Final Environmental Assessment Narragansett National Estuarine Research Reserve Boundary Change
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Final Environmental Assessment Narragansett National Estuarine Research Reserve Boundary Change

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    The Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (Reserve or NBNERR) is a component of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (System or NERRS), a federal-state partnership of protected research and education sites administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as authorized under Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) (16 U.S.C. § 1461). Pursuant to 15 C.F.R. §§ 921.13, 921.33, the Narragansett Bay NERR has a NOAA-approved management plan that is to be updated every five years. The NOAA designated the NBNERR in 1980 in the City of Portsmouth, in Newport County, Rhode Island, to serve as a stable platform for long-term research and education of the nation’s estuaries. Additional assistance is provided by local partners, including the Town of Portsmouth, RI (as the local jurisdiction), the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the Prudence Conservancy. The Narragansett Bay Reserve is currently located on several islands situated within the geographic center of Narragansett Bay. The Reserve consists of nine separate property units located on Prudence, Patience and Hope islands. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), which serves as the state’s lead agency for the reserve, has requested to add lands to the Reserve boundary, which currently covers 4,229 acres. NOAA has reviewed the environmental and other consequences of the boundary change, as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations1 (40 C.F.R. Parts 1500-1508) and the NERRS regulations (15 C.F.R. Part 921). This assessment summarizes the consequences of the Federal action, which is to approve the addition of 103 acres – the preferred alternative, as well as the alternative to take no action (leaving the boundary unchanged). The analysis evaluates the current and proposed future uses of the areas to be added, as well as the cumulative impact of these changes in combination with the existing boundary. The reserve is currently implementing the management plan approved by NOAA in 2015.
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