US Forest Service Seeks Comment and Will Host a Webinar (on May 20th) on New Management Practices for Stewardship of Water Resources

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has published two new draft directives that are intended to strengthen and support the Agency’s ability to manage the National Forest System (NFS) to protect water resources and to establish a national system of BMPs and associated monitoring protocols for use on NFS lands.

The first document is a new draft chapter (2560) of its Forest Service Manual (FSM 2500) that is intended to strengthen and support the Agency’s ability to manage the National Forest System to protect groundwater resources on NFS lands, and clarifies roles, responsibilities, and procedures for addressing groundwater resource management. This is described as the new draft Directive on Groundwater Resource Management that amends the internal USFS directives for Watershed and Air Management on NFS land. Specifically, this proposed groundwater direction would:

  • Provide for consideration of groundwater resources in agency activities;
  • Encourage source water protection and water conservation;
  • Establish procedures for reviewing new proposals for groundwater withdrawals on NFS land,
  • Require the evaluation of potential impacts from groundwater withdrawals on NFS natural resources and
  • Provide for measurement and reporting to help build our understanding of groundwater resources on NFS land.

Comments are due for this document on August 4, 2014. For more information, please visit the USFS web site, and view the Federal Register Notice.

The second document amends the internal Manual for Water Quality Management to establish a National Best Management Practices (BMP) Program Handbook. This proposed change would enhance the Forest Service’s ability to protect water quality on NFS land by:

  • Formalizing the National BMP Program as the primary method for control of non-point sources of water pollution to achieve federal, state (i.e., Clean Water Act), tribal or local water quality requirements;
  • Requiring implementation of the National BMP Program on all NFS land;
  • Establishing monitoring for implementation and effectiveness of the national BMPs; and
  • Adding definitions and direction to clarify and improve consistency in the agency’s use of the national BMPs.

Comments are due for this document on July 7, 2014. For more information and to view the document, please visit the USFS web site, and view the Federal Register Notice.

May 20th Webinar:  The USFS will host a national webinar from 1:00 – 2:00pm (eastern) on May 20th to discuss the components of the proposed policy to manage groundwater resources on the country’s national forests and grasslands. Forest Service leaders and technical specialists will provide an overview on groundwater issues and information on the intent of the agency’s directives.

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