> [Federal Register: November 12, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 218)]
> [Rules and Regulations]
> [Page 68495-68498]
> From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
> Rules and Regulations
> Federal Register
> This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains regulatory documents
> having general applicability and legal effect, most of which are keyed
> to and codified in the Code of Federal Regulations, which is published
> under 50 titles pursuant to 44 U.S.C. 1510.
> The Code of Federal Regulations is sold by the Superintendent of
> Prices of new books are listed in the first FEDERAL REGISTER issue of each
> [[Page 68495]]
> DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
> Natural Resources Conservation Service
> 7 CFR Part 610
> RIN 0578-AA29
> Conservation of Private Grazing Land
> AGENCY: Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA.
> ACTION: Final rule.
> SUMMARY: Section 386 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform
> Act (FAIRA) of 1996 authorizes the Secretary to provide a coordinated
> technical, educational, and related assistance program to conserve and
> enhance private grazing land resources. This rule sets forth a policy
> to implement the conservation technical assistance regulations as they
> relate to private grazing land conservation assistance.
> EFFECTIVE DATE: November 12, 2002.
> FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark W. Berkland, Director,
> Conservation Operations Division, NRCS, P.O. Box 2890, Washington, DC
> 20013-2890; telephone: (202) 720-1845; fax: (202) 720-4265; submit e-
> mail to [log in to unmask], Attention: Conservation of Private
> Grazing Land.
> SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
> Executive Order 12866
> This rule has been determined to be significant, and was reviewed
> by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under Executive Order
> 12866. Pursuant to Sec. 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866, the Natural
> Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conducted an economic analysis of
> the potential impacts associated with this final rule. Copies of this
> economic analysis may be obtained from Mitch Flanagan, Conservation
> Operations Division, NRCS; telephone: (202) 690-5988; fax: (202) 720-
> 4265; e-mail: [log in to unmask], Attention: Conservation of
> Private Grazing Land.
> Regulatory Flexibility Act
> The Regulatory Flexibility Act is not applicable to this final
> rule. The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is not required by 5 U.S.C.
> 553, or any other provisions of law, to publish a notice of proposed
> rulemaking with respect to the subject matter of this rule.
> National Environmental Policy Act
> The Conservation of Private Grazing Land (CPGL) Program does not
> consist of financial assistance, nor does it provide NRCS with the
> authority or opportunity to control the actions of private landowners
> and managers. The CPGL Program provides NRCS with the authority to
> provide management alternatives to landowners and managers about
> techniques to improve the quality of their grazing lands. The
> landowners and managers are responsible for determining which actions
> to take in which there would be positive environmental effects. There
> is no specific Federal action that would affect the human environment;
> therefore, there is no basis on which to conduct a meaningful analysis
> of environmental effects. In addition, the CPGL Program, and this
> regulation do not result in any irretrievable commitment of resources.
> Paperwork Reduction Act
> No substantive changes have been made to this rule that would
> affect the record-keeping requirements and estimated burdens previously
> reviewed and approved under OMB control number 0578-0013. Requesting
> technical assistance through the CPGL program may result in applying
> and receiving financial assistance through existing long-term
> contracting conservation programs. (0578-0013 Long-Term Contracting
> Paperwork Package). CPGL is not a financial assistance program.
> Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995
> Pursuant to Title II of the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995,
> Public Law 104-4, NRCS assessed the effects of this rulemaking action
> on State, local, tribal governments, and the public. The action does
> not comply with the expenditure of $100 million, or more, by any State,
> local, or tribal governments, or anyone in the private sector, and
> therefore, a statement under section 202 of the Unfunded Mandates
> Reform Act of 1995 is not required.
> Federal Crop Insurance Reform and Department of Agriculture
> Reorganization Act of 1994
> USDA classified this final rule as ``not major'' under Section 304
> of the Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994, Public Law
> 103-354, therefore, a risk assessment is not required.
> Purpose and Scope
> Section 386 of the FAIRA of 1996, 16 U.S.C. 2005b, sets forth
> policy and authority for the conservation of private grazing land
> program. This rule sets forth policy for NRCS to implement the new
> authority when funded, as authorized by FAIRA.
> NRCS' CPGL Program will expand the agency's capability to provide
> technical assistance. It is stated in 7 CFR Part 610 that the NRCS
> mission promotes the quality of all agricultural lands, including
> cropland, forestland, and grazing land. This also includes pastureland,
> rangeland, and grazed forestland so that the long-term sustainability
> of the resource base is achieved.
> Private grazing land constitutes nearly one-half of the non-Federal
> land of the United States. This land is basic to the environmental,
> social, and economic stability of rural areas. Private grazing land
> includes private, State-owned, tribally owned, and any other non-
> Federally owned land managed to produce forage or browse. Grazing land
> is found in every State, and constitutes the single largest watershed
> cover type in the United States. Healthy grazing land is the foundation
> for economic sustainability of many communities, and is the cornerstone
> of a healthy environment.
> Grazing land is the single largest private land use in the Nation.
> This land is voluntarily managed by over 1.2 million individuals. Less
> than 4 percent currently receive voluntary technical assistance through
> NRCS for the management of these natural resources.
> The use of technical assistance is voluntary. The assistance will
> allow grazing land owners and managers to implement their conservation
> [[Page 68496]]
> decisions on private grazing land in order to maintain and improve
> grazing land resources.
> NRCS' technical assistance program provides assistance to private
> grazing land owners and managers to address soil and water conservation
> issues. However, the conservation agenda continues to expand as a
> result of greater scientific understanding of ecosystems. This agenda
> increases the number of policy actions, as well as Federal, State, and
> local laws on environmental quality. These policy actions place new
> requirements on landowners and land users, thus increasing the need for
> voluntary conservation technical assistance to address emerging
> resource issues and regulations. Many of today's owners of grazing land
> have difficulty staying abreast of environmental regulations. Every
> landowner or manager's actions are important because they have a
> significant impact on a particular piece of land. These decisions
> affect neighboring lands, as well as the larger ecosystem and watershed
> in which they occur.
> Since 1935, NRCS has provided technical assistance to landowners
> and managers to address soil erosion and water quality problems.
> Section 386 of FAIRA expands current technical assistance authorities
> to include:
> [sbull] Using and improving energy-efficient ways to produce food
> and fiber;
> [sbull] Improving the dependability and consistency in water
> [sbull] Improving and conserving fish habitat and aquatic systems;
> [sbull] Protecting and improving water quality;
> [sbull] Conserving and improving habitat for wildlife;
> [sbull] Sustaining forage and grazing plants;
> [sbull] Using plants to sequester greenhouse gases;
> [sbull] Enhancing recreational activities;
> [sbull] Maintaining or reducing weed, noxious weed, and brush
> [sbull] Enhancing long-term economic opportunities;
> [sbull] Providing opportunities for improved nutrient management
> from the land application of animal manure and other by-product
> nutrient sources;
> [sbull] Improving the quality of animals produced on these lands;
> [sbull] Producing food and fiber from lands that will not support
> cultivated crop production.
> Technical assistance in the past has provided assistance for these
> authorities when the primary purpose was addressing soil and water
> conservation issues. With this rule, technical assistance will be
> provided to individuals when soil and water conservation issues may not
> be the primary resource concern, but are of secondary importance.
> However, in applying this authority, conservation technical assistance
> is available for wildlife habitat improvement, animal health
> improvement, forage quality improvement, air quality improvement, and
> addressing other natural resource issues beyond soil and water
> conservation. Congress authorized assistance for these additional
> purposes, realizing there are competing demands on private land grazing
> resources. These lands can be enhanced by offering technical assistance
> to individuals, which will provide benefits to all citizens of the
> United States.
> There are approximately 280 million acres of rangeland and 75
> million acres of pastureland in need of conservation treatment. An
> estimated 17 percent of all of these acres have soil-related and water-
> related resource concerns that could be addressed by NRCS' existing
> technical assistance program. This leaves 83 percent or 295 million
> acres in need of conservation treatment not directly related to soil
> and water conservation.
> What happens on the land remains critical to the U.S. economic and
> environmental well-being, even for those who never set foot on grazing
> land. Grazing land produces much of our food and water supplies, and
> provides wildlife habitat that allows many recreational opportunities.
> There are many types of products derived from animals that are raised
> on grazing lands: Household products including furniture, clothes,
> soap, insulation, deodorants, and paints; pharmaceutical products
> including blood plasma and medical sutures; and manufacturing products
> including hydraulic fluid, airplane lubricants, machine oils, car
> polish, and textiles.
> Current Technical Assistance Furnished
> NRCS provides technical assistance to land users and others who are
> responsible for making decisions related to land use, conservation
> treatment, and resource management. Technical assistance, furnished by
> NRCS, consists of conservation program delivery through resource
> planning, and the evaluation and application of conservation practices,
> including assistance in the technical phases of administering USDA
> cost-share programs.
> NRCS works with the local conservation district to prioritize a
> request to ensure that technical assistance is provided in a fair and
> equitable manner.
> Planning assistance includes the evaluation and inventory of soil,
> water, animal, plant, air, and other resource information needed to
> make land use, environmental, and conservation treatment decisions.
> NRCS assists land users in developing conservation plans for farms,
> ranches, and other land units. The land user's decisions are recorded
> in the plan, and based on their conservation objectives. These plans
> document an orderly installation of conservation practices that
> ultimately make up a conservation system.
> Application assistance is provided to help land users apply and
> maintain planned conservation practices. NRCS assistance for applying
> the conservation practices and systems may include:
> [sbull] Design, layout, and evaluation of conservation practices;
> [sbull] Development of management alternatives and cultural
> practices needed to establish and maintain vegetation; and
> [sbull] Planning, construction, and maintenance of other
> conservation practices needed to protect and enhance natural resources.
> NRCS may provide additional assistance to:
> [sbull] Maintain and improve private grazing land resources that
> provide multiple benefits. For example, a grazing management plan not
> only benefits domestic livestock, but it may also benefit wildlife. A
> grazing management plan prevents overgrazing, maintains the vigor and
> diversity of the plant community, discourages invasion of weeds,
> prevents erosion, and protects streambanks and water quality;
> [sbull] Ensure the long-term sustainability of private grazing land
> resources. The cyclical economic patterns in the grazing industry
> affect how intensively grazing land resources are used. The Nutrition
> Balance Analyzer is a model used to help managers make effective
> decisions about nutrition management of their livestock. A manager
> saves an estimated $10-$32 per animal per year by improving the
> production efficiency from use of this technology;
> [sbull] Implement new grazing land management technologies.
> Technologies impacting grazing land, as in other industries, are always
> changing. Technical assistance provided to an individual helps with
> identifying and implementing new technologies to improve the
> environmental, economic, and/or social challenges of the private
> landowners or managers. These new and improved technologies may include
> new fencing materials, livestock
> [[Page 68497]]
> watering facilities, chemicals to control invasive weeds, livestock
> health products, grazing management practices, fertilizer technologies,
> geographic information systems, and other computerized decision support
> [sbull] Manage resources on private grazing land through
> conservation planning, including, but not limited to; grazing
> management, nutrient management, soil quality, and weed and invasive
> species control. Technical assistance helps the producer adjust
> management decisions, as new information becomes available;
> [sbull] Maintain and improve water quality and quantity, aquatic
> and wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and aesthetics on
> private grazing land;
> [sbull] Harvest, process, and market private grazing land
> resources. Technical assistance may be provided to help an individual
> identify opportunities to develop specialty meats, leather, feathers,
> wool, and mohair products, or other products that are nontraditional;
> [sbull] Identify opportunities to diversify private grazing land
> enterprises. Many operations have an opportunity to diversify their
> operation with technical assistance by establishing recreational
> opportunities that include hunting, fishing, kayaking, canoeing,
> hiking, biking, picnicking, camping, bird watching, nature photography,
> or farm and ranch vacations as additional enterprises.
> The resources, goals, and objectives vary with each individual.
> Technical assistance helps landowners understand the land and the tools
> available to manage their land. Conservation solutions that are
> developed and implemented are based upon the specific resources and
> needs of an individual as a result of technical assistance.
> Private grazing land owners and managers use technical assistance
> for planning and implementing resource conservation plans on grazing
> land. The objectives of planning grazing lands are to assist landowners
> and managers to understand the basic ecological principles of plant/
> herbivore interaction, management implications to their land (soil,
> water, air, plants, and animals) and develop a plan that meets the
> needs of the resources and owners/managers management objectives.
> Conservation plans for grazing land include decisions for managing
> the plant community to conserve or enhance the soil, water, air, plant,
> and animal resources. The major objective for grazing land is to design
> and establish a grazing management plan. When combining the appropriate
> conservation practices, the plan sustains the resources to meet
> landowners' or managers' objectives. Landowners and managers make
> decisions to implement the necessary conservation practices.
> The economic benefits vary between every individual operation. The
> net financial benefits of increased forage production will vary among
> producers, depending upon the cost and benefits of implementing grazing
> land practices. Costs vary from a few dollars to several hundred
> dollars per acre, depending on the individual situation. If minor
> adjustments are needed, the cost for the adjustments may be
> inexpensive. However, if major changes are needed (such as brush
> control, fence installation, fertilizer, and watering facilities), the
> costs may be significantly higher. Furthermore, the results will vary
> due to the climatic differences and other resource differences between
> grazing land operations. Gaining benefits from proper management may
> take a few months to several years.
> The agency believes that providing voluntary technical assistance
> to private grazing landowners and operators will also result in public
> benefits. These benefits include an overall improved quality of life
> from reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved water quality,
> increased wildlife habitat, and other resource improvements. The
> benefits provide economic stability to many communities, and keep the
> Nation's grazing land productive.
> Discussion of Public Comments
> In general, many of the respondents expressed appreciation for the
> opportunity to comment on the proposed rule. There were a total of 10
> respondents to the proposed rule (individuals from Federal agencies,
> universities, and other organizations). The comments centered on four
> issues: (1) Educational role of NRCS; (2) partnership between NRCS,
> Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES),
> and others; (3) funding; and (4) other agency programs and activities.
> Comment: Five comments expressed concern that NRCS is duplicating
> the educational activities provided by CSREES.
> Response: NRCS provides technical assistance on a one-on-one basis
> to landowners and managers to address natural resource issues. It is
> this process of transferring technology to the producer that we provide
> assistance, and is not the same type of ``education'' provided by the
> Cooperative Extension System.
> Comment: Eight comments suggested that a partnership between NRCS,
> CSREES, and others needs to be initiated or improved to meet the
> training and educational requirements necessary to address many of the
> natural resource issues facing grazing land.
> Response: NRCS values relationships with other Federal, State,
> local resource agencies, and others with which common objectives are
> shared, although their missions may differ. NRCS partners with many
> agencies and organizations to enhance and strengthen conservation
> efforts throughout the country.
> There were a few comments received regarding program funding and
> other agency programs and activities. Although these comments were
> reviewed and considered, they were not germane to this rule.
> Some minor editorial and other changes in the text were suggested;
> these comments are not included in an analysis, but most were
> List of Subjects in 7 CFR Part 610
> Soil conservation, Technical assistance, Water resources.
> For the reasons stated in the preamble, the Natural Resources
> Conservation Service amends 7 CFR Part 610 as set forth below:
> PART 610--TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
> 1. The authority citation for Part 610 continues to read as
> Authority: 16 U.S.C. 590a-f, 590-1, 2005b, 3861, 3862.
> 2. Accordingly, Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations is
> amended by adding a new Subpart D to Part 610 to read as follows:
> Subpart D--Conservation of Private Grazing Land
> 610.31 Purpose and scope.
> 610.32 Technical assistance furnished.
> Subpart D--Conservation of Private Grazing Land
> Sec. 610.31 Purpose and scope.
> (a) This subpart sets forth the policies for the Conservation of
> Private Grazing Land (CPGL) Program, as authorized by Section 386 of
> the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 1996, (Pub. L.
> 104-127, April 4, 1996) 16 U.S.C. 2005b. Under the CPGL Program, NRCS
> will provide technical assistance to landowners and managers who
> request assistance based on locally-established priorities and resource
> concerns. The purpose of the CPGL Program is to provide technical
> assistance to private grazing land
> [[Page 68498]]
> owners and managers to voluntarily conserve or enhance grazing land
> resources to meet ecological, economic, and social demands.
> (b) The term ``private grazing land'' means private, State-owned,
> tribally owned, and any other non-federally owned rangeland,
> pastureland, grazed forestland, hayland, and other lands used for
> (c) The NRCS Chief may implement the CPGL Program in any of the 50
> States, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam,
> the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. NRCS will provide
> assistance in cooperation with conservation districts, or directly to a
> landowner or operator.
> Sec. 610.32 Technical assistance furnished.
> (a) Provide technical assistance to grazing-land owners and
> managers to plan and implement resource conservation on grazing land.
> The objective of planning on grazing land is to assist landowners and
> managers in understanding the basic ecological principles associated
> with managing their land. This objective can be met by implementing a
> plan that meets the needs of the resources (soil, water, air, plants,
> and animals) and management objectives of the owner or manager. NRCS
> may provide assistance, at the request of the private grazing-land
> owner or manager to:
> (1) Maintain and improve private grazing land resources that
> provide multiple benefits;
> (2) Ensure the long-term sustainability of private grazing land
> (3) Implement new grazing land management technologies;
> (4) Manage resources on private grazing land through conservation
> planning, including, but not limited to; grazing management, nutrient
> management, and weed and invasive species control;
> (5) Maintain and improve water quality and quantity, aquatic and
> wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and aesthetics on private
> grazing land;
> (6) Harvest, process, and market private grazing land resources;
> (7) Identify opportunities to diversify private grazing land
> (b) Refer to 7 CFR 610.4 on other items relating to technical
> (c) To receive technical assistance, a landowner or manager may
> contact NRCS or the local conservation district to seek assistance to
> solve identified natural resource problems or opportunities.
> Participation in this program is voluntary.
> Signed in Washington, DC, on October 31, 2002.
> Bruce I. Knight,
> Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service.
> [FR Doc. 02-28691 Filed 11-8-02; 8:45 am]
> BILLING CODE 3410-16-P
The Enviro-News list facilitates information exchange.
Inclusion of an item in Enviro-News does not imply
United States Department of Agriculture(USDA) agreement,
nor does USDA attest to the accuracy or completeness of
the item. (See http://www.nal.usda.gov/listserv.html.)
You can contact the list owner at
[log in to unmask]
********--Celebrating the Year of Clean Water--********