The Forest Service, within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is responsible for managing 193 million acres of National Forest System (NFS) lands. Wind energy uses are governed by the Forest Service's special use regulations at 36 CFR part 251, subpart B. Wind energy proposals and applicants are currently processed in accordance with 36 CFR 251.54 and direction in Forest Service Manual 2726 and Forest Service Handbook 2709.11 on administration of special uses. R< for utilization of NFS lands for wind energy facilities are currently processed in the same manner as other proposed commercial uses of public lands.
In September 2007, however, the Forest Service proposed to amend its internal agency directives for special use authorizations and wildlife monitoring, which would provide direction and guidance specific to wind energy development on NFS lands (72 Federal Register 184). According to the proposed rule, these amendments would "supplement, rather than supplant or duplicate, existing special use and wildlife directives to address issues specifically associated with siting, processing proposals and applications, and issuing special use permits for wind energy uses. The proposed directives would ensure consistent and adequate analyses for evaluating wind energy proposals and applications and issuing wind energy permits."
In September 2007, the Forest Service proposed to amend its internal agency directives for special use authorizations and wildlife monitoring, which would provide direction and guidance specific to wind energy development on NFS lands. Developers using this handbook should confirm the status of the proposed amendments prior to proceeding with a proposal on NFS lands.
Developers using this handbook should confirm the status of the proposed amendments prior to proceeding with a proposal on NFS lands.
Unlike the BLM ROW grant systems, under current Forest Service regulations, the Forest Service does not specifically allow for the exclusive use of a portion of public land while testing for wind. The Forest Service is instructed to limit the land granted to a minimum for the actual installation. The Forest Service must consider a competitive offering if it appears that multiple commercial entities are interested in the same services or the same geographic area. To avoid being required to apply for the facility before the wind testing is completed, the proponent must demonstrate that the installation of one or a few meteorological towers on NFS lands does not necessarily indicate that a wind energy facility would subsequently be developed there.
Forest Service regulations require the agency to respond to an application for the use of public lands with a two-tier screening process to determine if the use is in the public interest.
Under current law, a developer would take the following steps when seeking to site a wind energy facility on Forest Service land:
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