Environmental Review Toolkit

Section 4(f) Tutorial

Since the mid-1960s, federal transportation policy has reflected an effort to preserve publicly owned public parks and recreation areas, waterfowl and wildlife refuges, and historic sites considered to have national, state, or local significance. The Department of Transportation Act (DOT Act) of 1966 included a special provision to carry out this effort called Section 4(f).

Welcome to FHWA’s Section 4f tutorial. This tutorial is designed to help transportation professionals and other interested individuals understand the fundamental requirements of Section 4(f).

The content of this tutorial has been divided into ten topics. Users have the ability to work through the topics in order (by clicking the next section button at the bottom of each page) or you may access a specific topic from the left-hand navigation bar.

The following list provides a brief description of the content for each of the ten topics:

  • Section 4(f) Overview – a summary of the Section 4(f) regulation
  • History — a brief description of the law’s origin and intent
  • Section 4(f) Properties — a description of the recreational, refuge and historic properties considered under Section 4(f)
  • Use — a description of the various types of use and related considerations
  • Avoidance and Minimization — a description of the terms avoidance, minimization and mitigation
  • Evaluations — detailed information on how to develop individual and programmatic Section 4(f) evaluations, and a description of when findings of de minimis impact may be made
  • Legal Overview — a look at the legal process associated with Section 4(f) and the history of the Overton Park case
  • Project Examples — a collection of project descriptions involving different Section 4(f) scenarios
  • Related Statutes — an explanation of the differences between Section 4(f), Section 6(f) and Section 106
  • Key Terms — a comprehensive list of Section 4(f) and NEPA key terms and acronyms that are used throughout the tutorial. A link to the glossary is provided whenever a key term or acronym appears for the first time in a given section.

For questions or feedback on this subject matter content, please contact David Clarke.

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