| Draft environmental impact statement : sanctuary expansion - :12052 | Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) | National Ocean Service (NOS)
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Draft environmental impact statement : sanctuary expansion
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Draft environmental impact statement : sanctuary expansion
  • Description:
    Vol. 1. Chapters 1-6 -- Vol. 2. Appendices.

    In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA, 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA, 16 U.S.C. 1434), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has prepared a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that considers alternatives for the proposed expansion of boundaries at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS). The proposed action serves NOAA's mission to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources, and furthers the FGBNMS mission to "identify, protect, conserve, and enhance the natural and cultural resources, values, and qualities of FGBNMS and its regional environment for this and future generations." ONMS has developed various boundary expansion alternatives, and the DEIS evaluates the environmental consequences of the alternatives under NEPA, applying criteria and evaluation standards under the regulations implementing NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Parts 1500-1508) and the NOAA implementing procedures for NEPA (NOAA's Administrative Order 216-6). The DEIS also serves as a resource assessment under the NMSA, documenting (i) present and potential uses of the areas considered in the alternatives; (ii) commercial, governmental, or recreational resource uses in the areas that are subject to the primary jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior; and (iii) any past, present, or proposed future disposal or discharge of materials in the vicinity of the proposed sanctuary. NOAA's preferred alternative (Alternative 3) is the expansion of the existing boundaries from ~56 square miles to an area that encompasses ~383 square miles of waters in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, including additional important and sensitive marine habitat areas outside the current sanctuary boundary. No significant adverse impacts to resources and the human environment are expected under any alternative. Long-term beneficial impacts are anticipated if the proposed action is implemented. Although an environmental assessment would have sufficed to analyze the impacts of the proposed action under NEPA, a DEIS has been prepared to satisfy the procedural requirements of the NMSA.

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