36 CFR 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 (§ 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;
(2) Proposals for cost-share and other road easements to be issued under § 251.53(j) must be filed in accordance with regulations in § 212.10(c) and (d) of this chapter; and
(3) Proposals for oil and gas pipeline rights-of-way crossing Federal lands under the jurisdiction of two or more Federal agencies must be filed with the State Office, Bureau of Land Management, pursuant to regulations at 43 CFR part 2882.
(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.
(f) Special requirements for certain proposals -
(1) Oil and gas pipeline rights-of-way. These proposals must include the citizenship of the proponent(s) and disclose the identity of its participants as follows:
(i) Citizens of another country, the laws, customs, or regulations of which deny similar or like privileges to citizens or corporations of the United States, shall not own an appreciable interest in any oil and gas pipeline right-of-way or associated permit; and
(ii) The authorized officer shall promptly notify the House Committee on Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources upon receipt of a proposal for a right-of-way for a pipeline 24 inches or more in diameter, and no right-of-way for that pipeline shall be granted until notice of intention to grant the right-of-way, together with the authorized officer's detailed findings as to the term and conditions the authorized officer proposes to impose, have been submitted to the committees.
(2) Major development. Proponents of a major development may submit a request for a planning permit of up to 10 years in duration. Requests for a planning permit must include the information contained in paragraphs (d)(1) through (d)(3) of this section. Upon completion of a master development plan developed under a planning permit, proponents may then submit a request for a long-term authorization to construct and operate the development. At a minimum, a request for a long-term permit for a major development must include the information contained in paragraphs (d)(1) and (d)(2)(ii) through (d)(5) of this section. Issuance of a planning permit does not prejudice approval or denial of a subsequent request for a special use permit for the development.
(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.
(iv) Applications for noncommercial group uses must be received at least 72 hours in advance of the proposed activity. Applications for noncommercial group uses shall be processed in order of receipt, and the use of a particular area shall be allocated in order of receipt of fully executed applications, subject to any relevant limitations set forth in this section.
(v) For applications for planning permits, including those issued for a major development as described in paragraph (f)(3) of this section, the authorized officer shall assess only the applicant's financial and technical qualifications and determine compliance with other applicable laws, regulations, and orders. Planning permits may be categorically excluded from documentation in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement pursuant to Forest Service Handbook 1909.15 (36 CFR 200.4).
(3) Response to applications for noncommercial group uses.
(i) All applications for noncommercial group uses shall be deemed granted and an authorization shall be issued for those uses pursuant to the determination as set forth below, unless applications are denied within 48 hours of receipt. Where an application for a noncommercial group use has been granted or is deemed to have been granted and an authorization has been issued under this paragraph, an authorized officer may revoke that authorization only as provided under § 251.60(a)(1)(i).
(ii) An authorized officer shall grant an application for a special use authorization for a noncommercial group use upon a determination that:
(A) Authorization of the proposed activity is not prohibited by the rules at 36 CFR part 261, subpart B, or by Federal, State, or local law unrelated to the content of expressive activity;
(B) Authorization of the proposed activity is consistent or can be made consistent with the standards and guidelines in the applicable forest land and resource management plan required under the National Forest Management Act and 36 CFR part 219;
(C) The proposed activity does not materially impact the characteristics or functions of the environmentally sensitive resources or lands identified in Forest Service Handbook 1909.15, chapter 30;
(D) The proposed activity will not delay, halt, or prevent administrative use of an area by the Forest Service or other scheduled or existing uses or activities on National Forest System lands, including but not limited to uses and activities authorized under parts 222, 223, 228, and 251 of this chapter;
(E) The proposed activity does not violate State and local public health laws and regulations as applied to the proposed site. Issues addressed by State and local public health laws and regulations as applied to the proposed site include but are not limited to:
(1) The sufficiency of sanitation facilities;
(2) The sufficiency of waste-disposal facilities;
(3) The availability of sufficient potable drinking water;
(4) The risk of disease from the physical characteristics of the proposed site or natural conditions associated with the proposed site; and
(5) The risk of contamination of the water supply;
(F) The proposed activity will not pose a substantial danger to public safety. Considerations of public safety must not include concerns about possible reaction to the users' identity or beliefs from non-members of the group that is seeking an authorization and shall be limited to the following:
(1) The potential for physical injury to other forest users from the proposed activity;
(2) The potential for physical injury to users from the physical characteristics of the proposed site or natural conditions associated with the proposed site;
(3) The potential for physical injury to users from scheduled or existing uses or activities on National Forest System lands; and
(4) The adequacy of ingress and egress in case of an emergency;
(G) The proposed activity does not involve military or paramilitary training or exercises by private organizations or individuals, unless such training or exercises are federally funded; and
(H) A person or persons 21 years of age or older have been designated to sign and do sign a special use authorization on behalf of the applicant.
(iii) If an authorized officer denies an application because it does not meet the criteria in paragraphs (g)(3)(ii)(A) through (g)(3)(ii)(H) of this section, the authorized officer shall notify the applicant in writing of the reasons for the denial. If an alternative time, place, or manner will allow the applicant to meet the eight evaluation criteria, an authorized officer shall offer that alternative. If an application is denied solely under paragraph (g)(3)(ii)(C) of this section and all alternatives suggested are unacceptable to the applicant, the authorized officer shall offer to have completed the requisite environmental and other analyses for the requested site. A decision to grant or deny the application for which an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement is prepared is subject to the notice and appeal procedures at 36 CFR part 215 and shall be made within 48 hours after the decision becomes final under that appeal process. A denial of an application in paragraphs (g)(3)(ii)(A) through (g)(3)(ii)(H) of this section constitutes final agency action, is not subject to administrative appeal, and is immediately subject to judicial review.
(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 § 251.51 of this subpart.