Adapting for Meaningful Public Involvement While Social Distancing

April 24 2020

What happens to traditional public outreach measures when under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus? You leverage digital tools of course! 3e and teaming partner AECOM recently helped NASA adapt their public involvement plans for the Marsh Fiber Project (marine fiber optic cable) to provide multimedia options to learn about the project and the Environmental Assessment (EA) during the public comment period. The traditional in-person meeting media, which would have included informative posters, fact sheet handouts, and comment cards, were swapped for a recorded presentation viewable on-demand, a fact sheet to download, and an online comment form for public use in addition to traditional methods using postal mail. Hard copies of the EA are available upon request by phone.

Adapting the public involvement portion of this project to occur online due to the inability to safely hold a public meeting, and due to closure of public libraries where a hard copy of the EA would have been placed, allowed the project to stay on schedule and prevent costly construction delays.

As we continue to move projects forward while keeping our communities safe through social distancing, our methods of communication must continue to adapt. Leveraging digital tools like recorded presentations, downloadable fact sheets, and online forms can help us meet our requirements for public notification and involvement. If your project is heading into the public involvement phase and you need assistance preparing, please contact us!

Link to NASA’s project website:


Description of 3e's services for the project:

Environmental scientist holding a terrapin in Walker Marsh3e and its team member AECOM are assisting NASA with the NEPA process and Clean Water Act permitting for a project to install a new fiber optic cable via a marine route at NASA Wallops Flight Facility. The 3e team worked closely with NASA to develop and document the screening criteria that were used to evaluate and dismiss or carry forward the potential alternatives in the EA, and to draft a detailed and focused description of the proposed action. 3e conducted a wetland delineation of the saltmarsh and prepared a Joint Permit Application for impacts to tidal wetlands. Due to COVID-19, we worked with NASA to prepare online meeting presentation and files for the website in lieu of a public meeting. The project is being completed under contract to LJT & Associates, Inc.