NPS Director's Order 12: Conservation Planning, Environmental Impact Analysis and Decision Making
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Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site7.5 Programmatic Documents and Planning — Programs and Policies

CEQ includes plans, policies, procedures, and programs in its definition of major federal actions that require NEPA environmental analysis and documentation (1508.18). The time to prepare such documentation is “before the program has reached a stage of investment or commitment to implementation likely to determine subsequent development or restrict later alternatives” (1502.4 (c )(3)). If an NPS-wide or region-wide policy with the potential for environmental impact is proposed (such as “prescribe burning to maintain fuel at natural level,” or “use any means short of introducing toxic substances to control exotic weeds”), a programmatic NEPA document should be prepared before parks are charged with implementing it. The park may need to prepare its own subsequent site-specific document and tier (see section 7.4) to the regional or other programmatic document.

Programmatic documents are useful in discussing strategies for implementing many smaller actions, such as road, building, or other park maintenance or vegetation management. Adequately evaluating several years' worth of site-specific impacts in a single EA or EIS from these kinds of day-to-day activities may be the best approach to environmentally sound planning.

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