Comments/Notes on Hearing-Level Process & Procedures (Optional):
*Appellant "Standing" Requirement: Under the Part 215 Appeal Rule, only "eligible" appellants may file appeals challenging covered written decisions by FS officials affecting land and resource management plans issued. Legal notice of proposed, covered projects/activities are posted in newspapers and/or the Federal Register. Interested parties have 30 days to file substantive oral or written comments, and only those who file such such comments are "eligible" to appeal the "Responsible Official's" notice of decision. Appeal is record review only. In USDA's view, judicial review is premature until an appellant has exhausted these appeal procedures. (Note: The Forest Service issued a new final rule for Part 214 in June 2013. These new rules significantly update and modify Part 214, as well as related provisions in Part 215. See Final Rule - Postdecisional Administrative Review Process for Occupancy or Use of National Forest System Lands and Resources, 78 Fed. Reg. 33705 (June 5, 2013).
* Unique Role of Appeal Reviewing Officer: The ADO is aided by the written recommendation from an Appeal Reviewing Officer (ARO), who, in turn, is an "impartial" FS or USDA official that has reviewed the appeal record. (See 36 CFR 215.19). The ARO's recommendation is only made public upon issuance of the ADO's final decision.