NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
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White Sands National Monument, NM2.13 Overview of the NEPA Process — Working with Other Agencies

A. Lead and cooperating agencies

More than one federal agency may be involved in approving a given proposal. Yet, NEPA requires agencies to work together to produce only one NEPA document. The agency in charge of preparing the document is the lead agency, and all others with jurisdiction by law (every agency with permitting or funding authority over some aspect of the proposal) or special expertise who are designated as such by the lead are called cooperating agencies. The CEQ regulations include criteria for designating a lead agency if a conflict exists (1501.5), as well as the rights and responsibilities of cooperating agencies (1501.6). Chapter 8.0 of this handbook also has information on lead and cooperating agencies (see also 516 DM, 2.4.).

NPS may act as a joint lead agency with either another federal agency (1501.5 (b)) or a state or local agency (see section 2.13(B)). However, CEQ regulations clearly encourage the lead and cooperating concept for two or more federal agencies and the joint approach for federal-state documents. In addition, the NPS has committed, along with other major land management agencies, to provide for opportunities for inclusion of state, local, and tribal governments as cooperators in the preparation of environmental documents.

Further Links:

Memorandum for the Heads of Federal Agencies
Factors for Determining Whether to Invite, Decline or End Cooperating Agency Status
Sample Report to the Council on Environmental Quality on Cooperating Agency (CA) Status
Memorandum for State and Local Governmental Entities
Memorandum for Tribal Leaders
Memorandum for State Governors
DOI Departmental Manual: Responsibilities for Indian Trust Resources
DOI Departmental Manual: Responsibilities for Protecting/Accommodating and Access to Indian Sacred Sites

B. State agencies

CEQ also asks federal agencies to work closely with state agencies that have requirements for impact analysis, and to make every effort to combine efforts with them (1506.2), including the preparation of a joint state-federal impact document.

Further Links:

CEQ Memo on Cooperating Agencies (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

Fox, Craters of the Moon National Monument, ID  C. Other environmental and regulatory requirements

Other federal, state, and local laws may have information requirements that overlap with NEPA. The study of these resources and information about their present status (i.e., affected environment), or the impact they may experience from your park’s proposal, should be integrated into your NEPA document. Some of these laws and executive orders are listed below, but you must consult local, state, and other federal agencies as part of scoping to determine all of the applicable requirements and any permits needed for project completion.

Further Links:

Environmental Justice

Laws Affecting NPS

Laws, Regulations and Websites

  1. Endangered Species Act (ESA) — Section 7 of the ESA requires that a federal agency consult with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service on any action that may affect endangered or threatened species or candidate species, or that may result in adverse modification of critical habitat. An EA or an EIS may provide sufficient information to serve as a biological assessment for section 7 purposes. If a separate biological assessment is prepared, it must be part of any NEPA document.

    Further Links:

    Highlights from USFWS Consultation Handbook

    USFWS Section 7 consultation main page

    USFWS Section 7 handbook (see figures 3-1 and 4-1)

    USFWS Regional Contact List

  2. Executive Orders 11988 and 11990, Floodplain Management and Wetland Protection — These executive orders direct NPS to avoid, to the extent possible, the long- and short-term adverse impacts associated with modifying or occupying floodplains and wetlands. They also require NPS to avoid direct or indirect support of floodplain or wetland development whenever there is a practical alternative. If implementing your park’s proposal would result in an adverse impact to a regulated floodplain or wetland, you must include a statement of findings with the finding of no significant impact (FONSI) or the record of decision (ROD).

    Further Links:

    Procedural Manual #77-1: Wetland Protection

  3. National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) section 106 — Section 106 of NHPA requires federal agencies to consider the effects of their proposals on historic properties, and to provide state historic preservation officers, tribal historic preservation officers, and, as necessary, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to review and comment on these actions. Section 106 review and NEPA are two separate, distinct processes. They can and should occur simultaneously, and documents can be combined, but one is not a substitute for the other. They should, however, be coordinated to avoid duplication of public involvement or other requirements. The information and mitigation gathered as part of the 106 review must be included in the NEPA document, and the 106 process must be completed before a FONSI or an ROD can be signed on a proposal that affects historic properties.

    Further Links:

    ACHP Frequently Asked Questions

  4. Executive Order 12898, Environmental Justice in Minority and Low-Income Populations — This executive order directs federal agencies to assess whether their actions have disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects on minority and low-income populations. You must specifically analyze and evaluate the impact of your proposal on minority and low-income populations and communities, as well as the equity of the distribution of the benefits and risk of the decision in your NEPA document. If it does not apply, this should be noted in the “issues dismissed” section of the NEPA document (see ECM95-3 and ECM98-2).

    Further Links:

    Executive Order 12898

  5. Secretarial Order 3175 and ECM95-2 — These memoranda require bureaus to explicitly address environmental impacts of their proposed actions on Indian Trust Resources in any environmental document.

Further Links:

Examples of Memorandum of Agreements between various agencies:

Memorandum of Agreement between USFWS and Colorado SHPO (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

Memorandum of Agreement between NPS and Arizona SHPO (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

Memorandum of Agreement between NPS and ACHP (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

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