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facilities master planning

Facilities Master Planning

  • Have shifts in resource management concerns and organizational structure left you with facilities that don't support your program effectively? Does the prospect of contributing to Cost Pool 09 worry you because you suspect that you have more square feet of structures than you really need or can afford?

    The Forest or Station Facilities Master Plan will help you address these and other facilities concerns. It is the foundation document necessary for almost every significant facilities decision, so it is the very first tool in this toolbox.

    Information on this Web site applies to administrative site master planning. The process for recreation sites is called Recreation Facility Analysis (Web site available only to Forest Service and BLM employees).

    Facilities Master Planning Topics

    West Fork Ranger Station. The need for these new structures was identified in the Facilities Master Plan.

    Forest: Bitterroot
    District: West Fork
    Region: 1

    What's the difference between a Regional Strategic Facilities Management Plan and a Forest or Station Facilities Master Plan?

    Why Is a Facilities Master Plan Needed?

    What Is the Facilities Master Plan Process?

    What Is Included In the Facilities Master Plan?

    What Are the Space Utilization Requirements?

    What Happens After the Facilities Master Plan Is Complete?

    What Is the Preliminary Project Analysis, and How Is It Used?

    Assembling a Preliminary or Final Project Prospectus

    Your Site Development Plan

    Rating Your Facilities' Cost Effectiveness

    Facilities Master Plan Examples

    The Charrette Process

  • A Facilities Master Plan helps you do your job.

    From a practical standpoint, a complete and up-to-date Facilities Master Plan provides guidance that will enable you to make intelligent facilities decisions. It also supplies documentation you need to obtain funding for facilities acquisition, construction, renovation, titleernative uses, and decommissioning.

    A Facilities Master Plan is required.

    This small bunkhouse in Kremmling has been "made to last" without needed repairs. A Facilities Master Plan will identify the crew quarters needs at this location and help determine what to do with this building.

    Forest: Medicine-Bow-Routt
    District: Parks
    Region: 2

    USDA directive DR 1620-2 part 5f requires all USDA agencies to develop and maintain a Master Space Plan. The Forest Service has directed that each Forest and Station have a current Facilities Master Plan. This direction can be found in Forest Service Manual section 7312.1 , Forest Service Handbook 7309.11, Section 22 , and Engineering Manual EM-7310-4 Facilities Planning (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees). The Engineering Manual is very detailed. This facilities master planning tool is based on direction and information in the Forest Service Manual, Forest Service Handbook, and Engineering Manual. You should review the manual and handbook and read the engineering manual before beginning the facilities master planning process.

    A Facilities Master Plan is created by a Forest- or Station-wide multidisciplinary team chartered by the Forest or Station Leadership Team. It is a document crafted by those who know the Forest or Station circumstances and facilities best. The final plan has the concurrence of the leadership team and is approved by the Region or Station. It is used to set facilities funding priorities so that financial resources are used effectively and facilities support of Forest or Station programs is maximized.

    Forest and Station Facilities Master Plans must be updated every 10 years. If required by your region or station, or if circumstances change dramatically, as they did with the implementation of the National Fire Plan, master plans must be updated more frequently. An out of date master plan will not help you make quality facility management decisions.

  • A Facilities Master Plan can be an invaluable tool to help you manage your facilities effectively, if you dedicate the necessary time and personnel to do it well and if you have a reasonably good vision of what the future may demand of your unit.

    Aspen Ranger Station.

    Forest: White River
    District: Aspen
    Region: 2

    Your Facilities Master Plan will be guided by your Region or Station Facilities Management Strategy, which was developed to support the USDA Forest Service Strategic Plan and National Facilities Strategy (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees). It will reflect service wide agendas and initiatives as well as regional or station emphases and influences. Most importantly, it will be shaped by local conditions and concerns, including requirements of local governments, local resource management issues and plans, current and future organizational structure, the condition of existing facilities, interactions with other agencies, and local public relations.

    Your leadership team is responsible for the development of your Facilities Master Plan (FMP). Normally, the leadership team will charter a group or team to develop the plan. The facilities master planning group or team should consist of technical facilities specialists and a diverse cross section of people who are involved in facilities project decisions. Most units assign FMP team leadership to the facilities engineer. The unit facilities engineer should be a member of every FMP team because he or she is familiar with all the unit's facilities, has easy access to facilities files and records, and can provide engineering expertise the team will need. The group must have the authority to establish standards and criteria for assessing facilities. However, the final document will be a product of your leadership team's decisions.

    The facilities master planning group will need to collect and review a broad array of information that will influence facilities management decisions. See What Is Included In the Facilities Master Plan? for information that must be considered. The facilities master planning group must identify how these issues will affect facility needs in coming years.

    Of course, the FMP must identify how your facilities should support your unit's workforce. In order to do this, a workload analysis must be completed if the unit doesn't have a current one. This can be a time-consuming effort.

    Criteria must be established to evaluate the unit's existing facilities. You can find evaluation criteria in Steps 3 and 4 of Engineering Manual EM-7310-4 Facilities Planning (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees).

    Rating Your Facilities' Cost Effectiveness

    Current facilities must be inventoried and evaluated on the basis of condition and usefulness. The FMP must identify what changes in facilities will be required to provide the right sorts of cost effective facilities, in appropriately maintained condition, in the most useful locations to provide effective support to the unit. You may find a Facilities Rating Spreadsheet helpful in determining the cost effectiveness of retaining existing buildings.

    The facilities master planning group will probably find trade-offs or conflicts between what is possible or cost effective, and what would provide the most effective support. The FMP must identify recommendations for resolving these issues. It must provide guidance on whether current operations should continue at current sites, be moved to another location, or be consolidated with operations at an existing site. It must also provide guidance on which current facilities should be retained, decommissioned, or developed for an titleernate use, and where new facilities should be acquired. The USDA has requirements for collocations, service centers, allowed space per employee, and other requirements that may affect the team's recommendations, so the team should check USDA directive DR 1620-002 before finalizing the Facilities Master Plan.

    Finally, the FMP must be adopted by the unit leadership team and approved by the regional office or station headquarters as explained in Facilities Handbook 7309.11, chapter 22 - Facilities Master Plans.

  • You can find detailed instructions for completing a Facilities Master Plan (FMP) in Engineering Manual (EM)-7310-4 Facilities Planning (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees). Your FMP will contain a lot of general information about your unit's business, how well your existing facilities match your unit's work and visitor use, and recommendations for future actions that will enhance the support your facilities provide to your programs.

    Remember that the Facilities Master Plan identifies the facilities needs of the unit and makes broad scale recommendations. You will utilize the Preliminary Project Analysis to identify details and make decisions for specific projects.

    The following is just one way to organize a Facilities Master Plan. You may find that you need to organize your plan differently because of your local circumstances.

    This picnic structure is part of the Lower Jemez Recreation Complex

    Forest: Santa Fe
    District: Jemez
    Region: 3

    Executive Summary


    Management Direction, Influences, and Considerations

    Workforce Analysis Summary

    Inventory of Existing Administrative and Recreation Sites





    Executive Summary

    It is always a good idea to summarize the recommendations from your facilities master plan in a short section at the beginning of the document. Besides providing a quick reference for managers, it confirms that you have a cohesive plan. Inability to summarize may mean that your plan is just a jumble of ideas and doesn't really have an overall goal or direction.


    This is a good place to put items like a list of team members, information about previous facilities master plans, a summary of how the plan will be implemented and monitored, and the purpose, process, and other important information from the team charter.

    Management Direction, Influences, and Considerations

    You will need to identify the factors that impact your facility recommendations. Your Region or Station Facilities Management Strategy will be a major guide in developing your unit's recommendations, as will USDA space utilization requirements. Other influences may include service wide direction such as the National Fire Strategy, state or local government plans or ordinances, tourism and recreation demographic trends, cooperative agreements or opportunities with other agencies, and natural resource impacts and issues. You will find a longer list of possible influences in Step 2 of EM-7310-4 Facilities Planning (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees).

    Workforce Analysis Summary

    If your unit has recently completed a workforce analysis, you need to refer to it and include summary information from it that explains where each sort of work should occur and how many employees it will take to perform the work.

    If your unit has not completed a workforce analysis in a long time, an analysis must be completed before the facilities planningteam can make recommendations. It will not be possible to forecast what sorts of administrative facilities are needed in which locations without first identifying where each sort of work should occur and how many employees it will take to perform the work.

    Inventory of Existing Administrative and Recreation Sites

    Fortunately, you will be able to use that mountain of data collected and recorded in the Natural Resource Manager data system (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) to complete your site inventory. A detailed list of data that should appear on the inventory is shown in Step 4 of EM-7310-4 Facilities Planning (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees). You will need all this information when you evaluate and make recommendations. You should summarize the data for this section of your FMP. If you want to display more in-depth data, you can refer to an appendix or incorporate tables, plans, or lengthy documents by reference.

    Your summary should include the location and a brief history of each site, the number, type, and condition of the constructedfeatures (buildings, roads, trails, utilities, etc.), hetitleh and safetyconcerns including hazardous materials, energy efficiency and sustainability features or concerns, deferred maintenance backlog, accessibility limitations, whether structures and sites comply with the BuiltEnvironment Image Guide and unit thematic design guidelines, whetherstructures or sites are eligible for or listed on the Nationa Register of Historic Places or should be evaluated for listing, and any other distinctive features or concerns.


    After all the information is collected, the facilities master planning group will analyze it and make recommendations about the best locations for facilities to support existing and future work and visitor use. The facilities master planning group will evaluate existing facilities and possible new construction and leases for capacity and suitability for the anticipated uses and for cost effectiveness.

    This section will contain a summary of suggestions for each site and building, and a brief mention of the major factors that lead to the recommendations. Each structure and site will be recommended for retention, titleernate uses, or decommissioning. Consolidation suggestions for sites or building uses and recommendations for acquiring new structures or new sites should also be incorporated.

    Priorities for recommended changes should be identified in this section as well.


    Of course, the unit Facilities Master Plan must be signed by the Forest Supervisor or Station Director. In those cases where facilities from more than one unit are included, the Supervisor or Director for each unit should sign the plan.

    The FMP must be approved by your regional office or station headquarters, so include space for those signatures also.


    The appendices to your FMP should include or incorporate by reference such things as:

    • Site plans for each existing site.

    • Existing facility inventory or spreadsheet including Facilities Condition Index rating as explained in Step 4 of EM-7310-4 Facilities Planning (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees).

    • Facilities Rating Spreadsheet , if used

    • Any existing agreements, inventories, guidelines, or development plans that affect the recommendations of the FMP



    The Recommendations section of your newly completed Facilities Master Plan contains priorities for accomplishing the work necessary to move your unit from its current facilities condition to the desired future condition. There is still a lot of work remaining to accomplish the changes.

    All recommended changes from the current facilities status must be entered into INFRA for accuracy of the database and so that related capital improvement projects can be considered for funding.

    Superintendent's House, on the Placerville compound, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    Laboratory: Institute of Forest Genetics
    Station: Pacific Southwest Research Station

    Facilities that are recommended for retention for existing use and that don't need substantial renovation are the easiest to manage. Individual projects to accomplish needed maintenance work must be prioritized and entered into your unit's multiyear budgeting process. Relatively minor changes such as replacing handrails on stairways to meet current codes, replacing light fixtures with more energy efficient models, or changing exterior siding or paint colors to conform to the Built Environment Image Guide province guidelines or unit thematic guidelines can also be accomplished using the prioritization and budgeting process. On most units, this work is handled by the facilities engineer with input from the line officers and maintenance personnel. Forest Service Manual sections 7312.3 and 7312.4 provide guidance for this process.

    For each of the facilities recommended for additions, renovations, titleernative use, decommissioning, or acquisition,you will need to figure out the details of what should be done. A PreliminaryProject Analysis for each of the changes will facilitate these decisionsand will give you a jump start on the project prospectus. When considering changes that will impact the function of a site, you must assemble or update a site development plan for that location based on the information in the facility master plan and the preliminary project analysis. After you have completed these decision and planning stages, you will be ready to tackle the work of leasing, exchanging, selling, removing, agreements , or designing changes or a new facility. Each of these actions will require extensive coordination among the unit line officers, facility engineer, and appropriate specialists.

    The project development process varies a little among region and stations. Check with your Region or Station facilities program leader (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees) for more specific information.

    It is a lot of work to effectively plan and manage your facility resources, but the payoff in appropriate facilities that support the work of your unit effectively is worth it.

  • Former Lolo Pass Visitors Center. The site was redeveloped in 2001-2002 to accommodate increasing visitor volume. Existing buildings were re-used. New structures are log construction.

    Forest: Clearwater National Forest
    District: Powell
    Region: 1

    When the Facility Management Plan recommends substantial changes in your facilities, a Preliminary Project Analysis (PPA) must be completed before you can make the recommended changes.

    The PPA is the preliminary step in the facility management process that reviews all viable project titleernative and provides recommendations for further specific project development action.

    A PPA is done for a single project or for a site with related projects.

    The analysis is a screening and analytical evaluation process that enables managers to select the best titleernative for a major facilities change. A PPA must be completed before you proceed with construction of new facilities or lease, exchange, addition, renovation, purchase, titleernate use, or disposal of existing facilities.

    Detailed requirements for completing a Preliminary Project Analysis (PPA) are in Forest Service Handbook(FSH) 7309.11 Chapter 20, Section 23. Your PPA process will:

    • Clarify project needs stated in the Facilities Master Plan.

    • Identify appropriate evaluation criteria.

    • Establish minimum requirements for a feasible titleernative.

    • Develop a broad range of titleernatives.

    • Gather data about expected performance of titleernatives with respect to evaluation criteria.

    • Select the preferred titleernative by analyzing tradeoffs.

    • These stages are further described in Engineering Management Series publication EM-7310-2, Making Sound Facility Development Decisions (Web site available only to FS and BLM employees).

    The completed Lolo Pass Visitor's Center.

    Forest: Clearwater National Forest
    District: Powell
    Region: 1

    Choosing by Advantages (CBA) and Value Analysis (VA) are the recommended processes to use in selecting the preferred titleernative, and are required in certain circumstances by some Regions and Stations. VA and CBA training are offered by the Forest Service, and there is a cadre of Forest Service employees already trained in these processes that can assist you. Check with your Region or Station facilities group leader for more information about training and trained personnel.

    The elements of your completed PPA will include a draft prospectus, a location analysis, an analysis of titleernatives, a conceptual design if changing or acquiring a facility, and recommendations.

    You may find that performing a Life Cycle Cost Analysis (website available to Forest Service employees) or the User’s Guide to the Facility Lease, Purchase, Or Construction Spreadsheet will give you a clearer view of the cost of each titleernative over the life of the building or site.

    The draft prospectus you develop as part of the PPA process will become the final prospectus for your project when you add final funding information and complete the development considerations section. The final prospectus, which includes an up-to-date site development plan, is the main documentation of the requirements for your facility that will be used during facility design or lease contracting, so it is to your advantage to assure that all important issues are addressed in the prospectus. A prospectus with missing or poorly-defined facility aesthetic and performance requirements will cause difficulties with the designer or prospective lessors and may result in a facility that does not meet your needs.

    The old Lolo Pass Visitor Center cabin was converted into a residence for the host.

    Forest: Clearwater National Forest
    District: Powell
    Region: 1

    A PPA recommendation that affects a historic structure may trigger the requirements of section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. See the Historic Facilities section of the Facilities Toolkit for more information on requirements for historic facilities.

    A PPA constitutes a "Proposed Action" that may need to undergo environmental analysis and documentation in accordance with FSH 1909.15 - Environmental Policy and Procedures Handbook. The analysis, supporting documentation, and recommendations serve as the basis for analyzing and documenting the environmental consequences of the proposed actions. The PPA should be submitted to the appropriate line officer, who will determine the actions needed.

    The following example PPAs may help units beginning the PPA process organize their documents.

    • Combined Mystic District Office and Rocky Mountain Research Station Work Unit PPA:

      • (885 KB)

      • (754 KB)

    • Pikes Peak Office PPA :

      • (206 KB)

    • Elkhart Office PPA:

      • (1720 KB)

    • Pine Ridge Office PPA :

      • (993 KB)

  • Preliminary Project Analysis Elements: (FSH 7309.11 Sec 23.3 )

    1. Draft Prospectus
      This serves as the basic statement of project need, objectives to be met, and facility requirements. Exhibit 01, FSH 7309.11 Sec 34.21 is a suggested Project Prospectus Format.

    2. Location Analysis
      A location analysis is used to determine the optimum location for the facility. This decision affects operational patterns on adjacent units more than any other.

      Include these three steps:
      Identify the general location requirements. Check specific legislation and Departmental direction that may preempt some locations. Submit requests to the appropriate line officer.

      See FSM 1240 - Facility Location.

      See FSM 1220 - Organization.

      Analyze the cost of acquisition or construction and operation. Include life cycle operations and maintenance costs reflecting field travel requirements, proximity to the population served, and other factors when selecting the site or facilities. Information about estimating total building life cycle costs is available in the publication "Life Cycle Cost Analysis for Buildings is Easier Than You Thought" (optional link for FSweb users including example cost analysis documents).

      Request a list of available Government-owned facilities or space from the Inventory of Owned and Leased Properties. This source of space should always be documented as an titleernative in the PPA.

    3. titleernative Analysis
      Evaluate sites and buildings under consideration to identify potential development, operating, maintenance, and occupancy costs. List specific conditions and attributes. Analyze the life-cycle costs of the top candidates, including travel costs. See FSH 7309.11 chap 20, Sec 23.4 , Standards of Economic Analysis, for more information.

    4. Conceptual Design
      The conceptual design is based on the information in the draft prospectus, and uses bubble diagrams, flow charts, or sometimes even simple single-line space layouts to show desired relationships between spaces and the site.

    5. Recommendations
      This section identifies the recommended actions to move from the current facilities to the desired future facilities. It should include the reasoning behind the recommendations.

      A PPA recommendation that affects a historic structure must take into consideration the laws and regulations that apply to historic facilities. It may trigger the requirements of section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

      A PPA constitutes a "Proposed Action" that may need to undergo environmental analysis and documentation in accordance with FSH 1909.15 - Environmental Policy and Procedures Handbook. The analysis, supporting documentation, and recommendations serve as the basis for analyzing and documenting the environmental consequences of the proposed actions. The PPA should be submitted to the appropriate line officer, who will determine the actions needed.
  • FSH 7309.11, chapter 34.21 (page 27) provides detailed information on the required elements of the project prospectus and a suggested prospectus format. Using the suggested format and modifying it as necessary for your particular project will probably speed the completion of your prospectus. You may find that some sections of the prospectus will not be relevant if you are assembling a draft prospectus for an titleernate use, lease, or decommissioning project. The draft prospectus you develop as part of the PPA process will become the final prospectus for your project when you add final funding information and complete the development considerations section.

    The suggested format contains a comprehensive list of items that should be addressed. Particularly for lease, acquisition, and construction or remodeling projects, you will want to be sure to include information that distinguishes your project from similar "average" projects, such as:

    • BEIG or unit thematic guidelines and a general description of your vision of the appearance of the facility.

    • Sustainable design or LEED requirements such as passive solar heating or shading, low-emitting materials, moisture control and ventilation, thermal insulation, energy efficiency, water conservation, etc.

    • General accessibility needs, including retrofitting for accessibility, anything exceeding the Code requirements such as making all entrances accessible, and any work, service, or repair areas not intended to be fully accessible.

    • How spaces should relate to each other.

    • Natural and artificial lighting levels for each space and any viewsheds that should be framed by windows.

    • Power, communications, and data port requirements for each space, including location and spacing, and specific high amperage or wattage appliances and equipment necessary in each space.

    • Function, furniture, cabinetry, piped utilities, safety devices, and other requirements for any unusual workspaces, such as a soils laboratory.

    • Specific storage, display, and cabinetry needs for each space, including break room kitchenettes, appliances, storage volume, any materials or aesthetic requirements, and accessibility.

    • Any unusual requirements such as exterior outlets in the parking areas to plug engine heaters into, use of entirely native landscape vegetation, rooms that must be designed to accommodate certain furniture, or unusual noise isolation requirements.

    • Guidance for applying the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties to your particular building.

    • Any hazardous materials or conditions in an existing building affected by work included in the prospectus, or any hazardous conditions at the site.

    • Unusual environmental conditions such as a history of severe hailstorms with golf-ball size or larger hailstones every few years, 210 pound snow loads, bedrock four inches under the surface, tornado or hurricane area, affected by spray from stitle water or stitleed roadways, and so on.

    If the prospectus is for a construction or lease project, the design of your facility will be based on the prospectus. Don't assume the designer or lessor will have the same vision of "appropriate" as you do. For instance, if you want each employee to have access to an openable window or if you want the interior doors in the addition to match those in the existing office, you need to identify that in the prospectus.

    The USDA has provided direction on the amount of office space that can be provided per employee. You can read this direction in directive DR 1620-2 , USDA Space Management Policy, in part 6 of appendix A. Basically, the direction is that the total size of the office will not exceed 150 square feet times the number of employees. You will need to read the direction to see if any of the exemptions and special considerations apply to your situation.

    You will probably need assistance from your unit's facilities engineer and perhaps an architect, if a construction project, to complete the prospectus. However, if you want the project to meet your unit's specific needs, you should be sure you understand everything that's in the prospectus, and assure that the prospectus includes all the specific requirements of your project. However, don't try to design the building at this stage.

    Estimates of the size and cost of the building are important components of each prospectus. These are normally completed by design professionals, but you can get a rough estimate by completing one of these spreadsheets.

    The following documents are not perfect, but are useful as examples of documents that have served their intended purpose effectively.

    New Office Building Prospectus

    New District Office Building Design Prospectus

    Prospectus for Combining Two District Offices

    Design Contract for a Visitor Center Developed From a Prospectus

    Spreadsheet That Can Be Used As Basis for Prospectus

    Charrette Process


    FSH 7309.11, chapter 24 details requirements for site development plans. All administrative sites owned by the Forest Service should have a current, approved site plan. An up-to-date site development plan is a mandatory precondition for capital improvement project funding. The physical conditions at the site and your Facilities Master Plan shape the site development plan.

    The site development plan shows the existing attributes of your site such as property boundaries, setbacks, easements, ground contours, riparian areas and waterways, utilities, roads, paths and sidewalks, landscaping, buildings, and other structures. You may find it convenient to show climatological data such as prevailing winds, roof snow loading, normal ground snow cover, design temperatures, recorded temperature extremes, seismic zones, rainfall intensity, dominant views, and flood plain boundaries and flows on the site development plan so that the information is handy when planning new work. Your site development plan should also show planned changes to attain your desired facilities future condition. It should show the overall zoning of various site uses, such as offices, visitor services, warehousing and maintenance, family housing, and temporary housing.

    As changes are made on the ground and planning documents are updated, your site development plan should be changed to reflect the most up-to-date information. For instance, when you complete a Preliminary Project Analysis, you should update the site development plan to show the general location of the recommended changes. Then as work is accomplished, you should again update the site development plan to show the actual locations of changes. For this reason, many units find it convenient to keep their site development plan in an electronic format with different types of information on separate drawing layers so that changes are quick and easy to accomplish and so that different layers can be turned off and on to permit printing copies that show only the desired information for various uses.

    Example Site Development Plan

  • The following tools may be helpful for roughly estimating building construction or aquisition costs. Information about estimating total building life cycle costs is available in the publication "Life Cycle Cost Analysis for Buildings is Easier Than You Thought" (optional link to FSweb users). Region 9 has developed a detailed space and cost estimating spreadsheet that can be used for office and warehouse buildings. Assistance from a design professional may be needed for accurate use. Click on the EXCEL icon on the linked page for a spreadsheet that you can save to your own computer and modify.

    Region 9 Space and Cost Analysis

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has developed a "rough estimate" space and cost estimating spreadsheet for offices and visitor centers. titlehough some FWS building requirements and assumptions don't exactly match Forest Service direction, this spreadsheet may be useful to decision makers who want a rough idea of the size and cost of a proposed new office or visitor center based on the number of employees and visitors, and the types of activities that are anticipated. Click on the EXCEL icon on the linked page for a spreadsheet that you can save to your own computer and modify.

    Fish and Wildlife Service Space and Cost Analysis

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