NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
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Saratoga National Historical Park, NY6.0 Decision Documents — Introduction

Decision documents record the reasons for selecting a particular alternative. They also supply the support for deciding that no significant impacts would result from alternatives analyzed in an EA. For the five levels of documentation described in section 2.10(B), the following decision documents are prepared:

  • For a memo to file — No decision document is required.
  • For a CE for which no formal documentation is needed — No decision document is required.
  • For a CE requiring documentation — A CEF (appendix 2) must be completed and signed.
  • For an EA — A FONSI must be signed.
  • For an EIS — A record of decision must be signed.

Impairment determinations and decision documents — In both Findings of No Significant Impact and Records of Decision, the National Park Service has a requirement of affirmatively stating whether or not an impairment to park resources — actions prohibited under the prohibition of the NPS Organic Act — will result from any direct, indirect or cumulative impact of the action to be selected for implementation. If such an impairment does exist or is likely, then a Finding of No Significant Impact cannot be approved. If a preferred alternative has impairment impacts at the EIS/ROD level, then that alternative may not be selected for implementation. Both FONSIs and RODs need to provide information on general levels of impact and conclusions as to degrees of impact and any potential for impairment. Both documents need to affirmatively state, and contain supporting information in the analysis, that the preferred alternative for selection will not impair park resources of values and as a result will not constitute a violation of the NPS Organic Act. Actions that are likely to or would cause an impairment may not use a memo to file or Categorical Exclusion as an appropriate vehicle for decision making.

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