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Permit policies & procedures

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National Forests

Forest Service Special Use Authorization

Website: http://www.fs.fed.us/specialuses/special_app_process.shtml

Summary

The Forest Service “special use” regulations establish a process to determine if a particular request will entail the need for a permit. The process begins a meeting with the local Forest Service Office where the activity will take place.

An electronic directory of Forest Service offices by name and state can be found here:
http://www.fs.fed.us/
(In the orange bar under the photo of the mountain, at the top of the page)

A staff member will discuss your proposal, potential land use conflicts, application procedures and qualifications, probable time frames, fees, bonding requirements, additional coordination with other agencies, environmental reports, and field reviews.

It is entirely possible that as a result of this meeting, the Forest Service official will determine that you will not need a permit. The regulation (pertinent sections found below this summary) provides that a special use authorization is not needed if “(1) The proposed use will have such nominal effects on National Forest System lands, resources, or programs that it is not necessary to establish terms and conditions in a special use authorization to protect National Forest System lands and resources or to avoid conflict with National Forest System programs or operations; (2) The proposed use is regulated by a State agency or another Federal agency in a manner that is adequate to protect National Forest System lands and resources and to avoid conflict with National Forest
System programs or operations.”

The Ornithological Council strongly recommends that if you are told that a special use authorization is not needed, that you request a letter on Forest Service letterhead confirming that understanding. Otherwise, you will have no proof that you complied with the law. Carry that letter with you when you are working on Forest Service property.

Should you need a special use authorization, the Forest Service official will provide you with a permit application.

Complete and submit the application form, including supporting documents, to the local Forest Service office. An incomplete proposal could delay the processing.

Processing Fee Schedule
The Forest Service has a three-level fee structure, as follows (2009 rates):

Category  
Hours  
Monitoring fee CY 2009*
1.  (Minimal Impact)  
Estimated work hours are >1 ≤ 8
$109
2.
Estimated work hours are > 8 ≤ 24 $386
3.
Estimated work hours are > 24 ≤ 36 $726
4.
Estimated work hours are > 36 ≤ 50 $1,040
5. (Master Agreements) Varies As specified in the Agreement.
6.
Estimated work hours are >50 Full reasonable costs, except MLA
Full actual costs (MLA)

The Forest Service also charges fees for monitoring the permitted activities. The fees are the same as above.


Code of Federal Regulations
Title 36, Volume 2
Revised as of July 1, 2008
From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access
CITE: 36CFR251.50

 
              TITLE 36--PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC PROPERTY
 
          CHAPTER II--FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
 
PART 251_LAND USES--Table of Contents
 
                         Subpart B_Special Uses
 
Sec. 251.50  Scope.

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 460l-6a, 460l-6d, 472, 497b, 497c, 551, 580d,
1134, 3210; 30 U.S.C. 185; 43 U.S.C. 1740, 1761-1771.

    Source: 45 FR 38327, June 6, 1980, unless otherwise noted.

    (a) All uses of National Forest System lands, improvements, and
resources, except those authorized by the regulations governing sharing
use of roads (Sec. 212.9); grazing and livestock use (part 222); the
sale and disposal of timber and special forest products, such as greens,
mushrooms, and medicinal plants (part 223); and minerals (part 228) are
designated ``special uses.'' Before conducting a special use,
individuals or entities must submit a proposal to the authorized officer
and must obtain a special use authorization from the authorized officer,
unless that requirement is waived by paragraphs (c) through (e)(3) of
this section.
    (b) Nothing in this section prohibits the temporary occupancy of
National Forest System lands without a special use authorization when
necessary for the protection of life and property in emergencies, if a
special use authorization is applied for and obtained at the earliest
opportunity, unless waived pursuant to paragraphs (c) through (e)(3) of
this section. The authorized officer may, pursuant to Sec. 251.56 of
this subpart, impose in that authorization such terms and conditions as
are deemed necessary or appropriate and may require changes to the
temporary occupancy to conform to those terms and conditions. Those
temporarily occupying National Forest System lands without a special use
authorization assume liability, and must indemnify the United States,
for all injury, loss, or damage arising in connection with the temporary
occupancy.
(d) Travel on any National Forest System road shall comply with all
Federal and State laws governing the road to be used and does not
require a special use authorization, unless:
    (1) The travel is for the purpose of engaging in a noncommercial
group use, outfitting or guiding, a recreation event, commercial
filming, or still photography, as defined in Sec. 251.51 of this
subpart, or for a landowner's ingress or egress across National Forest
System lands that requires travel on a National Forest System road that
is not authorized for general public use under Sec. 251.110(d) of this
part; or
    (2) Authorization of that use is required by an order issued under
Sec. 261.50 or by a regulation issued under Sec. 261.70 of this
chapter.
    (e) For proposed uses other than a noncommercial group use, a
special use authorization is not required if, based upon review of a proposal, the authorized officer determines that the proposed use has one or more of the following characteristics:
    (1) The proposed use will have such nominal effects on National
Forest System lands, resources, or programs that it is not necessary to
establish terms and conditions in a special use authorization to protect
National Forest System lands and resources or to avoid conflict with
National Forest System programs or operations;
    (2) The proposed use is regulated by a State agency or another
Federal agency in a manner that is adequate to protect National Forest
System lands and resources and to avoid conflict with National Forest
System programs or operations;

TITLE 36--PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC PROPERTY
 
          CHAPTER II--FOREST SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
 
PART 251_LAND USES--Table of Contents
 
                         Subpart B_Special Uses
 
Sec. 251.51  Definitions.

    Applicant--any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or
other business entity, and any Federal, State or governmental entity or
agency which applies for a special use authorization.
    Authorized officer--any employee of the Forest Service to whom has
been delegated the authority to perform the duties described in this
part.
    Chief--the Chief of the Forest Service.
    Forest road or trail. A road or trail wholly or partly within or
adjacent to and serving the National Forest System that the Forest
Service determines is necessary for the protection, administration, and
utilization of the National Forest System and the use and development of
its resources.
    Group use--an activity conducted on National Forest System lands
that involves a group of 75 or more people, either as participants or
spectators.
    Holder--any applicant who has received a special use authorization.
    Major category--A processing or monitoring category requiring more
than 50 hours of agency time to process an application for a special use authorization
(processing category 6 and, in certain situations, processing category 5) or more than 50 hours of
agency time to monitor compliance with the terms and conditions of an
authorization (monitoring category 6 and, in certain situations,
monitoring category 5). Major categories usually require documentation
of environmental and associated impacts in an environmental assessment
and may require an environmental impact statement.
    Minor category--A processing or monitoring category requiring 50
hours or less of agency time to process an application for a special use
authorization (processing categories 1 through 4 and, in certain
situations, processing category 5) or 50 hours or less of agency time to
monitor compliance with the terms and conditions of an authorization
(monitoring categories 1 through 4 and, in certain situations,
monitoring category 5). Minor categories may require documentation of
environmental and associated impacts in an environmental assessment.
    Monitoring--Actions needed to ensure compliance with the terms and
conditions in a special use authorization.
    National Forest System land--all lands, waters, or interests therein
administered by the Forest Service.
    National Forest System road. A forest road other than a road which
has been authorized by a legally documented right-of-way held by a
State, county, or other local public road authority.
    NEPA procedures--the rules, policies, and procedures governing
agency compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act set forth
in 50 CFR parts 1500-1508, 7 CFR part 1b, Forest Service Manual Chapter
1950, and Forest Service Handbook 1909.15.
    Noncommercial use or activity--any use or activity that does not
involve a commercial use or activity as defined in this section.
    Permit--a special use authorization which provides permission,
without conveying an interest in land, to occupy and use National Forest
System land or facilities for specified purposes, and which is both
revocable and terminable.
    Revocation--the cessation of a special use authorization by action
of an authorized officer before the end of the specified period of
occupancy or use for reasons set forth in Sec. 251.60(a)(1)(i),
(a)(2)(i), (g), and (h) of this subpart
    Secretary--the Secretary of Agriculture.
    Sound business management principles--a phrase that refers to
accepted industry practices or methods of establishing fees and charges
that are used or applied by the Forest Service to help establish the
appropriate charge for a special use. Examples of such practices and
methods include, but are not limited to, appraisals, fee schedules,
competitive bidding, negotiation of fees, and application of other
economic factors, such as cost efficiency, supply and demand, and
administrative costs.
    Special use authorization--a permit, term permit, lease, or easement
which allows occupancy, use, rights, or privileges of National Forest
System land.
    Still photography--use of still photographic equipment on National
Forest System lands that takes place at a location where members of the
public generally are not allowed or where additional administrative
costs are likely, or uses models, sets, or props that are not a part of
the site's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities.
    Suspension--a temporary revocation of a special use authorization.
    Termination--the cessation of a special use authorization by
operation of law or by operation of a fixed or agreed-upon condition,
event, or time as specified in an authorization without the necessity
for any decision or action by the authorized officer; for example,
expiration of the authorized term or transfer of the authorized
improvement to another party.
    Term permit--a special use authorization to occupy and use National
Forest System land, other than rights-of-way under Sec. 251.53(l) of
this part, for a specified period which is both revocable and
compensable according to its terms.

PART 251_LAND USES--Table of Contents
 
                         Subpart B_Special Uses
 
Sec. 251.52  Delegation of authority.

    Special use authorizations shall be issued, granted, amended,
renewed, suspended, terminated, or revoked by the Chief, or through
delegation, by the Regional Forester, Forest Supervisor, District Ranger
or other forest officer, and shall be in such form and contain such
terms, stipulations, conditions, and agreements as may be required by
the regulations of the Secretary and the instructions of the Chief (7
CFR 2.60; 36 CFR part 200, subpart B).

PART 251_LAND USES--Table of Contents
 
                         Subpart B_Special Uses
 
Sec. 251.54  Proposal and application requirements and procedures.

    (a) Early notice. When an individual or entity proposes to occupy
and use National Forest System lands, the proponent is required to
contact the Forest Service office(s) responsible for the management of
the affected land as early as possible in advance of the proposed use.
    (b) Filing proposals. Proposals for special uses must be filed in
writing with or presented orally to the District Ranger or Forest
Supervisor having jurisdiction over the affected land (Sec. 200.2 of
this chapter), except as follows:
    (1) Proposals for projects on lands under the jurisdiction of two or
more administrative units of the Forest Service may be filed at the most
convenient Forest Service office having jurisdiction over part of the
project, and the proponent will be notified where to direct subsequent
communications;
(c) Rights of proponents. A proposal to obtain a special use
authorization does not grant any right or privilege to use National
Forest System lands. Rights or privileges to occupy and use National
Forest System lands under this subpart are conveyed only through
issuance of a special use authorization.
    (d) Proposal content--(1) Proponent identification. Any proponent
for a special use authorization must provide the proponent's name and
mailing address, and, if the proponent is not an individual, the name
and address of the proponent's agent who is authorized to receive notice
of actions pertaining to the proposal.
    (2) Required information--(i) Noncommercial group uses. Paragraphs
(d)(3) through (d)(5) of this section do not apply to proposals for
noncommercial group uses. A proponent for noncommercial group uses shall
provide the following:
    (A) A description of the proposed activity;
    (B) The location and a description of the National Forest System
lands and facilities the proponent would like to use;
    (C) The estimated number of participants and spectators;
    (D) The starting and ending time and date of the proposed activity;
and
    (E) The name of the person or persons 21 years of age or older who
will sign a special use authorization on behalf of the proponent.
    (ii) All other special uses. At a minimum, proposals for special
uses other than noncommercial group uses must include the information
contained in paragraphs (d)(3) through (d)(5) of this section. In
addition, if requested by an authorized officer, a proponent in one of
the following categories must furnish the information specified for that
category:
    (A) If the proponent is a State or local government agency: a copy
of the authorization under which the proposal is made;
    (B) If the proponent is a public corporation: the statute or other
authority under which it was organized;
    (C) If the proponent is a Federal Government agency: the title of
the agency official delegated the authority to file the proposal;
    (D) If the proponent is a private corporation:
    (1) Evidence of incorporation and its current good standing;
    (2) If reasonably obtainable by the proponent, the name and address
of each shareholder owning three percent or more of the shares, together
with the number and percentage of any class of voting shares of the
entity which such shareholder is authorized to vote;
    (3) The name and address of each affiliate of the entity;
    (4) In the case of an affiliate which is controlled by the entity,
the number of shares and the percentage of any class of voting stock of the affiliate
that the entity owns either directly or indirectly; or
    (5) In the case of an affiliate which controls that entity, the
number of shares and the percentage of any class of voting stock of that
entity owned, either directly or indirectly by the affiliate; or
    (E) If the proponent is a partnership, association, or other
unincorporated entity: a certified copy of the partnership agreement or
other similar document, if any, creating the entity, or a certificate of
good standing under the laws of the State.
    (3) Technical and financial capability. The proponent is required to
provide sufficient evidence to satisfy the authorized officer that the
proponent has, or prior to commencement of construction will have, the
technical and financial capability to construct, operate, maintain, and
terminate the project for which an authorization is requested, and the
proponent is otherwise acceptable.
    (4) Project description. Except for requests for planning permits
for a major development, a proponent must provide a project description,
including maps and appropriate resource information, in sufficient
detail to enable the authorized officer to determine the feasibility of
a proposed project or activity, any benefits to be provided to the
public, the safety of the proposal, the lands to be occupied or used,
the terms and conditions to be included, and the proposal's compliance
with applicable laws, regulations, and orders.
    (5) Additional information. The authorized officer may require any
other information and data necessary to determine feasibility of a
project or activity proposed; compliance with applicable laws,
regulations, and orders; compliance with requirements for associated
clearances, certificates, permits, or licenses; and suitable terms and
conditions to be included in the authorization. The authorized officer
shall make requests for any additional information in writing.
    (e) Pre-application actions--(1) Initial screening. Upon receipt of
a request for any proposed use other than for noncommercial group use,
the authorized officer shall screen the proposal to ensure that the use
meets the following minimum requirements applicable to all special uses:
    (i) The proposed use is consistent with the laws, regulations,
orders, and policies establishing or governing National Forest System
lands, with other applicable Federal law, and with applicable State and
local health and sanitation laws.
    (ii) The proposed use is consistent or can be made consistent with
standards and guidelines in the applicable forest land and resource
management plan prepared under the National Forest Management Act and 36
CFR part 219.
    (iii) The proposed use will not pose a serious or substantial risk
to public health or safety.
    (iv) The proposed use will not create an exclusive or perpetual
right of use or occupancy.
    (v) The proposed use will not unreasonably conflict or interfere
with administrative use by the Forest Service, other scheduled or
authorized existing uses of the National Forest System, or use of
adjacent non-National Forest System lands.
    (vi) The proponent does not have any delinquent debt owed to the
Forest Service under terms and conditions of a prior or existing
authorization, unless such debt results from a decision on an
administrative appeal or from a fee review and the proponent is current
with the payment schedule.
    (vii) The proposed use does not involve gambling or providing of
sexually oriented commercial services, even if permitted under State
law.
    (viii) The proposed use does not involve military or paramilitary
training or exercises by private organizations or individuals, unless
such training or exercises are federally funded.
    (ix) The proposed use does not involve disposal of solid waste or
disposal of radioactive or other hazardous substances.
    (2) Results of initial screening. Any proposed use other than a
noncommercial group use that does not meet all of the minimum
requirements of paragraphs (e)(1)(i)-(ix) of this section shall not
receive further evaluation and processing. In such event, the authorized
officer shall advise the proponent that the use does not meet the minimum requirements. If the proposal was submitted orally, the authorized officer may respond orally. If the
proposal was made in writing, the authorized officer shall notify the
proponent in writing that the proposed use does not meet the minimum
requirements and shall simultaneously return the request.
    (3) Guidance and information to proponents. For proposals for
noncommercial group use as well as for those proposals that meet the
minimum requirements of paragraphs (e)(1)(i)-(ix), the authorized
officer, to the extent practicable, shall provide the proponent guidance
and information on the following:
    (i) Possible land use conflicts as identified by review of forest
land and resource management plans, landownership records, and other
readily available sources;
    (ii) Proposal and application procedures and probable time
requirements;
    (iii) Proponent qualifications;
    (iv) Applicable fees, charges, bonding, and/or security
requirements;
    (v) Necessary associated clearances, permits, and licenses;
    (vi) Environmental and management considerations;
    (vii) Special conditions; and
    (viii) identification of on-the-ground investigations which will
require temporary use permits.
    (4) Confidentiality. If requested by the proponent, the authorized
officer, or other Forest Service official, to the extent reasonable and
authorized by law, shall hold confidential any project and program
information revealed during pre-application contacts.
    (5) Second-level screening of proposed uses. A proposal which passes
the initial screening set forth in paragraph (e)(1) and for which the
proponent has submitted information as required in paragraph (d)(2)(ii)
of this section, proceeds to second-level screening and consideration.
In order to complete this screening and consideration, the authorized
officer may request such additional information as necessary to obtain a
full description of the proposed use and its effects. An authorized
officer shall reject any proposal, including a proposal for commercial
group uses, if, upon further consideration, the officer determines that:
    (i) The proposed use would be inconsistent or incompatible with the
purposes for which the lands are managed, or with other uses; or
    (ii) The proposed use would not be in the public interest; or
    (iii) The proponent is not qualified; or
    (iv) The proponent does not or cannot demonstrate technical or
economic feasibility of the proposed use or the financial or technical
capability to undertake the use and to fully comply with the terms and
conditions of the authorization; or
    (v) There is no person or entity authorized to sign a special use
authorization and/or there is no person or entity willing to accept
responsibility for adherence to the terms and conditions of the
authorization.
    (6) NEPA compliance for second-level screening process. A request
for a special use authorization that does not meet the criteria
established in paragraphs (e)(5)(i) through (e)(5)(v) of this section
does not constitute an agency proposal as defined in 40 CFR 1508.23 and,
therefore, does not require environmental analysis and documentation.
   
    (g) Application processing and response--(1) Acceptance of
applications. Except for proposals for noncommercial group uses, if a
request does not meet the criteria of both screening processes or is
subsequently denied, the proponent must be notified with a written
explanation of the rejection or denial and any written proposal returned
to the proponent. If a request for a proposed use meets the criteria of
both the initial and second-level screening processes as described in
paragraph (e) of this section, the authorized officer shall notify the
proponent that the agency is prepared to accept a written formal
application for a special use authorization and shall, as appropriate or
necessary, provide the proponent guidance and information of the type
described in paragraphs (e)(3)(i) through (e)(3)(viii) of this section.
    (2) Processing applications. (i) Upon acceptance of an application
for a special use authorization other than a planning permit, the
authorized officer shall evaluate the proposed use for the requested
site, including effects on the environment. The authorized officer may
request such additional information as necessary to obtain a full
description of the proposed use and its effects.
    (ii) Federal, State, and local government agencies and the public
shall receive adequate notice and an opportunity to comment upon a
special use proposal accepted as a formal application in accordance with
Forest Service NEPA procedures.
    (iii) The authorized officer shall give due deference to the
findings of another agency such as a Public Utility Commission, the
Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, or the Interstate Commerce
Commission in lieu of another detailed finding. If this information is
already on file with the Forest Service, it need not be refiled, if
reference is made to the previous filing date, place, and case number.
 
    (4) Response to all other applications. Based on evaluation of the
information provided by the applicant and other relevant information
such as environmental findings, the authorized officer shall decide
whether to approve the proposed use, approve the proposed use with
modifications, or deny the proposed use. A group of applications for
similar uses having minor environmental impacts may be evaluated with
one analysis and approved in one decision.
    (5) Authorization of a special use. Upon a decision to approve a
special use or a group of similar special uses, the authorized officer
may issue one or more special use authorizations as defined in Sec.
251.51 of this subpart.

PART 251_LAND USES--Table of Contents
 
                         Subpart B_Special Uses
 
Sec. 251.56  Terms and conditions.

    (a) General. (1) Each special use authorization must contain:
    (i) Terms and conditions which will:
    (A) Carry out the purposes of applicable statutes and rules and
regulations issued thereunder;
    (B) Minimize damage to scenic and esthetic values and fish and
wildlife habitat and otherwise protect the environment;
    (C) Require compliance with applicable air and water quality
standards established by or pursuant to applicable Federal or State law;
and
    (D) Require compliance with State standards for public health and
safety, environmental protection, and siting, construction, operation,
and maintenance if those standards are more stringent than applicable
Federal standards.
    (ii) Such terms and conditions as the authorized officer deems
necessary to:
    (A) Protect Federal property and economic interests;
    (B) Manage efficiently the lands subject to the use and adjacent
thereto;
    (C) Protect other lawful users of the lands adjacent to or occupied
by such use;
    (D) Protect lives and property;
    (E) Protect the interests of individuals living in the general area
of the use who rely on the fish, wildlife, and other biotic resources of
the area for subsistence purposes;
    (F) Require siting to cause the least damage to the environment,
taking into consideration feasibility and other relevant factors; and
    (G) Otherwise protect the public interest.

    Note to paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(G): The Department is making explicit
its preexisting understanding of Sec. 251.56(a)(1)(ii)(G) of this
subpart in the context of authorizing noncommercial group uses of
National Forest System lands. Section 251.56(a)(1)(ii)(G) provides that
each special use authorization shall contain such terms and conditions
as the authorized officer deems necessary to otherwise protect the
public interest. In the context of noncommercial group uses, the Forest
Service interprets the term ``public interest'' found in Sec.
251.56(a)(1)(ii)(G) to refer to the three public interests identified by
the Forest Service on August 30, 1995. These public interests include
the protection of resources and improvements on National Forest System
lands, the allocation of space among potential or existing uses and
activities, and public health and safety concerns. Under this
construction, Sec. 251.56(a)(1)(ii)(G) allows the Forest Service to
impose terms and conditions that are not specifically addressed in Sec.
251.56(a)(1)(ii)(A)-(F) but only those that further these public
interests. The Forest Service shall implement and enforce Sec.
251.56(a)(1)(ii)(G) in accordance with this interpretation.

    (2) Authorizations for use of National Forest System lands may be
conditioned to require State, county, or other Federal agency licenses,
permits, certificates, or other approval documents, such as a Federal
Communication Commission license, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
license, a State water right, or a county building permit.
    (b) Duration and renewability--(1) Requirements. If appropriate,
each special use authorization will specify its duration and
renewability. The duration shall be no longer than the authorized
officer determines to be necessary to accomplish the purpose of the
authorization and to be reasonable in light of all circumstances
concerning the use, including
    (i) Resource management direction contained in land management and
other plans;
    (ii) Public benefits provided;
    (iii) Cost and life expectancy of the authorized facilities;
    (iv) Financial arrangements for the project; and
    (v) The life expectancy of associated facilities, licenses, etc.
Except for special use authorizations issued under the National Forest
Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, authorizations exceeding 30 years shall
provide for revision of terms and conditions at specified intervals to
reflect changing times and conditions.
injury, loss, or damage, including fire suppression costs, the United
States may suffer as a result of claims, demands, losses, or judgments
caused by the holder's use or occupancy.
    (2) Holders of special use authorizations for high risk use and
occupancy, such as, but not limited to, powerlines and oil and gas
pipelines, shall be held liable for all injury, loss, or damage,
including fire suppression costs, caused by the holder's use or
occupancy, without regard to the holder's negligence, provided that
maximum liability shall be specified in the special use authorization as
determined by a risk assessment, prepared in accordance with established
agency procedures, but shall not exceed $1,000,000 for any one
occurrence. Liability for injury, loss, or damage, including fire
suppression costs, in excess of the specified maximum shall be
determined by the laws governing ordinary negligence of the jurisdiction
in which the damage or injury occurred.
    (e) Bonding. An authorized officer may require the holder of a
special use authorization for other than a noncommercial group use to
furnish a bond or other security to secure all or any of the obligations
imposed by the terms of the authorization or by any applicable law,
regulation or order.
    (f) Special terms and conditions--(1) Public service enterprises.
Special use permits authorizing the operation of public service
enterprises shall require that the permittee charge reasonable rates and
furnish such services as may be necessary in the public interest, except
where such rates and services are regulated by Federal, State or
municipal agencies having jurisdiction.
FR 22594, May 25, 1989; 60 FR 45294, Aug. 30, 1995; 63 FR 65967, Nov.
30, 1998; 64 FR 48960, Sept. 9, 1999]

PART 251_LAND USES--Table of Contents
 
                         Subpart B_Special Uses
 
Sec. 251.58  Cost recovery.

    (a) Assessment of fees to recover agency processing and monitoring
costs. The Forest Service shall assess fees to recover the agency's
processing costs for special use applications and monitoring costs for
special use authorizations. Applicants and holders shall submit
sufficient information for the authorized officer to estimate the number
of hours required to process their applications or monitor their
authorizations. Cost recovery fees are separate from any fees charged
for the use and occupancy of National Forest System lands.
    (b) Special use applications and authorizations subject to cost
recovery requirements. Except as exempted in paragraphs (g)(1) through
(g)(4) of this section, the cost recovery requirements of this section
apply in the following situations to the processing of special use
applications and monitoring of special use authorizations issued
pursuant to this subpart:
    (1) Applications for use and occupancy that require a new special
use authorization. Fees for processing an application for a new special
use authorization shall apply to any application formally accepted by
the agency on or after March 23, 2006 and to any application formally
accepted by the agency before March 23, 2006, which the agency has not
commenced processing. Proposals accepted as applications which the
agency has commenced processing prior to March 23, 2006 shall not be
subject to processing fees. The cost recovery provisions of this section
shall not apply to or supersede written agreements providing for
recovery of processing costs executed by the agency and applicants prior
to March 23, 2006.
    (2) Changes to existing authorizations. Processing fees apply to
proposals that require an application to amend or formally approve
specific activities or facilities as identified in an existing
authorization, operating plan, or master development plan. Processing
fees also apply to agency actions to amend a special use authorization.
    (3) Agency actions to issue a special use authorization and
applications for issuance of a new special use authorization due to
termination of an existing authorization, including termination caused
by expiration, a change in ownership or control of the authorized
facilities, or a change in ownership or control of the
holder of the authorization. Upon termination of an existing
authorization, a holder shall be subject to a processing fee for
issuance of a new authorization, even if the holder's existing
authorization does not require submission of an application for a new
authorization.
    (4) Monitoring of authorizations issued or amended on or after March
23, 2006.
    (c) Processing fee requirements. A processing fee is required for
each application for or agency action to issue a special use
authorization as identified in paragraphs (b)(1) through (b)(3) of this
section. Processing fees do not include costs incurred by the applicant
in providing information, data, and documentation necessary for the
authorized officer to make a decision on the proposed use or occupancy
pursuant to the provisions at Sec. 251.54.
    (1) Basis for processing fees. The processing fee categories 1
through 6 set out in paragraphs (c)(2)(i) through (c)(2)(vi) of this
section are based upon the costs that the Forest Service incurs in
reviewing the application, conducting environmental analyses of the
effects of the proposed use, reviewing any applicant-generated
environmental documents and studies, conducting site visits, evaluating
an applicant's technical and financial qualifications, making a decision
on whether to issue the authorization, and preparing documentation of
analyses, decisions, and authorizations for each application. The
processing fee for an application shall be based only on costs necessary
for processing that application. ``Necessary for'' means that but for
the application, the costs would not have been incurred and that the
costs cover only those activities without which the application cannot
be processed. The processing fee shall not include costs for studies for
programmatic planning or analysis or other agency management objectives,
unless they are necessary for the application being processed. For
example, the processing fee shall not include costs for capacity
studies, use allocation decisions, corridor or communications site
planning, and biological studies that address species diversity, unless
they are necessary for the application. Proportional costs for analyses,
such as capacity studies, that are necessary for an application may be
included in the processing fee for that application. The costs incurred
for processing an application, and thus the processing fee, depend on
the complexity of the project; the amount of information that is
necessary for the authorized officer's decision in response to the
proposed use and occupancy; and the degree to which the applicant can
provide this information to the agency. Processing work conducted by the
applicant or a third party contracted by the applicant minimizes the
costs the Forest Service will incur to process the application, and thus
reduces the processing fee. The total processing time is the total time
estimated for all Forest Service personnel involved in processing an
application and is estimated case by case to determine the fee category.
    (i) Processing fee determinations. The applicable fee rate for
processing applications in minor categories 1 through 4 (paragraphs
(c)(2)(i) through (c)(2)(iv) of this section) shall be assessed from a
schedule. The processing fee for applications in category 5, which may
be either minor or major, shall be established in the master agreement
(paragraph (c)(2)(v) of this section). For major category 5 (paragraph
(c)(2)(v) of this section) and category 6 (paragraph (c)(2)(vi) of this
section) cases, the authorized officer shall estimate the agency's full
actual processing costs. The estimated processing costs for category 5
and category 6 cases shall be reconciled as provided in paragraphs
(c)(5)(ii) and (iii) and (c)(6)(ii) and (iii) of this section.
    (ii) Reduction in processing fees for certain category 6
applications. For category 6 applications submitted under authorities
other than the Mineral Leasing Act, the applicant:
    (A) May request a reduction of the processing fee based upon the
applicant's written analysis of actual costs, the monetary value of the
rights and privileges sought, that portion of the costs incurred for the
benefit of the general public interest, the public service provided, the
efficiency of the agency processing involved, and other factors relevant
to determining the reasonableness of the costs. The agency will
determine whether the estimate of full actual costs should be reduced
based upon this analysis and will notify the applicant in writing of this
determination; or
    (B) May agree in writing to waive payment of reasonable costs and
pay the actual costs incurred in processing the application.
    (2) Processing fee categories. No fee is charged for applications
taking 1 hour or less for the Forest Service to process. Applications
requiring more than 1 hour for the agency to process are covered by the
fee categories 1 through 6 set out in the following paragraphs i through
vi.
    (i) Category 1: Minimal Impact: More than 1 hour and up to and
including 8 hours. The total estimated time in this minor category is
more than 1 hour and up to and including 8 hours for Forest Service
personnel to process an application.
    (ii) Category 2: More than 8 and up to and including 24 hours. The
total estimated time in this minor category is more than 8 and up to and
including 24 hours for Forest Service personnel to process an
application.
    (iii) Category 3: More than 24 and up to and including 36 hours. The
total estimated time in this minor category is more than 24 and up to
and including 36 hours for Forest Service personnel to process an
application.
    (iv) Category 4: More than 36 and up to and including 50 hours. The
total estimated time in this minor category is more than 36 and up to
and including 50 hours for Forest Service personnel to process an
application.
    (v) Category 5: Master agreements. The Forest Service and the
applicant may enter into master agreements for the agency to recover
processing costs associated with a particular application, a group of
applications, or similar applications for a specified geographic area.
This category is minor if 50 hours or less are needed for Forest Service
personnel to process an application and major if more than 50 hours are
needed. In signing a master agreement for a major category application
submitted under authorities other than the Mineral Leasing Act, an
applicant waives the right to request a reduction of the processing fee
based upon the reasonableness factors enumerated in paragraph
(c)(1)(ii)(A) of this section. A master agreement shall at a minimum
include:
    (A) The fee category or estimated processing costs;
    (B) A description of the method for periodic billing, payment, and
auditing;
    (C) A description of the geographic area covered by the agreement;
    (D) A work plan and provisions for updating the work plan;
    (E) Provisions for reconciling differences between estimated and
final processing costs; and
    (F) Provisions for terminating the agreement.
    (vi) Category 6: More than 50 hours. In this major category more
than 50 hours are needed for Forest Service personnel to process an
application. The authorized officer shall determine the issues to be
addressed and shall develop preliminary work and financial plans for
estimating recoverable costs.
    (3) Multiple applications other than those covered by master
agreements (category 5). (i) Unsolicited applications where there is no
competitive interest. Processing costs that are incurred in processing
more than one of these applications (such as the cost of environmental
analysis or printing an environmental impact statement that relates to
all of the applications) must be paid in equal shares or on a prorated
basis, as deemed appropriate by the authorized officer, by each
applicant, including applicants for recreation special uses that are
otherwise exempt under paragraph (g)(3) of this section when the Forest
Service requires more than 50 hours in the aggregate to process the
applications submitted in response to the prospectus.
    (ii) Unsolicited proposals where competitive interest exists. When
there is one or more unsolicited proposals and the authorized officer
determines that competitive interest exists, the agency shall issue a
prospectus. All proposals accepted pursuant to that solicitation shall
be processed as applications. The applicants are responsible for the
costs of environmental analyses that are necessary for their
applications and that are conducted prior to issuance of the prospectus.
Processing fees for these cases shall be determined pursuant to the
procedures for establishing a category 6 processing fee and shall include
costs such as
those incurred in printing and mailing the prospectus; having parties
other than the Forest Service review and evaluate applications;
establishing a case file; recording data; conducting financial reviews;
and, for selected applicants, any additional environmental analysis
required in connection with their applications. Processing fees shall be
paid in equal shares or on a prorated basis, as deemed appropriate by
the authorized officer, by all parties who submitted proposals that were
processed as applications pursuant to the solicitation, including
applicants for recreation special uses that are otherwise exempt under
paragraph (g)(3) of this section when the Forest Service requires more
than 50 hours in the aggregate to process the applications submitted in
response to the prospectus.
    (iii) Solicited applications. When the Forest Service solicits
applications through the issuance of a prospectus on its own initiative,
rather than in response to an unsolicited proposal or proposals, the
agency is responsible for the cost of environmental analyses conducted
prior to issuance of the prospectus. All proposals accepted pursuant to
that solicitation shall be processed as applications. Processing fees
for these cases shall be determined pursuant to the procedures for
establishing a category 6 processing fee and shall include costs such as
those incurred in printing and mailing the prospectus; having parties
other than the Forest Service review and evaluate applications;
establishing a case file; recording data; conducting financial reviews;
and, for selected applicants, any additional environmental analysis
required in connection with their applications. Processing fees shall be
paid in equal shares or on a prorated basis, as deemed appropriate by
the authorized officer, by all parties who submitted proposals that were
processed as applications pursuant to the solicitation, including
applicants for recreation special uses that are otherwise exempt under
paragraph (g)(3) of this section when the Forest Service requires more
than 50 hours in the aggregate to process the applications submitted in
response to the prospectus.
    (4) Billing and revision of processing fees. (i) Billing. When the
Forest Service accepts a special use application, the authorized officer
shall provide written notice to the applicant that the application has
been formally accepted. The authorized officer shall not bill the
applicant a processing fee until the agency is prepared to process the
application.
    (ii) Revision of processing fees. Minor category processing fees
shall not be reclassified into a higher minor category once the
processing fee category has been determined. However, if the authorized
officer discovers previously undisclosed information that necessitates
changing a minor category processing fee to a major category processing
fee, the authorized officer shall notify the applicant or holder of the
conditions prompting a change in the processing fee category in writing
before continuing with processing the application. The applicant or
holder may accept the revised processing fee category and pay the
difference between the previous and revised processing categories;
withdraw the application; revise the project to lower the processing
costs; or request review of the disputed fee as provided in paragraphs
(e)(1) through (e)(4) of this section.
    (5) Payment of processing fees. (i) Payment of a processing fee
shall be due within 30 days of issuance of a bill for the fee, pursuant
to paragraph (c)(4) of this section. The processing fee must be paid
before the Forest Service can initiate or, in the case of a revised fee,
continue with processing an application. Payment of the processing fee
by the applicant does not obligate the Forest Service to authorize the
applicant's proposed use and occupancy.
    (ii) For category 5 cases, when the estimated processing costs are
lower than the final processing costs for applications covered by a
master agreement, the applicant shall pay the difference between the
estimated and final processing costs.
    (iii) For category 6 cases, when the estimated processing fee is
lower than the full actual costs of processing an
application submitted under the Mineral Leasing Act, or lower than the
full reasonable costs (when the applicant has not waived payment of
reasonable costs) of processing an application submitted under other
authorities, the applicant shall pay the difference between the
estimated and full actual or reasonable processing costs.
    (6) Refunds of processing fees. (i) Processing fees in minor
categories 1 through 4 are nonrefundable and shall not be reconciled.
    (ii) For category 5 cases, if payment of the processing fee exceeds
the agency's final processing costs for the applications covered by a
master agreement, the authorized officer either shall refund the excess
payment to the applicant or, at the applicant's request, shall credit it
towards monitoring fees due.
    (iii) For category 6 cases, if payment of the processing fee exceeds
the full actual costs of processing an application submitted under the
Mineral Leasing Act, or the full reasonable costs (when the applicant
has not waived payment of reasonable costs) of processing an application
submitted under other authorities, the authorized officer either shall
refund the excess payment to the applicant or, at the applicant's
request, shall credit it towards monitoring fees due.
    (iv) For major category 5 and category 6 applications, an applicant
whose application is denied or withdrawn in writing is responsible for
costs incurred by the Forest Service in processing the application up to
and including the date the agency denies the application or receives
written notice of the applicant's withdrawal. When an applicant
withdraws a major category 5 or category 6 application, the applicant
also is responsible for any costs subsequently incurred by the Forest
Service in terminating consideration of the application.
    (7) Customer service standards. The Forest Service shall endeavor to
make a decision on an application that falls into minor processing
category 1, 2, 3, or 4, and that is subject to a categorical exclusion
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, within 60 calendar
days from the date of receipt of the processing fee. If the application
cannot be processed within the 60-day period, then prior to the 30th
calendar day of the 60-day period, the authorized officer shall notify
the applicant in writing of the reason why the application cannot be
processed within the 60-day period and shall provide the applicant with
a projected date when the agency plans to complete processing the
application. For all other applications, including all applications that
require an environmental assessment or an environmental impact
statement, the authorized officer shall, within 60 calendar days of
acceptance of the application, notify the applicant in writing of the
anticipated steps that will be needed to process the application. These
customer service standards do not apply to applications that are subject
to a waiver of or exempt from cost recovery fees under Sec. Sec.
251.58(f) or (g).
    (d) Monitoring fee requirements. The monitoring fee for an
authorization shall be assessed independently of any fee charged for
processing the application for that authorization pursuant to paragraph
(c) of this section. Payment of the monitoring fee is due upon issuance
of the authorization.
    (1) Basis for monitoring fees. Monitoring is defined at Sec.
251.51. For monitoring fees in minor categories 1 through 4,
authorization holders are assessed fees based upon the estimated time
needed for Forest Service monitoring to ensure compliance with the
authorization during the construction or reconstruction of temporary or
permanent facilities and rehabilitation of the construction or
reconstruction site. Major category 5 and category 6 monitoring fees
shall be based upon the agency's estimated costs to ensure compliance
with the terms and conditions of the authorization during all phases of
its term, including but not limited to monitoring to ensure compliance
with the authorization during the construction or reconstruction of
temporary or permanent facilities and rehabilitation of the construction
or reconstruction site. Monitoring for all categories does not include
billings, maintenance of case files, annual performance evaluations, or
scheduled inspections to determine compliance generally with the terms
and conditions of an authorization.
    (i) Monitoring fee determinations. The applicable fee rate for
monitoring compliance with authorizations in minor categories 1 through
4 (paragraphs (d)(2)(i) through (d)(2)(iv) of this section) shall be
assessed from a schedule. The monitoring fee for authorizations in
category 5, which may be minor or major, shall be established in the
master agreement (paragraph (d)(2)(v) of this section). For major
category 5 (paragraph (d)(2)(v) of this section) and category 6
(paragraph (d)(2)(vi) of this section) cases, the authorized officer
shall estimate the agency's full actual monitoring costs. The estimated
monitoring costs for category 5 and category 6 cases shall be reconciled
as provided in paragraphs (d)(3)(ii) and (iii) and (d)(4)(ii) and (iii)
of this section.
    (ii) Reductions in monitoring fees for certain category 6
authorizations. For category 6 authorizations issued under authorities
other than the Mineral Leasing Act, the holder:
    (A) May request a reduction of the monitoring fee based upon the
holder's written analysis of actual costs, the monetary value of the
rights or privileges granted, that portion of the costs incurred for the
benefit of the general public interest, the public service provided, the
efficiency of the agency monitoring involved, and other factors relevant
to determining the reasonableness of the costs. The agency will
determine whether the estimate of full actual costs should be reduced
based upon this analysis and will notify the holder in writing of this
determination; or
    (B) May agree in writing to waive payment of reasonable costs and
pay the actual costs incurred in monitoring the authorization.
    (2) Monitoring fee categories. No monitoring fee is charged for
authorizations requiring 1 hour or less for the Forest Service to
monitor. Authorizations requiring more than1 hour for the agency to
monitor are covered by fee categories 1 through 6 set out in the
following paragraphs (d)(2)(i) through (vi) of this section.
    (i) Category 1: Minimal Impact: More than 1 hour and up to and
including 8 hours. This minor category requires more than1 hour and up
to and including 8 hours for Forest Service personnel to monitor
compliance with a special use authorization during construction or
reconstruction of temporary or permanent facilities and rehabilitation
of the construction or reconstruction site.
    (ii) Category 2: More than 8 and up to and including 24 hours. This
minor category requires more than 8 and up to and including 24 hours for
Forest Service personnel to monitor compliance with a special use
authorization during construction or reconstruction of temporary or
permanent facilities and rehabilitation of the construction or
reconstruction site.
    (iii) Category 3: More than 24 and up to and including 36 hours.
This minor category requires more than 24 and up to and including 36
hours for Forest Service personnel to monitor compliance with a special
use authorization during construction or reconstruction of temporary or
permanent facilities and rehabilitation of the construction or
reconstruction site.
    (iv) Category 4: More than 36 and up to and including 50 hours. This
minor category requires more than 36 and up to and including 50 hours
for Forest Service personnel to monitor compliance with a special use
authorization during construction or reconstruction of temporary or
permanent facilities and rehabilitation of the construction or
reconstruction site.
    (v) Category 5: Master agreements. The Forest Service and the holder
of an authorization may enter into a master agreement for the agency to
recover monitoring costs associated with a particular authorization or
by a group of authorizations for a specified geographic area. This
category is minor if 50 hours or less are needed for Forest Service
personnel to monitor compliance with an authorization and major if more
than 50 hours are needed. In signing a master agreement for a major
category authorization issued under authorities other than the Mineral
Leasing Act, a holder waives the right to request a reduction of the
monitoring fee based upon the reasonableness factors enumerated in
paragraph (d)(1)(ii)(A) of this section. A master agreement shall at a
minimum include:
    (A) The fee category or estimated monitoring costs;
    (B) A description of the method for periodic billing, payment, and
auditing of monitoring fees;
    (C) A description of the geographic area covered by the agreement;
    (D) A monitoring work plan and provisions for updating the work
plan;
    (E) Provisions for reconciling differences between estimated and
final monitoring costs; and
    (F) Provisions for terminating the agreement.
    (vi) Category 6: More than 50 hours. This major category requires
more than 50 hours for Forest Service personnel to monitor compliance
with the terms and conditions of the authorization during all phases of
its term, including, but not limited, to monitoring compliance with the
authorization during the construction or reconstruction of temporary or
permanent facilities and rehabilitation of the construction or
reconstruction site.
    (3) Billing and payment of monitoring fees. (i) The authorized
officer shall estimate the monitoring costs and shall notify the holder
of the required fee. Monitoring fees in minor categories 1 through 4
must be paid in full before or at the same time the authorization is
issued. For authorizations in major category 5 and category 6, the
estimated monitoring fees must be paid in full before or at the same
time the authorization is issued, unless the authorized officer and the
applicant or holder agree in writing to periodic payments.
    (ii) For category 5 cases, when the estimated monitoring costs are
lower than the final monitoring costs for authorizations covered by a
master agreement, the holder shall pay the difference between the
estimated and final monitoring costs.
    (iii) For category 6 cases, when the estimated monitoring fee is
lower than the full actual costs of monitoring an authorization issued
under the Mineral Leasing Act, or lower than the full reasonable costs
(when the holder has not waived payment of reasonable costs) of
monitoring an authorization issued under other authorities, the holder
shall pay the difference in the next periodic payment or the authorized
officer shall bill the holder for the difference between the estimated
and full actual or reasonable monitoring costs. Payment shall be due
within 30 days of receipt of the bill.
    (4) Refunds of monitoring fees. (i) Monitoring fees in minor
categories 1 through 4 are nonrefundable and shall not be reconciled.
    (ii) For category 5 cases, if payment of the monitoring fee exceeds
the agency's final monitoring costs for the authorizations covered by a
master agreement, the authorized officer shall either adjust the next
periodic payment to reflect the overpayment or refund the excess payment
to the holder.
    (iii) For category 6 cases, if payment of the monitoring fee exceeds
the full actual costs of monitoring an authorization issued under the
Mineral Leasing Act, or the full reasonable costs (when the holder has
not waived payment of reasonable costs) of monitoring an authorization
issued under other authorities, the authorized officer shall either
adjust the next periodic payment to reflect the overpayment or refund
the excess payment to the holder.
    (e) Applicant and holder disputes concerning processing or
monitoring fee assessments; requests for changes in fee categories or
estimated costs. (1) If an applicant or holder disagrees with the
processing or monitoring fee category assigned by the authorized officer
for a minor category or, in the case of a major processing or monitoring
category, with the estimated dollar amount of the processing or
monitoring costs, the applicant or holder may submit a written request
before the disputed fee is due for substitution of an alternative fee
category or alternative estimated costs to the immediate supervisor of
the authorized officer who determined the fee category or estimated
costs. The applicant or holder must provide documentation that supports
the alternative fee category or estimated costs.
    (2) In the case of a disputed processing fee:
    (i) If the applicant pays the full disputed processing fee, the
authorized officer shall continue to process the application during the
supervisory officer's review of the disputed fee, unless the applicant
requests that the processing cease.
    (ii) If the applicant fails to pay the full disputed processing fee,
the authorized officer shall suspend further processing of the
application pending the supervisory officer's determination of an
appropriate processing fee and the applicant's payment of that fee.
    (3) In the case of a disputed monitoring fee:
    (i) If the applicant or holder pays the full disputed monitoring
fee, the authorized officer shall issue the authorization or allow the
use and occupancy to continue during the supervisory officer's review of
the disputed fee, unless the applicant or holder elects not to exercise
the authorized use and occupancy of National Forest System lands during
the review period.
    (ii) If the applicant or holder fails to pay the full disputed
monitoring fee, the authorized officer shall not issue the applicant a
new authorization or shall suspend the holder's existing authorization
in whole or in part pending the supervisory officer's determination of
an appropriate monitoring fee and the applicant's or holder's payment of
that fee.
    (4) The authorized officer's immediate supervisor shall render a
decision on a disputed processing or monitoring fee within 30 calendar
days of receipt of the written request from the applicant or holder. The
supervisory officer's decision is the final level of administrative
review. The dispute shall be decided in favor of the applicant or holder
if the supervisory officer does not respond to the written request
within 30 days of receipt.
    (f) Waivers of processing and monitoring fees. (1) All or part of a
processing or monitoring fee may be waived, at the sole discretion of
the authorized officer, when one or more of the following criteria are
met:
    (i) The applicant or holder is a local, State, or Federal
governmental entity that does not or would not charge processing or
monitoring fees for comparable services the applicant or holder provides
or would provide to the Forest Service;
    (ii) A major portion of the processing costs results from issues not
related to the project being proposed;
    (iii) The application is for a project intended to prevent or
mitigate damage to real property, or to mitigate hazards or dangers to
public health and safety resulting from an act of God, an act of war, or
negligence of the United States;
    (iv) The application is for a new authorization to relocate
facilities or activities to comply with public health and safety or
environmental laws and regulations that were not in effect at the time
the authorization was issued;
    (v) The application is for a new authorization to relocate
facilities or activities because the land is needed by a Federal agency
or for a Federally funded project for an alternative public purpose; or
    (vi) The proposed facility, project, or use will provide, without
user or customer charges, a valuable benefit to the general public or to
the programs of the Secretary of Agriculture.
    (2) An applicant's or holder's request for a full or partial waiver
of a processing or monitoring fee must be in writing and must include an
analysis that demonstrates how one or more of the criteria in paragraphs
(f)(1)(i) through (f)(1)(vi) of this section apply.
    (g) Exemptions from processing or monitoring fees. No processing or
monitoring fees shall be charged when the application or authorization
is for a:
    (1) Noncommercial group use as defined in Sec. 251.51, or when the
application or authorization is to exempt a noncommercial activity from
a closure order, except for an application or authorization for access
to non-Federal lands within the boundaries of the National Forest System
granted pursuant to section 1323(a) of the Alaska National Interest
Lands Conservation Act (16 U.S.C. 3210(a))..
    (h) Appeal of decisions. (1) A decision by the authorized officer to
assess a processing or monitoring fee or to determine the fee category
or estimated costs is not subject to administrative appeal.
    (2) A decision by an authorized officer's immediate supervisor in
response to a request for substitution of an alternative fee category or
alternative estimated costs likewise is not subject to administrative
appeal.