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USDA/FS RIN: 0596-AD23 Publication ID: Fall 2016 
Title: Community Forest and Open Space Conservation Program (Rule) 
Abstract:

The Forest Service is proposing to revise the final rule implementing the Community Forest and Open Space Program (Community Forest Program or CFP). After selecting and awarding the first round of grants using the initial rule, the agency realized the current regulation (36 CFR 230 subpart A) had some inconsistencies and lacked in efficiency, hindering the agency from fully meeting the intent and purposes of the Community Forest Program.

One of the critical inconsistencies can be found in section 230.8, which specifies the acquisition requirements that grant recipients must follow. Subpart 230.8(a) (5) lists the documents and statements that must be recorded with the deed as part of the Notice of Grant Requirement. The particular item of concern is 230.8(a)(5)(vii), which states that "…the grant recipient will not convey or encumber the interest in real property, in whole or in part, to another party…". This language is overly restrictive and inconsistent with the grant assurances (OPM Form 424D), preventing eligible entities from using funding mechanisms that may require a conservation easement that are compatible with CFP requirements. It also prevents the transfer of ownership to another eligible entity if the recipient becomes unable to hold or maintain the Community Forest. While unlikely in the short term, in the long term there could be a need to transfer ownership. We propose to change this section to provide clear and consistent guidance to partners and future applicants, greater flexibility in meeting funding requirements, and access to other conservation tools consistent with CFP.

Additionally, the agency seeks to reduce the amount of paperwork and information collected during the application phase. Currently the agency requests an eight-page application, a map, all forms required for issuing a grant, and a draft community forest plan. We have determined that the current application process is more burdensome on applicants than is necessary and all elements of the current process are not necessary to select quality community forest projects that meet the intent of the program. 

Lastly, the agency seeks to clarify definitions and the use of technical assistance funds. Some of the definitions in the final rule were unclear and confused the intention of the program. The agency seeks to provide clarification and reduce the amount of confusion caused by the unclear definitions.

 
Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: uncollected 
CFR Citation: 36 CFR 230.8(a)(5)(vii)   
Legal Authority: sec. 8003 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Pub. L.110-234    122 stat 2043), which amends the Cooperative Forestry Assistance Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2103(d))   
Legal Deadline:  None
Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  12/08/2015  80 FR 76251   
NPRM Comment Period End  03/07/2016 
Final Rule  11/00/2016 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Tinathan A. Lewis
Department of Agriculture
201 14th Street SW,
Washington, DC 20024
Phone:202 205-3773
Email: talewis@fs.fed.us