US Forest Service Forest Land

Overview

Most of the public lands involved in forest management activities within the North Coast Region are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The State Water Board and the USFS entered into a Management Agency Agreement (MAA) in 1981 for overseeing water quality protection on National Forest System lands, including timber sales. The MAA requires the USFS to implement approved best management practices for water quality protection. Since 2004, the Regional Water Board has adopted and implemented Waivers to address nonpoint source (NPS) discharges from projects on USFS lands.  In October 2015, the Regional Water Board adopted the latest Waiver, Order No. R1-2015-0021, Waiver of Waste Discharge Requirements for Nonpoint Source Discharges Related to Certain Federal Land Management Activities on National Forest System Lands in the North Coast Region, and the associated Monitoring and Reporting Program. This order replaced the previous 2010 waiver (Order No. R1-2010-0029). The USFS seeks project coverage under the 2015 Waiver prior to beginning projects such as: timber harvesting; fuels management; vegetation management; restoration; renewal of grazing allotments; new road construction, reconstruction, or removal; and recreation. Regional Water Board staff provide project scoping comments, review and comment on environmental documents, conduct project inspections, review monitoring data, and issue project Waiver coverage.

The USFS follows their own process for project development and approval, which involves compliance with the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).  During project development, the USFS reaches out to the public and the Regional Board for comments and recommendations.  They generally begin soliciting comments through a project Scoping Letter, followed by release a draft environmental document for review and comment, a final NEPA document, and Decision Notice.  Staff may conduct inspections of the project area during scoping, environmental document preparation, or during project implementation.  Staff comments generally focus on the project’s ability to comply with the Basin Plan, the USFS Waiver conditions, and other water quality requirements.  After the Decision Notice is signed by the Forest Supervisor, the USFS submits to the Regional Board an application for project Waiver coverage.

Permitting