public interests. The Committee has convened 
regularly since 2012 to provide the Department and Agency with 
recommendations on implementation of the 2012 planning rule, including 
recommendations on the planning directives, assessments, and on lessons 
learned from the first forests to begin revisions and amendments under 
the 2012 planning rule. More information about the Committee's 
membership and work is available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/planningrule/committee.
    The 2012 planning rule was the product of the most extensive public 
engagement process in the long history of the planning rule. It 
requires the use of best available scientific information to inform 
planning and plan decisions. It also emphasizes providing meaningful 
opportunities for public participation early and throughout the 
planning process, increases the transparency of decision-making, and 
provides a platform for the Agency to work with the public and across 
boundaries with other land managers to identify and share information 
and to inform planning. The final 2012 planning rule reflects key 
themes expressed by members of the public, as well as experience gained 
through the Agency's 30-year history with land management planning. It 
is intended to create a more efficient and effective planning process 
and provide an adaptive framework for planning.
    The planning framework under the 2012 rule includes three phases: 
Assessment, plan development/amendment/revision, and monitoring. The 
framework supports an integrated approach to the management of 
resources and uses, incorporates a landscape-scale context for 
management, and was intended to help the Agency adapt to changing 
conditions and improve management based on new information and 
monitoring. The concept of adaptive management is an integral part of 
the 2012 rule.
    For the administrative units of the NFS there are 127 land 
management plans, 68 of which are past due for revision. Most plans 
were developed between 1983 and 1993 and should have been revised 
between 1998 and 2008, based on the National Forest Management Act 
(NFMA) direction to revise plans at least once every 15 years (16 
U.S.C. 1604(f)(5)). The repeated efforts to produce a new planning rule 
over the past decades contributed to the delay in plan revisions. An 
additional challenge was that instead of amending plans as conditions 
on the ground change, responsible officials often waited to make 
changes all at once during a plan revision, resulting in a drawn-out, 
difficult, and costly revision process.
    Recognizing that adaptive management requires a more responsive and 
iterative approach to modifying land management plans to reflect new 
information, the Department's intent when developing the 2012 planning 
rule was for the planning process to encourage and support the more 
regular use of amendments to keep plans current between revisions, and 
thereby also make the revision process less cumbersome because plans 
would not become as out-of-date between revisions.
    Under the 2012 planning rule, responsible officials may amend plans 
at any time. The 2012 planning rule provides that a plan amendment is 
required to add, modify, or remove one or more plan components, or to 
change how or where one or more plan components apply to all or part of 
the plan area (including management areas or geographic areas).
    The 2012 planning rule included a 3-year transition period during 
which responsible officials could use either the 2012 planning rule or 
the 1982 planning rule procedures to amend plans approved or revised 
under the 1982 planning procedures (36 CFR 219.17(b)(2)). The 3-year 
transition period expired on May 9, 2015, and all plan amendments now 
must be approved under the requirements of the 2012 planning rule.
    In 2014, the Agency began to use the 2012 planning rule to amend 
plans developed using the 1982 rule procedures (2012 rule amendments to 
1982 rule plans). Currently amendments to 44 Forest Service land 
management plans are pending. As the Agency gained some experience with 
the process for making 2012 rule amendments to 1982 rule plans and 
discussed with the Committee early lessons learned, the Committee 
provided feedback suggesting the need for additional clarity on how to 
apply the 2012 rule's substantive requirements when amending 1982 rule 
plans.
    While the 2012 planning rule includes direction specific to 
amendments, and while there is evidence of the Department and Agency's 
intent in the rule wording, preamble text, and planning directives, the 
2012 planning rule did not explicitly direct how to apply the 
requirements set forth in the 2012 planning rule when amending 1982 
rule plans. Using the 2012 rule to amend 1982 rule plans can be a 
challenge because there are fundamental structural and content 
differences between the two rules. Because of the underlying 
differences, a 1982 rule plan likely will not meet all of the 
requirements of the 2012 planning rule. The integrated approach to land 
management planning presented in the 2012 planning rule has led to some

[[Page 70375]]

confusion about how responsible officials should apply the substantive 
requirements for sustainability, diversity, multiple use and timber set 
forth in 36 CFR 219.8 through 219.11 when amending 1982 rule plans.
    This proposed amendment to the 2012 planning rule would clarify the 
Department and Agency's expectations for plan amendments, including 
expectations for amending 1982 rule plans.

The Department's Position on Applying the 2012 Rule to 1982 Rule Plans

    The Department's position is firmly grounded in the National Forest 
Management Act and the plain wording of the 2012 planning rule, as well 
as the preambles for the proposed and final rules, the Forest Service 
land management planning directives, and practical application of 
Agency planning expertise.
    Plans are changed in two distinctly different ways. The National 
Forest Management Act (NFMA) requires revisions ``when conditions in a 
unit have significantly changed,'' and ``at least every 15 years'' (16 
U.S.C. 1604(f)(5)). NFMA also provides that ``plans can be amended in 
any manner whatsoever'' (16 U.S.C. 1604(f)(4)). As the 2012 rule 
states, ``[a] plan revision creates a new plan for the entire plan 
area, whether the plan revision differs from the prior plan to a small 
or large extent'' (36 CFR 219.7(a)). A process for a plan revision 
requires, among other things, preparation of an environmental impact 
statement (36 CFR 219.7(c)).
    In contrast, and as the Department explained in the preamble to the 
2012 planning rule, ``[p]lan amendments incrementally change the plan 
as need arises.'' (77 FR 21161, 21237 (April 9, 2012) (emphasis added). 
Unlike a plan revision, a plan amendment does not create a new plan: It 
results in an amended plan, with the underlying plan retained except 
where changed by the amendment. The Department explained its intent 
that with the 2012 rule, ``plans will be kept more current, effective 
and relevant by the use of more frequent and efficient amendments, and 
administrative changes over the life of the plan, also reducing the 
amount of work needed for a full revision'' (Id.).
    The 2012 rule provides that, ``[t]he responsible official has the 
discretion to determine whether and how to amend the plan.'' (36 CFR 
219.13(a)). The 2012 rule reinforces this discretion by providing that 
the rule ``does not compel a change to any existing plan, except as 
required in Sec.  219.12 (c)(1)'' (which establishes monitoring 
requirements). (36 CFR 219.17 (c)).
    Under the 2012 rule, ``[p]lan amendments may be broad or narrow, 
depending on the need for change'' (36 CFR 219.13(a)); and amendments 
``could range from project specific amendments or amendments of one 
plan component, to the amendment of multiple plan components.'' (77 FR 
21161, 21237 (April 9, 2012)). Unlike for a plan revision, the 2012 
rule does not require an environmental impact statement for every 
amendment; such a requirement would be burdensome and unnecessary for 
amendments without significant environmental effect, and ``would also 
inhibit the more frequent use of amendments as a tool for adaptive 
management to keep plans relevant, current and effective between plan 
revisions.'' (Preamble to final rule, 77 FR 21161, 21239 (April 9, 
2012)).
    The Department's position is that the 2012 planning rule gives 
responsible officials the discretion, within the framework of the 2012 
planning rule's requirements, to tailor the scope and scale of an 
amendment to a need to change the plan. This position means that, while 
the 2012 planning rule sets forth a series of substantive requirements 
for land management plans within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11, not 
every section or requirement within those sections will be directly 
related to the scope and scale of a given amendment.
    However, a plan amendment must be done ``under the requirements 
of'' the 2012 rule (36 CFR 219.17(b)(2)). Therefore the responsible 
official's discretion is not unbounded. An amendment cannot be tailored 
so that the amendment fails to meet directly related substantive 
requirements or is contrary to any substantive requirement. Rather, 
when responsible officials identify a need to change a plan, they must 
determine which substantive requirements within Sec. Sec.  219.8 
through 219.11 of the 2012 rule are directly related to such a change, 
and propose an amendment that would meet those requirements and not 
contradict other requirements.
    The Department's position reflects the principle that no individual 
amendment is required to do the work of a revision. A 2012 amendment to 
a 1982 rule plan does not have to bring the entire plan into compliance 
with the 2012 rule. The key distinction is between an amendment and an 
amended plan. The amendment--the changed plan components--must meet the 
directly related substantive requirements of the 2012 rule and not be 
contrary to any substantive requirements. However, the responsible 
official need not propose to change portions of a plan even if those 
portions are inconsistent with or even contradictory to the 2012 
planning rule; therefore, the amended plan will have plan components 
changed by the amendment and plan direction that has not been changed. 
An amended plan is not held to the same standard as a revised plan, 
which must meet all of the 2012 planning rule requirements.
    For example, the 2012 planning rule requires that the plan must 
include plan components to provide for scenic character, which is a 
term of art associated with the scenic management system that was 
developed in the mid-1990s. If the scope of the amendment to a 1982 
plan includes changes to plan direction related to scenery management, 
then the 2012 rule requirement about scenic character would apply to 
the affected area. However, a responsible official is not otherwise 
required to review and modify a 1982 rule plan to meet the 2012 rule's 
requirement to provide for scenic character, outside the scope and 
scale of the amendment being proposed. This is true even if there is 
also a separate need to change the plan to protect scenery in a way 
that is consistent with the 2012 rule. A plan revision would be 
required to address the scenic character requirement throughout the 
plan area, but the responsible official has the discretion to narrowly 
or broadly target plan amendments.
    The Department's recognition that not every requirement within 
Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 will apply to every amendment of 1982 
rule plans is reflected in the following planning directives quote at 
FSH 1909.12, ch. 20, sec. 21.3 (emphasis added):

    Amendment of a plan developed and approved using the 1982 Rule 
process requires application of the 2012 Planning Rule requirements 
only to those changes to the plan made by the amendment. For 
example, the 2012 Rule's requirements to establish a riparian 
management zone (36 CFR 219.8(a)(3)) would apply only if the plan 
amendment focuses on riparian area guidance.

    See also the Handbook's direction regarding documentation of a 
decision to approve an amendment of a 1982 rule plan: ``[f]or plan 
amendments, the decision document must discuss only those requirements 
of 36 CFR 219.8 through 219.11 that are applicable to the plan 
components that are being modified or added.'' (FSH 1909.12 ch. 20, 
sec. 21.3 (emphasis added)).
    Further support for the Department's position is in the rule's 
requirements for project consistency for 1982 rule plans, at 36 CFR 
219.17(c):


[[Page 70376]]


    None of the requirements of this part apply to projects or 
activities on units with plans developed or revised under a prior 
planning rule until the plan is revised under this part, except that 
projects or activities on such units must comply with the 
consistency requirement of Sec.  219.15 with respect to any 
amendments that are developed and approved pursuant to this part.

    The distinction made in this provision between amendments made 
pursuant to the 2012 rule and the underlying plan is an acknowledgement 
that portions of a 1982 rule plan will remain unchanged until revision. 
The 2012 rule therefore exempts universal application of the 
consistency requirements until the plan is revised, while also 
requiring application of the consistency requirements to those changes 
that are made by a 2012 rule amendment. The distinction between an 
amendment and the amended plan is thus reflected in the text of the 
2012 rule.
    As a general matter, most 1982 rule plans will not be consistent 
with all of the requirements of the 2012 planning rule. The 
Department's position is that an individual plan amendment cannot be 
expected to do the work of a plan revision. This positon not only 
reflects the intent of the rule wording, preamble text, and planning 
directives, but is also a practical approach to amending 1982 rule 
plans under the 2012 rule. This approach comes with the full 
realization that a unit may have important needs for change beyond 
those that form the basis of any individual amendment.
    During the Department and Agency's conversations with the Committee 
about the Agency's early efforts to use the 2012 rule to amend 1982 
rule plans, the Committee advised that some members of the public have 
suggested interpretations of the 2012 rule that conflict with the 
Department's position. For example, some members of the public 
suggested that because the 2012 rule recognizes that resources and uses 
are connected, changes to any one resource or use will impact other 
resources and uses, and therefore all of the substantive provisions in 
Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 218.11 must be applied to every amendment.
    Other members of the public suggested an opposite view. They 
believe that the 2012 rule gives the responsible official discretion to 
selectively pick and choose which, if any, provisions of the rule to 
apply, allowing the responsible official to avoid 2012 rule 
requirements or even propose amendments that would contradict the 2012 
rule. Under this second interpretation, members of the public 
hypothesized that a responsible official could amend a 1982 plan to 
remove plan direction that was required by the 1982 rule without 
applying relevant requirements in the 2012 rule.
    The Department intends in this preamble and proposed amendment to 
the rule to clarify that neither of these interpretations is correct.
    The Agency recognizes that resources and uses are connected and 
interrelated. However, an interpretation that the rule prevents the 
responsible official from distinguishing among connected resources such 
that the Agency must comply with all of the 2012 rule's requirements in 
Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 for each amendment would essentially 
turn every amendment into a revision, directly contradicting the 
Department's position as described earlier in this discussion that 
revisions and amendments serve different functions. Such an 
interpretation would freeze the Agency's ability to use amendments 
adaptively to respond to new information and changed conditions on 
units with 1982 rule plans.
    At the same time, the 2012 rule does not give a responsible 
official the discretion to amend a plan in a manner contrary to the 
2012 rule by selectively applying, or avoiding altogether, substantive 
requirements within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 that are directly 
related to the changes being proposed. Similarly, an interpretation 
that the 2012 rule gives responsible officials discretion to propose 
amendments ``under the requirements'' of the 2012 rule that actually 
are contrary to those requirements, or to use the amendment process to 
avoid both 1982 and 2012 rule requirements, is in opposition with the 
Department's position described earlier in this discussion that the 
responsible official's discretion to tailor the scope and scale of an 
amendment is not unbounded.
    The Department's position is that a responsible official may use 
the best available scientific information, scoping, effects analysis, 
monitoring data, and other rationale to distinguish among connected 
resources to determine which substantive requirements are directly 
related to a change being proposed. A responsible official is not 
required to apply every requirement of every substantive section 
(Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11) to every amendment. However, the 
responsible official is required to apply those substantive 
requirements that are directly related to the changes being proposed, 
and cannot propose changes that would undermine or be contrary to other 
substantive requirements.
    Further, the Department's position is that 2012 rule requirements 
apply to the amendment (the plan direction being added, modified, or 
removed), not to the amended plan. The 2012 rule therefore can be used 
to amend 1982 rule plans without any individual amendment bearing the 
burden of bringing the underlying plan into compliance with all of the 
2012 rule requirements, even if unchanged direction in the 1982 rule 
plan fails to address, meet or is contrary to 2012 rule requirements.
    Twenty-two forests are currently using the 2012 planning rule to 
revise their 1982 rule plans, but given Agency budget constraints and 
staff capacity, revision of all 127 of the Agency's 1982 rule plans 
will likely take more than 15 years. The clarifications in this 
proposed rule amendment would help ensure that the Agency can 
effectively use the 2012 rule to amend 1982 rule plans until they are 
revised.
    When revised plans under the 2012 rule are amended, the process 
will be much less complicated than the present circumstance of 
amendments to 1982 rule plans. That is because plans revised under the 
2012 rule are expected to meet all of the 2012 rule's substantive 
requirements. However, this proposed rule amendment clarifies that 
responsible officials have the discretion to tailor the scope and scale 
of amendments to adaptively change plans whether an amendment is to a 
1982 rule plan or, in the future, to a 2012 rule plan.

Proposed Clarifications

    To ensure that the Department's position regarding amendments of 
1982 rule plans is clear, the proposed amendment to the 2012 planning 
rule would clarify that:
     The responsible official determines the scope and scale of 
a plan amendment based on a need to change the plan.
     The responsible official must use the best available 
scientific information to inform the amendment process.
     The responsible official must apply the requirements 
within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 that are directly related to the 
amendment, unlike a new plan or plan revision when they must bring the 
plan into compliance with every requirement within Sec. Sec.  219.8 
through 219.11.
     A plan amendment cannot make changes that are contrary to 
requirements of the 2012 planning rule.
     The decision document must include a rationale for the 
responsible official's determination of the scope and scale of the 
amendment, which requirements within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 
are directly related, and how they were applied.

[[Page 70377]]

Specific Changes

Revise Sec.  219.3

    The Agency proposes to add the words ``for assessment; developing, 
amending, or revising a plan; and monitoring,'' to the first sentence 
of Sec.  219.3, so it is clear that the best available scientific 
information applies to the plan amendment process as well as the other 
parts of the planning framework (36 CFR 219.5). Section 219.3 currently 
states ``the responsible official shall use the best available 
scientific information to inform the planning process required by this 
subpart.'' That process includes assessments, plan development, 
revision and amendment, and monitoring. Expanding the current wording 
to specifically mention each part of the process, including amendments, 
would make this section more consistent with other sections of the 
rule, including: Providing opportunities for public participation 
(Sec.  219.4), the plan amendment process (Sec.  219.13), including 
specific information in a decision document (Sec.  219.14), stating 
whether or not projects authorized at the time of amendment may 
continue without change (Sec.  219.15(a)), giving public notice (Sec.  
219.16), setting the effective date for amendments (Sec.  219.17), and 
providing an objection opportunity (subpart B).

Amend Sec. Sec.  219.8 Through 219.11 To Revise the Introductory Text

    The Agency proposes to add the words ``a plan developed or revised 
under this rule'' to the introductory text of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 
219.11 to clarify that the combined set of requirements in each section 
apply only to plan development or plan revision. Subpart A of the 2012 
planning rule (Sec. Sec.  219.1 through 219.19) recognizes the 
interrelationship among resources and among the sections, but it was 
not the intent of the Agency to imply that an individual plan amendment 
would need to meet all of the requirements of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 
219.11. This proposed clarification would distinguish between new plans 
and plan revisions, which must comply with all the requirements in 
Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11, and amendments, which do not.

Amend Sec.  219.13 To Revise Paragraph (a)

    The Agency proposes to add the words ``and to determine the scope 
and scale of any amendment'' to the end of the third sentence of 
paragraph (a) that currently states: ``The responsible official has the 
discretion to determine whether and how to amend the plan.'' This 
change will clarify that responsible official's discretion to determine 
whether and how to amend any plan includes the discretion to determine 
the scope and scale of any amendment except as provided in paragraphs 
(b) and (c) of this section.

Amend Sec.  219.13 Revise the Introductory Text of Paragraph (b)

    The Agency proposes to add the words ``For all plan amendments,'' 
to the introductory text of paragraph b, so it is clear that the 
procedural and other requirements outlined in Sec.  219.13(b) apply to 
all amendments.

Amend Sec.  219.13 To Add Paragraph (b)(4)

    The Agency proposes adding paragraph (b)(4) as a clarification that 
each plan component added or changed by a plan amendment must conform 
to the applicable definition for desired conditions, objectives, 
standards, guidelines, and suitability of lands set forth in Sec.  
219.7(e). The planning directives in the Handbook (1909.12, ch. 20, 
sec. 21.3) already state this requirement: ``All additions or 
modifications to the text of plan direction that are made by plan 
amendments using the 2012 rule must be written in the form of plan 
components as defined at 36 CFR 219.7(e).''
    Section 219.7 of the 2012 rule includes definitions for plan 
components to bring greater clarity to the Agency's plans, because 1982 
rule plans often had an inconsistent approach to plan components--for 
example, mislabeling desired conditions as standards, or including 
objectives that did not have a measurable rate of progress.
    Bringing the Handbook direction into paragraph (b)(4) of this 
section would help clarify that the 2012 requirements for formatting 
plan components, apply to plan amendments, but not to the part of the 
plan that is not amended. This clarification is important for 
amendments to 1982 rule plans, where unchanged plan direction will 
likely not meet the definitions in Sec.  219.7(e), but reformatting 
that direction would be complicated and could have unintended 
consequences beyond the scope and scale of the amendment.
    The Agency proposes to include a narrow exception to the plan 
component formatting requirements of paragraph (b)(4) for amendments to 
1982 rule plans. This exception would apply to an amendment or part 
thereof that would change (add to or reduce) a management or geographic 
area or other areas to which existing direction applies, but would not 
change the text of that plan direction. This exception would allow the 
responsible official to avoid rewriting the plan direction within that 
management area to conform to Sec.  219.7(e), because reformatting plan 
direction might accidentally broaden the scope of the amendment.
    For example, an existing standard or guideline may not meet the 
definition in Sec.  219.7(e) for those plan components but a formatting 
change could change the meaning of that plan direction. This formatting 
exemption is not an exemption from proposed paragraphs (b)(5) and (6) 
of this section. The expansion or reduction of an area to which 
existing direction applies would still have to meet directly related 
substantive requirements of the rule and not be contrary to any 
substantive requirement. This paragraph simply permits the responsible 
official to avoid rewriting existing direction in a 1982 rule plan to 
conform to the drafting direction for plan components set forth in 
Sec.  219.7(e).

Amend Sec.  219.13 To Add Paragraph (b)(5)

    The Agency proposes new paragraph (b)(5) to clarify that, when 
amending a plan using the 2012 planning rule, the responsible official 
must meet the specific substantive requirement(s) within Sec. Sec.  
219.8 through 219.11 that are directly related to the plan direction 
added, modified, or removed by the amendment. The requirements of 
paragraphs (b)(5) apply only to those plan components being amended, 
not to the amended plan. This clarification will help the Agency and 
public understand how to apply the substantive requirements within 
Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11.
    The Department's intent is that a responsible official use best 
available scientific information, scoping, effects analyses, monitoring 
data, and other rationale to inform a determination of which 
substantive requirements are directly related to the proposed plan 
amendment, and ensure that the amendment meets those requirements. The 
responsible official must be able to clearly explain the determination 
in the decision document for the amendment (see Sec.  219.14).
    Interrelationships between resources do not necessarily result in a 
substantive requirement being directly related to the proposed change. 
The Department recognize that resources and uses within the plan area 
are often related to one another--nonetheless, the responsible official 
can distinguish between rule requirements directly

[[Page 70378]]

related to the amendment and those that may be unrelated or for which 
the relationship is indirect.
    For example:
     Soil and water resources are interrelated, but the 
responsible official can determine that for a plan amendment to change 
standards and guidelines to protect a water body, the water 
requirements of Sec.  219.8 would apply, while that section's 
requirements for soil would not.
     A change in plan components for timber harvest to support 
restoration may be related to the overall ecological integrity of the 
plan area, but a responsible official can determine that a change to a 
plan component for timber harvest for restoration purposes under Sec.  
219.11 would not require the application across the plan area of all of 
the requirements in Sec.  219.8 related to ecological integrity.
     A plan amendment to modify recreation access under Sec.  
219.10 could be either directly related or unrelated to that section's 
requirement for the protection of cultural and historic resources, 
depending upon the nearness and potential effects of the proposed 
access to the cultural and historic resources.
    A determination that a substantive requirement is directly related 
to a proposed amendment does not mean that the amendment must be 
expanded so that the requirement is applied to the entire plan area. 
For example, an amendment to plan direction for a specific riparian 
area would require the application of Sec.  219.8 riparian management 
requirements to the changed direction for that area, but would not 
require that application of those requirements to other riparian areas 
in the plan area.
    Likewise, an amendment that changes plan components to support 
habitat for an at-risk species would require application of Sec.  219.9 
to those proposed changes, but would not require application of Sec.  
219.9 to the entire underlying plan. For example, if the need to change 
the plan is to identify lands as suitable for an energy corridor, and 
the proposed corridor would go directly through critical habitat for a 
threatened species, then the requirements of Sec.  219.9 would be 
directly related to the amendment as applied to that particular 
species. The responsible official may be required, for example, to add 
standards or guidelines to protect the critical habitat. However, the 
determination that Sec.  219.9 is directly related to the amendment 
because of the potential impacts to one species would not trigger the 
application of Sec.  219.9 to evaluate ecological conditions for all 
other species on the unit.

Amend Sec.  219.13 To Add Paragraph (b)(6)

    The Agency proposes adding paragraph (b)(6) to clarify that an 
amendment must avoid effects that would be directly contrary to any 
specific substantive requirement of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11. 
The Department intended this result in the guidance in Sec.  219.1(a) 
that Subpart A sets out the requirements for plan components and other 
content in land management plans for developing, amending, and revising 
plans, and is applicable to all units of the National Forest System. 
The 2012 rule further states in Sec.  219.17(b)(2) that ``[a]fter the 
3-year transition period, all plan amendments must be initiated, 
completed, and approved under the requirements of this part.''
    An outcome in which an amendment, using the 2012 rule, could 
introduce plan components, or change the underlying plan by removing 
direction in a way that contradicts or undermines the 2012 rule would 
be a contrary outcome: Paragraph (b)(6) clarifies that expectation.
    Proposed paragraph (b)(6) would clarify that the responsible 
official does not have the discretion to approve an amendment to any 
plan, whether a 1982 rule plan or a 2012 rule plan, that has effects 
contrary to a requirement in the 2012 planning rule. The Department's 
intent is that when a question about effects arises, the responsible 
official would use best available scientific information (BASI), 
effects analyses, and other rationale to evaluate whether effects are 
contrary to a requirement, and to adjust the proposed amendment to 
avoid such effects. However, the Department's position is that the 
proposed paragraph (b)(6) does not prevent an amendment from having 
negative effects on a resource--the 2012 planning rule does not require 
the absence of negative effects. If effects analyses show negative 
effects that would be permissible under the 2012 rule, the responsible 
official would not need to change the proposal as a result of paragraph 
(b)(6).
    There is an important burden-of-proof expectation in proposed 
paragraph (b)(6). The Department's intent is that paragraph (b)(6) does 
not require responsible officials to prove that an amendment is not 
contrary to the requirements in Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11. 
Rather, when analyses of a proposed amendment reveal that its effects 
would be contrary to a requirement, the proposed amendment must be 
adjusted to eliminate such effects. This burden-of-proof is similar to 
how the 2012 planning rule provides for the identification of species 
of conservation concern. A species must be identified as a species of 
conservation concern when it is known to occur in the plan area and 
BASI indicates there is substantial concern about the species' 
capability to persist over the long-term in the plan area. But, the 
Agency is not required to prove that there isn't substantial concern 
for other species. The same burden-of-proof is intended here.
    The analysis already required by the Forest Service NEPA procedures 
for proposals are expected to provide the information necessary to 
satisfy proposed paragraph (b)(6). This paragraph does not require 
additional analyses. (See 36 CFR part 220, FSM 1950, FSH 1909.15). 
Proposed paragraph (b)(6) anticipates the potential scenario in which a 
responsible official does not realize that a specific requirement is 
directly related to the proposed plan amendment, but discovers through 
NEPA effects analysis that the proposed change would have a negative 
effect that is contrary to that requirement.
    If the customary analysis of effects of a proposed plan amendment 
reveals effects that would be contrary to a specific substantive 
requirement within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11, the responsible 
official must change the proposal so that it avoids those contrary 
effects.
    For example: A proposed amendment would identify lands as suitable 
for an energy corridor. At the time the amendment is proposed, the 
responsible official does not have information indicating that the 
proposed corridor includes habitat necessary for an at-risk species and 
therefore determines that Sec.  219.9 is not directly related to the 
amendment. However, effects analysis reveals habitat impacts that 
undermine the persistence of the at-risk species, contrary to Sec.  
219.9. At that point, the responsible official could avoid the contrary 
effects by changing the location of the proposed corridor to avoid that 
habitat, or could apply Sec.  219.9 to add coarse or fine filter plan 
components for ecological conditions that would result in avoiding the 
contrary effects. The responsible official would not have the 
discretion to approve the amendment without avoiding the contrary 
effects.
    As discussed in the ``Amend Sec.  219.13 to add paragraph (b)(5)'' 
section of this document, the Department's intent is to distinguish 
between an amendment and an amended plan. Proposed paragraph (b)(6) 
applies to the amendment--plan components being added, modified or

[[Page 70379]]

removed--not to the plan as amended. The Department recognizes that a 
1982 rule plan may contain direction contrary to the 2012 rule that is 
outside of the scope of the amendment being proposed. Paragraph (b)(6) 
would require that an amendment--the changes--to such a plan not be 
contrary to 2012 rule requirements, but it does not require that the 
underlying plan be modified to remove existing contrary direction 
outside the scope of the amendment.

Amend Sec.  219.13 To Add New Paragraph (c)

    The Agency is proposing to add a new paragraph (c), to include 
additional clarifications on how to apply the 2012 rule to amend 1982 
rule plans. Existing direction on administrative changes currently at 
paragraph (c) would be moved to a new paragraph (d).
    Proposed paragraph (c)(1) would clarify that although the existing 
requirements of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 take into account the 
interrelationship among resources, an individual plan amendment is not 
expected to bring an entire 1982 rule plan into compliance with all of 
the 2012 rule's substantive requirements identified in Sec. Sec.  219.8 
through 219.11. This paragraph reflects the Department's intent to 
distinguish between the substantive requirements for the amendment 
(clarified in paragraphs (b)(5) and (b)(6) of this section), and the 
Department's expectations with regard to the amended plan (which will 
include both changed and unchanged portions of the underlying plan).
    Proposed paragraph (c)(2) would clarify that an amendment cannot 
remove any existing plan direction that was required by the 1982 rule 
without including plan components that meet related requirements in 
Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11. The Agency believes that this scenario 
is covered by the proposed clarifications in paragraphs (b)(5) and 
(b)(6) of this section. These two paragraphs clarify that the 
responsible official cannot remove direction from a plan without 
applying the directly related requirements within Sec. Sec.  219.8 
through 219.11. However, we are including proposed paragraph (c)(2) in 
the proposed amendment based on feedback from the Committee, to get 
public input during the comment period.
    Paragraph (c)(2) is not intended to add to the process burden for 
amendments. Rather, this paragraph is intended to make clear that 
removing plan direction required by the 1982 rule without appropriately 
applying the 2012 rule is not permitted. For example, if an amendment 
removes a standard that BASI has shown to be material to the viability 
of an at-risk vertebrate species in the plan area as required by the 
1982 rule, the responsible official would have to ensure that the plan 
provides the ecological conditions for that species as required by 
Sec.  219.9 of the 2012 rule.
    We discussed with the Committee an earlier draft of paragraph 
(c)(2) that allowed the responsible official to remove direction 
required by the 1982 rule without applying directly related 2012 rule 
substantive requirements, if the responsible official could demonstrate 
that the amended plan still was consistent with the 1982 rule. For 
example, the earlier draft would have allowed the removal of a standard 
for an at-risk vertebrate species without requiring the application of 
Sec.  219.9, so long as the amended plan still met the viability 
requirements for that species under the 1982 rule procedures. The 
Agency decided not to include that option for several reasons. The 
reasons were: Concerns about the process burden that option could 
create by necessitating the evaluation of amended plans, the desire to 
clarify that the 2012 rule's requirements apply to amendments and not 
amended plans, and because the intent of the 2012 rule was to move away 
from the 1982 requirements after the 3-year transition period. However, 
we are describing that option here based on Committee feedback, so that 
the public can comment.
    The Agency proposes to add paragraph (c)(3) to address the scenario 
in which the species-specific requirements of Sec.  219.9(b) are 
directly related to the amendment of a 1982 rule plan, but because the 
plan has not yet been revised, the regional forester has not yet 
identified the species of conservation concern (SCC) for the plan area. 
Requiring the responsible official to identify potential SCC before 
amending 1982 rule plans would freeze the Agency's ability to amend 
1982 rule plans. Even where the diversity requirements in Sec.  
219.9(b) are directly related to a proposed amendment, requiring the 
development of the list of SCC to provide species-specific plan 
components for one or more species would be a disproportionate 
expansion of the scope and scale of an amendment. Further difficulties 
would likely arise because the 1982 rule did not include the 2012 
rule's complementary ecosystem and species-specific approach to 
maintaining the diversity of plant and animal communities and the 
persistence of native species in the plan area.
    However, while SCCs are a new element of the 2012 rule, regional 
foresters have already identified species for which population 
viability is a concern pursuant to FSM Chapter 2670--Threatened, 
Endangered and Sensitive Plants and Animals (see 36 CFR 219.9(c); FSM 
2670.5). These species are called regional forester sensitive species 
(RFSS). RFSS are not the same as SCC, but combined with the NEPA 
effects analysis that is already required for an amendment, the Agency 
expects that they would be a reasonable proxy to facilitate amendments 
of 1982 plans before plan revision.
    Therefore, the Agency is proposing that responsible officials 
substitute the RFSS list for SCC when using the 2012 rule to amend 1982 
rule plans. This proposal would allow responsible officials to use RFSS 
in lieu of SCC, and in addition to listed species, to determine whether 
Sec.  219.9(b) is directly related to the changes being proposed by an 
amendment as required by proposed paragraph (b)(5) or proposed 
paragraph (c)(2) of this section, or applies to avoid contrary effects 
as required by paragraph (b)(6) of this section. In applying Sec.  
219.9(b), the responsible official would use RFSS in lieu of SCC to 
apply the requirements of Sec.  219.9(b) to develop species-specific 
plan components.

Amend Sec.  219.14

    The Agency proposes to change the caption of paragraph (a) from 
``Decision document'' to ``Decision document approving a new plan, plan 
amendment, or revision.'' The Agency proposes to redesignate paragraph 
Sec.  219.14(b) as Sec.  219.14(d).
    In addition, the Agency proposes to remove paragraph (a)(2) which 
requires responsible officials to explain how plan direction meets the 
provisions of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11. The Agency would replace 
paragraph (a)(2) with two new paragraphs (b) and (c).
    The new paragraph (b) would require responsible officials to 
explain in a decision document for a new plan or plan revision how the 
plan direction meets the provisions of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11. 
This wording would be identical to the existing paragraph (a)(2), 
except would clarify that this requirement applies to new plans or plan 
revisions only.
    The new paragraph (c) focuses on documentation for a plan 
amendment. The decision document must include a rationale for the 
responsible official's determination of the scope and scale of the 
amendment, which requirements within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 
are

[[Page 70380]]

directly related, and how they were applied.

Technical Correction to Section 219.11

    The Department proposes to include one change unrelated to the 
clarifications for amending 1982 rule plans. This change is a technical 
correction to fix a mistake made on July 27, 2012, (77 FR 44144, July 
27, 2012). In that correcting amendment, the Agency removed a sentence 
by mistake about the maximum size limits for areas to be cut in one 
harvest operation in Sec.  219.11(d)(4). This change would simply 
return to Sec.  219.11 the original sentence as published in the 2012 
planning rule on April 9, 2012 (77 FR 21161).

Regulatory Certifications

Energy Effects

    This proposed rule has been analyzed under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. It has been determined that it does not 
constitute a significant energy action as defined in the Executive 
Order.

Environmental Impacts

    In issuing the 2012 planning rule, the Department prepared both an 
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a biological assessment to 
support its final decision. The EIS is available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/planningrule.
    The Department has concluded that this rule amendment does not 
require additional documentation under the National Environmental 
Policy Act. Because this amendment is to clarify the Department's 
original intent for plan amendment processes and requirements, the 
range of effects included in the Department's prior NEPA analysis 
covers this proposed rule amendment. Therefore, there is no need to 
supplement the National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule 
Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement of January 2012.
    In addition, Forest Service regulations at 36 CFR 220.6(d)(2) 
exclude from documentation in an environmental assessment or 
environmental impact statement ``rules, regulations, or policies to 
establish servicewide administrative procedures, program processes, or 
instruction.'' The Agency has determined that this proposed rule 
amendment falls within this category of actions and that no 
extraordinary circumstances exist which require preparation of an 
environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

Consultation and Coordination With Indian Tribal Governments

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 13175 of 
November 6, 2000, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal 
Governments. It has been determined that this proposed rule would not 
have Tribal implications as defined by Executive Order 13175, and 
therefore, advance consultation with Tribes is not required.

Regulatory Impact

    Executive Order 12866 provides that the Office of Information and 
Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 
will review all significant rules. OIRA has determined that this rule 
is not significant.
    Executive Order 13563 reaffirms the principles of Executive Order 
12866 while calling for improvements in the nation's regulatory system 
to promote predictability, to reduce uncertainty, and to use the best, 
most innovated, and least burdensome tools for achieving regulatory 
ends. The Executive Order directs agencies to consider regulatory 
approaches that reduce burdens and maintain flexibility and freedom of 
choice for the public where these approaches are relevant, feasible, 
and consistent with regulatory objectives. Executive Order 13563 
emphasizes further that regulations must be based on the best available 
science and that the rulemaking process must allow for public 
participation and an open exchange of ideas. We have developed this 
rule in a manner consistent with these requirements.

Regulatory Flexibility

    This proposed rule has also been considered in light of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. 601 et seq.), and it 
has been determined that this action will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small business entities as 
defined by the Regulatory Flexibility Act. Therefore, a regulatory 
flexibility analysis is not required for this proposed rule.

Federalism

    The Forest Service has considered this proposed rule under the 
requirements of Executive Order 13132 on federalism. The Agency has 
determined that the proposed rule conforms with the federalism 
principles set out in this Executive Order; would not impose any 
compliance costs on the States; and would not have substantial direct 
effects on the States, on the relationship between the Federal 
government and the States, or on the distribution of power and 
responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore, the 
Agency has determined that no further determination of federalism 
implications is necessary at this time.

No Takings Implications

    This proposed rule has been analyzed in accordance with the 
principles and criteria in Executive Order 12630. It has been 
determined that this proposed directive does not pose the risk of a 
taking of private property.

Civil Justice Reform

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988 on 
civil justice reform. If the proposed rule were to be adopted, (1) all 
State and local laws and regulations that conflict with the proposed 
rule or that would impede its full implementation would be preempted; 
(2) no retroactive effect would be given to the proposed rule; and (3) 
it would not require administrative proceedings before parties may file 
suit in court challenging its provisions.

Unfunded Mandates

    Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2 
U.S.C. 1531-1538), the Agency has assessed the effects of this proposed 
directive on State, local, and Tribal governments and the private 
sector. This proposed directive would 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.

Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public

    This proposed rule does not contain recordkeeping or reporting 
requirements or other information collection requirements as defined in 
5 CFR part 1320.
    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
3501-3520), the Forest Service requested and received approval of a new 
information collection requirement for subpart B as stated in 36 CFR 
219.61 and assigned control number 0596-0158 as stated in the final 
rule approval (77 FR 21161, April 9, 2012). Subpart B specifies the 
information that objectors must give in an objection to a plan, plan 
amendment, or plan revision (36 CFR 219.54(c)).
    However, recently the Agency learned that subpart B is not 
considered an information collection under the Paperwork Reduction Act 
of 1995. Subpart B is not an information

[[Page 70381]]

collection because the notice indicating the availability of the plan, 
plan amendment, or plan revision, the appropriate final environmental 
documents, the draft plan decision document, and the beginning of the 
objection period is a general solicitation. No person is required to 
supply specific information pertaining to the respondent, other than 
that necessary for self-identification.

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.

    Therefore, for the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Forest 
Service proposes to amend 36 CFR part 219 by making the following 
amendments:

PART 219--PLANNING

0
1. The authority citation for part 219 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 5 U.S.C. 301; 16 U.S.C. 1604, 1613.

0
2. Revise Sec.  219.3 to read as follows:


Sec.  219.3  Role of science in planning.

    The responsible official shall use the best available scientific 
information to inform the planning process required by this subpart for 
assessment; developing, amending, or revising a plan; and monitoring. 
In doing so, the responsible official shall determine what information 
is the most accurate, reliable, and relevant to the issues being 
considered. The responsible official shall document how the best 
available scientific information was used to inform the assessment, the 
plan or amendment decision, and the monitoring program as required in 
Sec. Sec.  219.6(a)(3) and 219.14(a)(3). Such documentation must: 
Identify what information was determined to be the best available 
scientific information, explain the basis for that determination, and 
explain how the information was applied to the issues considered.
0
3. Revise the introductory text to Sec.  219.8 to read as follows:


Sec.  219.8  Sustainability.

    A plan developed or revised under this rule must provide for 
social, economic, and ecological sustainability within Forest Service 
authority and consistent with the inherent capability of the plan area, 
as follows:
* * * * *
0
4. Revise the introductory text to Sec.  219.9 to read as follows:


Sec.  219.9  Diversity of plant and animal communities.

    This section adopts a complementary ecosystem and species-specific 
approach to maintaining the diversity of plant and animal communities 
and the persistence of native species in the plan area. Compliance with 
the ecosystem requirements of paragraph (a) of this section is intended 
to provide the ecological conditions to both maintain the diversity of 
plant and animal communities and support the persistence of most native 
species in the plan area. Compliance with the requirements of paragraph 
(b) of this section is intended to provide for additional ecological 
conditions not otherwise provided by compliance with paragraph (a) of 
this section for individual species as set forth in paragraph (b) of 
this section. A plan developed or revised under this rule must provide 
for the diversity of plant and animal communities, within Forest 
Service authority and consistent with the inherent capability of the 
plan area, as follows:
* * * * *
0
5. Revise the introductory text to Sec.  219.10 to read as follows:


Sec.  219.10  Multiple use.

    While meeting the requirements of Sec. Sec.  219.8 and 219. 9, a 
plan developed or revised under this part must provide for ecosystem 
services and multiple uses, including outdoor recreation, range, 
timber, watershed, wildlife, and fish, within Forest Service authority 
and the inherent capability of the plan area as follows:
* * * * *
0
6. Revise the introductory text to Sec.  219.11 and paragraph (d)(4) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  219.11  Timber requirements based on the NFMA.

    While meeting the requirements of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.10, 
a plan developed or revised under this part must include plan 
components, including standards or guidelines, and other plan content 
regarding timber management within Forest Service authority and the 
inherent capability of the plan area, as follows:
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (4) Where plan components will allow clearcutting, seed tree 
cutting, shelterwood cutting, or other cuts designed to regenerate an 
even-aged stand of timber, the plan must include standards limiting the 
maximum size for openings that may be cut in one harvest operation, 
according to geographic areas, forest types, or other suitable 
classifications. Except as provided in paragraphs (d)(4)(i) through 
(iii) of this section, this limit may not exceed 60 acres for the 
Douglas-fir forest type of California, Oregon, and Washington; 80 acres 
for the southern yellow pine types of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, 
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, 
Oklahoma, and Texas; 100 acres for the hemlock-Sitka spruce forest type 
of coastal Alaska; and 40 acres for all other forest types.
* * * * *
0
7. Amend Sec.  219.13 as follows:
0
a. Revise paragraph (a);
0
b. Revise the introductory text of paragraph (b) and add paragraphs 
(b)(4) through (6);
0
c. Redesignate paragraph (c) as paragraph (d) and add new paragraph 
(c).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  219.13  Plan amendment and administrative changes.

    (a) Plan amendment. A plan may be amended at any time. Plan 
amendments may be broad or narrow, depending on the need for change, 
and should be used to keep plans current and help units adapt to new 
information or changing conditions. The responsible official has the 
discretion to determine whether and how to amend the plan and to 
determine the scope and scale of any amendment. Except as provided by 
paragraph (d) of this section, a plan amendment is required to add, 
modify, or remove one or more plan components, or to change how or 
where one or more plan components apply to all or part of the plan area 
(including management areas or geographic areas).
    (b) Amendment requirements. For all plan amendments, the 
responsible official shall:
* * * * *
    (4) Follow the applicable format for plan components, set out at 
Sec.  219.7(e), for the plan direction added or modified by the 
amendment, except that where an amendment to a plan developed or 
revised under a prior planning regulation would modify the area to 
which existing direction applies, without altering the existing 
direction, the responsible official may retain the existing formatting 
for that direction.
    (5) Ensure that the amendment meets the specific substantive 
requirement(s) within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11 that are directly 
related to the plan direction added, modified, or removed by the 
amendment.
    (6) Ensure that the amendment avoids effects that would be contrary 
to a specific substantive requirement of this

[[Page 70382]]

part identified within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11.
    (c) Amendment of a plan developed or revised under a prior planning 
rule. (1) An amendment of a plan developed or revised under a prior 
planning rule is not required to bring the amended plan into compliance 
with all of the requirements of Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11.
    (2) If the proposed amendment would remove direction required by 
the prior planning regulation, the responsible official must apply the 
directly related requirements within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 219.11.
    (3) If species of conservation concern (SCC) have not been 
identified for the plan area, the responsible official must use the 
regional forester sensitive species list in lieu of SCC when applying 
the requirements of Sec.  219.9(b) to a plan amendment for a plan 
developed or revised under a prior planning regulation.
0
8. Amend Sec.  219.14 as follows:
0
a. Revise the introductory text to paragraph (a);
0
b. Remove paragraph (a)(2);
0
c. Redesignate paragraphs (a)(3) through (6) as paragraphs (a)(2) 
through (5), respectively;
0
d. Redesignate paragraph (b) as paragraph (d) and add new paragraph 
(b);
0
e. Add paragraph (c).
    The revisions and additions read as follows:


Sec.  219.14  Decision document and planning records.

    (a) Decision document approving a new plan, plan amendment, or 
revision. The responsible official shall record approval of a new plan, 
plan amendment, or revision in a decision document prepared according 
to Forest Service NEPA procedures (36 CFR part 220). The decision 
document must include:
* * * * *
    (b) Decision document for a new plan or plan revision. In addition 
to meeting the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, the 
decision document must include an explanation of how the plan 
components meet the sustainability requirements of Sec.  219.8, the 
diversity requirements of Sec.  219.9, the multiple use requirements of 
Sec.  219.10, and the timber requirements of Sec.  219.11;
    (c) Decision document for a plan amendment. In addition to meeting 
the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section, the decision 
document must explain how the responsible official determined:
    (1) The scope and scale of the plan amendment; and
    (2) Which specific requirements within Sec. Sec.  219.8 through 
219.11 apply to the amendment and how they were applied.
* * * * *

    Dated: October 6, 2016.
Thomas L. Tidwell,
Chief, Forest Service.
[FR Doc. 2016-24654 Filed 10-11-16; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3411-15-P