MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
RELATED TO FOREST HIGHWAYS OVER
NATIONAL FOREST LANDS
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by and between the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, Forest Service, hereinafter called the Forest Service, and the U. S. Department of
Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, hereinafter called the FHWA, is supplemental to Part
660 of Chapter 1, Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations, and establishes procedures for coordinating
the planning, reconnaissance, location, design, construction, signing, and consideration of social,
economic, and environmental effects related to Forest Highway use and occupancy of National Forest
It is mutually recognized that:
Forest Highways are Forest roads under the jurisdiction of, and maintained by, a public
authority and open to public travel. These highways provide access to the National Forest
resources and Forest resources benefitting communities in or near National Forests. The
highways are mutually identified through the statewide planning process as set forth in the
States' Action Plans and through National Forest transportation planning which is a part of the
Forest Service land and resource management planning process.
The FHWA has developed and implemented a Direct Federal Nationwide Action Plan
(NAP) that covers the interagency coordination and procedures necessary to assure
compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. Sec 4321 et seq., as well as
23 U.S.C. Sec 109(h).
The Forest Service is responsible for the protection and multiple use management of
National Forest lands and resources for the use and benefit of the people of the United States,
and is vitally interested in the development of a public highway system which will integrate with
other National Forest transportation facilities and provide access for use and enjoyment of the
National Forests, and
Where Forest Highways traverse National Forest lands, the FHWA will need
authorization to use a portion of the lands for highway right-of-way, waste areas, and material
sources for highway construction. Since many National Forest access, development, and
administrative facilities are appurtenant or adjacent to Forest Highways, the Forest Service will
need to confer with the FHWA before developing physical improvements which may have an
effect on Forest Highway planning and construction.
Both FHWA and the Forest Service should enter into separate memorandums of
understanding with the State highway agency to clarify responsibilities for those items spelled
out in the State Action Plan and the FHWA Direct Federal NAP especially where it concerns
statewide systems planning.
Nothing in this MOU is to be construed as conflicting with existing laws, regulations,
and prescribed responsibilities.
In recognition of the responsibilities, interests, and limitations set forth above, and the mutual
benefits of established procedures to facilitate agreement on specific highway matters on National
Forest lands, the FHWA and the Forest Service mutually agree as follows:
- For Forest Highway projects where there may be existing outstanding valid claims, such as
right-of-way, powerlines, gaslines, etc., the FHWA will investigate such claims and, if
determined to be valid, will arrange for such permission to enter upon or construct as may be
necessary on account of any such claims.
- The Forest Service will be responsible for meeting the requirements listed in the FHWA
Direct Federal NAP relating to Forest Service participation in the review of projects and input
into the environmental analysis procedure.
- The Forest Service will file with the FHWA Section 4(f) documentation for all Forest
Highway projects to be constructed or reconstructed on National Forest or other lands
administered by the Forest Service. The documentation will state that the proposed route has
been reviewed against the criteria of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of
1966, Public Law 89-670, as amended by the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1968, Public Law
90-495, Section 18.
- The design and construction of Forest Highway projects will be in accord with the
applicable provisions of Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations (particularly Part 660),
established individual agency procedures for Forest Highways, and the latest edition of the
Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and Bridges on Federal Highway Projects.
- The final design and the construction specifications for all Forest Highway construction
projects on National Forest lands shall have the written concurrence of the Regional Forester
before construction begins (see Final Plan Approval on page 8).
- All amendments or supplements to the approved plans, specifications, or stipulations that
may affect National Forest land use shall have the written concurrence of the Regional Forester.
- Consistent with highway safety standards, the FHWA shall:
- Protect and preserve soil and vegetative cover and scenic and esthetic values on the right-of-way outside of construction limits.
- Provide for the prevention and control of soil erosion within the right-of-way and on
adjacent lands that might be affected by the construction of the highway and shall vegetate with
suitable species of grass, trees, shrubs, etc., all earth cut or fill slopes feasible for revegetation
or other areas on which ground cover is destroyed where it is deemed necessary for erosion
control during a joint review between the Forest Service and the FHWA prior to completion of
the highway. During construction, the FHWA shall maintain all terracing, leadoff ditches, or
other erosion preventive works that may be required to accomplish this objective.
- The FHWA shall establish no borrow, sand or gravel pits, stone quarries, stockpile sites,
sites for contractors' operations, camps or disposal areas on National Forest lands without first
obtaining approval of the Regional Forester (see page 9, paragraph 2.d.).
Annual Program Conference. At the annual Forest Highway program and project selection
conference, projects are discussed and scheduled for future years' programs. The meeting shall be
attended by representatives of the State highway agency, the Forest Service and FHWA, who will be
authorized to commit their agencies to agreement. In addition to the information required in the FHWA
Direct Federal NAP:
1. The Forest Service will provide:
- A list of projects with supporting data as specified in 23 CFR 660.109, that will best meet
its land management and transportation needs and objectives for the next 5 years. This list will
represent the best available information on funding levels and coordination with the total
statewide transportation system.
- Status reports on land and resource management planning for National Forest development,
especially where the land and resource management decisions might affect the existing or
proposed Forest Highways.
- Special recommendations for long-range transportation needs and procedural changes in the
action planning system.
- Identification of needs for special funding for studies or projects necessary to accomplish
any part of the program.
2. The FHWA will provide:
- The latest information on available financing and its effects on the proposed program.
- The latest cost estimates and status of existing projects including environmental studies,
special studies, and need for expertise from other agencies or outside sources.
- Recommendations as to possible alternatives and changes that should be considered as a
result of analysis of 1 and 2 above.
3. The State highway agency will assume responsibility for:
- Those items spelled out in the State Action Plan.
- Those items spelled out in the Memorandum of Understanding with the Forest Service and
cooperative agreements with FHWA especially where it concerns State transportation systems
- A list of projects proposed for financing with supporting data.
Objectives of the meeting will be to reach agreement on a Forest Highway Program that can be
feasibly accomplished within the requirements and restraints of each agency and to set the stage for
coordinating the efforts of all personnel concerned in implementation of this program.
The Forest Service participation with FHWA in highway development planning and analysis of
environmental impacts shall not be construed as sharing project responsibility. It shall be further
understood that the Forest Service may embrace a diverse viewpoint during any phase of the project
planning and decisionmaking process.
Special requirements on individual projects will be as follows:
- Final Plan Approval
Concurrence in the final plans and specifications by the Forest Service will be
acknowledged by a letter of consent (see Items 2.a. and b below). The letter does not
relate to highway engineering functional items but acknowledges that the Forest Service
agrees to the appropriation and transfer of the affected National Forest lands under the
stated provisions of the Act of August 27, 1958, and the conditions which are to be
included in the standard Highway Easement Deed. Stipulations relative to disposal of
right-of-way timber, revegetating of cut and fill slopes, relocation of Government-owned buildings or other improvements and other details of construction affecting
National Forest Lands should be included in the highway plans and specifications.
Those not adequately covered will be agreed to between the Forest Service and the
constructing agency before a letter of consent is issued.
- Upon final review of the highway plans and specifications and stipulations, if any,
and a determination that National Forest interests are adequately protected, the
Regional Forester will prepare a letter of consent to the appropriation by the
Department of Transportation and transfer of lands to the State or local government for
highway purposes. In the consent letter, the Regional Forester will set forth the first
eight (8) terms and conditions to be included in the project standard Highway Easement
Deed. The Regional Forester will transmit the consent letter to the FHWA which will
issue a deed to the State or local government.
- The letter of consent is the Forest Service's authorization for FHWA to enter
National Forest lands and to construct the highway project.
- Field monumentation of the right-of-way limits by the FHWA, when required, will
be in accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Forest Service
and the appropriate State highway agency.
- The use of borrow pits, gravel pits, stone quarries, or other areas or facilities
requiring separate Forest Service approval will be authorized by Special Use Permit to
the FHWA contractor with concurrence of the FHWA.
- The FHWA will administer construction contracts in a manner to assure work
performed is in accordance with approved plans and specifications.
- The FHWA will invite the Forest Service to the preconstruction conference. At this
conference, the FHWA will designate a field representative to deal directly with the
contractor and the Forest Service will designate a field representative to advise the
FHWA field representative on matters affecting land use aspects and other Forest
- The Forest Service will consult only with the designated FHWA field representative
on matters pertaining to project construction.
- Waste or surplus excavation material shall be disposed of at locations approved by
the Forest Service.
- Where the construction limits exceed right-of-way limits shown on the approved
plans, the designated field representative of the FHWA and Forest Service shall agree
on the additional right-of-way and document such agreement in writing. Formal
approval of all such additional right-of-way will be requested of the Forest Service
when construction is complete.
- The FHWA will reestablish or restore public land monuments disturbed or destroyed
by Forest Highway construction or reconstruction under FHWA contract according to
instructions of the Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior. Other land
monuments and property corners or witness markers involving National Forest lands
shall not be damaged, destroyed, or obliterated without the prior permission of the
Forest Service and shall be relocated or reestablished in accordance with standards
satisfactory to the Regional Forester.
- Upon completion and prior to acceptance of the project by FHWA, the Regional
Forester will advise FHWA whether the construction has been satisfactorily completed
in accordance with the Forest Service stipulations, terms, and conditions. If the
construction has been so satisfactorily completed, such notification will be in writing.
Signing included in Forest Highway Projects will be in accordance with the Manual on
Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Section 402 of Title 23 U.S.C., and the
Memorandum of Understanding between the Forest Service and the appropriate State
highway agency, wherever such agreements are in effect.
- Landscape Management and Rest Areas
The FHWA and the Forest Service shall jointly review and agree to the location,
design, and construction of all highway turnouts, widening for viewpoints, historical and
interpretative signing, rest areas, drinking fountains, roadside parking for fishing, camera
stops, traveler information signs, Forest boundary signs, and the preservation of areas
of scenic beauty. On new construction projects, details of such items will be
incorporated into and made a part of construction plans for concurrence by the
appropriate Regional Forester. If such items are developed after construction of the
highway, details of agreed actions will be made a matter of record by both parties.
- The FHWA and Forest Service personnel are encouraged to consult with each other
during construction and to agree on such matters as fall within their scope of
responsibility. Matters which require consideration at a higher level should be referred
to appropriate authority in each agency.
- This Memorandum supersedes the Memorandum signed by the Forest Service January
11, 1974, and the Federal Highway Administration December 19, 1973. This
Memorandum may be amended or supplemented by mutual agreement between both
parties and may be terminated by either party through written notice to the other.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
FEDERAL HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION
BY Original signed by R.A. Barnhart
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
BY Original signed by Gary E. Cargill
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