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Title 36Chapter II → Part 214


Title 36: Parks, Forests, and Public Property


PART 214—POSTDECISIONAL ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEW PROCESS FOR OCCUPANCY OR USE OF NATIONAL FOREST SYSTEM LANDS AND RESOURCES


Contents
§214.1   Purpose and scope.
§214.2   Definitions.
§214.3   Parties to an appeal.
§214.4   Decisions that are appealable.
§214.5   Decisions that are not appealable.
§214.6   Notice of an appealable decision.
§214.7   Levels of review.
§214.8   Appeal content.
§214.9   Filing of an appeal.
§214.10   Dismissal of an appeal.
§214.11   Intervention.
§214.12   Responsive statement and reply.
§214.13   Stays.
§214.14   Conduct of an appeal.
§214.15   Resolution of issues prior to an appeal decision.
§214.16   Oral presentation.
§214.17   Appeal record.
§214.18   Appeal decision.
§214.19   Procedures for discretionary review.
§214.20   Exhaustion of administrative remedies.
§214.21   Information collection requirements.
§214.22   Applicability and effective date.

Authority: 7 U.S.C. 1011(f); 16 U.S.C. 472, 551.

Source: 78 FR 33717, June 5, 2013, unless otherwise noted.

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§214.1   Purpose and scope.

(a) Purpose. This part provides a fair and deliberate process by which holders, operators, and solicited applicants may appeal certain written decisions issued by Responsible Officials involving written instruments authorizing the occupancy or use of National Forest System lands and resources.

(b) Scope. This part specifies who may appeal, decisions that are appealable and not appealable, the responsibilities of parties to an appeal, and the time periods and procedures that govern the conduct of appeals under this part.

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§214.2   Definitions.

Appeal. A document filed with an Appeal Deciding Officer in which an individual or entity seeks review of a Forest Service decision under this part.

Appeal Deciding Officer. The Forest Service line officer who is one organizational level above the Responsible Official or the respective Deputy Forest Supervisor, Deputy Regional Forester, or Associate Deputy Chief with the delegation of authority relevant to the provisions of this part.

Appeal decision. The final written decision issued by an Appeal Deciding Officer on an appeal filed under this part which affirms or reverses a Responsible Official's appealable decision in whole or in part, explains the basis for the decision, and provides additional instructions to the parties as necessary.

Appeal record. Documentation and other information filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer within the relevant time period by parties to the appeal and upon which review of an appeal is conducted.

Appellant. An individual or entity that has filed an appeal under this part.

Cancellation. The invalidation, in whole or in part, of a term grazing permit or an instrument for the disposal of mineral materials.

Discretionary Reviewing Officer. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) or Forest Service official authorized to review an appeal decision by an Appeal Deciding Officer or a decision by the Chief under this part.

Holder. An individual or entity that holds a valid written authorization.

Intervenor. An individual or entity whose request to intervene has been granted by the Appeal Deciding Officer.

Modification. A Responsible Official's written revision of the terms and conditions of a written authorization.

Operator. An individual or entity conducting or proposing to conduct mineral operations.

Oral presentation. An informal meeting conducted by the Appeal Deciding Officer during which parties to an appeal may present information in support of their position.

Prospectus. An announcement published by the Forest Service soliciting competitive applications for a written authorization.

Responsible Official. The Forest Service line officer who has the delegated authority to make and implement a decision that may be appealed under this part.

Responsive statement. The document filed by the Responsible Official with the Appeal Deciding Officer that addresses the issues raised and relief requested in an appeal.

Revocation. The cessation, in whole or in part, of a written authorization, other than a grazing permit or an instrument for the disposal of mineral materials, by action of Responsible Official before the end of the specified period of occupancy or use.

Solicited applicant. An individual or entity that has submitted a competitive application in response to a prospectus.

Suspension. A temporary revocation or cancellation of a written authorization.

Termination. The cessation of a written authorization by operation of law or by operation of a fixed or agreed-upon condition, event, or time as specified in the authorization, which does not require a decision by a Responsible Official to take effect.

Written authorization. A term grazing permit, plan of operations, special use authorization, mineral material contract or permit, or other type of written instrument issued by the Forest Service or a lease or permit for leasable minerals issued by the U.S. Department of the Interior that authorizes the occupancy or use of National Forest System lands or resources and specifies the terms and conditions under which the occupancy or use may occur.

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§214.3   Parties to an appeal.

Parties to an appeal under this part are limited to the holder, operator, or solicited applicants who are directly affected by an appealable decision, intervenors, and the Responsible Official.

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§214.4   Decisions that are appealable.

To be appealable under this part, a decision must be issued by a Responsible Official in writing and must fall into one of the following categories:

(a) Livestock grazing. (1) Modification of a term grazing permit issued under 36 CFR part 222, subpart A. Issuance of annual operating instructions does not constitute a permit modification and is not an appealable decision;

(2) Suspension or cancellation, other than cancellation resulting from the permittee's waiver to the United States, of a term grazing permit issued under 36 CFR part 222, subpart A;

(3) Denial of reauthorization of livestock grazing under a term grazing permit if the holder files an application for a new permit before the existing permit expires; or

(4) Denial of a term grazing permit to a solicited applicant under 36 CFR part 222, subpart C.

(b) Minerals. (1) Approval or denial of an initial, modified, or supplemental plan of operations or operating plan; requirement of an increase in bond coverage; requirement of measures to avoid irreparable injury, loss, or damage to surface resources pending modification of a plan of operations or operating plan; or issuance of a notice of noncompliance pursuant to 36 CFR part 228, subpart A or D, or part 292, subpart D, F, or G;

(2) Approval or denial of an operating plan, issuance of a notice of noncompliance, or extension, suspension, or cancellation, other than cancellation by mutual agreement, for or of contracts, permits, or prospecting permits for mineral materials issued under 36 CFR part 228, subpart C;

(3) Approval or denial of a surface use plan of operations, request to supplement a surface use plan of operations, suspension of oil and gas operations, or issuance of a notice of noncompliance pursuant to 36 CFR part 228, subpart E;

(4) Consent or denial of consent to the U.S. Department of the Interior's administration of previously issued leases or permits for leasable minerals other than oil and gas resources;

(5) Suspension or revocation of an operating plan for Federal lands within the Sawtooth National Recreation Area pursuant to 36 CFR part 292, subpart D;

(6) Suspension of locatable mineral operations on National Forest System lands within the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area pursuant to 36 CFR part 292, subpart F;

(7) Suspension of locatable mineral operations on National Forest System lands within the Smith River National Recreation Area or approval of an initial or amended operating plan for exercise of outstanding mineral rights on National Forest System lands within the Smith River National Recreation Area pursuant to 36 CFR part 292, subpart G;

(8) Except as provided in paragraph (7), determinations of the acceptability of an initial or amended operating plan for exercise of outstanding mineral rights on National Forest System lands; or

(9) Determinations of the acceptability of an initial or amended operating plan for exercise of reserved mineral rights located on National Forest System lands.

(c) Special uses. (1) Modification, suspension, or revocation of a special use authorization, other than acceptance of an operating plan, including:

(i) A special use authorization issued under 36 CFR part 251, subpart B or D, other than modification, suspension or revocation of a noncommercial group use permit, suspension or revocation of an easement issued pursuant to 36 CFR 251.53(e) or 251.53(l), or revocation with the consent of the holder;

(ii) A special use authorization issued under 36 CFR part 212, subpart A, for ingress and egress to private lands that are intermingled with or adjacent to National Forest System lands;

(iii) A special use authorization issued under 36 CFR part 251, subpart A, that authorizes the exercise of rights reserved in conveyances to the United States;

(iv) A permit and occupancy agreement issued under 36 CFR 213.3 for national grasslands and other lands administered under Title III of the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act;

(v) A permit issued under 36 CFR 293.13 for access to valid occupancies entirely within a wilderness in the National Forest System.

(vi) A permit issued under the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 and 36 CFR part 296 for excavation or removal of archaeological resources; and

(vii) A special use authorization governing surface use associated with the exercise of outstanding mineral rights;

(2) Denial of a special use authorization to a solicited applicant based on the process used to select a successful applicant;

(3) Implementation of new land use fees for a special use authorization, other than:

(i) Revision or replacement of a land use fee system or schedule that is implemented through public notice and comment; and

(ii) Annual land use fee adjustments based on an inflation factor that are calculated under an established fee system or schedule in accordance with the terms and conditions of a written authorization;

(4) Assignment of a performance rating that affects reissuance or extension of a special use authorization; or

(5) Denial of renewal of a special use authorization if it specifically provides for renewal and if the holder requests renewal of the authorization before it expires.

(d) Other land uses. Denial or revocation of a certification of compliance issued under 36 CFR part 292, subpart C, related to the use, subdivision, and development of privately owned property within the boundaries of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area.

(e) Paleontological resources. An authorization or permit issued under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 and 36 CFR part 291 for collection of paleontological resources.

[78 FR 33717, June 5, 2013, as amended at 80 FR 21629, Apr. 17, 2015]

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§214.5   Decisions that are not appealable.

Holders, operators, and solicited applicants may not appeal under this part any decisions issued by a Responsible Official that are not expressly set forth in §214.4.

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§214.6   Notice of an appealable decision.

(a) The Responsible Official shall promptly give written notice of decisions subject to appeal under this part to the affected holder, operator, or solicited applicants and to any holder of a similar written authorization who has made a written request to be notified of a specific decision.

(b) If the decision is appealable, the notice must specify the contents of an appeal, the name and mailing address of the Appeal Deciding Officer, and the filing deadline. The notice shall also include a statement indicating the Responsible Official's willingness to meet with the affected holder, operator, or solicited applicants to discuss any issues related to the decision and, where applicable, informing term grazing permit holders of the opportunity to request mediation in accordance with 36 CFR 222.20 through 222.26.

(c) If the decision is not appealable, the Responsible Official must include a statement in the written decision informing the affected holder, operator, or solicited applicants that further administrative review of the decision is not available.

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§214.7   Levels of review.

(a) Appeal. (1) One level of appeal is available for appealable decisions made by District Rangers, Forest or Grassland Supervisors, and Regional Foresters. If a District Ranger is the Responsible Official, the appeal is filed with the Forest or Grassland Supervisor. If a Forest or Grassland Supervisor is the Responsible Official, the appeal is filed with the Regional Forester. If a Regional Forester is the Responsible Official, the appeal is filed with the Chief of the Forest Service.

(2) No appeal is available for decisions made by the Chief.

(b) Discretionary review. (1) Appeal decisions issued by Forest or Grassland Supervisors, Regional Foresters, or the Chief are eligible for discretionary review. If a Forest or Grassland Supervisor is the Appeal Deciding Officer, discretionary review is conducted by the Regional Forester. If a Regional Forester is the Appeal Deciding Officer, discretionary review is conducted by the Chief. If the Chief is the Appeal Deciding Officer, discretionary review is conducted by the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

(2) Decisions made by the Chief that fall into one of the categories enumerated in 36 CFR 214.4 are eligible for discretionary review by the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment.

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§214.8   Appeal content.

(a) General requirements for the contents of an appeal. All appeals must include:

(1) The appellant's name, mailing address, daytime telephone number, and email address, if any;

(2) A brief description of the decision being appealed, including the name and title of the Responsible Official and the date of the decision;

(3) The title or type and, if applicable, identification number for the written authorization and the date of application for or issuance of the written authorization, if applicable;

(4) A statement of how the appellant is adversely affected by the decision being appealed;

(5) A statement of the relevant facts underlying the decision being appealed;

(6) A discussion of issues raised by the decision being appealed, including identification of any laws, regulations, or policies that were allegedly violated in reaching the decision being appealed;

(7) A statement as to whether and how the appellant has attempted to resolve the issues under appeal with the Responsible Official and the date and outcome of those efforts;

(8) A statement of the relief sought;

(9) Any documents and other information upon which the appellant relies; and

(10) The appellant's signature and the date.

(b) Specific requirements for the contents of an appeal. In addition to the general requirements in §214.8(a), the following specific requirements must be included in an appeal, where applicable:

(1) A request for an oral presentation under §214.16;

(2) A request for a stay under §214.13; and

(3) A request to participate in a state mediation program regarding certain term grazing permit disputes under 36 CFR part 222, subpart B.

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§214.9   Filing of an appeal.

(a) Timeframe for filing an appeal. An appeal must be filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer within 45 days of the date of the decision.

(b) Method of filing. Appeal documents may be filed in person or by courier, by mail or private delivery service, by facsimile, or by electronic mail. Parties to an appeal are responsible for ensuring timely filing of appeal documents.

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§214.10   Dismissal of an appeal.

(a) The Appeal Deciding Officer shall dismiss an appeal without review when one or more of the following applies:

(1) The appeal is not filed within the required time period.

(2) The person or entity that filed the appeal is not a holder, an operator, or a solicited applicant of a written authorization that is the subject of the appealable decision.

(3) The decision is not appealable under this part.

(4) The appeal does not meet the content requirements specified in §214.8(a), provided that an appeal may not be dismissed for failure to include an appraisal report which has not been completed by the filing deadline.

(5) The appellant withdraws the appeal.

(6) The Responsible Official withdraws the written decision that was appealed.

(7) An informal resolution of the dispute is reached pursuant to §214.15 or a mediated agreement of a term grazing dispute is achieved pursuant to 36 CFR part 222, subpart B.

(8) The requested relief cannot be granted under applicable facts, laws, regulations, or policies.

(b) The Appeal Deciding Officer shall give written notice of the dismissal of an appeal and shall set forth the reasons for dismissal.

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§214.11   Intervention.

(a) Eligibility to intervene. To participate as an intervenor in appeals under this part, a party must:

(1) Be a holder, an operator, or a solicited applicant who claims an interest relating to the subject matter of the decision being appealed and is so situated that disposition of the appeal may impair that interest; and

(2) File a written request to intervene with the Appeal Deciding Officer within 15 days after an appeal has been filed.

(b) Request to intervene. A request to intervene must include:

(1) The requester's name, mailing address, daytime telephone number, and email address, if any;

(2) A brief description of the decision being appealed, including the name and title of the Responsible Official and the date of the decision;

(3) The title or type and, if applicable, identification number for the written authorization and the date of application for or issuance of the written authorization, if applicable;

(4) A description of the requester's interest in the appeal and how disposition of the appeal may impair that interest;

(5) A discussion of the factual and legal allegations in the appeal with which the requester agrees or disagrees;

(6) A description of additional facts and issues that are not raised in the appeal that the requester believes are relevant and should be considered;

(7) A description of the relief sought, particularly as it differs from the relief sought by the appellant;

(8) Where applicable, a response to the appellant's request for a stay of the decision being appealed;

(9) Where applicable, a response to the appellant's request for an oral presentation;

(10) Where applicable, a response to the appellant's request for mediation of a term grazing permit dispute under 36 CFR part 222, subpart B; and

(11) The requester's signature and the date.

(c) Response to a request to intervene. The appellant and Responsible Official shall have 5 days from receipt of a request to intervene to file a written response with the Appeal Deciding Officer.

(d) Intervention decision. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall have 5 days after the date a response to a request to intervene is due to issue a decision granting or denying the request. The Appeal Deciding Officer's decision shall be in writing and shall briefly explain the basis for granting or denying the request. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall deny a request to intervene or shall withdraw a decision granting intervenor status as moot if the corresponding appeal is dismissed under §214.10.

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§214.12   Responsive statement and reply.

(a) Responsive statement. The Responsible Official shall prepare a responsive statement addressing the factual and legal allegations in the appeal. The responsive statement and any supporting documentation shall be filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer within 20 days of receipt of the appeal or the unsuccessful conclusion of mediation conducted pursuant to 36 CFR part 222, subpart B, whichever is later.

(b) Reply. Within 10 days of receipt of the responsive statement, the appellant and intervenors, if any, may file a reply with the Appeal Deciding Officer addressing the contentions in the responsive statement.

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§214.13   Stays.

(a) Implementation. An appealable decision shall be implemented unless an authorized stay is granted under §214.13(b) or an automatic stay goes into effect under §214.13(c).

(b) Authorized stays. Except where a stay automatically goes into effect under §214.13(c), the Appeal Deciding Officer may grant a written request to stay the decision that is the subject of an appeal under this part.

(1) Stay request. To obtain a stay, an appellant must include a request for a stay in the appeal pursuant to §214.8(b)(2) and a statement explaining the need for a stay. The statement must include, at a minimum:

(i) A description of the adverse impact on the appellant if a stay is not granted;

(ii) A description of the adverse impact on National Forest System lands and resources if a stay is not granted; or

(iii) An explanation as to how a meaningful decision on the merits of the appeal could not be achieved if a stay is not granted.

(2) Stay response. The Responsible Official may support, oppose, or take no position in the responsive statement regarding the appellant's stay request. Intervenors may support, oppose, or take no position in the intervention request regarding the appellant's stay request.

(3) Stay decision. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall issue a decision granting or denying a stay request within 10 days after a responsive statement or an intervention request is filed, whichever is later. The stay decision shall be in writing and shall briefly explain the basis for granting or denying the stay request.

(c) Automatic stays. The following decisions are automatically stayed once an appeal is filed by a holder, operator, or solicited applicant:

(1) Decisions to issue a written authorization pursuant to a prospectus;

(2) Decisions to recalculate revenue-based land use fees for a special use authorization pursuant to an audit issued after June 5, 2013; and

(3) Decisions to cancel or suspend a term grazing permit subject to mediation under 36 CFR 222.20 and for which mediation is requested in accordance with that provision.

(d) Stay duration. Authorized stays and automatic stays under §214.13(c)(1) and (c)(2) shall remain in effect until a final administrative decision is issued in the appeal, unless they are modified or lifted in accordance with §214.13(e). Automatic stays under §214.13(c)(3) shall remain in effect for the duration of the mediation period as provided in 36 CFR 222.22.

(e) Modification or lifting of a stay. The Appeal Deciding Officer or a Discretionary Reviewing Officer may modify or lift an authorized stay based upon a written request by a party to the appeal who demonstrates that the circumstances have changed since the stay was granted and that it is unduly burdensome or unfair to maintain the stay.

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§214.14   Conduct of an appeal.

(a) Evidence of timely filing. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall determine the timeliness of an appeal by the following indicators:

(1) The date of the U.S. Postal Service postmark for an appeal received before the close of the fifth business day after the appeal filing date;

(2) The electronically generated posted date and time for email and facsimiles;

(3) The shipping date for delivery by private carrier for an appeal received before the close of the fifth business day after the appeal filing date; or

(4) The official agency date stamp showing receipt of hand delivery.

(b) Computation of time. (1) A time period in this part begins on the first day following the event or action triggering the time period.

(2) All time periods shall be computed using calendar days, including Saturdays, Sundays, and Federal holidays. However, if a time period ends on a Saturday, Sunday, or Federal holiday, the time period is extended to the end of the next Federal business day.

(c) Extensions of time—(1) In general. Parties to an appeal, Appeal Deciding Officers, and Discretionary Reviewing Officers shall meet the time periods specified in this part, unless an extension of time has been granted under paragraph (c)(3) of this section. Extension requests from parties to an appeal shall be made in writing, shall explain the need for the extension, and shall be transmitted to the Appeal Deciding Officer.

(2) Time periods that may not be extended. The following time periods may not be extended:

(i) The time period for filing an appeal;

(ii) The time period to decide whether to conduct discretionary review of an appeal decision or a Chief's decision; and

(iii) The time period to issue a discretionary review decision.

(3) Time periods that may be extended. Except as provided in paragraph (c)(2) of this section, all time periods in this part may be extended upon written request by a party to an appeal and a finding of good cause for the extension by the Appeal Deciding Officer. Written requests for extensions of time will be automatically granted by the Appeal Deciding Officer where the parties to an appeal represent that they are working in good faith to resolve the dispute and that additional time would facilitate negotiation of a mutually agreeable resolution.

(4) Decision. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall have 10 days to issue a decision granting or denying the extension request. The decision shall be in writing and shall briefly explain the basis for granting or denying the request.

(5) Duration. Ordinarily, extensions that add more than 60 days to the appeal period should not be granted.

(d) Procedural orders. The Appeal Deciding Officer may issue procedural orders as necessary for the orderly, expeditious, and fair conduct of an appeal under this part.

(e) Consolidation of appeals. (1) The Appeal Deciding Officer may consolidate multiple appeals of the same decision or of similar decisions involving common issues of fact and law and issue one appeal decision.

(2) The Responsible Official may prepare one responsive statement for consolidated appeals.

(f) Requests for additional information. The Appeal Deciding Officer may ask parties to an appeal for additional information to clarify appeal issues. If necessary, the Appeal Deciding Officer may extend appeal time periods per paragraph (c)(3) of this section to allow for submission of the additional information and to give the other parties an opportunity to review and comment on it.

(g) Service of documents. (1) Parties to an appeal shall send a copy of all documents filed in the appeal to all other parties, including the appellant's sending a copy of the appeal to the Responsible Official, at the same time the original is filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer. All filings in an appeal must be accompanied by a signed and dated certificate of service attesting that all other parties have been served. Prospective intervenors shall send a copy of their request to intervene to all parties to the appeal at the same time the original is filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer. Each party and prospective intervenor is responsible for identifying the parties to the appeal and may contact the Appeal Deciding Officer for assistance regarding their names and addresses. Filings in an appeal shall not be considered by the Appeal Deciding Officer unless they are accompanied by a certificate of service.

(2) All decisions and orders issued by the Appeal Deciding Officer and the Discretionary Reviewing Officer related to the appeal shall be in writing and shall be sent to all parties to the appeal.

(h) Posting of final decisions. Once a final appeal decision or discretionary review decision has been issued, its availability shall be posted on the Web site of the national forest or national grassland or region that issued the appealable decision or on the Web site of the Washington Office for Chief's decisions.

(i) Expenses. Each party to an appeal shall bear its own expenses, including costs associated with preparing the appeal, participating in an oral presentation, obtaining information regarding the appeal, and retaining professional consultants or counsel.

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§214.15   Resolution of issues prior to an appeal decision.

(a) The Responsible Official may discuss an appeal with a party or parties to narrow issues, agree on facts, and explore opportunities to resolve one or more of the issues in dispute by means other than issuance of an appeal decision.

(b) The Responsible Official who issued a decision under appeal may withdraw the decision, in whole or in part, during an appeal to resolve one or more issues in dispute. The Responsible Official shall notify the parties to the appeal and the Appeal Deciding Officer of the withdrawal. If the withdrawal of the decision eliminates all the issues in dispute in the appeal, the Appeal Deciding Officer shall dismiss the appeal under §214.10.

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§214.16   Oral presentation.

(a) Purpose. The purpose of an oral presentation is to provide parties to an appeal with an opportunity to discuss their concerns regarding the appealable decision with the Appeal Deciding Officer.

(b) Procedure. Oral presentations are not evidentiary proceedings involving examination and cross-examination of witnesses and are not subject to formal rules of procedure.

(c) Scope. Oral presentations shall be conducted in an informal manner and shall be limited to clarifying or elaborating upon information that has already been filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer. New information may be presented only if it could not have been raised earlier in the appeal and if it would be unfair and prejudicial to exclude it.

(d) Requests. A request for an oral presentation included in an appeal shall be granted by the Appeal Deciding Officer unless the appeal has been dismissed under §214.10.

(e) Availability. Oral presentations may be conducted during appeal of a decision, but not during discretionary review.

(f) Scheduling and rules. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall conduct the oral presentation within 10 days of the date a reply to the responsive statement is due. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall notify the parties of the date, time, and location of the oral presentation and the procedures to be followed.

(g) Participation. All parties to an appeal are eligible to participate in the oral presentation. At the discretion of the Appeal Deciding Officer, non-parties may observe the oral presentation, but are not eligible to participate.

(h) Summaries and transcripts. A summary of an oral presentation may be included in the appeal record only if it is submitted to the Appeal Deciding Officer by a party to the appeal at the end of the oral presentation. A transcript of an oral presentation prepared by a certified court reporter may be included in the appeal record if the transcript is filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer within 10 days of the date of the oral presentation and if the transcript is paid for by those who requested it.

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§214.17   Appeal record.

(a) Location. The Appeal Deciding Officer shall maintain the appeal record in one location.

(b) Contents. The appeal record shall consist of information filed with the Appeal Deciding Officer, including the appealable decision, appeal, intervention request, responsive statement, reply, oral presentation summary or transcript, procedural orders and other rulings, and any correspondence or other documentation related to the appeal as determined by the Appeal Deciding Officer.

(c) Closing of the record. (1) The Appeal Deciding Officer shall close the appeal record on:

(i) The day after the date the reply to the responsive statement is due if no oral presentation is conducted;

(ii) The day after the oral presentation is conducted if no transcript of the oral presentation is being prepared; or

(iii) The day after the date a transcript of the oral presentation is due if one is being prepared.

(2) The Appeal Deciding Officer shall notify all parties to the appeal of closing of the record.

(d) Inspection by the public. The appeal record is open for public inspection in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, and 7 CFR part 1.

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§214.18   Appeal decision.

(a) Appeal decisions made by the Appeal Deciding Officer shall be issued within 30 days of the date the appeal record is closed.

(b) The appeal decision shall be based solely on the appeal record and oral presentation, if one is conducted.

(c) The appeal decision shall conform to all applicable laws, regulations, policies, and procedures.

(d) The appeal decision may affirm or reverse the appealable decision, in whole or in part. The appeal decision must specify the basis for affirmation or reversal and may include instructions for further action by the Responsible Official.

(e) Except where a decision to conduct discretionary review has been made and a discretionary review decision has been issued, the appeal decision shall constitute USDA's final administrative decision.

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§214.19   Procedures for discretionary review.

(a) Initiation. (1) One day after issuance of an appeal decision, the Appeal Deciding Officer shall send a copy of the appeal decision, appeal, and appealable decision to the Discretionary Reviewing Officer to determine whether discretionary review of the appeal decision should be conducted.

(2) One day after issuance of a Chief's decision that is eligible for discretionary review under §214.7(b)(2), the Chief shall send the decision to the Discretionary Reviewing Officer to determine whether discretionary review should be conducted.

(b) Criteria for determining whether to conduct discretionary review. In deciding whether to conduct discretionary review, the Discretionary Reviewing Officer should, at a minimum, consider the degree of controversy surrounding the decision, the potential for litigation, and the extent to which the decision establishes precedent or new policy.

(c) Time period. Upon receipt of the appeal decision, appeal, and appealable decision or Chief's decision, the Discretionary Reviewing Officer shall have 30 days to determine whether to conduct discretionary review and may request the appeal record or the record related to the Chief's decision during that time to assist in making that determination. If a request for the record is made, it must be transmitted to the Discretionary Reviewing Officer within 5 days.

(d) Notification. The Discretionary Reviewing Officer shall notify the parties and the Appeal Deciding Officer in writing of a decision to conduct discretionary review. The Discretionary Reviewing Officer may notify the parties and the Appeal Deciding Officer of a decision not to conduct discretionary review within 30 days. If the Discretionary Reviewing Officer takes no action within 30 days of receipt of the appeal decision, appeal, and appealable decision or Chief's decision, the appeal decision or Chief's decision shall constitute USDA's final administrative decision.

(e) Scope of discretionary review and issuance of a discretionary review decision. Discretionary review shall be limited to the record. No additional information shall be considered by the Discretionary Reviewing Officer. The Discretionary Reviewing Officer shall have 30 days to issue a discretionary review decision after notification of the parties and Appeal Deciding Officer has occurred pursuant to §214.19(d). The Discretionary Reviewing Officer's decision shall constitute USDA's final administrative decision. If a discretionary review decision is not issued within 30 days following the notification of the decision to conduct discretionary review, the appeal decision or Chief's decision shall constitute USDA's final administrative decision.

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§214.20   Exhaustion of administrative remedies.

Per 7 U.S.C. 6912(e), judicial review of a decision that is appealable under this part is premature unless the plaintiff has exhausted the administrative remedies under this part.

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§214.21   Information collection requirements.

The rules of this part governing appeal of decisions relating to occupancy or use of National Forest System lands and resources specify the information that an appellant must provide in an appeal. Therefore, these rules contain information collection requirements as defined in 5 CFR part 1320. These information collection requirements are assigned Office of Management and Budget Control Number 0596-0231.

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§214.22   Applicability and effective date.

This part prescribes the procedure for administrative review of appealable decisions and Chief's decisions set forth in §214.4 issued on or after June 5, 2013.

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