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Section 4(f) Lands

Section 4(f) Policy Paper: Use to find guidance on what constitutes a 'use' of a 4(f) resource, format for documents, and other policies.

Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act of 1966 prohibits FHWA and other USDOT agencies from approving the use of land from a publicly owned park, recreation area, or wildlife and waterfowl refuge, or any significant historic site.

    Unless:
  • There is no feasible and prudent alternative to using the property,

  • and
  • The proposed action includes all possible planning to minimize harm to the property resulting from such use.

Proposed Use of Section 4(f) Resources

When a project proposes the use of a Section 4(f) resource, a Section 4(f) evaluation is required. This evaluation may lead to either:

  • De Minimis Impact Determination
  • Programmatic Evaluation
  • Individual Evaluation

De Minimis

De minimis use allows FHWA to deem 4(f) not applicable, based on minor impacts, allows for the consideration of mitigation measures, requires public involvement and does not require analysis of avoidance alternatives.

Nationwide Section 4(f) Programmatic Evaluations

FHWA has prepared five programmatic evaluations to be used for projects having impacts on resources covered by Section 4(f). However, a project must demonstrate that it meets the criteria set forth in any programmatic evaluation. They include the following:

Individual Evaluations

The individual evaluation is completed in two steps:

  1. The local agency prepares a draft evaluation which includes:
    • Description of the proposed project
    • Description of each 4(f) resource
    • Impacts to the resources
    • Avoidance alternatives
    • Mitigation measures
    • Coordination to date
    The draft evaluation undergoes HQ Local Programs and FHWA review. Once FHWA is comfortable with the document, it is sent to the U.S. Department of Interior for a forty-five (45) day review.


  2. Upon completion of the review, the local agency prepares the final evaluation. The final evaluation is submitted to HQ Local Programs, via the Regional Local Programs Engineer, for review and transmittal to FHWA. With FHWA's approval of the final evaluation, the process is completed.

More 4(f) resources