Environmental Review Toolkit

Section 4(f) Tutorial



This portion of the tutorial will acquaint you with individual and programmatic evaluations and the differences between the two. When you have finished this section, you should have a basic understanding of the following:

  • The five nationwide programmatic evaluations
  • The required procedures for completing programmatic evaluations
  • The required procedures for completing individual evaluations, both the draft and final
  • The concept of minor use and its relationship to programmatic evaluations and de minimis impact determinations
  • The importance of coordination and consultation with the officials with jurisdiction and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • The importance of creating adequate and legally sufficient documentation of Section 
    4(f) properties, use, avoidance alternatives and measures to minimize harm


When a Federally funded transportation project will use Section 4(f) property, a Section 4(f) approval by the FHWA is required. If the use would have a greater than de minimis impact For historic sites, de minimis impact means that no historic property is affected by the project or that the project will have "no adverse effect" on the historic site in question. For parks, recreation areas, and wildlife and waterfowl refuges, a de minimis impact is one that will not adversely affect the features, attributes, or activities qualifying the property for protection under Section 4(f). on the property, a written evaluation must be prepared and submitted to FHWA for approval. There are two types of evaluations—an individual evaluation (otherwise known simply as an evaluation) and a programmatic evaluation. An individual evaluation may be submitted either as an independent document (for categorical exclusions (CEs)) or as a section of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) or an Environmental Assessment (EA)/Finding of no Significant Impacts (FONSI).

A programmatic evaluation may be used only for projects that meet the application criteria of one of the five nationwide programmatic evaluations that have been approved by FHWA.

Both types of evaluations describe the Section 4(f) property, the proposed use of the property, avoidance and minimization alternatives, other impacts associated with the alternatives, coordination with the official(s) with jurisdiction, and measures to minimize harm.