Consultation Instructions

Flowing water moving over large tumbled boulders in the riverbed.

Little Sustina - Wikipedia, Jim

Instructions for consulting with the National Park Service regarding NRI compliance issues:

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), under 5(d)(1) Wild and Scenic River Act authority, provides guidance to federal agencies with permitting and/or granting authority for projects on or near rivers listed on the NRI. In accordance with executive memorandum, all agencies must “take care to avoid or mitigate adverse effects” to rivers identified in the Nationwide Rivers Inventory. For projects on federal lands, check with the local land manager to verify that the segment is still considered ‘eligible and/or suitable’ in their most recent land or resource management plan.

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 are avoided or mitigated. Assessment/Environmental Impact Statement process, entities proposing projects that could affect NRI, should research river value information to find up to date information.

Do not limit your research to these national sources; supplement this with other national as well as state and local sources.

  • Check the Nationwide Rivers Inventory (NRI) to see what ORVs are listed and to see if notes have been made thereIdentify the river values for the segment of interest and with a primary focus of further research on these values.

  • Look at maps and aerials on arcgis onlineDeLorme Atlas, Forest Service, National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and/or US Geological Survey for details of a stream's location, surroundings, degree of wildness or development, and accessibility.

  • For rivers flowing through public land, consult the current plan and website for the respective State, Forest, BLM, Fish and Wildlife (FWS), NPS, area. Recent plans can be found on the Internet or search for Land and Resource Management Plans by Forest, NPS, FWS, or BLM District. Some rivers on the NRI have also been found eligible/suitable by the respective land managing agency. Wild and Scenic eligibility or suitability reports are often embedded in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement accompanying the RMP, and in appendices. Some exist as separate documents, done before or after the plans were completed.

  • Search the Internet for the Watershed Assessment done by local watershed groups for that particular stream.

  • Search the Internet by the river name for miscellaneous information.

  • For recreation, search the National Water Trails and American Whitewater’s webpage for Whitewater Rivers.

  • US Fish & Wildlife Service Designated Critical Habitat: Maps and GIS files of critical habitat designations are compiled and maintained by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

  • Fisheries Designated Critical Habitat and Essential Fish Habitat: Maps and GIS files of critical habitat designations are compiled and managed by NOAA. Essential Fish Habitat designated under the Magnuson Stevens Act for all federally managed species can be found here using the mapper tool and EFH text descriptions and GIS data inventory.

  • State Wild and Scenic River Programs: Many states have their own wild and scenic river programs and have done further research for these rivers. Check with your State to see if they have a program and if the river of interest is on this list.

  • American Rivers Outstanding Rivers List (out of print): Huntington, Matthew H., and John D. Echeverria. The American Rivers Outstanding Rivers List. American Rivers, Inc., 1991.

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 recreational 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 may 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 to "…take care to avoid or mitigate adverse effects on the rivers identified in the Nationwide Inventory…"

Last updated: November 16, 2021