The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is seeking comments from the public on an interim rule that identifies certain beneficial conservation activities that would be categorically excluded from the detailed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. This effort emerged from a group of conservation professionals brought together by NRCS who have identified actions that have shown to have no significant impact on the environment over 30 years.

“By seeking public comment on how we can streamline implementation of certain conservation practices, the agency and our partners can accelerate the benefits in order to help more people and more communities benefit from common-sense conservation practices,” said Don Gohmert, NRCS state conservationist for Texas.

Categorical exclusions will help NRCS, farmers, ranchers, and state and local governments make conservation planning easier and support implementation of Recovery Act projects. An action can be considered for a categorical exclusion if a federal agency determines that the proposed action does not individually or cumulatively have a significant effect on the environment.

The public is invited to submit comments on the interim final rule until close of business Sept. 11, 2009. Comments can be submitted online, by mail, via e-mail, in person or by fax.

To view the full text in the Federal Register Notice online visit www.thefederalregister.com/d.p/2009-07-13-E9-16400.

For further information on the National Environmental Policy Act, visit www.epa.gov/Compliance/resources/nepa.html.

For more information about NRCS and conservation programs that may be available to you and your community visit www.nrcs.usda.gov or your nearest USDA Service Center.