General Comments


Requests for Extension of the Comment Period.

Fifteen respondents requested that the comment period be extended. One of these respondents requested an extension to 100 days after publication of the proposed rule, until August 14, to allow the Rainbow Family Council, which meets July 1, through 7, to submit a comment.


The APA does not specify the number of days for a comment period for informal rulemaking (5 U.S.C. 553(c)). The comment period for a proposed rule is often 60 days.

The comment period for this rulemaking was 90 days and closed August 4, 1993, nearly a month after the time identified for the meeting of the Rainbow Family Council. The Forest Service received 603 comments on the proposed rule, including 12 petitions with 20,451 signatures. The Department believes that the 90-day comment period was sufficient to give all members of the public an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule.


Compliance With the Paperwork Reduction Act.

Five respondents commented that the proposed rule violates the Paperwork Reduction Act on the grounds that an application for noncommercial group uses would take more than one to four hours to complete; that preparation time of up to four hours for applications governed by the rule indicates that these applications unreasonably restrict recreational use of national forests; that it is unreasonable to spend an hour or more on something that currently does not have to be done; and that the proposed rule would generate paperwork through litigation.


The Department disagrees with these comments, which are irrelevant to compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act.

The Paperwork Reduction Act requires approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) of any collection of information required by an agency that affects ten or more persons (44 U.S.C. 3502(4)(A), 3507(a)). ``Collection of information'' includes obtaining information through the use of application forms (44 U.S.C. 3502(4)(A)). An agency must estimate the time needed to comply with the collection of information requirement (44 U.S.C. 3507(a)).

The Department has fully complied with the Paperwork Reduction Act. The information that an applicant must provide the Forest Service in an application for a noncommercial group use constitutes a collection of information requirement under the Paperwork Reduction Act. The Department has obtained approval from OMB of a standard application form that can be used for all special uses. Because of the very limited information required in applications subject to this rule, however, the Department has developed a special application form for noncommercial group uses. The Department has submitted a request for approval of this form to OMB and will obtain approval of this form from OMB before using it in conjunction with this rule.

Since this rule applies to all noncommercial group uses on National Forest System lands, the Department has estimated the average amount of time an applicant will spend to prepare an application. The amount of time will vary depending on the scope and complexity of the proposed activity.

The Department believes that it has not underestimated the preparation time for an application. Under Secs. 251.54(e)(2)(i)(A) through (e)(2)(i)(E) of the final rule, information required from applicants for noncommercial group uses is limited to five very basic elements;
(1) A description of the proposed activity;

(2) a description of the National Forest System lands and any facilities the applicant would like to use;

(3) the estimated number of participants and spectators;

(4) the date and time of the proposed activity; and

(5) the name of the person or persons who will sign a special use authorization on behalf of the applicant.

Moreover, the application requirement is an essential component of the special use authorization process, which in turn furthers several significant governmental interests.

Compliance with Executive Order 12291

Listing of Comments

FS Regulation Page