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October 31, 2023

USGS is working with federal land management agencies to develop a series of science syntheses to support environmental effects analyses that agencies conduct to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The first synthesis in this series provides a foundation for facilitating use of the best available science in agency decisions for oil and gas development on public lands.

photo of pronghorn antelope in with snowy landscape and gas well pad in the background
Group of pronghorn near oil and gas drilling facilities in the Pinedale Field Office area in Wyoming. A new science synthesis addresses data, science, methods, and mitigation measures relevant to analyses of the effects of noise from oil and gas development on public lands on ungulates and small mammals. Photo by Bryan Nealy.

Federal land management agencies complete thousands of environmental effects analyses every year to support decisions on diverse ecosystems across the United States. These NEPA analyses can involve complex issues that require consideration of wide-ranging bodies of scientific information. Staff from the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Survey, and U.S. Geological Survey are working together to develop NEPA-focused science syntheses that provide agency staff with content that directly and efficiently provides science information to inform NEPA analyses. 

The first report in this new series of science syntheses, “Effects of noise from oil and gas development on ungulates and small mammals—A science synthesis to inform National Environmental Policy Act analyses,” synthesizes information about data, scientific studies, analysis methods, and mitigation measures to inform analyses of the potential effects of noise from proposed oil and gas development actions on ungulates and small mammals. It provides a foundation for understanding whether there is potential for noise effects from proposed oil and gas development on ungulate and small mammal species, why and how those potential effects might occur, and how to model noise propagation from a proposed action. The synthesis is organized according to the major sections of a NEPA analysis to facilitate incorporation of the best available science into agency decisions regarding oil and gas development on public lands. Future syntheses in this series will build on the structure and organizational concepts laid out in this first publication.

The publication is authored by Tait Rutherford, Logan Maxwell, Nathan Kleist, Elisabeth Teige, and Sarah Carter with the Fort Collins Science Center; Aaron Johnston with the Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center; Claudia Mengelt with the Land Management Research Program; Megan Gilbert, David Wood, and Travis Haby with the Bureau of Land Management; Richard Lehrter, a contractor with the Bureau of Land Management National Operations Center; and John Tull with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The synthesis was published as a U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report and is available online at

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