Part 1940 general subpart g environmental Program

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Development and Implementation of

Natural Resource Management Guide

1. The State Director shall complete the natural resource management guide within 12 months from the effective date of this Subpart and issue the guide as a State supplement after prior approval by the Administrator. A summary of the basic content, purposes, and uses of the guide is contained in §1940.305 of this Subpart. The guide shall be prepared in draft form and be provided for review and comment to USDA agencies, appropriate Federal and State agencies, State and regional review agencies assigned the consultation requirements of Executive Order 12372, as well as interested localities, groups, and citizens. Also at least one public information meeting shall be held on the draft which shall be followed by a 30-day period for the submission of public comments. Public notification of this meeting shall be made in the same manner as the notification process for a scoping meeting. (See §1940.320(c) of this Subpart). Additionally, the public shall be informed that copies of the draft guide will be made available from the State Office upon request. After completion of this public review, the draft will be revised as necessary in light of the comments received and provided as a final draft State Supplement to the Administrator for review and approval. Any concerns and comments of the Administrator will be addressed by the State Director and the guide completed. Upon the Administrator's approval and the fulfillment of the requirements of paragraph 4. of this Exhibit, the natural resource management guide shall then become part of any program investment strategies developed by the State Director for the purpose of addressing the rural needs of the state. Although a 12-month period has been established for the completion of a natural resource management guide, this deadline is not to be construed as curtailing or postponing the implementation of existing environmental laws, regulations, Executive orders or the Departmental Regulation 9500-3, Land Use Policy, with respect to individual project reviews, nor giving anyone any rights or claims with respect to the completion or content of the guide.

2. The natural resource management guide needs to be developed in full recognition of its role as an internal Agency planning tool and with sensitivity to the Agency's mission.
3. After the Administrator approves the natural resource management guide, it will become effective 4 months from that date. This interim period shall be used to inform local, State, and Federal agencies, localities, organizations, and interested citizens of the content of the guide. In this manner, those parties intending to seek FmHA assistance or to coordinate FmHA assistance programs with their own programs will be able to gain for their planning needs an understanding of our guide.
4. Completed natural resource management guides shall be reviewed every 2 years and updated by the State Director to reflect newly identified geographical areas of concern or policy revisions at the national, State, regional or local level. They will also be revised, as necessary, through appropriate guidance from the Administrator. Revisions shall be transmitted to the Administrator for postapproval and shall be considered approved if either no comments are raised by the administrator within 30 days of receipt of the State Director's transmittal letter or the Administrator specifically approves them before the 30 days expire. Public review of a revision will not be required. However, if in the opinion of the State Director the proposed revision will substantially change the previously adopted natural resource management guide, a public review shall be conducted of the revision in the same manner as that described in paragraph 1 of this Exhibit for the development of the original guide. Such review shall occur prior to the transmittal of the revision to the Administrator. If the State Director believes that at the expiration of any 2-year review period there is need to update the guide, a statement to this effect shall be filed with the Administrator.
5. The foundation for the natural resource management guide is the identification of the types of land uses or environmental factors deserving attention and their geographical location within the State. An inventory or listing shall be developed, therefore, of the important land uses within the State. This inventory will be accomplished by assembling existing data and information compiled by those Federal, State, and local agencies that have jurisdiction or expertise regarding the land uses or environmental factors. At a minimum, the inventory shall consist of available documents, listings, maps, or graphic materials describing the location of the following:
a. National Register of Historic Places to include monthly supplements as designated by the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the State Historic Preservation Plans. This list is issued as a State Supplement to Subpart F or Part 1901 of this Chapter.
b. Rivers designated as part of the Wild and Scenic Rivers System and rivers under study for inclusion in the system, as published by DOI;
c. Important farmlands;
d. Prime rangelands;
e. Prime forestlands;
f. Wetland inventory;
g. Floodplain inventory as issued by the Federal Emergency Management Administration;
h. Endangered Species and Critical Habitats as listed or proposed for listing by the Department of Commerce (DOC) and DOI;
i. Sole source aquifer recharge areas as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA);
j. Air Quality Control Regions as designated by EPA;
k. National Registry of Natural Landmarks at published by DOI;
l. Coastal Barrier Resources System;
m. State inventories or planning documents identifying important land uses, particularly those not covered by the above items, such as wildlife refuges, important habitats, and areas of high water quality, or scenic or recreational value;
n. Agricultural districts or other similar zoning classifications for agricultural land protection; and
o. Coastal Zone Management Areas.
6. The Administrator shall be responsible for assisting State Directors in obtaining listings and inventories of resources protected by Federal statutes and regulations. The State Director has the responsibility for assembling documents on important environmental resources or areas identified in State and substate laws, regulations, plans, and policies.
7. Development of the inventory by the State Director will require consultation and assistance from a variety of agencies and experts. This consultation should begin with Department agencies and be accomplished through appropriate, State-level USDA committees. The objective should be to determine the land classification data that has been compiled and that which is in the process of being compiled either by USDA agencies or their counterparts at the state level. The Memorandum of Understanding executed in May 1979 between the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) and FmHA should be utilized as the basis for seeking SCS's assistance in this data collection effort. (See RD Instruction 2000-D, Exhibit A, which is available in any FmHA Office.) Direct contacts should then be made with State agencies, in. particular with the appropriate office of State planning, to determine the availability of State inventories and State land use policies and priorities. Similar discussions should be held with substate regional planning agencies and clearinghouses with assistance being provided in this effort by District Directors. County Supervisors shall contact local officials and shall be responsible for being familiar with and for assembling similar inventories, land use policies, or protective requirements developed by the local government agencies within the supervisor's territorial jurisdiction.
8. Another important element of the natural resource management guide shall be the examination of any major environmental impacts on the State or a substate area resulting from the cumulative effects of FmHA-assisted projects over the last several years. In this examination, particular emphasis should be given to the cumulative impacts of water resource projects such as irrigation systems. This should be done in consultation with experts within the appropriate State agencies and the U.S. Geological Survey. The housing programs should also be given a particular emphasis with respect to their cumulative impacts. More detailed guidance on the accomplishment of this cumulative impact section of the natural resource management guide, as well as the overall content of the guide, shall be provided by the Administrator. In preparing the State's natural resource management guide and in assembling inventories of critical resources, Agency staff should not lose sight of the basic purposes of this effort. The development of lengthy and complex guides and the amassing of huge inventories is not our goal. In the end, the material must be useable and serve as a tool for better decisionmaking. The basic purposes of this guide and inventory, then, are to provide a basis for developing comprehensive, statewide, rural development investment strategies that (i) do not conflict with Federal, State, and local mandates to preserve and protect important land and environmental resources, (ii) that do not create short- or long-term development pressures which would lead to the unnecessary conversion of these resources, and (iii) which effectively support and enhance Federal, State, and local plans to preserve these resources.

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