NEPA Information


The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the basic national charter for protection of the environment. Unlike specific environmental laws like the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, the NEPA encompasses all environmental values (air, water, flora, fauna and values such as wilderness) and requires the federal government and its permittees to bear those values in mind as they plan ahead. The NEPA was a response to the American public's insistence during the 1960's that protection of the environment become a national policy.

The National Environmental Policy Act is a federal law that establishes policy, sets goals, and provides a means for carrying out the policy. The NEPA sets out two basic and related objectives: Preventing environmental damage and ensuring that agency decision makers take environmental factors into account. NEPA procedures are designed to insure that environmental information is available to public officials and citizens alike before decisions are made and before actions are taken. The NEPA requires that information must be of high quality. Accurate scientific analysis, expert agency comments, and public scrutiny are essential to implementing NEPA. Most important, Agency NEPA documents concentrate on the issues that are truly significant to the action in question, rather than amassing needless detail.


Part of the Forest Service, largest agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Cibola National Forest and Kiowa, Rita Blanca, Black Kettle, and McClellan Creek National Grasslands is responsible for over 1.6 million acres of federal land in New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. These lands possess resources and values of major economic, social and environmental importance to the Region. They are managed for multiple uses, on a sustained yield basis, using sound ecological principles and the best available science. Public benefits take the form of clean water, wood and paper products, a high quality environment for outdoor recreation, energy and minerals, wilderness preservation, forage for grazing livestock, and abundant fish and wildlife.

The Cibola, as with all National Forests and Grasslands, has a "Land and Resources Management Plan"(LRMP) prepared in compliance with the National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The purpose of the LRMP is to guide all natural resource management activities for a 10-15 year period.

The Cibola National Forest and Kiowa, Rita Blanca, Black Kettle, and McClellan Creek National Grasslands Forest Supervisor and District Rangers implement or revise the LRMP by issuing resource management decisions each year. These decisions are accompanied by National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation in the form of Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), Environmental Analysis (EAs), or Categorical Exclusions (CEs), and may be subject to administrative appeal.

At the project level, day-to-day resource output or production is specifically guided by environmental analyses associated with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Draft and Final Environmental Impact Statements (EISs), Environmental Assessments (EAs), and Categorical Exclusions (CEs) are produced annually, which guide management of the National Forest and Grasslands. An appeal process, linked to NEPA because of CEQ's direction that Federal agencies integrate NEPA compliance with decision-making processes (40 CFR 1500.2 c), affords interested individuals and organizations opportunities to seek agency reconsideration of decisions.

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