NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
Table of Contents
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Chimney Rock National Historic Site, NE8.2 NPS Review of Non-NPS NEPA Documents — Comment Requirements

A. How comments should be focused

Your comments on other agencies' environmental documents should:

  1. encourage those agencies to contribute to the protection, preservation, maintenance, safety, and enhancement of existing and potential units of the National Park System; other significant park and recreation values; and historic structures, archeological resources, and other cultural resources including historic properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places, unique cultural resource values including properties listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, and unique natural resource values including areas listed in the National Registry of Natural Landmarks.
  2. ensure that the sponsoring agency recognizes benefits and adverse effects to resources within our areas of jurisdiction and expertise, and that those effects are presented in an understandable form to the general public and to decision-makers.
  3. adequately describe practicable alternatives that are less damaging to NPS interests and concerns, and see that these are evaluated realistically and adopted where feasible.
  4. discuss mitigation measures to offset unavoidable adverse effects, and propose them as an integral part of the proposal or alternatives.

B. Early involvement

Your ability to influence the proposals of other agencies is greatest at the early stages, before they invest in extensive planning and become committed to a specific alternative means of accomplishing an objective. For this reason, make every effort to provide input and technical assistance at the scoping stage or earlier. This will greatly enhance the credibility of your comments on the draft EIS or a later document. Consultation should continue up through the completion of the decision document.

C. Commenting as a cooperating (or joint lead) agency vs. as a reviewing agency

  1. Cooperating agency — If the NPS has jurisdiction by law (having permitting or funding authority over some aspect of the proposal) or special expertise, you should request that the NPS be made a cooperating agency in preparation and review of an EIS. The request should be sent to the lead agency (the federal agency preparing the document), and rights and responsibilities should be defined between NPS and the lead agency in a memorandum of understanding or a memorandum of agreement. As a cooperating agency, you may ask for the right to either prepare or review with “veto” authority a section of the document where NPS has particular expertise or interest. You may also ask or be asked to join in IDT meetings, public involvement sessions, or other integral pieces of the NEPA process. You should request permission to become a cooperating agency as early as possible, so that you can participate fully. You may also share the analysis and document preparation responsibility by becoming a joint lead with another federal or state agency (1506.2 (c)). Your park's responsibility may be expanded to research or write several sections of the document if this is the case.

    If you are affected by or interested in a proposal, but do not have jurisdiction by law or special expertise, you may still request cooperating agency status.

  2. Reviewing agency — As a reviewing agency, NPS may request changes in the document, additional information, mitigation measures, analysis of additional alternatives, and so forth. The degree of response to these requests is largely at the discretion of the lead agency.

Further Link:

See Section 4.2

Handbook on Departmental Review of Section 4(f) Evaluations

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