Mock Environmental Impact Statements
Preparation guidelines

Adapted from US FAA and EPA outlines for EA preparation.

Use your EIS worksheet to help you get started. The following information is required:

Cover Sheet
This page is labeled "Environmental Impact Statement". It identifies the project and the preparers of the document.

Purpose and Need
This section shall identify the problem or need, the goals, the requested action, and the timeframe for such action. Relevant statistical information supporting the fact that a problem exists may be included.

Alternatives
The greater the degree of impact, the wider the range of alternatives which should be considered to avoid or minimize these impacts. The EIS "...shall inform decision makers and the public of the reasonable alternatives which would avoid or minimize adverse impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment... Should present the environmental impacts of the proposal and the alternatives in comparative form, thus sharply defining the issues and providing a clear basis for choice among options...Include the alternative of no action...Include appropriate mitigation measures not already included in the proposed action or alternatives." This section shall include:

  1. A list of alternatives considered, including the proposed action.
  2. Identification of the proposed action if one has been chosen.
  3. A concise statement explaining why any alternatives have been eliminated.
  4. Whether an alternative is being analyzed on the basis of mitigation measures assumed to be built into it.

Affected Environment
The Affected Environment section of the environmental assessment includes:

  1. A location map, vicinity map, and layout of any planned development.
  2. A physical description of the area, including: climate, elevation, topography, species, fire (if applicable), and soil characteristics.
  3. Existing and planned land uses and zoning in the affected area, including affected residential areas, public parks, refuges, wetlands, floodplains, farmlands, coastal zones, recreation areas, historic facilities, archeological sites, nearby schools, places of public assembly, hospitals, and shopping areas.
  4. Population, industrial and commercial growth characteristics, and assumptions used to justify the project and determine secondary effects if these are relevant.
  5. Any contemplated future actions including other planned and developed activities in the affected area which are related to the proposal.

Environmental Consequences
Include any factors which may be important during construction as well as in a final product. List any plans for mitigation. Include consideration of any of the following factors that are applicable. (If a category is not applicable, state this.)

  1. Noise
  2. Compatible Land Use
    Are other current or future uses of the land prevented by this action?
  3. Disruption of human communities
  4. Social or Socioeconomic Impacts
  5. Air Quality
  6. Water Quality
  7. Historic, Architectural, Archeological, and Cultural Resources
  8. Biotic Communities
    The environmental assessment shall document the nature, extent, and duration of the impacts and any mitigation measures. Mitigation measures may include:
    1. Erosion controls to protect adjacent biotic areas and aquatic communities.
    2. Phasing of construction to avoid breeding or nesting periods and to promote escape routes for mobile species.
    3. Landscape restoration to reconstitute existing habitat or create new habitat.
    4. Design adjustments to minimize impact on sensitive areas or species.
    5. Purchase of contiguous habitat as a preserve for dislocated wildlife or as a buffer zone.
  9. Endangered and Threatened Species of Flora and Fauna
    Consult the list of endangered or threatened species to determine whether there are any such species in the area affected by the proposed action. If there are not, state this. If there are, include an analysis of anticipated impacts on such species and their critical habitats.
  10. Wetlands
    Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas such as sloughs, river overflows, mud flats, natural ponds, and shallow lakes and ponds with emergent vegetation. The wetlands ecosystem includes those areas which affect or are affected by the wetland itself; e.g., adjacent uplands or regions upstream and downstream. Permanent waters of streams, reservoirs, and deep lakes are not included within the definition of wetlands. Mitigation may include:
    1. Construction controls to minimize erosion and sedimentation.
    2. Design of any facilities to allow adequate flow circulation and preserve free, natural drainage.
    3. Water treatment.
    4. Control of runoff.
    5. Waste and spoils disposal so as not to contaminate ground and surface water.
    6. Control of use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizer.
    7. Maintenance of vegetative buffers to reduce sedimentation and delivery of chemical pollutants to the water body.
  11. Floodplains
    Floodplains are defined in as "the lowland and relatively flat areas… that would be inundated by a 100 year flood. The natural and beneficial values served by floodplains include "natural moderation of floods, water quality maintenance, groundwater recharge, fish, wildlife, plants, open space, natural beauty, scientific study, outdoor recreation, agriculture, aquaculture, and forestry." Mitigation measures include those listed for wetlands.
  12. Coastal Zones
  13. Coastal Barriers
  14. Wild and Scenic Rivers
    The Wild and Scenic Rivers Act describes those river areas as "...free flowing and possessing ...outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values." Conditions of the proposed action which could adversely affect an Inventory river include:
    1. Destruction or alteration of the free flowing nature of the river.
    2. Introduction of visual, audible or other sensory intrusions which are out of character with the river or alter its setting.
    3. Deterioration of water quality.
    4. Transfer of property interests without adequate restrictions for protecting the river
  15. Farmland
  16. Energy Supply and Natural Resources.
    Energy requirements associated with the action fall generally into two categories: Those which relate to changed demands for stationary facilities and those which involve the movement of vehicles.
  17. Light Emissions.
  18. Solid Waste Impact.
  19. Construction Impacts.
  20. Recreation.
Other Considerations
  1. "Possible conflicts between the proposed action and the objectives of Federal, regional, State, and local (and in the case of a reservation, Indian tribe) land use plans, policies and controls for the area concerned"
  2. "...[A]ny inconsistency of a proposed action with any approved State or local plan and laws (whether or not federally sanctioned)"
  3. Degree of controversy on environmental grounds.

Appendices
Appendices include any documentation supporting statements in the body of the environmental assessment, including methodologies. Sources used should be listed in "literature cited" format and included in the appendices.

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Last update: 4/18/02 by Rebecca Burton, Dept. of Biology, Alverno College