Talking Points

The new group uses rule:

Large group gatherings on National Forests have significant adverse impacts on Forest resources, public health and safety, and the agency's ability to allocate space in the face of increasing constraints on the use of National Forest System lands. These adverse impacts include the spread of disease, pollution from inadequate site clean-up, soil compaction from inadequate site restoration, damage to archaeological sites, and traffic congestion. A permit system allows the agency to address these problems more expeditiously, effectively, and equitably.

One example of how the new group uses rule helps the agency and the Public protect forest resources: The agency might deny an application and offer another site or time if a noncommercial group of 75 or more requested to camp in grizzly bear habitat during early spring, when the grizzly bear, a species listed as threatened and protected under the Endangered Species Act, comes out of hibernation.

The government may enforce reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions on First Amendment activities. Such restrictions are constitutional when justified without regard to the content of the regulated speech, when narrowly tailored to further a significant governmental interest, and when they leave open ample alternative channels for communication of information.

Questions And Answers For Noncommercial Group Uses Regulation

  1. Who has to get a permit under the rule ?

  2. Why are permits required for noncommercial group uses ?

  3. Why do you define a group as 75 or more people -- why not 15 or 501 ?

  4. By requiring permits for noncommercial group uses, is the Forest Service infringing on the constitutional rights of freedom of speech, assembly, and religion ?

  5. Haven't you been requiring Permits for these activities in the past? Why are you doing a revision ?

  6. How is this rule different from the earlier versions ?

  7. How does the rule work ?

  8. What are the eight evaluation criteria ?

  9. Will the Forest Service be able to deny a permit for noncommercial group uses under the rule ?

  10. Will applicants for a noncommercial group use have to sign a permit ?

  11. Will a significant amount of time be necessary to comply with the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in processing applications for noncommercial group uses under this rule ?

  12. By allowing authorized officers to assess specific public health and safety criteria before issuing a permit, is the Forest Service ensuring the health and safety of group participants and other forest visitors ?

  13. Does the rule require that applicants for noncommercial group uses obtain bonding or insurance ?

  14. Are noncommercial group uses subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ?

  15. Are Native American large group gatherings subject to the rule ?

  16. Why does the Forest Service prohibit issuance of large group permits for paramilitary maneuvers in national forests ?

  17. Will the Forest Service allow groups of less than 75 persons to use National Forest System lands for paramilitary exercises, maneuvers, or training ?

  18. How does the Forest Service define the term "paramilitary" ?

  19. Isn't this Prohibition on paramilitary maneuvers part of a Federal effort to shut down militia groups ?

  20. Why is paint ball shooting allowed on national forests ?

  21. When is the use of ordnance permissible on the national forests ?

  22. Under what authorities do you allow federally funded military or paramilitary activities on National Forest System lands ?

  23. What are the differences between the Forest Service and the National Park Service (NPS) permit systems for noncommercial group uses ?

  24. Are large group gatherings an appropriate use of National Forests ?

  25. How does the Forest Service currently handle gatherings of large groups ?

  26. What is the cost to the government to administer noncommercial group uses ?

    The Forest Service estimates that it costs 5700,000 per year to administer group uses. This figure does not include law enforcement costs.

  27. Why is the government pay for administrative costs associated with group uses ?

  28. How do local communities feel about large groups gathering on nearby National Forests ?

  29. Who are the Rainbow Family ?

  30. Does the rule single out the Rainbow Family ?

  31. Does the Rainbow Family gather only on National Forests ?

  32. many comments were received on the proposed rule ?

  33. When can the public obtain a copy of the rule ?

  34. do you expect the final rule to go into effect ?

  35. Why doesn't the final rule require a permit for distribution of noncommercial printed materials ?

    Noncommercial Group Use Regulations -- F A C T S

    Groups of 75 or more people need a permit to gather on national forest lands. Formerly groups of only 25 or more people needed a permit. The regulations apply only to noncommercial groups.