Appendix E: Sample letter initiating government-to-government consultation on an EIS, including inviting participating agencies under SAFETEA-LU and Section 106.
The Honorable [name]
[name of Tribe]
[City, State, Zip]
Re: Initiating consultation and invitation to become a Participating Agency on [insert name of project]
Dear Chair[man / woman] [last name]:
The Federal Highway Administration and Washington State Department of Transportation is planning to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed [name of project] in the City of [name], [name of] County, Washington. The project is located near the [describe geographic location in detail and attach map, if available]. [Briefly describe the project i.e. widen SR 167 from street x to street y]
According to the map we have on file for the [insert name] Tribe, the proposed project is located with the tribe’s Consultation Area. FHWA and WSDOT would like to initiate government-to-government consultation with the [Tribe name] Tribe for this project. WSDOT has entered into the environmental review phase of this project and plans to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Among other issues, we would like consultation to address cultural and historic resource issues, pursuant to Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act 36 CFR 800.2(c)(3). Recognizing the government-to-government relationship which the Federal Highway Administration has with the Tribe, they will continue to play a key role in this undertaking as the responsible Federal agency. If this project requires a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), this consultation will also serve to meet their Section 106 responsibilities. However, since the WSDOT has been delegated the authority from FHWA to initiate consultation and we will be directly managing the cultural resources studies and carrying out this undertaking, you may contact FHWA or the USACE at anytime for assistance with the process and/or the undertaking.
With this letter, we would also like to extend your tribe an invitation to become a participating agency with the FHWA and WSDOT in development of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed project (pursuant to Section 6002 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, and Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU)). This designation does not imply that the tribe either supports the proposal or has any special expertise with respect to evaluation of the project. If you accept this invitation to be a participating agency under Section 6002 of the SAFETEA-LU, your tribe will be able to:
Provide meaningful and early input on defining the purpose and need, determining the range of alternatives to be considered, and then methodologies and the level of detail required in the alternatives analysis.
Participate in coordination meetings and joint field reviews as appropriate.
Timely review and comment on the pre-draft or pre-final environmental documents to reflect the views and concerns of your tribe on the adequacy of the document, alternatives considered, and the anticipated impacts and mitigation.
Participating agencies are responsible to identify, as early as practicable, any issues of concern regarding the project’s potential environmental or socioeconomic impacts that could substantially delay or prevent an agency from granting a permit or other approval that is needed for the project. Declining our invitation to be a participating agency does not diminish the tribe’s right to meaningful government-to-government consultation.
In accordance with SAFETEA-LU, you must respond (electronic or hard copy) to become a participating agency. Please respond by [insert date 35 days from mailing]].
We would very much appreciate the opportunity to meet with you and other appropriate representatives of the [Tribe/nation/community] in order to commence government-to-government consultation on the [name of ] project. The goal of the consultation is to identify any concerns early in the environmental review process and reach mutually agreeable decisions while taking into account the interests of both the Tribal, State and Federal governments.
Thank you for taking the time to consider these requests. I will be in touch with your office in the coming weeks to inquire about scheduling a meeting to discuss these matters further. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact [insert name and contact information of point person, such as the environmental manager] call me directly.
[Regional Environmental Manager or Project Director]
cc: [Name], Tribal Cultural Resources, w/attachments
[Name], Tribal Natural Resources, w/ attachments
[Name], Federal Highway Administration, w/ attachments
Beth Coffey, US Army Corps of Engineers, w/ attachments
Diane Lake, US Army Corps of Engineers, w/o attachments
Sandie Turner, WSDOT Cultural Resources Office, w/ attachments
Colleen Jollie, WSDOT Tribal Liaison, w/o attachments