2.2.2 U.S. Department of Interior

The Department of Interior[1] protects and provides access to the nation’s natural and cultural resources and honors our trust responsibilities to the Indian Tribes.[2]  It includes several agencies that routinely participate in licensing proceedings. 

A.                   Fish and Wildlife Service[3]

The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) conserves, protects, and enhances fish, wildlife, and plant resources which do not use marine habitat or otherwise are not under NMFS’ jurisdiction.[4]  FWS may submit a mandatory fishway prescription for riverine fish under FPA section 18; adopt Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives or Measures for non-marine species listed under ESA; and may recommend other conditions under FPA sections 10(j) and 10(a) and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act.

B.                 National Park Service[5]

The National Park Service (NPS) is responsible for preserving unimpaired natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System[6] and implementing technical assistance provisions of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act of 1968[7] and the Outdoor Recreation Act of 1963.[8]  The NPS is actively involved in hydropower regulation on both park and non-park lands.  In most proceedings where the NPS participates, hydropower operations do not directly affect a National Park.  In this circumstance, the NPS’ primary function is to advise FERC under FPA Section 10(a) and represent public interests in recreational and river conservation opportunities.  In proceedings where hydropower operations directly affect a National Park,[9] the NPS also advocates for protection and enhancement of park resources.  Although the FPA specifically excludes the use of Section 4(e) authority if the affected reservation is a National Park or Monument, NPS has such authority for other reservations, such as National Recreation Areas. 

C.          Bureau of Land Management[10]

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) administers federal lands not included in National Parks, National Fish and Wildlife Refuges, or National Forests.[11]  Under FPA section 4(e), it may prescribe mandatory conditions for any such lands set aside as a federal reservation.  Under FPA section 10(a), BLM may also recommend conditions for a project’s use of other lands and associated waters. 

D.                Bureau of Indian Affairs[12]

The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) seeks to enhance the quality of life, promote economic opportunity, and carry out the responsibility to protect and improve the trust assets of Indian Tribes.  Under FPA section 4(e), the BIA may prescribe mandatory conditions for the protection and use of Tribal reservations occupied by a project.  BIA may recommend other conditions under FPA section 10(a) to protect Indian reservations and trust assets from any adverse effects of other projects.  

E.                 Bureau of Reclamation[13]

The Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) constructs and operates federal dams (and related facilities) for water supply, hydropower generation, and other beneficial uses under the Reclamation Act.[14]  It participates in a licensing proceeding if a powerplant that a non-federal licensee proposes or owns is located at a federal dam or if a licensed project may otherwise affect the operation of such a dam.

F.                 United States Geological Survey[15]

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) collects and publishes scientific data on our natural biological and physical resources, including rivers.  USGS operates flow gages and undertakes other research and monitoring programs that collect scientific data regarding the resources affected by licensed projects.  A licensee or other agency may contract with the USGS for the collection of scientific data or for the design of a hydrologic or biologic monitoring program or fish passage facility.


[1]               See the DOI website, at www.doi.gov.

[2]               See The Act of March 3, 1849, 43 U.S.C. § 1451.

[3]               See the FWS website, at www.fws.gov.

[4]               See Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1939, section 401, codified at 5 U.S.C.app. 1; Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1940, section 3, codified at 5 U.S.C.app. 1.

[5]               See the NPS website, at www.nps.gov.

[6]               See The National Park Service Organic Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1.  The National Park System includes units in 17 different classifications besides National Parks and National Monuments, such as National Recreation Areas, National Rivers, and National Historic Sites.

[7]               See 16 U.S.C., Ch.28, §1282(b)(1).  NPS is authorized to assist, advise, and cooperate with governments, landowners, or individuals to plan, protect, and manage river resources.

[8]               See 16 U.S.C., Ch.I, Subchapter LXIX, Part A, §4601-1(d) and (g).  NPS provides technical assistance and promotes coordination of activities generally relating to outdoor recreation resources including rivers and associated trails.

[9]               A new hydropower project may not be built in a national park without a specific Congressional authorization (16 U.S.C. § 797a and 16 U.S.C. § 797c).  Several licensed projects operate within National Parks, either because they predate that prohibition or are permitted through special legislation.  Others are located upstream of National Parks but affect flows through park lands.

[10]             See the BLM website, at www.blm.gov.

[11]             See Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1946, section 403, codified at 5 U.S.C.app. 1.

[12]             See the BIA website, at http://www.bia.gov/.

[13]             See the BOR website, at www.usbr.gov.

[14]             43 U.S.C. §§ 372, 373, 383, 391, 392, 411, 416, 419, 421, 431, 432, 434, 439, 461, 491, 498.

[15]             See the USGS website, at www.usgs.gov.