[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 202 (Wednesday, October 18, 2000)]
[Notices]
[Pages 62565-62572]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-26566]



[[Page 62565]]

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Part VII

Department of Agriculture

Department of Commerce



National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration



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Department of Defense

Department of Energy

Department of the Interior

Environmental Protection Agency

Tennessee Valley Authority

Army Corps of Engineers
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Unified Federal Policy for a Watershed Approach to Federal Land and 
Resource Management; Notice

Federal Register / Vol. 65, No. 202 / Wednesday, October 18, 2000 / 
Notices

[[Page 62566]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Office of the Secretary

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

Office of the Secretary

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Office of the Secretary

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Office of the Secretary

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

TENNESSEE VALLEY AUTHORITY

ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS


Unified Federal Policy for a Watershed Approach to Federal Land 
and Resource Management

AGENCIES: Office of the Secretary, USDA; National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, Commerce; Office of the Secretary, DOD; 
Office of the Secretary, Energy; Office of the Secretary, Interior; 
Office of the Administrator, EPA; Resource Stewardship, TVA; Office of 
the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, COE.

ACTION: Notice of final policy.

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SUMMARY: The Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy and 
the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Tennessee Valley 
Authority, and the Army Corps of Engineers are adopting a unified 
Federal policy on watershed management. This policy, which provides a 
framework for a watershed approach to Federal land and resource 
management activities, is one of the action items in the President's 
Clean Water Action Plan: Restoring and Protecting America's Waters. The 
final policy has been revised in response to public comments on the 
proposed policy published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2000 
(65 FR 8834).

DATES: This policy is effective October 18, 2000.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the final policy are available electronically from 
the Internet/World Wide Web at www.cleanwater.gov/ufp or by contacting 
USDA-Forest Service, Content Analysis Enterprise Team, Attn: UFP, 
Building 2, Suite 295, 5500 Amelia Earhart Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 
84116; (801) 517-1037. Individuals who use a telecommunications device 
for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service at 1-
800-877-8339.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Eric Janes, Rangelands, Soil and Water 
Group, Bureau of Land Management, Department of the Interior, (202) 
452-7752, or Karen Solari, Watershed and Air Management Staff, Forest 
Service, Department of Agriculture, (202) 205-0879. Individuals who use 
a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal 
Information Relay Service at 1-800-877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The final unified Federal policy on 
watershed management set out at the end of this notice is intended to 
provide a framework to enhance watershed management for the protection 
of water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems on Federal lands. 
This policy is one of the 111 action items in the President's February 
1998 Clean Water Action Plan: Restoring and Protecting America's 
Waters. 

Background

    More than 800 million acres of the Nation's land are managed by 
Federal agencies. These public lands contain significant physical and 
biological resources and are important to millions of Americans for 
multiple uses, such as drinking water, irrigation, transportation, 
recreation, and wildlife habitat. Federal land managers are responsible 
for protecting and restoring these resources.
    The objective of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, 
as amended, which is commonly referred to as the Clean Water Act, is to 
``restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity 
of the Nation's waters.''
    Although Federal agencies are working to implement the applicable 
requirements of the Clean Water Act, further progress is needed both to 
prevent degradation of high quality waters and sensitive aquatic 
ecosystems and to accelerate the restoration of degraded water 
resources. This policy provides a foundation to help ensure that 
Federal land and resource management activities meet these goals and 
that the Federal government serves as a model for water quality 
stewardship.
    We believe that the unified watershed-based approach outlined in 
this policy provides a strong foundation for achieving these goals.
    Though this policy is not intended to be a rule, the proposed 
policy was published for notice and public comment in the February 22, 
2000, Federal Register (65 FR 8834). We also posted the policy on the 
World Wide Web at www.cleanwater.gov/ufp and mailed it to States, 
Tribes, environmental groups, and industry associations. We conducted 
eleven regional meetings; met with a number of organizations, such as 
the Western Governors' Association; and conducted meetings and 
conference calls with Tribal government representatives.
    We received 248 responses from 126 organizations and 122 
individuals on the proposed policy. Comments represented a diverse set 
of interests from across the country, including private citizens; 
State, Tribal and local governments; and industry and environmental 
groups. An interagency team reviewed and evaluated the comments and 
made changes to the policy based on these comments.
    The majority of the commenters supported the overall goal of the 
policy to improve water quality on Federal lands through an emphasis on 
a watershed-based approach to land and resource management. Many 
commenters suggested language and content changes intended to improve 
the policy. The interagency review team identified six major questions 
or issue categories.

    1. Do the participating agencies have the authority to develop 
and implement this policy?
    2. How does the policy affect Tribal rights and interests?
    3. What role will the States, Tribes, and local governments have 
in working with the Federal agencies to implement the policy?
    4. What impacts will this policy have on the multiple uses of 
Federal lands?
    5. How will the policy be implemented?
    6. How will the public participate in implementing the policy?

    The following section, Summary of Comments and Responses, includes 
a discussion of these issues and our response to the public comments. 
This section also describes all substantive changes made to the 
proposed policy based on the public comments and the Federal agencies' 
review of the policy. The text of the final policy is set out at the 
end of this notice.

Summary of Comments and Responses

1. Do the participating agencies have the authority to develop and 
implement this policy?

    Comments: Some respondents asserted that the Clean Water Action 
Plan (CWAP) and the Unified Federal Policy (UFP) violate Congressional

[[Page 62567]]

mandates regarding multiple use, sustained yield and planning 
procedures found in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, 43 
U.S.C. Sec. 1701 et seq. (FLPMA), the Multiple Use and Sustained Yield 
Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 531 et seq. (MUSYA), and the National Forest 
Management Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1600 et seq. (NFMA).
    Response: As the agencies have explained in the CWAP itself, the 
CWAP is not a regulation and it does not establish a regulatory 
program. Rather, it is a call to action that ``builds on the solid 
foundation of existing clean water programs'' and seeks to ``restore 
and protect water resources'' within the framework of existing laws and 
regulations. Similarly, the UFP is intended to enhance the 
implementation of existing laws and improve coordination of Federal 
watershed management activities with States, Tribes, and interested 
stakeholders. In other words, nothing in the UFP (or the CWAP) directs 
agencies to violate any existing laws or regulations. For instance, the 
UFP calls upon agencies to enhance State, Tribal and public 
participation opportunities during the resource management decision-
making process. However, any such enhancement must be fully consistent 
with resource management decision-making processes established by FLPMA 
and other applicable laws and their implementing regulations. As 
another example, the UFP asks agencies to employ collaborative 
decision-making processes that utilize scientific knowledge and 
understanding gained from watershed assessments to develop federal land 
management decisions. Again, any such collaboration would be structured 
and undertaken only in accordance with applicable laws such as FLPMA, 
MUSYA, and NFMA and their implementing regulations.
    Comments: Some respondents commented that CWAP and, therefore, the 
UFP violate the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and 
Intergovernmental Cooperation Act (ICA).
    Response: Neither the CWAP nor the UFP is a regulation. Therefore, 
the formal requirements of APA applicable to the promulgation of 
government regulations do not apply. In contrast to a regulation, which 
would establish legally enforceable requirements, the UFP asserts goals 
and aspirations consistent with existing laws and regulations. The UFP 
does not identify or propose specific projects that would require 
consultation with local governments under the ICA. The Federal agencies 
have widely publicized the policy and encouraged public discussion and 
feedback in order to have the widest possible participation of the 
public, including States and Tribes, in energizing the agencies' 
efforts to restore America's waters. Thus, States and Tribes were 
invited to participate in the UFP's development by commenting on a 
``working draft'' policy in June of 1999, eight months before 
publication of the proposed policy in February 22, 2000 Federal 
Register (65 FR 8334). Their comments were considered during the 
preparation of both the proposed and final policies.
    Comments: Some respondents commented that the CWAP and, therefore, 
the UFP violate the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
    Response: The CWAP and the UFP provide a framework for energizing 
the agencies' efforts to restore the nation's waters pursuant to 
existing laws and regulations. As such, the CWAP and the UFP are broad 
policy statements that speak in general concepts and principles, do not 
establish or alter existing agency programs, and are not defined to the 
point that they can be meaningfully analyzed. The agencies will fully 
comply with NEPA and other applicable laws at the appropriate time, 
such as when the UFP's policies are used to develop proposals for 
specific policies, programs, or projects. In other words, the Federal 
agencies fully intend to comply with NEPA at the appropriate time for 
all actions that require such compliance.
    Comments: Some respondents asserted that the CWAP and, therefore, 
the UFP violate the Fifth Amendment's prohibition on the taking of 
private property.
    Response: Nothing in either the CWAP or the UFP deprives anyone of 
individual property rights or would deny any owner of property the 
economic use of that property. The CWAP and the UFP do not require, 
authorize, or even suggest the taking of private property by any 
governmental agency for any purpose. The UFP, by its terms, creates no 
enforceable rights. The UFP applies only to Federal land and resources, 
not to private property. The UFP does not prohibit or restrict any 
activity on private property.
    Comments: Some respondents asserted that the CWAP and, therefore, 
the UFP violate the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) because the effect 
of the CWAP for any significant impact on small entities and businesses 
was not analyzed.
    Response: Because neither the CWAP nor the UFP is a regulation, the 
RFA does not apply to them. The RFA is triggered only ``[w]henever an 
agency is required * * * to publish general notice of proposed 
rulemaking for any proposed rule * * *'' 5 U.S.C. 603(a). The CWAP and 
the UFP are policies, not rules, and therefore are not subject to RFA.
    Comments: Several respondents questioned whether the authority 
exists for some of the activities in the policy; specifically, the 
authority to conduct watershed assessments and to apply special 
designations.
    Response: Federal agencies have a variety of authorities to conduct 
watershed assessments and apply special designations. For example, in 
Public Law 94-579 (October 21, 1976), the Federal Land Policy and 
Management Act of 1976, Title II--Land Use Planning, Inventory and 
Identification, Section 201(a), Congress directed that the Secretary of 
the Interior ``shall prepare and maintain on a continuing basis an 
inventory of all public lands and their resource and other values.'' In 
Title II, Section 202(c)(3), Congress directed the Secretary of the 
Interior to ``give priority to the designation and protection of areas 
of critical environmental concern.'' In the National Forest Management 
Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. 1602), Section 5--Program Recommendations, 
Congress directed the Secretary of Agriculture to ``recognize the 
fundamental need to protect and where appropriate, improve the quality 
of soil, water, and air resources.'' Each agency has additional 
authorities to inventory resource conditions and prepare management 
plans to prevent natural resource degradation and to restore degraded 
areas. In order to clarify our intent, the final policy has been 
amended to include the phrase ``using existing legal authorities'' in 
Section II.B.2, which addresses special designations.
    Comments: Several respondents commented on the protection of 
existing water rights. The agencies adopting this policy acknowledge 
the authority granted to Tribes and States regarding water rights.
    Response: In order to clarify our intent, the introduction section 
of the final policy has been amended to affirm our intent not to affect 
water rights with the addition of the following language: ``The policy 
applies only to Federal lands and resources and does not affect water 
rights laws, procedures, or regulations.'' In the notice of the 
proposed policy published in the Federal Register on February 22, 2000 
(65 FR 8834), we also stated our intent by publishing the following 
statement in the preamble: ``* * * nothing in the proposed policy is 
intended to adjudicate, determine, or otherwise

[[Page 62568]]

affect water rights. The proposed policy does not affect currently 
applicable laws, procedures, or regulations creating or determining 
water rights.''

2. How does the policy affect Tribal rights and interests?

    Comments: Several comments concerned tribal rights and interests.
    Response: The final policy acknowledges the Federal policy of the 
government-to-government relationship between the United States and 
Tribes by expressly including Tribes as governmental partners in 
meeting the goals and objectives of this unified Federal policy on 
watershed management. The policy recognizes Tribal government 
authorities under the Clean Water Act and includes Tribes in all of the 
collaboration efforts addressed by the policy. The policy also has the 
flexibility to take into account indigenous knowledge when developing, 
selecting and implementing management actions.

3. What role will States, Tribes, and local governments have in working 
with Federal agencies to implement the policy?

    Comments: A few respondents suggested we clarify the roles of the 
Federal agencies, States, and Tribes.
    Response: In the preamble to the proposed policy, we recognized 
that Tribes and States have overall responsibility for managing waters 
under their jurisdiction. This recognition has been added to the 
introduction of the final policy. In addition, Section II.D.2 of the 
final policy states that we will develop formal agreements with States, 
Tribes, and local governments as appropriate to clarify 
responsibilities for watershed management.
    Comments: Some respondents questioned the need for additional 
watershed assessments on Federally managed lands and requested 
clarification on the scope and scale of these assessments.
    Response: The purpose of watershed assessment is to gain an 
understanding of the physical and biological processes that govern the 
flow, quality, and timing of water. It is our intent that watershed 
assessments will result in information that will become part of the 
basis for identifying management opportunities and priorities and for 
developing alternatives to protect or restore watersheds. We have 
included an outline in Section II.A.1.a of the final policy for the 
development of a consistent watershed assessment procedure. Although 
the agencies' field offices will have flexibility on the scale, 
watershed assessments generally will be at the 5th level Hydrologic 
Unit Code (HUC) (40,000 to 250,000 acres) or 6th level HUC (10,000 to 
40,000 acres).
    Comments: A few respondents questioned whether the watershed 
assessments on Federally managed lands duplicate actions that the 
Tribes and States are required to conduct under the Clean Water Act.
    Response: The Federal watershed assessments will supplement the 
Tribal and State assessments. In general, the Federal assessments will 
be more detailed (for example, we will analyze the cause of watershed 
problems and the potential for recovery) and will be at a smaller 
scale. We will use the results of these assessments to work with the 
Tribes and States in efforts to protect or improve water quality in 
watersheds that include Federal lands.
    Comments: Several respondents emphasized that Federal watershed 
protection and restoration efforts must be coordinated with Tribal, 
State, and local efforts.
    Response: The policy is intended to provide a framework for 
enhanced collaboration among the Federal agencies, States, Tribes, 
private landowners, and stakeholders. While the policy applies only to 
Federally managed lands, we recognize that collaboration is essential 
to successful watershed protection and restoration. The Federal 
agencies within a watershed are committed to working together and with 
States, Tribes, local governments, interested stakeholders, and private 
landowners to assess, prioritize, and focus funding and personnel for 
protection and restoration action in priority watersheds. The policy is 
broad to allow field level offices the flexibility to consider local 
conditions and the good work already underway. Through close 
coordination outlined in the policy, we believe work on Federal lands 
will complement actions taken by States, Tribes, and local communities.

4. What impacts will this policy have on the multiple uses of Federal 
lands?

    Comments: Some respondents expressed concern that the policy might 
interfere with current multiple use management activities, while other 
respondents suggested that the policy be strengthened to help ensure 
that Federal land management activities would not further degrade water 
quality.
    Response: Federal laws governing Federal land management already 
strike a balance between local and national interests in meeting 
multiple use mandates, preventing natural resource degradation, and 
preserving resource viability. This policy is intended to provide a 
consistent approach to managing Federal lands and resources in 
accordance with applicable laws governing Federal land use management 
and water quality.

5. How will the policy be implemented?

    Comments: Several respondents commented on the need for specific 
implementation information; in particular, when and how the actions are 
to be accomplished and how ongoing efforts by Tribes, States, and local 
communities will be impacted by the policy.
    Response: With the adoption of the final policy, the agencies will 
work in close coordination with State, Tribal, and local government 
agencies; private landowners; and stakeholders to develop 
implementation plans that will incorporate the goals of the policy, 
build on current efforts, and will recognize work already being 
accomplished by Tribes, States, and local communities.
    Comments: A few respondents questioned whether funding to implement 
the policy is available.
    Response: We recognize that the implementation will vary among the 
agencies, based in part on existing budget allocations. We also 
anticipate that implementation of this policy will help to encourage 
Federal land and resource management agencies to pool funds to focus on 
priority efforts. Finally, we recognize that additional funding could 
accelerate implementation of this policy.

6. How will the public participate in implementing the policy?

    Comments: Several respondents wanted to know how the public would 
be involved in policy implementation.
    Response: One of the six guiding principles of the final policy 
(Section I.A-F) is to work closely with States, Tribes, local 
governments, private landowners, and stakeholders to implement this 
policy (Section I.D). The policy provides for two types of public 
participation: (1) Opportunities to review and comment throughout 
Federal planning processes, and (2) Opportunities to assist in on-the-
ground work (Section II.D). In general, the agencies' field offices 
will be responsible for working with States, Tribes, local governments, 
private landowners, and stakeholders to provide opportunities for 
input, at a minimum, in the following areas:
     Assessing the effects of our current and past actions on 
the condition of watersheds with significant Federal lands and 
resources (Section II.A.2.a).

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     Identifying specific watersheds with significant Federal 
lands and resources as priorities for protection, management, and 
improvement (Section II.B.1).
     Improving watershed conditions through restoration and 
adaptive management (Section II.B.4).
    Comments: Two respondents expressed concern that private landowners 
were not mentioned until the end of the policy.
    Response: We recognize that private landowners play a very 
important role in implementing a watershed approach. The term 
``stakeholder'' is intended to include private landowners. In addition, 
the term ``private landowners'' was added in several sections of the 
final policy to clarify the intent of the policy to recognize their 
role and include them in many steps to achieve watershed management.

    Dated: September 20, 2000.

    For the Department of Agriculture.
James R. Lyons,
Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment.

    Dated: October 2, 2000.

    For the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration.
D. James Baker,
Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere.
    Dated: September 28, 2000.


    For the Department of Defense.
Patricia L. Toppings,
Alternate OSD Federal Register Liaison Officer, Department of Defense.

    Dated: September 22, 2000.

    For the Department of Energy.
David Michaels,
Assistant Secretary, Environment, Safety and Health. 9
    Dated: September 7, 2000.

    For the Department of the Interior.
Sylvia V. Baca,
Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management.

    August 29, 2999.

    For the Environmental Protection Agency.
J. Charles Fox,
Assistant Administrator for Water.

    Dated: September 1, 2000.

    For the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Ruben O. Hernandez,
Vice President, Resource Stewardship.

    Dated: September 14, 2000.

    For the Army Corps of Engineers.
Joseph W. Westphal,
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works).

Unified Federal Policy for a Watershed Approach to Federal Land and 
Resource Management

Introduction

    Federal agencies manage large amounts of public lands throughout 
the country. To protect water quality and aquatic ecosystems on these 
public lands, Federal agencies have developed the following policy to 
reduce water pollution from Federal activities and foster a unified, 
watershed-based approach to Federal land and resource management. This 
policy is intended to accelerate Federal progress towards achieving the 
goals of the Clean Water Act (Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 
1972, 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.). This policy applies only to Federal 
lands and resources and does not affect water rights laws, procedures, 
or regulations. This policy does not supersede or otherwise affect 
existing State or Tribal authority under the Clean Water Act. The 
Federal agencies also acknowledge that, in international waters, the 
watershed approach is subject to the international treaties and 
agreements affecting those waters.

I. Policy Goals

    We, the Federal agencies who have signed this policy, are committed 
to managing the Federal lands, resources, and facilities in our care as 
models of good stewardship and effective watershed management.
    We recognize that State, Tribal, and local programs for watershed 
protection and improvement are currently underway and producing 
positive results. We also recognize the success of locally led, 
voluntary, watershed groups in planning and implementing water quality 
improvement actions. This policy seeks to build upon those existing 
efforts and expand cooperation among Federal, Tribal, State and local 
partners. This policy will enhance these programs by improving 
consistency among Federal agency watershed protection programs. We 
acknowledge that those Federal agencies without established programs 
will face an additional challenge to implement this policy and that the 
pace and level of implementation will vary by agency.
    The following policy has two goals: (1) Use a watershed approach to 
prevent and reduce pollution of surface and ground waters resulting 
from Federal land and resource management activities; and (2) 
Accomplish this in a unified and cost-effective manner.
    To develop a unified Federal policy that meets these two goals, we 
incorporated the following guiding principles:
    A. Use a consistent and scientific approach to manage Federal lands 
and resources and to assess, protect, and restore watersheds.
    B. Identify specific watersheds in which to focus our funding and 
personnel and accelerate improvements in water quality, aquatic 
habitat, and watershed conditions.
    C. Use the results of watershed assessments to guide planning and 
management activities in accordance with applicable authorities and 
procedures.
    D. Work closely with States, Tribes, local governments, private 
landowners, and stakeholders to implement this policy.
    E. Meet our Clean Water Act responsibility to comply with 
applicable Federal, State, Tribal, interstate, and local water quality 
requirements to the same extent as non-governmental entities.
    F. Take steps to help ensure that Federal land and resource 
management actions are consistent with applicable Federal, State, 
Tribal, and local government water quality management programs.

II. Agency Objectives

    To accomplish these policy goals, we propose to use existing 
funding, personnel, and authorities to pursue the following objectives. 
All agencies will implement this policy as individual agency laws, 
missions, funding, and fiscal and budgetary authorities permit.
    A. We will develop a science-based approach to watershed assessment 
for Federal lands. Watershed assessment information will become part of 
the basis for identifying management opportunities and priorities and 
for developing alternatives to protect or restore watersheds.
    1. We will develop consistent procedures for delineating, 
assessing, and classifying watersheds.
    a. We will work together to define and implement interagency 
guidelines for the delineation of watershed (5th level) hydrologic unit 
code boundaries.
    b. Building on current efforts, we will develop and test watershed 
assessment procedures in watersheds that have been delineated using the 
interagency guidelines. The watershed assessment procedures will 
outline a process to:
    (1) Focus on the analysis of factors that most directly influence 
changes in the condition of the specific watershed of interest (for 
example, meteorology, surface and ground water, soils, geology,

[[Page 62570]]

vegetation, topography, channel geometry factors, and natural and human 
disturbances).
    (2) Determine existing conditions and reference conditions.
    (3) Identify the significance and the causes of the differences 
between existing and reference conditions for the watershed and the 
potential for recovery.
    c. We will develop a framework for consistent classification of the 
condition of watersheds with significant Federal lands and resources. 
The framework will use the results of the watershed assessments.
    2. We will conduct assessments of watersheds that have significant 
Federal lands and resources.
    a. We will assess the affects of our current and past actions on 
the condition of watersheds with significant Federal lands and 
resources in cooperation with States, Tribes, local governments, 
private landowners, and interested stakeholders, using the procedures 
developed in Section II.A.1.b and recognizing current agreements.
    b. We will develop schedules for assessments and identify necessary 
funding and personnel.
    c. We will conduct assessments in priority watersheds on a 10-year 
cycle, or on a periodic cycle that better demonstrates changes in a 
particular watershed's condition over time. We will conduct assessments 
in other watersheds on a planned, periodic cycle.
    d. We will use watershed assessments, where available, to improve 
management of Federal lands and resources. We will provide the results 
of assessments to States, Tribes, and local governments and use these 
assessments to assist States, Tribes, and local governments in 
protecting and restoring watersheds designated as priorities by State 
and Tribal Unified Watershed Assessments, Source Water Assessments or 
other assessments.
    B. We will use a watershed management approach when protecting and 
restoring watersheds.
    1. We will work collaboratively to identify priority watersheds.
    a. We will work with States, Tribes, local governments, private 
landowners, and interested stakeholders to identify specific watersheds 
with significant Federal lands and resources as priorities for 
protection, management, and improvement.
    b. We will identify priority watersheds based on factors that 
include:
    (1) The percentage of the watershed under Federal management;
    (2) Issues the Federal agencies identify, including possible 
adverse effects on surface and ground water quality;
    (3) Magnitude of water quality impairment, impacts to aquatic 
resources, and/or changes to flow regime;
    (4) State and Tribal Unified Watershed Assessments and Source Water 
Assessments;
    (5) Vulnerability of the watershed to degradation; and
    (6) Substantive public interest.
    2. Using existing legal authorities, we will develop a process and 
guidelines for identifying and designating waters or watersheds on 
Federal lands that may have significant human health, public use, or 
aquatic ecosystem values and a need for special protection.
    3. We will implement pollution prevention and controls, consistent 
with applicable legal authorities.
    a. We will address nonpoint and point source pollution from Federal 
land management activities, protect or improve water quality, and meet 
applicable State and Tribal water quality requirements under the Clean 
Water Act.
    b. We will work with States, Tribes, and local governments to 
address nonpoint sources of pollution by:
    (1) Identifying best management practices (BMPs) and management 
strategies that meet applicable Federal, State, and Tribal water 
quality requirements;
    (2) Adjusting BMPs when monitoring reveals that they do not 
adequately protect water quality; and
    (3) Mitigating impacts when implementation of BMPs results in 
unexpected adverse water quality impacts.
    4. We will improve watershed conditions through restoration and 
adaptive management. We will strive to work with States, Tribes, local 
governments, private landowners, and interested stakeholders to improve 
the condition of priority watersheds. Changes in management strategies 
and restoration efforts will focus on watersheds where Federal land and 
resource management activities can meaningfully influence surface and 
ground water quality and aquatic resources.
    5. We will base watershed management on scientific principles and 
methods. We will use scientific information from research and 
management experience in designing and implementing watershed planning 
and management programs, and setting management goals (e.g., desired 
conditions). To expand current knowledge, we will collaborate to 
identify research needs and contribute to or sponsor research, as 
appropriate.
    6. We will identify and incorporate watershed management goals into 
our planning, programs, and actions. We will periodically review and 
amend, as appropriate, policies and management plans for Federal lands 
and resources to meet goals for watershed protection and improvement. 
We will incorporate adaptive management principles into our programs. 
Our watershed goals will seek to minimize adverse water quality impacts 
due to ongoing and future management programs, minimize impairment of 
current or future uses, and restore watersheds where applicable State 
and Tribal water quality requirements under the Clean Water Act are not 
achieved due to activities occurring on Federal lands.
    7. We will help Tribes and States develop science-based total 
maximum daily loads (TMDLs). We will assist and support State and 
Tribal efforts to develop and implement TMDLs in watersheds with 
significant Federal land and resource management activities. We will 
provide technical assistance, tools, and expertise. We will use TMDL 
results in watershed planning and subsequent resource management 
activities to meet applicable State and Tribal water quality 
requirements under the Clean Water Act.
    C. We will improve our compliance with water quality requirements 
under the Clean Water Act.
    1. We will review agency policies to improve compliance with water 
quality requirements. We will identify and review our rules, policies, 
and procedures that affect water quality or watershed conditions for 
compliance under the Clean Water Act with applicable Federal, State, 
Tribal, interstate, and local requirements for preventing and 
controlling water pollution.
    2. We will integrate water quality standards and watershed 
management goals. We will work collaboratively to clarify relationships 
under the Clean Water Act among BMPs, TMDLs, and State and Tribal water 
quality standards to achieve the following goals:
    a. Better coordination of watershed goals and objectives;
    b. Better sharing of scientific and technical data, equipment, and 
expertise;
    c. Better support to the State/Tribal triennial reviews so that 
they reflect the importance of natural background loadings;
    d. Better implementation mechanisms for meeting standards under the 
Clean

[[Page 62571]]

Water Act, including practical interim measures where standards are not 
immediately achievable; and
    e. Consistent treatment of Federal and non-Federal entities.
    3. We will review our policies and processes that may affect land 
and water uses and water quality. In cooperation with Tribes and 
States, we will review our policies and processes for land and water 
uses that may affect water quality and watershed condition. We will 
consider revising these policies or processes, as appropriate, to 
ensure that they address watershed protection, improvement, monitoring, 
and water quality compliance.
    D. We will enhance collaboration.
    1. We will improve cooperation among Federal agencies. We will 
address water quality and aquatic ecosystem issues for watersheds at 
the national, regional, and field levels.
    2. We will improve cooperation with States, Tribes, and local 
governments. We will develop formal agreements as appropriate with 
States, Tribes, and local governments to clarify responsibilities for 
watershed management. These agreements will seek a watershed-based 
approach for preventing or reducing pollution from point and nonpoint 
sources.
    3. We will expand opportunities for participation by interested 
stakeholders. We will seek participation by interested stakeholders in 
watershed planning and management decisions using available mechanisms 
in existing planning processes. We will:
    a. Identify specific opportunities for review and comment by 
interested stakeholders during Federal land and watershed planning 
efforts;
    b. Provide opportunities for interested stakeholders to participate 
in monitoring and assessing watershed conditions and in implementing 
watershed restoration projects; and
    c. Seek early feedback on key decisions affecting watershed 
management and carefully consider this feedback in agency decision-
making.
    4. We will expand opportunities for dialogue with private 
landowners. In priority watersheds with a mix of Federal and private 
lands, we will work with private sector landholders to involve them in 
the watershed management process. We will work closely to help ensure 
that Federally funded projects involving private cost-share partners 
fully consider watershed management objectives for both public and 
private lands.
    5. We will coordinate monitoring. We will develop and implement a 
coordinated monitoring and evaluation approach and will monitor water 
quality trends and our management activities to determine whether 
progress is being made in protecting and improving water quality.
    6. We will share training, information, and technical expertise. To 
promote collaboration and consistency in watershed management 
practices, we will continue, expand, develop, implement, and make 
available joint training programs; share information and technical 
expertise; transfer technologies for watershed management; and develop 
a consistent way to organize and present information and make it more 
accessible.
    This policy does not create any right or benefit, or trust 
responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable by a party 
against the United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its 
officers or employees, or any other person. This policy does not alter 
or amend any requirement under statute, regulation, or Executive Order.

    Dated: September 20, 2000.

    For the Department of Agriculture.
James R. Lyons,
Natural Resources and Environment.

    Dated: October 2, 2000.

    For the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration.
D. James Baker,
Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere.

    Dated: September 28, 2000.

    For the Department of Defense.
Sherri W. Goodman,
Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Environmental Security).

    Dated: September 22, 2000.

    For the Department of Energy.
David Michaels,
Assistant Secretary, Environment, Safety and Health.

    Dated: September 7, 2000.

    For the Department of the Interior.
Sylvia V. Baca,
Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management.

    Dated: August 29, 2000.

    For the Environmental Protection Agency.
J. Charles Fox,
Assistant Administrator for Water.

    Dated: September 1, 2000.

    For the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Ruben O. Hernandez,
Vice President, Resource Stewardship.

    Dated: September 14, 2000.

    For the Army Corps of Engineers.
Joseph W. Westphal,
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works).

Glossary of Terms

    These definitions are intended only to help you understand the 
policy better, and do not change the meanings of terms defined by 
law or regulation. If we define a term in the policy that is not 
defined elsewhere by law or regulation, you should not consider any 
such definition to have the effect of a law or regulation. Also, if 
we use a definition in this policy that is subsequently found to 
conflict with current laws or regulations, the current laws or 
regulations would apply. For example, ``best management practices'' 
and ``total maximum daily load'' are defined in the Environmental 
Protection Agency's regulations at 40 CFR 122.2 and 40 CFR 130.2(i), 
respectively.
    Adaptive management: A type of natural resource management in 
which decisions are made as part of an ongoing science-based 
process. Adaptive management involves testing, monitoring, and 
evaluating applied strategies, and incorporating new knowledge into 
management approaches that are based on scientific findings and the 
needs of society. Results are used to modify management policy, 
strategies, and practices.
    Best management practices (BMPs): Methods, measures, or 
practices to prevent or reduce water pollution, including, but not 
limited to:
    1. Structural and nonstructural controls,
    2. Operation and maintenance procedures, and
    3. Other requirements and scheduling and distribution of 
activities.
    Usually BMPs are applied as a system of practices rather than a 
single practice. BMPs are selected on the basis of site-specific 
conditions that reflect natural background conditions and political, 
social, economic, and technical feasibility.
    Consistent: Conforming to the same principles or course of 
action.
    Hydrologic unit: A national standard system of watersheds that 
are classified into four types of units: regions, sub-regions, 
accounting units, and cataloging units. The hydrologic units are 
arranged within each other, from the smallest (cataloging units or 
sub-basin) to the largest (regions). Each hydrologic unit is 
identified by a unique hydrologic unit code (HUC) consisting of two 
to eight digits based on the four levels of classification in the 
hydrologic unit system. A standardized fifth-level of classification 
or 10-digit hydrologic unit (watershed) has recently been developed. 
Locally, a non-standard sixth-level sub-watershed also may have been 
developed.
    Priority watersheds: Watersheds selected for the focusing of 
Federal funds and personnel for the purpose of accelerating 
improvements in water quality and watershed condition.
    Reference condition: The range of factors (for example, 
meteorology, surface and ground water, soils, geology, vegetation, 
topography, channel geometry factors, and natural and human 
disturbances) that is representative of the watershed's recent 
historical values prior to significant alteration of its 
environment. The reference could represent conditions found in a 
relic site or a site having had little significant disturbance. The 
reference condition does not necessarily represent conditions that 
are attainable. The purpose of references is to establish a basis 
for comparing what

[[Page 62572]]

currently exists to what has existed in recent history. References 
can be obtained through actual data, such as paired watersheds or 
well-managed watersheds, or through extrapolated techniques, such as 
modeling.
    Resources: The biological and physical characteristics for which 
Federal agencies have management and stewardship responsibility; for 
example, air, soil, water, fish, wildlife, vegetation, and minerals.
    Total maximum daily load: An estimate of the total quantity of 
pollutants (from all sources--point, nonpoint, and natural) that may 
be allowed into waters without exceeding applicable water quality 
standards.
    Unified Watershed Assessment: The Clean Water Action Plan asked 
Tribes and States to assess their watersheds and identify all 
watersheds as being in one of four categories:
    1. Not meeting, or facing an imminent threat of not meeting, 
clean water or other natural resource goals;
    2. Meeting goals but needing action to sustain water quality;
    3. Having pristine/sensitive aquatic system conditions on 
Federal, State, or Tribal lands; or
    4. Needing more information to assess watershed condition.
    Source Water Assessment: A process, required by the Safe 
Drinking Water Act, whereby the State or designated Tribe or agency, 
identifies the areas that provide surface and ground water to public 
drinking water systems; inventories existing contaminants; and 
determines vulnerability of the system to contamination.
    Watershed: A geographic area of land, water, and biota within 
the confines of a drainage divide. The total area above a given 
point of a water body that contributes flow to that point.
    Watershed approach: A framework to guide watershed management 
that: (1) uses watershed assessments to determine existing and 
reference conditions; (2) incorporates assessment results into 
resource management planning; and (3) fosters collaboration with all 
landowners in the watershed. The framework considers both ground and 
surface water flow within a hydrologically defined geographical 
area.
    Watershed assessment: An analysis and interpretation of the 
physical and landscape characteristics of a watershed using 
scientific principles to describe watershed conditions as they 
affect water quality and aquatic resources. Initial watershed 
assessments will be conducted using existing data, where available. 
Data gaps may suggest the collection of additional data.
    Watershed condition: The state of the watershed based on 
physical and biogeochemical characteristics and processes (e.g., 
hydrologic, geomorphic, landscape, topographic, vegetative cover, 
and aquatic habitat), water flow characteristics and processes 
(e.g., volume and timing), and water quality characteristics and 
processes (e.g., chemical, physical, and biological), as it affects 
water quality and water resources.

[FR Doc. 00-26566 Filed 10-17-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-11-P