WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service is seeking public comment on a proposed rule change that would expand use of the Small Tracts Act and provide the Forest Service greater flexibility to resolve land management challenges through sales, exchange, or interchange of small land parcels. The proposed changes are among those that implement new authorities the Forest Service received through the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018—also known as the 2018 Farm Bill.
The proposed rule would allow parcels that are physically isolated, inaccessible, or lack national forest characteristics to be conveyed if they are 40 acres or less in size. It would also allow parcels 10 acres or less where permanent, habitable improvements have been made to be conveyed if encroachment was neither intentional nor negligent. Proceeds from these land exchanges could then be used to acquire lands or interest in lands in the same state that are suitable to be included in the National Forest System. Those proceeds may also be used to reimburse costs associated with the competitive sale of eligible lands.
“These changes are designed to help improve forest conditions, safety and service to the American people” said Chief Vicki Christiansen. “They will also help us to be better neighbors to landowners that border our national forests and grasslands.”
The proposed regulations will be open for public comment for 60 days following their publication in the Federal Register. More information on these rules and instructions on how to provide comments are available at http://federalregister.gov/d/2020-03639.
–USDA Forest Service
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