Conveyance of Small Tracts

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 85 Issue 30 (Thursday, February 13, 2020)
[Federal Register Volume 85, Number 30 (Thursday, February 13, 2020)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 8180-8181]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2020-02299]
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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Forest Service
36 CFR Part 254
RIN 0596-AD40
Conveyance of Small Tracts
AGENCY: Forest Service, USDA.
ACTION: Final rule.
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SUMMARY: The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest
Service is revising regulations to implement certain changes to the
Small Tracts Act, enacted in the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018,
also known as the 2018 Farm Bill. These statutory changes raise the
value limit of tracts to be conveyed outside of the National Forest
System under the Small Tracts Act from $150,000 to $500,000, and create
a new conveyance category for parcels used as landfills, sewage
treatment plants, or cemeteries under a Forest Service special use or
other authorization. The changes also direct funds received from the
conveyance of certain eligible lands to the Sisk Act fund available to
the Secretary of Agriculture. These amendments to the Small Tracts Act
are expected to provide the Forest Service with more flexibility for
resolving property conflicts with private landowners and alleviate
management burden and expense to the Forest Service.
DATES: This final rule is effective February 13, 2020.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Brad Tait, by phone at 971-806-2199,
or via email at [email protected]. Individuals who use
telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal
Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 between 8:00 a.m.
and 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday.
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
Background
 Public Law 97-465, commonly known as the Small Tracts Act (16
U.S.C. 521c-521i), was enacted in 1983 to help the Forest Service
resolve land disputes and boundary management problems for parcels that
generally were small in scale (less than ten acres) with land values
that did not exceed $150,000. Eligible lands for sale, exchange, or
interchange included National Forest System lands encumbered by an
encroachment like a shed, house, or fence; roads or road rights-of-way
in excess of Forest Service transportation needs; and ``mineral survey
fractions,'' small parcels of National Forest System lands interspersed
with or adjacent to lands transferred out of Federal ownership under
the mining laws.
Discussion of Amendments to the Small Tracts Act
 The Small Tracts Act was amended by Section 8621 of the Agriculture
Improvement Act of 2018, also known as the 2018 Farm Bill (Pub. L. 115-
334). The provisions included in this final rule implement statutory
provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that are entirely non-discretionary.
 The 2018 Farm Bill increases the value limit of eligible parcels
from $150,000 to $500,000. This modernizes the land value limit,
allowing the Forest Service to continue conveying eligible parcels
consistent with the intent of the original Act. This final rule
implements this increase by revising paragraph (c) of 36 CFR 254.35.
 The 2018 Farm Bill also adds a new category for parcels used as
cemeteries, landfills, or sewage treatment plants authorized under a
special use authorization or other authorization by the Secretary. This
allows adjacent communities to have full control over these facilities
presently located and permitted on Forest Service land. Currently,
communities may only address this situation through special legislation
or a land exchange, which can be lengthy and difficult processes. This
final rule implements this provision by adding a new paragraph (c) to
36 CFR 254.32.
 The 2018 Farm Bill amendments provide that funds received from the
conveyance of certain eligible lands shall be deposited into the Sisk
Act fund (16 U.S.C. 484a) available to the Secretary of Agriculture.
The Secretary may use such funds to acquire land or interests in land
for the National Forest System in the State from which the amounts were
derived, including, but not limited to, land for administrative sites
and recreational access. This final rule implements this provision by
adding a new 36 CFR 254.38.
 Finally, this final rule revises 36 CFR 254.36(a) to refer to
``[a]ll pertinent requirements of this subpart'' rather than to
requirements of individual subsections of this subpart, which have been
changed by the above revisions made by this final rule.
Regulatory Certifications
Executive Order 12866
 Executive Order (E.O.) 12866 provides that the Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) will review all significant
rules. OIRA has determined that this final rule is not significant.
Executive Order 13771
 The final rule has been reviewed in accordance with E.O. 13771 on
reducing regulation and controlling regulatory costs, and is considered
an E.O. deregulatory action.
Congressional Review Act
 Pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (5 U.S.C. 801 et seq.),
OIRA designated this rule as not a major rule, as defined by 5 U.S.C.
804(2).
Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis
 The Agency has considered the final rule under the requirements of
the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 602 et seq.). This final rule
would not have any direct effect on small entities as defined by the
Regulatory Flexibility Act. The final rule would not impose
recordkeeping requirements on small entities; would not affect their
competitive position in relation to large entities; and would not
affect their cash flow, liquidity, or ability to remain in the market.
Therefore, the Forest Service has determined that this final rule would
not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small
entities pursuant to the Regulatory Flexibility Act.
Federalism
 The Agency has considered this final rule under the requirements of
E.O. 13132, Federalism. The Agency has concluded that the final rule
conforms with the federalism principles set out in this E.O.; would not
impose any compliance costs on the States; and would not have
substantial direct effects on the States, on the relationship between
the Federal Government and the States, nor on the distribution of power
and responsibilities among the various levels of government. Therefore,
the Agency concludes that this final rule does not have federalism
implications.
Consultation With Tribal Governments
 Tribal consultation is not required for the revisions to the Small
Tracts Act regulations effected in this final rule. The changes are not
subject to interpretation or further definition. Local notification
requirements to Tribes and other individuals for land
[[Page 8181]]
adjustment activities will occur as required.
No Takings Implications
 The Agency has analyzed this final rule in accordance with the
principles and criteria found in E.O. 12630, Governmental Actions and
Interference with Constitutionally Protected Property Rights, and has
determined that the rule does not pose the risk of a taking of
protected private property.
Controlling Paperwork Burdens on the Public
 This final rule does not contain any recordkeeping or reporting
requirements or other information collection requirements as defined in
5 CFR part 1320 that are not already required by law, or are not
already approved for use, and therefore imposes no additional paperwork
burden on the public. Accordingly, the review provisions of the
Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 3501-3521), and its
implementing regulations at 5 CFR part 1320, do not apply.
National Environmental Policy Act
 Agency regulations at 36 CFR 220.6(d)(2) (73 FR 43093) exclude from
documentation in an environmental assessment or impact statement
``rules, regulations, or policies to establish Service-wide
administrative procedures, program processes, or instructions.'' The
Agency has concluded that the revisions to regulations effected in this
final rule fall within this category of actions and that no
extraordinary circumstances exist which would require preparation of an
environment assessment or environmental impact statement.
Energy Effects
 This final rule has been reviewed under E.O. 13211, ``Actions
Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply,
Distribution, or Use.'' It has been determined that this final rule
does not constitute a significant energy action as defined in E.O.
13211.
Civil Justice Reform
 The Agency has analyzed this rule in accordance with the principles
and criteria of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform. The Agency
has not identified any State or local laws or regulations that conflict
with this regulation or that would impede full implementation of this
rule. Nevertheless, in the event that such conflicts were to be
identified, the final rule, if implemented, will preempt the State or
local laws or regulations found to be in conflict. However, in that
case, (1) no retroactive effect will be given to this final rule; and
(2) the USDA will not require the use of administrative proceedings
before parties could file suit in court challenging its provisions.
Unfunded Mandates
 Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (2
U.S.C. 1531-1538), the Agency has assessed the effects of this final
rule on State, local, and Tribal governments and the private sector.
This final rule does not compel the expenditure of $100 million or more
by any State, local, or Tribal governments, or anyone in the private
sector. Therefore, statements as described under sections 202 and 205
of the Act are not required.
List of Subjects in 36 CFR Part 254
 Community facilities, National forests.
 Therefore, for the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Forest
Service amends part 254 of title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations
as follows:
PART 254--LANDOWNERSHIP ADJUSTMENT
Subpart C--Conveyance of Small Tracts
0
1. The authority citation for part 254, subpart C, continues to read:
 Authority: Pub. L. 97-465; 96 Stat. 2535.
0
2. Amend Sec. 254.32 by revising the section heading, and adding
paragraph (c) to read as follows:
Sec. 254.32 Encroachments and other improvements.
* * * * *
 (c) This subpart also allows conveyance of parcels that are used as
a cemetery (including a parcel of not more than one acre adjacent to
the parcel used as a cemetery), a landfill, or a sewage treatment plant
under a special use authorization issued or otherwise authorized by a
Forest Service official.
0
3. Amend Sec. 254.35 by revising paragraph (c) to read as follows:
Sec. 254.35 Limitations.
* * * * *
 (c) The value of Federal lands conveyed in any transaction,
pursuant to this subpart, shall not exceed $500,000.
* * * * *
0
4. Amend Sec. 254.36 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:
Sec. 254.36 Determining public interest.
 (a) All pertinent requirements of this subpart must be met before a
determination of public interest is made.
* * * * *
0
5. Add Sec. 254.38 to read as follows:
Sec. 254.38 Disposition of proceeds.
 (a) The net proceeds derived from any sale or exchange in Sec.
254.32(c) shall be deposited in the fund commonly known as the ``Sisk
Act'' account.
 (b) Amounts deposited shall be available until expended for:
 (1) Acquisition of land or interests in land for administrative
sites for the National Forest System in the State from which the
amounts were derived; or
 (2) Acquisition of land or interests in land for inclusion in the
National Forest System in that State, including land or interests in
land that enhance opportunities for recreational access.
 Dated: January 29, 2020.
James E. Hubbard,
Undersecretary, Natural Resources and Environment.
[FR Doc. 2020-02299 Filed 2-12-20; 8:45 am]
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