Federal Permitting: Overview

Mon, April 01, 2019

The federal government owns or controls about 640 million acres of land in the United States, about 28 percent of the total land area of 2.27 billion acres.  The Department of the Interior (DOI) is responsible for managing nearly 500 million acres of land, or one in every five acres of land in the United States.  The U.S. Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture (USDA), manages about 192.9 million acres of national forests.  Most of the public lands that DOI manages are located west of the Mississippi River in 11 western states and Alaska.  Although Forest Service holdings are mostly in the Western United States, it also manages about 60 percent of all federal lands in the Eastern United States.  Of the nearly 27 million acres of land that the Department of Defense (DOD) manages, it owns 11.4 million acres, about two percent of all federal land.  Together, DOI, USDA, and DOD manage 97 percent of federal land.

Federal lands and assets play a critical role in telecommunications networks – through rights-of-way across lands and siting equipment on lands and buildings.  An Internet Service Provider (ISP) deploying or expanding a wireline or wireless network in rural American may need to work with several federal and state agencies to secure the permits and authorizations needed to deploy broadband infrastructure.

Multiple federal property-holding agencies must approve the placement of facilities on their lands and buildings, and often negotiate lease agreements with those seeking access.  As noted, the major land and property holding agencies include the Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service); Department of Defense; General Services Administration (GSA); Department of Interior (Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), National Park Service (NPS), U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW), and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)).  The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) may also be involved in siting decisions through its utility accommodation policy within federal-aid rights-of-way.

All the major federal land-holding agencies have committed to use the SF299 for requests to locate broadband facilities on federal property, with the exception of DOD, which doesn’t use an application form to initiate its permitting process.
SF-299 Form

Federal Register: A Notice by the Forest Service on 04/25/2019
Information Collection: Application for Transportation, Utility Systems, Telecommunications and Facilities on Federal Lands and Property

Notice: request for comment. 
Revision of SF-299, Application for Transportation, Utility Systems, Telecommunications and Facilities on Federal Lands and Property,into a common form.
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and organizations on the new informationStart Printed Page 17377collection related to the Application for Transportation, Utility Systems, Telecommunications and Facilities on Federal Lands and Property.

Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Department of Defense (DOD)
Department of the Interior (DOI)
Department of Transportation (DOT)
General Services Administration (GSA)
Relevant Agencies:
Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC)
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP)
Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Federal Communications Commission (FCC)