NRI Consultation Instructions
Instructions for consulting with the National Park Service regarding NRI compliance issues:
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) provides guidance to federal agencies with permitting and/or granting authority for projects on or near rivers listed on the NRI. In accordance with a 1979 executive directive, all agencies must “take care to avoid or mitigate adverse effects” to rivers identified in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory.
The National Park Service (NPS) is available to assist other federal agencies in carrying out this process; however, it is the role of the federal permitting agency (not the National Park Service) to ensure that effects to NRI rivers or avoided or mitigated.
If you do not hear from NPS within 30 days, CEQ states that you may proceed with the following in mind:
1. Determine whether the proposed action could affect an NRI river.
- Check the current regional/state NRI list to determine whether the proposed action could affect an NRI river (i.e., is the proposed action location in the vicinity of the NRI segment).
- If an NRI river segment could be affected by the proposed action, an environmental assessment or and environmental impact statement may be required depending on the significance of the effects.
- If the action would not affect an NRI river, no further action is necessary regarding the NRI.
2. Determine whether the proposed action could have an adverse effect on the natural, cultural, and recreational values of the NRI segment. These values are listed as “outstandingly remarkable values” (ORVs) on the state NRI list. Adverse effects on NRI rivers may occur under conditions which include, but are not limited to:
- Destruction or alteration of all or part of the free flowing nature of the river;
- Introduction of visual, audible, or other sensory intrusions which are out of character with the river or alter its setting;
- Deterioration of water quality; or
- Transfer or sale of property adjacent to an NRI river without adequate conditions or restriction for protecting the river and its surrounding environment.
3. Determine whether the proposed action could foreclose options to classify any portion of the NRI segment as wild, scenic, or recreation river areas.
- In some cases, impacts of a proposed action could be severe enough to preclude inclusion in the Wild and Scenic River System, or lower quality of the classification (e.g., from wild to recreational). If the proposed undertaking could effectively downgrade any portion of the NRI segment, you should consult with NPS.
- Proposed actions (whether uses or physical changes), which are theoretically reversible, but which are not likely to be reversed in the short term, should be considered to have the effect of foreclosing for all practical purposes Wild and Scenic River status. This is because a river segment, when studied for possible inclusion in the Wild and Scenic River System, must be judged as it is found to exist at the time of the study, rather than as it may exist at some future time.
- If a proposal, including one or more alternatives, could have an adverse effect on an NRI river, an EA, or if the effects are significant, an EIS must be prepared.
4. Incorporate mitigation/avoidance measures in the proposed action to the maximum extent feasible within the agency’s authority.
If NPS does not respond to your request for assistance within 30 days, you many proceed with completing preparation and circulation of the environmental assessment or EIS as planned. Even where NPS has been unable to comment on the environmental assessment or DRAFT EIS, you are still obligated by the President's directive to "…take care to avoid or mitigate adverse effects on the rivers identified in the Nationwide Inventory…"