Comment:Eight respondents commented on this provision. One respondent stated that if this
type of military or paramilitary activity is already prohibited, then it does not have
to be prohibited again. One respondent commented that this provision is a general
prohibition with no bearing on the regulation of time, place, or manner.
Two respondents stated that the federal government should not exempt itself from
its own regulations. One of these respondents stated that this provision gives official
military activities a preemptive or exclusive right of access to the national forests.
Three respondents commented that there should be no military or paramilitary training
on national forests. One of these respondents stated that this provision authorizes
exercises by police S.W.A.T. units and by the Drug Enforcement Administration and
training of counterinsurgents for political terrorism. Another stated that the Forest
Service could deny a permit for government troops to train in the national forests.
One respondent commented that this provision is too vague and broad and could be
used to bar such paramilitary groups as football teams, the Salvation Army, Rainbow Hug
Patrols, or the Boy Scouts of America or to bar such activities as aikido, tai chi, or
nonviolence training for civil disobedience.
Section 251.54(h)(1)(vi) of the proposed rule required
an authorized officer to determine that a proposed activity did not
involve military or paramilitary training or exercises by private
organizations or individuals unless such training or exercises were
The Forest Service Manual prohibits non-federally funded military or
paramilitary training or exercises by private organizations or individuals because this
type of use is often potentially damaging to forest resources and may endanger other
users of National Forest System lands.
The agency authorizes military or paramilitary
training or exercises by governmental entities and federally funded military or
paramilitary training or exercises by private organizations or individuals because when
conducted under such auspices, this type of use is justified for national security
purposes and is not as dangerous to other users of National Forest System lands.
Section 251.54(h)(1)(vii) of the final rule incorporates longstanding agency policy
and gives it the force and effect of law. Section 251.54(h)(1)(vii) of the final rule
provides the frameworknecessary for applying this policy to noncommercial group uses.
The rule does not apply to official U.S. military activities, nor does it grant a
preemptive or exclusive right of access for paramilitary uses of the national forests.
Under Sec. 251.54(f)(5) of the final rule, applications will be processed in order of
receipt, and the use of a particular area will be allocated in order of receipt of fully
executed applications, subject to any relevant limitations in Sec. 251.54.
The Department believes that this is a narrowly tailored restriction that has no
bearing on the content of expressive activity. ``Military'' means ``of, relating to,
or typical of soldiers or the armed forces,'' ``performed or supported by the armed
forces,'' or ``of or relating to war.'' Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary
752 (1984). ``Paramilitary'' means ``of, pertaining to, or designating forces organized
after a military pattern, esp. as a potential auxiliary military force.'' Id. at 852.
The Department believes that the terms ``military'' and ``paramilitary'' do not apply
to groups such as football teams, the Salvation Army, Rainbow Hug Patrols, or the Boy
Scouts of America, or to activities such as aikido, tai chi, or nonviolence training
for civil disobedience, nor does the Department intend to apply these terms to these
types of groups or activities for purposes of Sec. 251.54(h)(1)(vii) of the final rule.
Under current policy, for example, adventure games (sometimes called survival or war
games) are not considered military or paramilitary activities and may be authorized [FSM
Having considered the comments received, the Department has retained without
substantive change in the final rule Sec. 251.54(h)(1)(vi) from the proposed rule.
Listing of Comments
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