The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires Federal agencies to undertake an assessment of the environmental effects of their proposed
actions prior to making decisions. The environmental impact assessment process conducted under NEPA is intended to ensure agencies make better
informed decisions and that the public has a meaningful opportunity to participate in the process. The Fish & Wildlife Service's NEPA goal is to
make better environmental decisions in a cost and time-efficient manner to further our mission to conserve, protect, and enhance fish and wildlife
and their habitats for the continued benefit of the American people.
The NEPA process starts when an agency identifies the need for action and develops a proposal. The agency's experience with a particular kind of
action and its environmental effects determines the level of environmental review to pursue. For actions where the environmental effects are
uncertain, an Environmental Assessment (EA) may be prepared. The EA process concludes with either a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) or a
determination to proceed to the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An agency must prepare an EIS if it is proposing a major
federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment or if there are extraordinary circumstances, which under agency
guidelines dictate a higher level of environmental review.
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