50 C.F.R. Subpart C—Counterpart Regulations for Implementing the National Fire Plan

Title 50 - Wildlife and Fisheries

Title 50: Wildlife and Fisheries

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Subpart C—Counterpart Regulations for Implementing the National Fire Plan

Source:  68 FR 68264, Dec. 8, 2003, unless otherwise noted.

§ 402.30   Definitions.

The definitions in §402.02 are applicable to this subpart. In addition, the following definitions are applicable only to this subpart.

Action Agency refers to the Department of Agriculture Forest Service (FS) or the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), or National Park Service (NPS).

Alternative Consultation Agreement (ACA) is the agreement described in §402.33 of this subpart.

Fire Plan Project is an action determined by the Action Agency to be within the scope of the NFP as defined in this section.

National Fire Plan (NFP) is the September 8, 2000, report to the President from the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture entitled “Managing the Impact of Wildfire on Communities and the Environment” outlining a new approach to managing fires, together with the accompanying budget requests, strategies, plans, and direction, or any amendments thereto.

Service Director refers to the FWS Director or the Assistant Administrator for Fisheries for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

§ 402.31   Purpose.

The purpose of these counterpart regulations is to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of the consultation process under section 7 of the ESA for Fire Plan Projects by providing an optional alternative to the procedures found in §§402.13 and 402.14(b) of this part. These regulations permit an Action Agency to enter into an Alternative Consultation Agreement (ACA) with the Service, as described in §402.33, which will allow the Action Agency to determine that a Fire Plan Project is “not likely to adversely affect” (NLAA) a listed species or designated critical habitat without formal or informal consultation with the Service or written concurrence from the Service. An NLAA determination for a Fire Plan Project made under an ACA, as described in §402.33, completes the Action Agency's statutory obligation to consult with the Service for that Project. In situations where the Action Agency does not make an NLAA determination under the ACA, the Action Agency would still be required to conduct formal consultation with the Service when required by §402.14. This process will be as protective to listed species and designated critical habitat as the process established in subpart B of this part. The standards and requirements for formal consultation under subpart B for Fire Plan Projects that do not receive an NLAA determination are unchanged.

§ 402.32   Scope.

(a) Section 402.33 establishes a process by which an Action Agency may determine that a proposed Fire Plan Project is not likely to adversely affect any listed species or designated critical habitat without conducting formal or informal consultation or obtaining written concurrence from the Service.

(b) Section 402.34 establishes the Service's oversight responsibility and the standard for review under this subpart.

(c) Nothing in this subpart C precludes an Action Agency at its discretion from initiating early, informal, or formal consultation as described in §§402.11, 402.13, and 402.14, respectively.

(d) The authority granted in this subpart is applicable to an Action Agency only where the Action Agency has entered into an ACA with the Service. An ACA entered into with one Service is valid with regard to listed species and designated critical habitat under the jurisdiction of that Service whether or not the Action Agency has entered into an ACA with the other Service.

§ 402.33   Procedures.

(a) The Action Agency may make an NLAA determination for a Fire Plan Project without informal consultation or written concurrence from the Director if the Action Agency has entered into and implemented an ACA. The Action Agency need not initiate formal consultation on a Fire Plan Project if the Action Agency has made an NLAA determination for the Project under this subpart. The Action Agency and the Service will use the following procedures in establishing an ACA.

(1) Initiation: The Action Agency submits a written notification to the Service Director of its intent to enter into an ACA.

(2) Development and Adoption of the Alternative Consultation Agreement: The Action Agency enters into an ACA with the Service Director. The ACA will, at a minimum, include the following components:

(i) A list or description of the staff positions within the Action Agency that will have authority to make NLAA determinations under this subpart C.

(ii) Procedures for developing and maintaining the skills necessary within the Action Agency to make NLAA determinations, including a jointly developed training program based on the needs of the Action Agency.

(iii) A description of the standards the Action Agency will apply in assessing the effects of the action, including direct and indirect effects of the action and effects of any actions that are interrelated or interdependent with the proposed action.

(iv) Provisions for incorporating new information and newly listed species or designated critical habitat into the Action Agency's effects analysis of proposed actions.

(v) A mutually agreed upon program for monitoring and periodic program evaluation to occur at the end of the first year following signature of the ACA and periodically thereafter.

(vi) Provisions for the Action Agency to maintain a list of Fire Plan Projects for which the Action Agency has made NLAA determinations. The Action Agency will also maintain the necessary records to allow the Service to complete the periodic program evaluations.

(3) Training: Upon completion of the ACA, the Action Agency and the Service will implement the training program outlined in the ACA to the mutual satisfaction of the Action Agency and the Service.

(b) The Action Agency may, at its discretion, allow any subunit of the Action Agency to implement this subpart as soon as the subunit has fulfilled the training requirements of the ACA, upon written notification to the Service. The Action Agency shall at all times have responsibility for the adequacy of all NLAA determinations it makes under this subpart.

(c) The ACA and any related oversight or monitoring reports shall be made available to the public through a notice of availability in the Federal Register.

§ 402.34   Oversight.

(a) Through the periodic program evaluation set forth in the ACA, the Service will determine whether the implementation of this subpart by the Action Agency is consistent with the best available scientific and commercial information, the ESA, and section 7 regulations.

(b) The Service Director may use the results of the periodic program evaluation described in the ACA to recommend changes to the Action Agency's implementation of the ACA. If and as appropriate, the Service Director may suspend any subunit participating in the ACA or exclude any subunit from the ACA.

(c) The Service Director retains discretion to terminate the ACA if the Action Agency fails to comply with the requirements of this subpart, section 7 of the ESA, or the terms of the ACA. Termination, suspension, or modification of an ACA does not affect the validity of any NLAA determinations made previously under the authority of this subpart.

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