NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
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Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site7.2 Programmatic Documents and Planning — When to Begin NEPA on Plans

You should be able to integrate NEPA's environmental planning requirements with other park planning easily, and to follow the CEQ regulations requirement to begin “at the earliest possible time to insure that planning and decisions reflect environmental values...” (CEQ 1501.2). The information provided by a well-done NEPA analysis is vital in making park resource use or management decisions.

NEPA begins on plans as soon as your proposal can be defined. NEPA documents must be prepared early enough so they are “relevant to policy and timed to coincide with meaningful points in agency planning and decision-making” (1502.4). In the GMP process, this is when your park has defined its purpose and significance and is now considering mission goals, management prescriptions, or management zones.

  Well-done NEPA analysis is basic to excellent resource management and park use decision-making.  

You should be able to integrate NEPA's environmental planning requirements with other park planning easily, and to follow the CEQ regulations requirement to begin “at the earliest possible time to insure that planning and decisions reflect environmental values...” (CEQ 1501.2). The information provided by a well-done NEPA analysis is vital in making park resource use or management decisions.

NEPA begins on plans as soon as your proposal can be defined. NEPA documents must be prepared early enough so they are “relevant to policy and timed to coincide with meaningful points in agency planning and decision-making” (1502.4). In the GMP process, this is when your park has defined its purpose and significance and is now considering mission goals, management prescriptions, or management zones.

A. Level of detail

Before an “on-the-ground” action (e.g., grading a trail, building a campground) can be taken, there must be site-specific environmental information available to a decision-maker in the form of a NEPA document. This means you cannot use programmatic NEPA documents to make site-specific decisions, but must instead follow the process of tiering described in section 7.4.

The timing of this site-specific environmental analysis should be designed to be as close as possible to the point of making real and irrevocable commitments to a project or a course of action. Many NPS plans suggest that certain types of use or development may take place, but recognize that action to pursue a preferred alternative may not be possible for 5, 10, or 20 years, until funds are made available or until other conditions beyond the park's control are satisfied. Many detailed plans and studies have been rendered obsolete as time passes and circumstances change so that environmental analyses are repeated several times for the same project or proposed action. Following the procedure outlined in Section 7.4 (tiering) — collecting reconnaissance-level data for conceptual decisions, for instance, and site-specific information for implementation decisions — will help alleviate this problem.

  The timing of site-specific environmental analysis should be designed to be as close as possible to the point of making real and irrevocable commitments to a project or a course of action.  
 

Further Links:

Example of Impact Analysis from GMP

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