36 CFR 219.12 - Monitoring.
(a) Plan monitoring program. (1) The responsible official shall develop a monitoring program for the plan area and include it in the plan. Monitoring information should enable the responsible official to determine if a change in plan components or other plan content that guide management of resources on the plan area may be needed. The development of the plan monitoring program must be coordinated with the regional forester and Forest Service State and Private Forestry and Research and Development. Responsible officials for two or more administrative units may jointly develop their plan monitoring programs.
(2) The plan monitoring program sets out the plan monitoring questions and associated indicators. Monitoring questions and associated indicators must be designed to inform the management of resources on the plan area, including by testing relevant assumptions, tracking relevant changes, and measuring management effectiveness and progress toward achieving or maintaining the plan's desired conditions or objectives. Questions and indicators should be based on one or more desired conditions, objectives, or other plan components in the plan, but not every plan component needs to have a corresponding monitoring question.
(3) The plan monitoring program should be coordinated and integrated with relevant broader-scale monitoring strategies (paragraph (b) of this section) to ensure that monitoring is complementary and efficient, and that information is gathered at scales appropriate to the monitoring questions.
(4) Subject to the requirements of paragraph (a)(5) of this section, the responsible official has the discretion to set the scope and scale of the plan monitoring program, after considering:
(i) Information needs identified through the planning process as most critical for informed management of resources on the plan area; and
(ii) The financial and technical capabilities of the Agency.
(5) Each plan monitoring program must contain one or more monitoring questions and associated indicators addressing each of the following:
(i) The status of select watershed conditions.
(ii) The status of select ecological conditions including key characteristics of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
(iii) The status of focal species to assess the ecological conditions required under § 219.9.
(iv) The status of a select set of the ecological conditions required under § 219.9 to contribute to the recovery of federally listed threatened and endangered species, conserve proposed and candidate species, and maintain a viable population of each species of conservation concern.
(v) The status of visitor use, visitor satisfaction, and progress toward meeting recreation objectives.
(vi) Measurable changes on the plan area related to climate change and other stressors that may be affecting the plan area.
(vii) Progress toward meeting the desired conditions and objectives in the plan, including for providing multiple use opportunities.
(viii) The effects of each management system to determine that they do not substantially and permanently impair the productivity of the land (16 U.S.C. 1604(g)(3)(C)).
(6) A range of monitoring techniques may be used to carry out the monitoring requirements in paragraph (a)(5) of this section.
(7) This section does not apply to projects or activities. Project and activity monitoring may be used to gather information for the plan monitoring program, and information gathered through plan monitoring may be used to inform development of projects or activities. But, the monitoring requirements of this section are not a prerequisite for making a decision to carry out a project or activity.
(b) Broader-scale monitoring strategies. (1) The regional forester shall develop a broader-scale monitoring strategy for plan monitoring questions that can best be answered at a geographic scale broader than one plan area.
(2) When developing a monitoring strategy, the regional forester shall coordinate with the relevant responsible officials, Forest Service State and Private Forestry and Research and Development, partners, and the public. Two or more regional foresters may jointly develop broader-scale monitoring strategies.
(3) Each regional forester shall ensure that the broader-scale monitoring strategy is within the financial and technical capabilities of the region and complements other ongoing monitoring efforts.
(4) Projects and activities may be carried out under plans developed, amended, or revised under this part before the regional forester has developed a broader-scale monitoring strategy.
(c) Timing and process for developing the plan monitoring program and broader-scale strategies. (1) The responsible official shall develop the plan monitoring program as part of the planning process for a new plan development or plan revision. Where a plan's monitoring program has been developed under the provisions of a prior planning regulation and the unit has not initiated plan revision under this part, the responsible official shall modify the plan monitoring program within 4 years of the effective date of this part, or as soon as practicable, to meet the requirements of this section.
(2) The regional forester shall develop a broader-scale monitoring strategy as soon as practicable.
(3) To the extent practicable, appropriate, and relevant to the monitoring questions in the plan monitoring program, plan monitoring programs and broader-scale strategies must be designed to take into account:
(i) Existing national and regional inventory, monitoring, and research programs of the Agency, including from the NFS, State and Private Forestry, and Research and Development, and of other governmental and non-governmental entities;
(ii) Opportunities to design and carry out multi-party monitoring with other Forest Service units, Federal, State or local government agencies, scientists, partners, and members of the public; and
(iii) Opportunities to design and carry out monitoring with federally recognized Indian Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations.
(d) Biennial evaluation of the monitoring information. (1) The responsible official shall conduct a biennial evaluation of new information gathered through the plan monitoring program and relevant information from the broader-scale strategy, and shall issue a written report of the evaluation and make it available to the public.
(i) The first monitoring evaluation for a plan or plan revision developed in accordance with this subpart must be completed no later than 2 years from the effective date of plan decision.
(ii) Where the monitoring program developed under the provisions of a prior planning regulation has been modified to meet the requirements of paragraph (c)(1) of this section, the first monitoring evaluation must be completed no later than 2 years from the date the change takes effect.
(iii) The monitoring evaluation report may be postponed for 1 year in case of exigencies, but notice of the postponement must be provided to the public prior to the date the report is due for that year (§ 219.16(c)(6)).
(2) The monitoring evaluation report must indicate whether or not a change to the plan, management activities, or the monitoring program, or a new assessment, may be warranted based on the new information. The monitoring evaluation report must be used to inform adaptive management of the plan area.
(3) The monitoring evaluation report may be incorporated into other planning documents if the responsible official has initiated a plan revision or relevant amendment.
(4) The monitoring evaluation report is not a decision document representing final Agency action, and is not subject to the objection provisions of subpart B.