U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service logo
United States Department of the Interior

                                    FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE 
                                               Washington, D.C. 20240

DOI 150th Anniversary logo
                                                                                                                                                 October 6, 1999
In Reply Refer To:


To:                Service Directorate

From:            Director   /sgd/ Jamie Rappaport Clark

Subject:         Designation of Non-Federal Agencies to be Cooperating Agencies in
                     Implementing the Procedural Requirements of the National Environmental Policy
                     Act (ED 99/1)

On July 28, 1999, the Council on Environmental Quality issued guidance to all Federal agencies encouraging more active solicitation of State, tribal, and local governments as cooperating agencies under the National Environmental Policy Act (40 CFR 1508.5) (copy attached).

We encourage all Fish and Wildlife Service offices that prepare environmental documents for Service actions to actively solicit the participation of other governmental entities when such entities have jurisdiction by law or special expertise and otherwise meet the requirements under 40 CFR 1501.6. The CEQ guidance outlines the benefits to the agency and clarifies that cooperating agency status neither enlarges nor diminishes the decision making authority of either the Federal agency or non-Federal entities.

In response to the CEQ guidance and in response to inquiries from Regional and field offices on cooperating agency status, we are incorporating additional guidance on cooperating agency status in the revised Service NEPA guidance (550 FW 1-2), scheduled to be published in the FederalRegister this fall. These changes have also been incorporated into the Service NEPA training course.

You are encouraged to implement this guidance immediately when complying with NEPA for Service actions. If you have any questions regarding cooperating agency status, please contact Gary Frazer, Assistant Director for Ecological Services, or Dr. Benjamin N. Tuggle, Chief, Division of Habitat Conservation, at 703/358-2161.