7 CFR § 650.3 - Policy.

§ 650.3 Policy.

(a) NRCS mission. The NRCS mission is to provide assistance that will allow use and management of ecological, cultural, natural, physical, social, and economic resources by striving for a balance between use, management, conservation, and preservation of the Nation's natural resource base. The NRCS mission is reemphasized and expanded to carry out the mandate of section 101(b) of NEPA, within other legislative constraints, in all its programs of Federal assistance. NRCS will continue to improve and coordinate its plans, functions, programs, and recommendations on resource use so that Americans, as stewards of the environment for succeeding generations -

(1) Can maintain safe, healthful, productive, and esthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings that support diversity of individual choices; and

(2) Are encouraged to attain the widest range of beneficial uses of soil, water, and related resources without degradation to the environment, risk to health or safety, or other undesirable and unintended consequences.

(b) NRCS environmental policy. NRCS is to administer Federal assistance within the following overall environmental policies:

(1) Provide assistance to Americans that will motivate them to maintain equilibrium among their ecological, cultural, natural, physical, social, and economic resources by striving for a balance between conserving and preserving the Nation's natural resource base.

(2) Provide technical and financial assistance through a systematic interdisciplinary approach to planning and decisionmaking to insure a balance between the natural, physical, and social sciences.

(3) Consider environmental quality equal to economic, social, and other factors in decisionmaking.

(4) Insure that plans satisfy identified needs and at the same time minimize adverse effects of planned actions on the human environment through interdisciplinary planning before providing technical and financial assistance.

(5) Counsel with highly qualified and experienced specialists from within and outside NRCS in many technical fields as needed.

(6) Encourage broad public participation in defining environmental quality objectives and needs.

(7) Identify and make provisions for detailed survey, recovery, protection, or preservation of unique cultural resources that otherwise may be irrevocably lost or destroyed by NRCS-assisted project actions, as required by Historic Preservation legislation and/or Executive Order.

(8) Encourage local sponsors to review with interested publics the operation and maintenance programs of completed projects to insure that environmental quality is not degraded.

(9) Advocate the retention of important farmlands and forestlands, prime rangeland, wetlands, or other lands designated by State or local governments. Whenever proposed conversions are caused or encouraged by actions or programs of a Federal agency, licensed by or require approval by a Federal agency, or are inconsistent with local or State government plans, provisions are to be sought to insure that such lands are not irreversibly converted to other uses unless other national interests override the importance of preservation or otherwise outweigh the environmental benefits derived from their protection. In addition, the preservation of farmland in general provides the benefits of open space, protection of scenery, wildlife habitat, and in some cases, recreation opportunities and controls on urban sprawl.

(10) Advocate actions that reduce the risk of flood loss; minimize effects of floods on human safety, health, and welfare; and restore and preserve the natural and beneficial functions and values of flood plains.

(11) Advocate and assist in the reclamation of abandoned surface-mined lands and in planning for the extraction of coal and other nonrenewable resources to facilitate restoration of the land to its prior productivity as mining is completed.

(12) Advocate the protection of valuable wetlands, threatened and endangered animal and plant species and their habitats, and designated ecosystems.

(13) Advocate the conservation of natural and manmade scenic resources to insure that NRCS-assisted programs or activities protect and enhance the visual quality of the landscape.

(14) Advocate and assist in actions to preserve and enhance the quality of the Nation's waters.

[44 FR 50579, Aug. 20, 1979, as amended at 44 FR 54981, Sept. 24, 1979]