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Environmental Review Toolkit

Section 4(f)

Section 4(f) requirements stipulate that FHWA and other DOT agencies cannot approve the use of land from publicly owned parks, recreational areas, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, or public and private historical sites unless the following conditions apply:

There is no feasible and prudent avoidance alternative to the use of land; and the action includes all possibleplanning to minimize harm to the property resulting from such use;
The Administration determines that the use of the property will have a de minimis impact.

Additional information related to Section 4(f) can be found in the Section 4(f) Policy Paper or the Section 4(f) Tutorial.

Section 4(f) Guidance and Legislation Documents

Below is a list of important guidance, laws, and regulations pertaining to Section 4(f).

Section 4(f) Tutorial

Section 4(f) refers to the original section within the U.S. Department of Transportation Act of 1966 which provided for consideration of park and recreation lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites during transportation project development. This tutorial is designed to help transportation professionals and other interested individuals understand the fundamental requirements of Section 4(f).


Subject/Title Resource URL
49 U.S.C. §303 – Policy on lands, wildlife and waterfowl refuges, and historic sites 49 U.S.C. 303
23 U.S.C. §138 – Preservation of Parkland 23 U.S.C. 138
Technical Correction to Final Rule on Section 4(f) Final Rule
Final Rule on Section 4(f) Final Rule
23 CFR Part 774 – Parks, Recreation Areas, Wildlife and Waterfowl Refuges, and Historic Sites 23 CFR 774
Environmental Impact and Related Procedures Final Rule


Subject/Title Resource URL
Section 4(f) Policy Paper Policy Paper
Questions and Answers: FAST Act Applicability Related to Parks, Recreation Areas, Wildlife and Waterfowl Refuges, and Historic Sites Q&A
Guidance on Section 4(f) Exception for Federal Lands Transportation Facilities Guidance
Section 4(f) at a Glance FAQs
Successes in Stewardship Newsletter - Section 4(f) Final Rule: New Guidance on a Complex Regulation Newsletter

Nationwide Section 4(f) Programmatic Evaluations

Programmatic Section 4(f) evaluations can be used in place of individual evaluations for highway projects where uses are considered minor. To date, there are five programmatic evaluations that have been approved for use nationwide:

SAFETEA-LU Section 6009 Implementation Study

This document, Phase I Report – February 2010 (Phase I), presents findings from the first of two study phases to assess the implementation of Section 6009 of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), commonly referred to as Section 4(f).