7 CFR § 650.5 - Environmental evaluation in planning.
(a) General. Environmental evaluation (EE) integrates environmental concerns throughout the planning, installation, and operation of NRCS-assisted projects. The EE applies to all assistance provided by NRCS, but planning intensity, public involvement, and documentation of actions vary according to the scope of the action. NRCS begins consideration of environmental concerns when information gathered during the environmental evaluation is used:
(1) To identify environmental concerns that may be affected, gather baseline data, and predict effects of alternative courses of actions;
(2) To provide data to applicants for use in establishing objectives commensurate with the scope and complexity of the proposed action;
(3) To assist in the development of alternative courses of action; (40 CFR 1502.14). In NRCS-assisted project actions, nonstructural, water conservation, and other alternatives that are in keeping with the Water Resources Council's Principles and Standards are considered, if appropriate.
(4) To perform other related investigations and analyses as needed, including economic evaluation, engineering investigations, etc.
(5) To assist in the development of detailed plans for implementation and operation and maintenance.
(b) Procedures. NRCS's Guide for Environmental Assessment issued in March 1977 and published in the Federal Register on August 8, 1977, provides guidance for conducting an environmental evaluation. (42 FR 40123-40167).
(c) Decision points. Figure 1 illustrates the decision points for compliance with NEPA in NRCS decisionmaking.