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Maine Bulletin No. ME 190-10-2

 

                                                                                                               January 6, 2010
 

Subject: ECS - Use of Network Diagrams for Tiering to a NRCS NEPA document

Purpose. To provide guidance on using the conservation practice network diagram for environmental analysis in planning.

Expiration Date. September 30, 2010

Explanation. The Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops Interim Practice Standard (Code 798) is not evaluated for significant adverse effects by NRCS in a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document. The New England states and New York have issued a NEPA document, "Environmental Assessment of NRCS Conservation Practices Used to Address Natural Resource Concerns on Non-Federal Lands in the New England states and New York" and a Finding of No Significant Impact. Public Notice of the Availability of these documents was published in the Federal Register on May 8, 2007.

For the 106 conservation practices used by NRCS in Maine, 92 practices have been included in the Environmental Assessment (EA), and effects for these practices have been illustrated using network diagrams. The Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops Interim Practice Standard has been evaluated and included in the assessment. Network diagrams are a method to review direct, indirect and cumulative conservation practice effects and comply with NEPA requirements for Farm Bill implementation. A network diagram has been developed for the Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops Interim Practice Standard (Code 798). The network diagram can be found in eFOTG - Section IV - A. Interim Standards - Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops (Code 798).

To ensure NRCS in Maine is following the National Environmental Policy Act, the District Conservationist (DC) will act as the Responsible Federal Official (RFO) must do the following:

  1. Prior to signing the NEPA Compliance Finding section of the ME-CPA-52 form and the conservation plan, check to see if the network diagram is completed for the practice planned. Ensure that the initial settings and effects listed are appropriate for the planned setting covered by the conservation plan. If there are potential adverse effects onsite, use the appropriate mitigation practice(s) as needed to minimize the impact on the affected resources. If the practice, initial settings, effects, and mitigation practices are not covered by a network diagram, contact the State Office for further analysis.
     
  2. Review the conservation plan for the following items that may indicate an impact that could be considered significant. If any of these items are present, contact the State Office for guidance.

    A list of criteria for significant and extraordinary circumstances are located in the National Environmental Compliance Handbook (NECH), page 610-E70.5 or, in NECH figure 2, page 610-C.3.
     
  3. If the network diagrams are appropriate and adequately describe anticipated effects of implementing the practice, and no significant impacts are shown in Section H on the ME-CPA-52 form for the proposed action, do the following:

    Check mark "has been sufficiently analyzed in an existing NRCS NEPA document" in Part O of the NEPA Compliance Finding section and reference the "Use of NRCS Conservation Practices to Address Natural Resources Concerns on Non-Federal Lands in the New England states and New York Environmental Assessment" as the citation for tiering.
     
  4. Have the conservation plan signed by all parties involved and proceed as needed for funding and implementation.

Contact. Jim Johnson, Resource Conservationist at 207-990-9508 or email jim.johnson@me.usda.gov.
 

/s/ Juan C. Hernandez

JUAN C. HERNANDEZ
State Conservationist

The following document requires  Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)

Attachment - Seasonal High Tunnel System for Crops - Practice Introduction (.pdf)