NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
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Antietam National Battlefield, MD3.2 Categorical Exclusions — Process to Follow

NPS has two lists of categorically excluded actions. One (section 3.3) requires no formal documentation. If an action that your park unit is proposing is on this list, you do not need to complete any NEPA-related documentation, and no evidence of internal scoping is required. You may wish to prepare a memo to the project file (if one exists) to show that environmental effects were considered.

In the vast majority of cases, the actions in section 3.3 have no potential for environmental impact. However, you must check the list of exceptions in section 3.5 before you exclude an action listed in section 3.3. If any of these criteria apply, or if you believe the potential for environmental impact exists, you must go through the internal scoping process described in section 2.6 and complete the requirements in sections 3.2, or for an EA or an EIS if appropriate.

The process in using the second list (section 3.4) is more involved. Whereas the actions in section 3.3 would almost never cause environmental impact, these (section 3.4) actions do have the potential for measurable impacts. To be sure no measurable impacts would occur, follow these steps if your park's proposal is described on the list in section 3.4:

1. Using an interdisciplinary approach, determine whether any connected, cumulative, or similar actions are part of the proposed action. In other words, carefully consider whether it is a piece of a larger action that should be analyzed in a NEPA document.

2. Use the ESF to ascertain the important environmental issues, and visit the site if the IDT is not familiar with it.

3. If no exceptional (see section 3.5) circumstances exist, and this fact is confirmed by the ESF, contact interested and affected local, state, and/or federal agencies to see whether any object to the NPS determination that there is no potential for measurable impact.

4. If interested or affected public exist, make a diligent effort to contact them and obtain their input.

5. If all (the NPS team, other agencies, and the public) agree there is no potential for measurable impact, document this in the categorical exclusion form (CEF) shown in appendix 2. The CEF requires a brief description of the proposal, identification of the category used in excluding the action from further NEPA analysis, and a signature block. The ESF is attached to and becomes part of the CEF.

6. If extensive mitigation is required to avoid triggering one of the exceptional circumstances criteria (section 3.5), you must prepare an EA. If minimum mitigation is acceptable to appropriate agencies and any interested or affected public, it should be fully integrated into the project description on the CEF.

7. You should consider changed environmental circumstances in determining the level of NEPA documentation, and in deciding if the criteria in section 3.4 would apply.

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