Supporting Statement for OMB 0596-NEW
GOOD NEIGHBOR AGREEMENTS WITH STATE COOPERATORS
SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS – APPENDIX B
GOOD NEIGHBOR AGREEMENT QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS
Question: How does GNA relate to the Wyden Authority?
Question: Does the requirement to be on state and/or private lands (adjacency) come from both the Farm Bill and the Appropriations Act?
Question: How important is adjacency in the agreements? (There is reference to this in the descriptions of the agreements on the Forest Service website)
Question: Can GNA be used in designated Roadless Areas that are adjacent to private lands?
Answer: No, both authorities specifically exclude work in designated roadless areas.
Question: Would we need a different Master GNA Agreement with each state agency or could we have one with the State as a whole perhaps signed by the Governor?
Question: Is work like culvert replacement considered road construction? If we are doing it to improve watershed and fish habitat does it fit under the Farm Bill?
Question: Is there a separate financial plan being developed for GNA?
Question: Is this authority reciprocal? Can the state pay us to do work on State land?
Question: Could this authority be used to allow State agencies the ability to complete emergency watershed stabilization work?
Question: I believe I read somewhere that a Forest had lost a key member of their ID Team on a major project (this person being a wildlife biologist), and the Forest was able to enter into GNA with the state to pick up the services of one of their wildlife biologists for a time. Is this applicable to/possible under GNA?
Question: Does this cover burning on NFS?
Question: For colleagues who tell you that this is simply the federal government allowing the states to do our work, what is an appropriate response?
Answer: The Good Neighbor Authority (among other things):
Provides the ability to work across jurisdictional boundaries and treat the landscape in a mixed ownership setting
Fosters a collaborative approach to address land management challenges
Provides the ability to leverage state resources to increase capacity to accomplish work on National Forest System lands
Provides the opportunity to strengthen the Federal/State partnership
Question: Has the appropriations committee funded this authority?
Question: Is there any thoughts on how this authority would be funded, particularly for projects that are not projected to generate excess receipts? Is there going to be a pool of money from the WO, or would the regions/forest have to fund projects from the Forest Service side?
Question: When can the authorities begin to be used?
Question: When will the Forest Service handbook and Forest Service manual be available for GNA? Will it be similar to stewardship? What code will it be organized under?
Answer: The GNA policy and guidance in Grants & Agreements and Forest Management are being drafted and development now.
Question: Where can we easily find a copy of the GNA authorities?
2014 Agricultural Act (Farm Bill) authority: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2642/text (Good Neighbor Authority is found in Sec. 8206)
Appropriations Act authority: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr3547/text (Good Neighbor Authority is found in Sec. 417)
Question: How are the rates for this work determined? For example, if the state agency performs timber marking for the national forest, is the state paid on a per acre basis or per unit or...?
Question: How does Rx fire play into the discussion of GNA?
Question: If state and private funds cannot be used on federal forest lands, doesn't that essentially mean that all the activities on Federal forest land must be funded with timber sale money?
Question: The Forest Service invites comment on several questions, one being (1) Whether or not this collection of information is necessary for the stated purposes and the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical or scientific utility. Can you tell me what "this collection of information" would include and is it only related to the annual reporting requirement by each state?
Question: The Forest Service also invites comment on (2) The accuracy of the Agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used. Similar to my second question, is this question only related to the annual reporting requirement of states or does the estimate of burden include collection of information from the pre-agreement to the close-out stage?
Question: If you have a project which contains any road construction or reconstruction on specified roads, you would have to use an agreement under the Appropriations Bill version of GNA. So, in essence you could have two different agreements associated with one project, both a Farm Bill GNA agreement and an Appropriations Bill agreement.
Question: Are the templates open to feedback based on comments received?
Question: I have a request from a State to assume maintenance responsibility on a Forest Service Road. No funding has been addressed. Would a GNA agreement be appropriate in this case?
Answer: This work may be performed under the Appropriations version of GNA if similar work is being performed by the state forestry agency on lands adjacent to the NFS project area.
Question: Is there a mechanism for startup cost? Can the state receive funding from the Forest Service to set up an initial project?
Question: How does GNA address projects or activities (such as fuels reduction) where timber sale receipts will not likely cover the costs of the treatment? Does GNA provide for federal funds to cover the difference, and if so - what will be the likely types/sources of funds that would be used?
Question: Will this change the existing GNA authorities in Colorado and Utah?
Question: In master GNA agreement, under section IV, F. Program Income, what is the “additive approach" for applying program income generated as a result of the agreement vs. the deductive alternative?
Answer: Using the additive approach for Program Income allows the income to be used “in addition” to any other funding that is provided by the Forest Service to complete the work described in the agreement. If we do not identify an alternative for use of program income, the deductive alternative applies and program income must be used in place of any other Federal funding that is contributed to the project.
Question: What overhead policies will apply?
Answer: Overhead will be identified and addressed in the agreement following the regulations in 2 CFR part 200 as implemented by U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2 CFR part 400.
Question: Would you recommend that a State signs an agreement absent any pending activity in anticipation of being a participant in the future? Why would the state want to sign an agreement prior to having a project in the hopper?
Answer: If a Master Agreement is in place, even if there is no anticipated activity, both the state and the Forest Service are in a good position to easily take advantage of opportunities that may arise. Additionally, it may be valuable to identify potential projects that may be unfunded so that if funding becomes available, both parties are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunity.
Cooperator Related Questions
Question: Any other units of government that we can enter into GNA agreements with (tribal, county)?
Question: Can counties be considered agents of the state?
Question: Is there any ability to use these templates at the county level, say with supplemental agreements under statewide master agreement?
Question: To confirm these mechanisms can be used by Department of Interior & Agriculture?
Question: DOI US Fish and Wildlife lands are excluded from GNA?
Question: Are agreements directly with individual or cohorts of National Forests?
Question: Please clarify at what agency level approval is needed for the supplemental agreement?
Question: Do we need a separate agreement between the RF and each state agency?
Question: Can a Forest Supervisor enter into a GNA agreement with the Governor of an adjoining State?
Question: Which state agencies are eligible to use GNA with us?
Question: Can you clarify what role the state and a third party, such as a non-profit organization, would have under GNA? Or stated another way, how can non-state actors work with states to perform work under the GNA on state or private lands?
Answer: A non-state entity may participate in a GNA covered activity through a sub-contract or third party relationship with the state. The relationship of the third party is to the state, not the Forest Service.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Related Questions
Question: Under GNA could the State do a project from NEPA thru implementation? Or does NEPA stay with FS?
Question: Can we also use GNA to allow the State to pay for NEPA and restoration work on NFS lands?
Question: To make best use of these authorities, its sounds like NEPA decisions for projects that will be worked on should already be completed prior to entering into an agreement. Correct?
Question: What is the state's liability in any potential lawsuits alleging a violation of the terms of an NEPA decision/litigation?
Answer: The Forest Service assumes liability for defending the NEPA decision.
Question: Can you discuss again how you see the NEPA process working with the GNA? What opportunities, if any, do you think GNA creates, as it relates to NEPA, to increase the pace and scale of restoration?
Forest Service State and Private Forestry (S&PF)/Cooperative Forestry Related Questions
Question: Do we need to worry about the S&PF grant money that States receive -- can it be combined with a GNA project?
Question: Can S&PF and NFS fund codes be mixed in the GNA templates developed?
Question: Can national forests use pest suppression funds on adjacent non-federal lands.
Answer: In this case, the Forest Service needs to go back to the funds that are being used and what is an appropriate use of those funds as described in the Appropriation Use Handbook, Forest Service handbook (FSH) 6509.11g, Chapter 20. Section 22.1 covers SPFH, and it’s pretty clear that those funds are for use on NFS lands. We have other forest health funds, SPCH, for use off NFS lands.
Question: Can a state use staff whose positions are funded using federal grant funds to perform work on federal lands?
Answer: No. The grant funds are specifically appropriated and awarded for work on state and private lands.
Timber Removal Related Questions
Question: Do we have a Fund established by Treasury for the receipts from product value that will pay for service work?
Question: Will the commercial product, volume and value be reported through our NRM TIM and ATSA systems for PAS? Or solely handled by G&A?
Question: Can the Forest Service simply award some timber sales to a State agency and let them bid it out for award and do all the prep and administration work?
Question: Will the states define rules in the master agreement for timber sale prep and sale or will each project define work?
Question: Will there be a priority to use of receipts from sale of products? For example would the FS require receipts cover KV needs before it funded the State or service items?
Question: If the state administers the timber sale are they required to administer the timber sale under the same provisions in the NF timber sale contract? Also is the state responsible for damage caused by the logger?
Question: Are we going to use Fire Liability lesson learned from our Stewardship Agreements and get that into these agreements so the State is not liable for a fire starting on their timber sale area.
Question: Are States required to comply with the Code of Federal Regulations associated with timber disposal on NFS?
Question: What is the process of accomplishing reforestation work (KV)? Would we just draft a normal plan and include that in the agreement? Or is there a way to capture those funds to do that work with a different contract?
Question: Would tree planting be an example of project work after a timber sale?
Question: Is there anything allowable in a KV Sale Area Improvement Plan that would not be allowed under this authority? Also are there activities that are not allowable in a SAI that cannot be done under these authorities? Anything this is allowable under a SAI Plan that is not allowable under these authorities.
Question: What is the difference between sale area and analysis area boundaries – or the contract area boundary?
Question: Can the timber receipts be used for restoration on non U.S. Forest Service lands?
Question: Does the State Silviculturist have to be FS certified?
Question: Do the silviculture methods have to be the same or do they simply need to accomplish the same outcomes?
Question: Can we use our existing timber cruising and appraisal processes when preparing a timber sale?
Question: Are costs "repaid" before the 25% funds are pulled off, or are these from "net receipts"?
Question: Can the Supplemental Agreement and Appendix E be written to address multiple forest treatments (timber sales) on multiple sites (say over the geography of the entire Huron-Manistee NF) over a defined period of time?
Question: Can the Supplemental Agreement (Timber) and Appendix E be written to address multiple National Forests in one agreement, or would a separate supplemental agreement be required for each NF?
Question: Finally, I presume that under the auspices of the Master Agreement, the Supplemental Agreement (Timber) and Appendix E would periodically (every one-two years) be revised to address additional/new forest treatments – correct?
Question: In Section II of the GNA SPA (Timber), the template includes language regarding state payment (to the Forest Service) in advance of cutting for all timber that is to be cut. In Section B4.212 of Appendix E, Timber Removal Requirements, it reads that the purchaser agrees to make cash deposits in advance of cutting of timber. My first question is to confirm the Timber SPA requires the state to provide the funds for the estimated volume/value of the timber to be cut in advance of the project. Is that correct?
Question: Can you clarify whether the advance of funds equal to the applicable charges for estimated timber to cut is a payment or a deposit? The template references a payment when Appendix E references cash deposits in such amounts that the Timber Sale Account will maintain an unobligated balance. Further, at what time does the balance become obligated and what if the amount realized for the timber cut differs from the previous unobligated balance?
Answer: The Forest Service bills for deposits in advance of cutting. The amount of deposit depends on sale type and operating plans. Timber is reported cut and removed (or scaled) on a monthly basis. If advance deposits are made in cash, the cash value of that reported timber is obligated from those deposits each month and new bills are generated as necessary. If a payment bond is used, that bond would cover the value of advance deposits. Then, instead of obligating funds from the deposits on a monthly basis, the Forest Service would bill for payment on a monthly basis for the value of timber after it is reported cut and removed (or scaled).
Question: Can you clarify the use of a security bond in place of the advance payment/deposit and what would be required from the state financially in advance of harvesting timber? Further, would the use of a security bond be unique to Good Neighbor Agreements or is this required for all Forest Service Timber Sale Contracts (performance bond?)?
Question: Subsections (d) and (g) of NFMA do not apply to GNA. Are we providing tracer paint to these State agencies?
Question: State agencies can prepare Silviculture prescriptions and marking guides, but an FS certified Silviculturist will have to approve?
Question: State agencies will have to follow Forest Service regulations concerning financial and log accountability regulations.
Question: A Forest Service Timber Contracting Officer will not be signing this agreement?
Question: Is there a difference between paved versus forest roads for timber sales? Or does the definition cover all types of roads?
Question: How will we handle road maintenance? Nearly all timber sales that we administer involve pre and/or post haul road maintenance activities to facilitate timber haul, etc. All commercial hauling activities require maintenance commensurate with use. Many sales also require re construction of specified roads prior to timber haul. Without reconstruction or maintenance we cannot meet Best Management Practices for water quality. Further, our State requires these actions in their Timber Contracts.
Answer: Currently there is no single best answer. Options include issuing road use permits to the state or purchaser or using a GNA Appropriations agreement to allow road repair and maintenance. New road construction is not allowed under either version of GNA.
Question: Timber program income – Assumption that the National Forest would sell the timber sale to the state, the state would pay for required items (like essential KV), state would sell the project, and then state would keep the income from the project, spending the dollars in areas where they had agreed. The question was “It’s my assumption that the project would move through the forest’s system like a normal sale. Is this correct?”
Answer: Considering the potential range of projects across the country and the roles each partner may wish to have, a timber sale project may move through the Forest’s system in different ways. Like all sales, we must have appropriate line officer approval at each gate. If the partnering state sells the timber using a state contract, the Forest Service, State, and potentially the third party purchaser will need to establish a procedure for billing and payment. The state will be responsible for returning timber receipts to the Forest Service up to appraised value and may do so directly or with the purchaser’s funds. The state will hold and manage any revenue in excess of appraised value as program income.
Question: If the state comes to us with a timber project, we approve the prescriptions, and they mark it by their standards, do they have to use tracer paint? If so, can they purchase it with receipts?
Question: In the GNA timber agreement, draft template section 3, 3rd paragraph – “FS will provide prescriptions and marking guide” – Does this mean that pre-timber sale activities will be part of the timber agreement?
Question: How do you determine the perimeters for project area boundaries?
Answer: All project area boundaries must lie within an approved NEPA project area. Actual determination on the ground depends on many factors and, depending on the agreement, may be completed by the state or by the Forest Service.
Question: Since no program income will be earned, how will the state be compensated for the work?
Answer: Program income may be earned, but still may not be sufficient to pay costs to the state. The state may be compensated using appropriate sources of Forest Service funds or in some cases the state may contribute to the project.
Question: The Forest Service has specific requirements concerning certifications for the Sale Administration team. I believe you said that States can administer Forest Service timber sale contracts. Can you expand on where the contract authority lies? As well expand on the sale of NF timber. Will the sales have a FS Contracting Officer?
Answer: Good Neighbor Authority allows the Forest Service to enter into a sole-source contract or a Good Neighbor Agreement with states, including timber sales with the exemption of subsection (d) of section 14 of NFMA. Good Neighbor Agreements incorporate Federal Financial Assistance regulations found in 2 CFR part 200 as implemented by U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2 CFR part 400. Specifically, section 200.317 states that, “a state must follow the same policies and procedures it uses for procurements from its non- Federal funds.” Though the Forest Service may have no delegated authority on a contract between a state and a third party, a Forest Service contract administration team, including a contracting officer, may participate, with individual roles as agreed to with the state. A Forest Service timber contracting officer should also be involved in timber sale reporting and payment on the Forest Service side of the project.
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