A. Draft EISs
Review comments on draft EISs or related documents
should be confined to NPS areas of jurisdiction and expertise. They should
be based on fact, published research, or professionally supported opinion.
Your opinions as to the acceptability of project impacts on areas of NPS
jurisdiction and expertise should consider both the severity of the impacts
and the practicability of proposed mitigating measures. You should urge
adoption of measures that are compatible with both NPS interests and project
purposes. See section 4.6.
1. Key sections for reviewers' attention EISs
are prepared in the format required by section 1502.10 of the CEQ regulations
or an approved variation. This format allows a realistic, adequate assessment
of project impacts and provides for inclusion of measures to minimize
adverse impacts. Sections 1502.11 through 1502.19 of the CEQ regulations
and section 4.5 of this handbook
explain requirements for individual sections of an EIS. The EIS sections
requiring particular NPS review attention are (a) purpose and need, (b)
alternatives including the proposed action, (c) affected environment,
and (d) environmental consequences.
2. Comment requirements for key sections-Reviewers
of EISs should ensure that the above sections satisfactorily address:
(a) NPS concerns previously expressed during scoping
or when participating as a cooperating agency.
(b) NPS positions outlined in providing planning aid and technical assistance,
especially those related to alternatives preferred by NPS and to suggested
mitigating and enhancement measures.
(c) evidence of coordination and consultation with
NPS when proposals might affect NPS areas of jurisdiction or expertise,
especially when NPS technical assistance or expertise might lead to
enhancement or protection of park, recreation, historic, archeological,
architectural, or significant natural area values within or associated
with proposals, including world heritage sites and biosphere reserves.
(d) consultation with other appropriate groups, including
the state historic preservation officer, the Land and Water Conservation
Fund state liaison officer, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation,
local historical societies, state heritage program officials, and local
authorities, including those that have received grant assistance from
(e) a reasonably foreseeable analysis
of potentially significant adverse impacts on areas of NPS jurisdiction
and expertise, when impacts are uncertain (1502.22). Reasonably foreseeable
includes impacts that have catastrophic consequences, even if their
probability of occurrence is low, provided that the analysis of the
impacts is supported by credible scientific evidence, is not based on
pure conjecture, and is within the rule of reason.
(f) a clearly defined listing of impacts for each
alternative, presented on a comparable basis to allow ready identification
of the alternative promising the least damage to NPS interests.
(g) location of the proposal in relation to units
of the National Park System and affiliated areas, or of designated National
Wild and Scenic Rivers or National Trails under NPS management.
(h) measures that would mitigate, reduce, or eliminate
adverse impacts or enhance beneficial impacts of the proposal on NPS
areas of jurisdiction and expertise. Impacts may be direct, indirect,
primary, and secondary. They include, but are not limited to, changes
in air quality, including Class I area visibility; land uses impairing
park, recreation, natural, and cultural resource values; water quality;
noise levels; wildlife varieties, numbers, migration routes, and habitats
within and near areas administered by NPS; park access and regional
transportation systems; natural and cultural resource visual settings;
regional socioeconomic conditions; and patterns of park visitor use.
(i) location and potential impacts of the proposal
in relation to non-federal lands in which the Secretary of the Interior
has a legal interest through NPS under terms of a federal deed, grant,
or other conveyance. This includes areas that have received grants-in-aid
from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (Section 6(f)), the Urban
Park and Recreation Recovery Program, and the Historic Preservation
Fund. It also includes park, recreation, and historic properties transferred
under the Federal Surplus Property statutes or the Recreation Demonstration
(j) location of the proposal relative to historic
properties listed on or eligible for listing on the National Register
of Historic Places, including National Historic Landmarks.
3. Reviewing tiered EISs The CEQ regulations
(1502.20) encourage tiering of EISs. A definition of tiering (producing
a programmatic EIS that addresses broad policy issues, followed by other
site-specific EISs, each of which does not need to reevaluate, but needs
only to refer to the broad policy matters addressed in the programmatic
EIS) appears in the CEQ regulations (1508.28). Reviewers should be alert
to attempts to substitute tiering for adequate analysis of site-specific
impacts. Site-specific analysis may reveal impacts of greater magnitude
than those anticipated in programmatic EISs.
4. Reviews of state and local plans The CEQ
regulations (1506.2(d)) require that EISs discuss inconsistencies of proposed
actions with approved state or local plans or laws. NPS responsibilities
relate to a number of state and local plans, including statewide comprehensive
outdoor recreation plans, state historic preservation plans, and recreation
recovery action plans. Proposals should address measures to reconcile
situations where these plans and the proposed actions are at odds.
5. Secondary, indirect, and cumulative impacts
You should consider long-term secondary and indirect impacts of proposals
as they affect NPS areas of jurisdiction and expertise. You also should
consider cumulative effects and be alert to possible project segmentation
that could distort or mask them.
6. NPS EIS comment coordination If impacts of
a proposal require coordination across NPS program areas (e.g., a proposed
HUD regional plan), all affected units should comment.
7. Permit identification requirements Proposals
requiring NPS permits, easements, and so forth should be coordinated through
the agency's NEPA process. The CEQ regulations (1505.25(b)) call for identification
of federal permit, license, and other approval requirements during scoping,
and again in review and comments on draft EISs.
When you identify a need for an NPS permit, you should
inform the agency proposing the project. State why the permit is required
and state a probable NPS position, based on information available at the
If you have serious concerns, or if the probable NPS
position would be to deny the permit, the applicant should be urged to
consult with the appropriate NPS office (provide a name and/or title,
address, and telephone number) as early as possible. Mitigation measures
or conditions that likely would be imposed before a permit would be issued
should be stated in NPS comments on the draft EIS. These concerns and
conditions should have been surfaced during the scoping process, and NPS
should be a cooperating or joint lead agency, so that the document also
covers NPS environmental analysis needs. NPS comments should address site-specific
project impacts, measures necessary to minimize harm, or recommended project
alternatives. The comments should explicitly indicate any tentative objection,
or reservations (or lack of reservations), with reasons stated clearly.
The reasons for objections should be based on explicit effects that NPS
anticipates, their magnitude (use estimates if necessary), and their significance.
Comments based on generalities, frustration with poor procedures, and
similar non-effect remarks are not useful.
8. Types of NPS comments on draft EISs
NPS must respond if it anticipates further involvement with
the proposal (e.g., review of permit applications). NPS reviewers may
also provide the following types of comments on draft EISs:
(a) No comment You may send a simple no
comment response when responding to EQD, if a draft EIS presents
an adequate analysis of expected impacts on areas of NPS jurisdiction
and expertise (assuming that the proposed action or preferred alternative
is acceptable to NPS). A no comment response also is appropriate when
a proposal has no known impact on areas of NPS jurisdiction and expertise.
(b) Incomplete or inaccurate EIS You may respond
with a finding that the draft EIS is incomplete or inaccurate in some
major and relevant way in its description of the predicted impacts on
areas of NPS jurisdiction and expertise. If the draft EIS is so inadequate
as to preclude meaningful analysis, and the proposal appears to threaten
serious adverse effects on NPS park, recreation, historic, archeological,
architectural, or significant natural area interests, your comments
should state explicitly how to make the document adequate, and in exceptional
cases you may request the proposing agency to prepare and circulate
a revised or supplemental draft EIS according to the CEQ regulations
(c) CEQ referral If there is a possibility
that NPS may seek to refer a project to CEQ under provisions of 40 CFR
1504, this must be pointed out to the agency proposing the undertaking
at the earliest possible time in the planning process, but no later
than when NPS comments on the draft EIS.
(d) Additional alternatives You may respond
that the draft EIS fails to identify reasonable alternatives or alternative
project components with lesser adverse impacts to areas of NPS jurisdiction
or expertise, or that NPS favors an alternative other than the alternative
preferred in the draft EIS.
(e) Mitigation inadequate You may respond
that you do not believe that adverse impacts will be mitigated adequately.
(f) Inadequate address of concerns raised during
scoping You may respond that concerns
you expressed during the scoping process or as a cooperating agency
were not addressed adequately or accurately in the draft EIS.
(g) Of course, positive or supportive comments where warranted should
9. Consequences of declining to review NPS reviewers
should be extremely cautious about giving up future options by declining
to review and comment on EISs or related documents involving proposals
that may affect areas of NPS jurisdiction or expertise. Failure to review
and comment may be interpreted by sponsoring agencies to mean that (a)
NPS has no concerns in a proposed action; (b) the proposal will not significantly
affect NPS areas of jurisdiction or expertise; or (c) NPS will issue any
permits required for project construction.
B. Final EISs
During the draft EIS stage, you should identify significant
omissions, errors, or unaddressed concerns. Ideally, these concerns will
be addressed in the final EIS, making further comment unnecessary. Normally
no comments are made on final EISs, unless NPS objects to the proposal
itself or to one of its major features. Proposed comments on a final EIS
are forwarded through EQD to the OEPC. Depending on the nature and extent
of NPS concerns, the comments may request the sponsoring agency to prepare
a supplement to its final EIS. Because the sponsoring agency may take
action 30 days after release of its final EIS, comments on a final EIS
must be handled expeditiously.
1. Responses to comments made by NPS on draft EISs
The CEQ regulations (1502.9(b)) require lead agencies
to respond in final EISs to comments made on draft EISs, including discussion
on responsible opposing views at appropriate points in the final EIS.
NPS review of a final EIS should determine whether
(a) the final EIS adequately assesses all
important issues raised by NPS on the draft EIS, including documentation
on appropriate historical and archeological consultation requests and
(b) the selected alternative and any accompanying
mitigation features are compatible with concerns, recommendations, and
objections raised previously by NPS.
(c) new information that is contained in the final
EIS, or that became available to NPS only after it released its draft
EIS comments, has revealed a significant change in potential impacts
of the proposal.
(d) the preferred alternative or the mitigation to
be employed eliminates significant or adverse impacts on areas of NPS
jurisdiction or expertise.
2. Justification for comments on finals
Comments on final EISs may be justified by one or more
of the following:
(a) NPS objects to the project because the preferred
alternative is unacceptable to NPS, or it fails to incorporate NPS recommendations
for mitigation or monitoring requirements after project completion.
(b) changes have been made in the proposed action,
aside from adopting mitigating measures, that require additional assessment
of environmental impacts on areas of NPS jurisdiction and expertise.
(c) changes in the final EIS are needed because the
sponsoring agency has failed to understand the significance of NPS comments
and concern on the draft EIS, and it continues to offer the project
or proposal in a form that is unacceptable to NPS in whole or in part
(see the Responses to Comments section above).
(d) Important new information that is consequential
to the decision-making process becomes available, or erroneous or obsolete
data presented in the final EIS need to be corrected or challenged because
of NPS concerns about, or objections to, the project.
to next section>>
Return to top of page