Four respondents commented on Sec. 251.54(e)(2)(i). One respondent stated that this
requirement is generally illegal. Another respondent stated that the agency should only
require a group's name, address, and a description and the date of the proposed
activity. A third respondent commented that it is reasonable for the agency to require
information about proposed activities on National Forest System lands, including their
location, the number of participants, and the date and time of the proposed activity.
However, this respondent stated that requiring applicants to submit minimum information
subjects them to arbitrary standards of accuracy and demands for further
information--especially where the activity is diverse and organic, exact participation
is unknown, and set-up and clean-up times are imprecise--and that an authorized officer
could delay or deny an application because the information provided is deemed incomplete
or inaccurate. Two other respondents stated that the agency could deny a permit if an
application was not filled out correctly or completely.
Under the heading ``Minimum information,'' Sec.
251.54(e)(2)(i) of the proposed rule required applicants for
noncommercial group uses to provide a description of the proposed
activity, a description of the National Forest System lands and
facilities the applicant would like to use, the estimated number of
participants and spectators, and date and time of the proposed
activity, and the name of the person or persons 21 years of age or
older who will sign a special use authorization on behalf of the
The Department believes that requiring minimal information about proposed
noncommercial group uses is both reasonable and necessary for administrative purposes
and is in no way illegal.
Failure to require this information before these activities
occurwould defeat the Department's purposes of resource protection, promotion of public
health and safety, and allocation of space within the National Forest System. Without
this information, for example, the Forest Service would not know the kinds of mitigative
and preventive measures to take in authorizing noncommercial group uses. As a result,
these uses could pose a substantial risk of damage to National Forest System lands and
The Department's intent is to limit the information required to those items
contained in Secs. 251.54(e)(2)(i)(A)-(E), which address only the time, place, and
manner of the proposed activity. To clarify that intent, the heading for Sec.
251.54(e)(2) has been changed from ``Minimum information'' to ``Required information.''
In addition, a sentence has been added to Sec. 251.54(e)(2)(i) to make explicit that
the additional requirements enumerated in Secs. 251.54(e)(3) through (e)(6) of the final
rule do not apply to applications for noncommercial group uses.
While the Department intends that information be provided for each of the five
categories as accurately and completely as possible, Forest Service officers will not
hold applicants to standards of accuracy or completeness that are impracticable to
attain. For example, Sec. 251.54(e)(2)(i)(C) requires an estimate, not an exact number,
of participants and spectators. Under Sec. 251.54(e)(2)(i)(B), the Department is not
requiring a legal description of the land proposed for the activity, but rather a
description that is accurate and complete enough to allow the authorized officer to
determine where the activity will occur.
Finally, the Forest Service cannot delay an application because the information
provided is incomplete or inaccurate. Section 251.54(f)(5) of the final rule provides
that an application for noncommercial group uses must be granted or denied within 48
hours of receipt.
For the reasons stated, the final rule retains the requirement in Sec.
251.54(e)(2)(i) without change from the proposed rule.
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