NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
Table of Contents
Disclaimer Information
Congaree Swamp National Monument, SC4.8 Environmental Impact Statements — Public Involvement Requirements

This section describes the minimum NPS public involvement requirements for an EIS. However, you are encouraged to be “diligent” and creative in your efforts to involve the public in your NEPA procedures and resource planning. Ways of involving the public include issuing quarterly newsletters to update the public on anticipated park actions and opportunities for involvement, using the Internet to facilitate the review of documents or have a dialogue with a commentor, and setting aside handouts or information for park visitors to keep them informed of planning efforts or chances to comment. Park staff often use park friends' groups to keep the public involved in decision-making that may have environmental consequences.

  Be diligent and creative in your efforts to involve the public in your NEPA procedures and resource planning.  

A. Notice of Intent

CEQ (1508.22) specifies that a notice of intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS must be placed in the Federal Register. The notice must:
(a) describe the proposed action and alternatives, if any, developed to date.
(b) describe the intended scoping process and tell when and where any scoping meetings might be held.
(c) give the name and address of an NPS contact.
(d) state whether the proposed EIS is delegated or non-delegated (see 516 DM, 6.3(b), and ESM 95-2), unless you submit a memo to OEPC giving NPS's position at the same time the NOI is issued.

Scoping that has been conducted on an EA which then leads to an EIS does not usually substitute for the official required scoping of the EIS. However, if you stated in the public notice for scoping on the EA that an EIS might be prepared, and the NOI for the EIS indicates that comments on the scope of the alternative and impacts will continue to be considered, scoping for the EA may substitute for additional scoping of the EIS (Q13).

Further Links:

Instructions for Processing a Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

B. Scoping

Scoping is an early and open process to determine the scope of environmental issues and alternatives to be addressed in an EIS. You should conduct both internal scoping (see section 2.6) with appropriate NPS staff (including the IDT) and external scoping with the interested and affected public.

Scoping is done to:
(a) determine important issues.
(b) eliminate issues that are not important or relevant.
(c) divide up assignments.
(d) identify relationships to other planning efforts or documents.
(e) define a time schedule of document preparation and decision-making.
(f) “size the analysis box,” which includes defining purpose and need, agency objectives and constraints, and the range of alternatives.

  1. External scoping — The public plays an integral role in scoping, and external, or public, scoping is required for any EIS. Scoping is a process, not an event or a single meeting. Parks and other issuing offices are encouraged to use public scoping sessions as well as other means to gather early input on EISs. Examples are direct mailings to park visitors, interested organizations, or park neighbors. These letters should include a project description, a map (if relevant), a description of alternatives and issues to date, a request for any additional issues or alternatives, and the commentor's rationale for suggesting they be analyzed. Newsletters, ads in local or national media, open houses, or literature available for park visitors are also means of gathering early public input.

  2. Scoping with agencies — Scoping with interested federal, state, and local agencies and Indian tribes should be part of the internal scoping process (see section 2.6 and section 2.13 on cooperating agencies).

    (a) Historic preservation officers — You should invite the early participation of the state or tribal historic preservation officer by letter when historic properties are associated with any NPS alternative under consideration in an EA or an EIS.

    (b) Other agencies — Any interested agency, or any agency with jurisdiction by law or expertise, must be contacted to obtain early input and should be solicited to be cooperating agencies. This could include federal, state, local or tribal agencies or units of government. If the agency has jurisdiction by law, it must be contacted in writing. If not, it can be involved less formally.

    (c) Indian tribes — Early in the scoping of an EIS, the involved decision-maker and members of the IDT should identify potential American Indian issues and the likelihood of tribal/state agency formal interests in NPS proposed actions. Any affected tribes must be invited to scoping meetings and provided with review copies of documents.

C. Draft EIS Notice of Availability/Filing with EPA (see ECM 95-3)

NPS requires that draft EISs be available for public review for a minimum of 60 calendar days from the day the EPA Notice of Availability (NOA) is published in the Federal Register (1506.10). CEQ also requires that you file draft (and final) EISs with EPA (1506.9).

After the draft or final EIS is filed, EPA publishes a NOA in the Federal Register to inform the public that a draft or final EIS is ready for public review. In addition, you are required to file an NOA with the Federal Register at the same time you send the appropriate number of copies of the EIS to EPA. The publication of the EPA NOA in the Federal Register (and not the NPS notice) serves as the beginning of the 60-day public review period on the draft (and a 30-day waiting period before the record of decision is signed on the final).

The draft or final EIS must have been transmitted to all appropriate agencies, it must be available to the general public, and the NPS NOA must have been filed with the Federal Register before copies of the EIS are filed with the EPA.

Further Links:

Instructions for Processing Notices of Availability for Draft/Final EISs (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

Draft EIS Notice of Availability/Filing with EPA (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

Federal Register

(Note: ECM95-3 has been revised)

Status of Federal Register Notices (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

Sample Briefing Statement (Get the Adobe Acrobat PDF Reader 5.0 to read the document.)

D. Recipients of draft EIS

You must send a copy of the draft EIS to:

(a) all federal agencies that have jurisdiction by law or special expertise, and all appropriate federal, state, or local agencies or Indian tribes.
(b) any interested or affected individuals or organizations.
(c) anyone who requests a copy.

It is acceptable to send an electronic copy or make an electronic copy available if the person requesting has access to such a copy. After all printed copies have been distributed, persons requesting the EIS should be directed to the nearest library or government office that has a record copy

E. Timelines for Review of Draft EIS

NPS provides a 60-day period for review of its draft EISs, beginning on the date when the EPA publishes its notice of availability in the Federal Register. Park offices are encouraged to take late comments if possible. The review period can be extended at the discretion of the responsible federal official with appropriate notification of the EPA (1506.10). The decision may be based on some or all of the following considerations:

  1. Will the extension cause undue delays in projects with life or safety issues?
  2. Will granting the extension jeopardize the overall public participation effort?
  3. Will granting the extension jeopardize decisions that must be made immediately?
  4. Will the extension adversely affect natural, cultural, or even funding resources?

You may also wish to collect comments that arrive a few days after the review period has ended without formally extending the period.

F. Public Meeting/Hearing

You may provide an opportunity for oral input on a draft EIS. If you choose to do this, the meeting/hearing should take place no sooner than 30 days from the time EPA's notice of availability is published. Under 1506.6, you are required to hold a public input session if:

(a) substantial environmental controversy over the proposed action or substantial interest in holding the session exists.
(b) another agency with jurisdiction over the action has requested a session and has provided supporting reasons for its request.

The format may be a “workshop,” “meeting,” “hearing,” or other option, but attendees must be allowed to express reasonable substantive concerns with the draft EIS. Speakers may be limited to a certain number of minutes to ensure that all who wish to speak are heard in a reasonable amount of time. Attendees should be reminded that the purpose of the session is to collect input on the adequacy of the EIS and not to express preferences for or against the proposal. NPS may provide an opportunity for attendees to declare their support or opposition in writing at the public input session, or simply encourage participants to write during the remaining comment-and-review period.

The meeting should be advertised by a reliable method such as a purchased ad, direct mail, Internet electronic mail, notices posted in local gathering spots, or community or other organizations spreading the word. Press releases are published or aired at the discretion of the media, and are not considered as reliable or effective as an advertisement.

G. Final EIS NOA/Filing with EPA

When you have adequately responded to all comments received during the 60-day review and are ready to release the final EIS, you must file the final EIS with EPA and send an NOA to the Federal Register. As with the filing requirements for a draft EIS (see 4-8(C)), EPA will publish a separate NOA. Your park must wait at least 30 days from the time EPA publishes the NOA before a record of decision is signed. When a summary of the ROD, or the entire record, is published in the Federal Register, your park may begin to implement the selected alternative or approved plan.

H. Recipients of final EIS

You should send a full final EIS to:

(a) any individual or organization that has made a substantive comment.
(b) all agencies or tribes that have commented.
(c) anyone who requests it.

It is acceptable to send an electronic copy or make an electronic copy available if the person requesting has access to such a copy. A summary of the final EIS may be sent to all others, including those who received a full draft EIS but did not comment. After all printed copies have been distributed, those requesting the EIS should be directed to the nearest library or government office that has a record copy.

<<Return to previous section

Continue to next section>>

Return to top of page


Level A conformance icon, 
          W3C-WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0

Back to EQD