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USDA/FS RIN: 0596-AD53 Publication ID: Spring 2022 
Title: Weeks Act Reviews 
Abstract:

Beginning in FY2021, Forest Service will be implementing the Biden Administration’s America the Beautiful initiative using Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) funding.  While GAOA provides funding to acquire land, Forest Service use a number of laws that authorize our ability to purchase. One of these is the Weeks Act, which Regions 8 and 9 rely on heavily. USDA Regulations currently require the Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment to approve all Weeks Act land acquisitions over $250,000. This requirement, dating back to 1988, is no longer needed. Eliminating the requirement for USDA approval and delegating all approvals for Weeks Acts purchases to the Chief of the Forest Service would still fulfill its purpose and would significantly streamline implementation of the Administration's America the Beautiful initiative. This is evident by the number of Weeks Act projects the Under Secretary has approved in the last year. From October 1, 2020 to August 25, 2021, the Under Secretary approved 25 separate decision memos for Weeks Act projects exceeding $250,000.  However, USDA has been purchasing land under this authority since 1911, so the purchases are routine transactions; purchases are fully vetted at all levels of Forest Service, and purchases are routinely non-controversial.  Delegating authority to the Chief to approve all Weeks Act purchases would be consistent with the Chief's authority under all other purchase authorities.  Because Weeks Act purchases add land to National Forests, they help achieve the President's goal of conserving 30% of lands and waters in the US by 2030 (also known as the America the Beautiful initiative). Removing the Under Secretary's review would streamline the implementation of the America the Beautiful initiative.

 
Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Substantive, Nonsignificant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 7 CFR 2.20(a)(2)(iii), 7 CFR 2.60(a)(3)   
Legal Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6912(a)(1)    5 U.S.C. 301    Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1953, 3 CFR 1949–1953 Comp., p. 1024   
Legal Deadline:  None
Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  08/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: Undetermined 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: Undetermined 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: No 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Nathan Morris
Department of Agriculture
Forest Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW,
Washington, DC 20250
Phone:202 271-8908
Email: nathan.morris@fs.fed.us