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The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, is a landmark environmental protection legislation establishing as a goal for federal decision-making a balance between use and preservation of natural and cultural resources. NEPA requires all federal agencies to: (1) prepare in-depth studies of the impacts and alternatives to proposed "major federal actions"; (2) use the information contained in such studies in deciding whether to proceed with the actions; and (3) diligently attempt to involve the interested and affected public before any decision affecting the environment is made. Section 102(2)(E) of NEPA requires an agency to "study, develop, and describe appropriate alternatives to recommended courses of action in any proposal which involves unresolved conflicts concerning alternative uses of available resources."

Engaging groups and individuals outside of the National Park Service is required by NEPA. More importantly, public engagement also serves to stimulate public dialogue, promote a broader understanding of the major issues across stakeholder groups, and provide an opportunity to participate in the decision making process.

A Notice of Intent (NOI) to prepare an EIS has been published in the Federal Register to announce the beginning of the public engagement process. The notice will provide a general outline of the planning process and opportunities for participation.

It is anticipated that public meetings will be needed at 3 key junctures of the planning process. Additional public, stakeholders, and agency meetings may be held if determined necessary.

The following is a general guide for the public involvement process. Specific details and adjustments will be worked out as the planning effort unfolds. Additional public meetings, newsletters and focus groups may be added, if public interest warrants.

* indicates the current step in the planning process
Step 1. Project Initiation and Internal Scoping
Step 2. Publish Notice of Intent in the Federal Register
Step 3. Begin Public Scoping December 3, 2007 - January 18, 2007
Step 4. Determination of Significance, Suitability, and Feasibility
Step 5. Develop Alternatives and Management Options *
Step 6. Prepare Draft Study
Step 7. Public Review of Draft Study
Step 8. Prepare Recommendations and Final Study
Step 9. Forward Final Document, Comment Summary, and NEPA Documentation to Congress
Step 10. Release Final Plan to the Public

  An Environmental Assessment (EA) was prepared in 2006 for the proposed Georgetown University Boathouse within the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. As a result of the EA process, it was determined that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should be undertaken.