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Scoping identifies: issues* , participants, areas to cover , available resources , constraints, and and interests.

is an ongoing process that uses public involvement to determine the problemshed* and areas* you will address by communicating with participants , core team members , and decisionmakers. Scoping looks at various perspectives to define the crucial issues in your process, critical resources, and how the resources and solution interrelate. This helps define your study boundaries.


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NEPA requires a scoping process and documentation, not just a scoping meeting.

Using specific scoping activities throughout the process will help you stay on the right track and understand the human environment*. Remember, everyone associated (all interested and affected parties) with your process needs to participate in scoping--you need to involve them. Scoping activities can be formal or informal. Put up notices for public meetings and send letters to request input from government agencies and partners. Talk to a wide variety of participants : technical experts, other agencies, those on other projects, etc., to get as broad a perspective as possible. The more they share, the fewer the chances of overlooking critical information. Local participation uncovers the unique, local aspects of the action, while national and expert participation uncovers how the action fits into an overall picture.

When you meet with these groups, avoid bias by asking questions that get as accurate and comprehensive a picture as possible, such as:

  • Who do you think would be affected?
  • Who do you think would be interested or might have information/data relevant to this study?
  • Are there key or influential individuals or groups that should be contacted?
  • What other activities could be affected by or affect this study?
  • Are we overlooking any concerns or issues?
  • Does our proposed study boundary address the problemshed? Is it too large? Too small? Why?
  • Who are the decisionmakers? What are their roles and involvement going to be?

Shape the decision process by categorizing all the data. Your public involvement specialist could serve as a data coordinator. He or she can categorize the scoping data, prioritize what seems to be important, and present the findings to the team. Cultivate core team members who can ask the needed questions and put the answer into context. Often, what seemed at first to be narrowly focused may take on new, broader meanings when relationships are explored. This process will help identify issues which are significant and those which can be safely eliminated.

Look at the discussion of scoping in the NEPA compliance handbook. Public involvement policy and directives as well as discretionary guidance contains scoping report outlines and examples.


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Note: These files were developed and were originally hosted at the Bureau of Reclamation, United States Department of the Interior.
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