Develop Agency Outreach Plan

Like other stakeholders, resource and regulatory agency staff have particular perspectives and specific constraints relating to their availability for involvement in the project.

Develop Agency Outreach Plan

The "Reflecting Community Values" section of the report described the development of a public involvement plan (Section D). The development of a plan for involving resource, regulatory, and other agencies is similar, and is often included as part of the public involvement plan. Organizations typically consulted include federal transportation agencies (Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration); state DOTs; local transportation and land use agencies (cities, counties, MPOs); Native American tribal organizations; federal resource agencies (Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Parks Department); and other state natural resource/environmental protection/land use agencies such as Departments of Natural Resources and State Historic Preservation Offices.

Like other stakeholders, resource and regulatory agency staff have particular perspectives and specific constraints relating to their availability for involvement in the project. In planning for the participation of federal resource agencies, for example, it is important to remember that their operating procedures often make it very difficult for staff to participate in activities not directly connected to an ongoing NEPA process or permit action. Moreover, in most regulatory agencies staff is often spread very thin and forced to prioritize among many important projects and concurrent activities. Limited availability of agency staff often requires scheduling of special activities for them at selected project milestones rather than assuming they can participate as regular members of broad-based project advisory groups that will meet often during the development process. Field trips, special resource agency advisory groups that meet only several times during project development, and focused resource agency workshops are proven effective approaches for achieving agency involvement.

Pilot states working with agency stakeholders have attempted to maintain an environmental stewardship focus and at the same time improve efficiencies. The Connecticut DOT is working with the FHWA Division Office and Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to develop programmatic agreements covering minor projects and even minor work efforts on the Merritt Parkway, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Other agreements involve continual coordination at every stage of an archaeological investigation. In Kentucky, as part of a section 106 Programmatic agreement, a consultation procedure is being established between the State and Native Americans, even though there are no federally recognized tribes in the state.

North Carolina DOT is acting as an environmental streamlining laboratory. The vision of NCDOT is to engage all stakeholders in a shared, efficient, and balanced process that advances environmental streamlining while maintaining environmental stewardship.

Despite budget and time constraints, it is critical to the success of the CSD/CSS (and NEPA) process to obtain information from the appropriate resource and regulatory agencies concerning problem definition, evaluation criteria, alternatives development, alternatives evaluation, and the identification of a preferred alternative.

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