[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 5 (Friday, January 8, 2016)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 879-881]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-33169]

Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


Federal Register / Vol. 81, No. 5 / Friday, January 8, 2016 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 879]]


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

15 CFR Part 922

Notice of Intent To Review Monitor National Marine Sanctuary 

AGENCY: Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean 
Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 
Department of Commerce (DOC).

ACTION: Notice of intent to review boundaries; intent to prepare 
environmental impact statement; hold scoping meetings.


SUMMARY: In accordance with section 304(e) of the National Marine 
Sanctuaries Act, as amended, (NMSA), the Office of National Marine 
Sanctuaries (ONMS) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) is reviewing the Monitor National Marine 
Sanctuary (MNMS or sanctuary) boundaries in order to evaluate and 
consider the benefits, need and impact of expanding the sanctuary's 
boundaries to include additional submerged maritime cultural and 
archaeologic resources as described in the February 2013 Monitor 
National Marine Sanctuary Final Management Plan and Environmental 
Assessment. This review process will be conducted per the National 
Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and section 106 of the National 
Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

DATES: Comments must be received by March 18, 2016. Public scoping 
meetings will be held on the following dates:

1. February 9, 2016
2. February 10, 2016
3. February 11, 2016
4. February 16, 2016
5. February 17, 2016

ADDRESS: Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NOS-2015-0165, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: David Alberg, Superintendent, Monitor National 
Marine Sanctuary, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606-3759.
    Instructions: Comments sent by any other method, to any other 
address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, 
may not be considered by NOAA. All comments received are a part of the 
public record and will generally be posted for public viewing on 
www.regulations.gov without change. All personal identifying 
information (for example, name, address, etc.), confidential business 
information, or otherwise sensitive information submitted voluntarily 
submitted by the commenter will be publicly accessible. NOAA will 
accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if you 
wish to remain anonymous).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: David Alberg, Superintendent, Monitor 
National Marine Sanctuary, (757) 591-7326.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Public scoping meetings will be held as 
detailed below:

(1) Raleigh, NC

Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Location: North Carolina Museum of History
Address: 5 East Edenton St., Raleigh, NC 27601

(2) Beaufort, NC

Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016, 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Location: North Carolina Maritime Museum
Address: 315 Front St., Beaufort, NC 28516

(3) Hatteras, NC

Date: Thursday, February 11, 2016, 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Location: Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Address: 59200 Museum Dr., Hatteras, NC 27943

(4) Washington, DC

Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2016, 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Location: United States Navy Memorial, Main Auditorium
Address: 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20004

(5) Nags Head, NC

Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2016, 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.
Location: Jennette's Pier, Oceanview Hall
Address: 7223 S. Virginia Dare Trail, Nags Head, NC 27959

I. Background

    MNMS was designated the nation's first national marine sanctuary in 
1975. The site protects the wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad USS 
MONITOR, best known for its 1862 battle with the Confederate ironclad 
CSS VIRGINIA at Hampton Roads, VA. It is located approximately 16 miles 
southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, where it sank in a storm 
while under tow on December 31, 1862 with the loss of sixteen sailors. 
The vessel was the prototype for a class of U.S. Civil War ironclad, 
turreted warships that significantly altered both naval technology and 
marine architecture in the nineteenth century. The shipwreck and its 
contents comprise an irreplaceable historical record and represent a 
monument to the American naval tradition that the vessel itself helped 
to create.
    The sanctuary consists of a column of water one mile in diameter 
extending from the seabed to the surface, surrounding the shipwreck. 
The highest priority management goal for the sanctuary is resource 
protection through comprehensive and coordinated conservation of the 
wreck and its surroundings. An important part of our nation's history, 
the USS MONITOR, the archaeological information at the site, the 
artifact collection, and the USS MONITOR's records are all part of the 
sanctuary's resources.
    The waters of coastal North Carolina contain some of the most 
significant shipwrecks in the United States and represent an ideal 
location to study and preserve nationally significant historic wreck 
sites that include vessels and other artifacts dating back to the Age 
of North American Exploration, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and 
World War II among others. The Expansion Working Group, as the basis 
for their recommended expansion models, has considered four broad

[[Page 880]]

thematic categories, which include: (1) The Colonial and Pre-Contact 
Period, (2) Commerce, (3) Conflict, and (4) Coastal Heritage. Veterans 
groups, historians, archaeologists, divers, the preservation community, 
the general public and the MNMS Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) have 
asked NOAA to consider expansion of the sanctuary as a means to protect 
and conserve these wrecks for current and future generations.
    The topic of possible boundary expansion was a primary point of 
discussion during a series of scoping and public hearings held in 2008 
as part of the sanctuary's management plan review process. In 2009, the 
MNMS SAC voted unanimously to recommend that sanctuary management 
establish an expansion working group to examine the implications of 
possible future expansion of the sanctuary's boundaries. The working 
group recommended NOAA formally evaluate and assess an expansion of 
existing boundaries to protect, manage, and interpret additional 
historic shipwrecks and other potential maritime heritage resources 
that are located or believed to be located in the adjacent waters of 
North Carolina in an area known as the ``Graveyard of the Atlantic''. 
The sanctuary's final management plan (completed in 2013 and available 
at http://monitor.noaa.gov/management/2013-plan.html) included the 
following strategy: ``Evaluate and consider the benefits, need, and 
impact of a future boundary expansion of MNMS to include additional 
submerged cultural resources.''
    The expansion working group presented possible expansion models to 
the MNMS SAC and the public at the June 5, 2014 SAC meeting. 
Subsequently, a motion that the SAC consider the working group models 
passed on October 1, 2015 to submit them to NOAA for consideration as 
possible templates for expansion. A detailed narrative of each of the 
models as well as further information regarding the MNMS in general can 
be found at http://monitor.noaa.gov/management/expansion.html. Each 
model is briefly described below.
    Model A: Includes isolated shipwreck sites. Boundaries would be 
restricted to select wreck sites and separate from each other. Under 
this model, some examples of sites which might be included are: USS YP-
389, U-85, U-352, U-701, HMT Bedfordshire, Diamond Shoals Lightship, 
and E.M. Clark (this is a sample list only and may include additional 
wrecks). This model would include wrecks listed on the National 
Register of Historic Places, state craft, military gravesites and other 
individual wrecks of historic significance. Under the SAC's 
recommendation, State waters would not be included.
    Model B: Includes a small area centered around the waters off Cape 
Hatteras. Boundaries could be established to include several wrecks and 
adjacent waters and culturally significant features in the landscape, 
such as Diamond Shoals (Cultural Landscapes are further defined here 
http://monitor.noaa.gov/pdfs/gota-final.pdf). Selected wrecks represent 
many historic themes, including the period of North American 
exploration, several conflicts and commerce. This model includes at 
least 65 known shipwrecks within Federal waters. The recommendations 
from the Working Group recommended that the inclusion of state waters 
be considered based on public input and further discussions with the 
State. If during the public scoping process it is determined to include 
state waters in the expanded area (denoted by the blue strip 
designating state waters in each model) many more shipwrecks would be 
located within the boundaries. The combined collection of resources in 
federal and state waters in this model are representative of a wide 
range of previously identified historical themes: Colonial and Pre-
Contact, the History of Maritime Commerce, Conflict and War Along the 
Coast, and Coastal Heritage (fishing, lifesaving service, local 
    Model C: Includes a larger area also centered off Cape Hatteras 
that incorporates many historically significant wrecks in federal 
waters with the potential for include of state waters based upon future 
public input and discussions with the State as described in Model B 
above. This model includes sanctuary boundaries surrounding individual 
wreck sites, and further surrounded by a larger study area. If other 
historically significant wrecks are discovered within this study area 
in the future NOAA could consider adding these wrecks to the MNMS 
through a future public process. This area encompasses the majority of 
the most historically significant wrecks (as determined by the criteria 
of the National Historic Preservation Act) in the waters off Cape 
Hatteras (at least 75 known wrecks in Federal waters with at least 175 
additional sites in adjacent state waters), several representative 
wrecks from multiple periods of history and cultural significance. The 
area in between known sites would be designed as a `study area' 
allowing for inclusion of sites as they are identified.
    Model D: Model includes three specific areas, each exhibiting both 
a representative collection of wrecks in Federal and potentially State 
waters from many eras and vessel types, and the primary historically 
significant wrecks off of the Outer Banks. This model includes a 
collection of at least 100 known wrecks representing all identified 
thematic areas of cultural significance in the region. The 
recommendations from the Working Group recommended that the inclusion 
of state waters be considered based on public input and further 
discussions with the State as described in Models B and C above.

II. Need for Action

    NOAA is initiating a review of MNMS boundaries to evaluate the 
benefits and effects of potential sanctuary expansion. This action is 
being taken to elevate and promote these resources and their history; 
to facilitate better protection and management of these nationally 
important resources under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA); 
to better coordinate maritime heritage resource management with other 
current and potential users of these waters; to increase the scope of 
submerged archaeological research; to create educational opportunities 
for the public; and to potentially benefit local coastal communities 
through increased tourism and economic growth.

III. Process

    The process for considering changes to MNMS is composed of four 
primary stages:
    1. Scoping, including information collection and characterization, 
and the consideration of public comments;
    2. Preparation and release of a draft environmental impact 
statement (DEIS) and Draft Management Plan (DMP) as required by Section 
304(a) of the NMSA that identifies boundary expansion alternatives 
(including a no-action alternative under the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA)), as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) 
to amend the sanctuary regulations to reflect any new boundary if 
    3. Public review and comment on the DEIS, DMP and NPRM; and
    4. Preparation and release of a final environmental impact 
statement and final management plan, including a response to public 
comments, with a final rule if appropriate.
    With this document, NOAA is opening a public comment period to:
    1. Gather information and public comments from individuals, 
organizations, and government agencies

[[Page 881]]

on whether to expand sanctuary boundaries, suggestions for the extent 
and configuration of an expanded boundary, and the potential effects of 
a boundary expansion; and
    2. Help determine the scope of issues to be addressed in the 
preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to 

IV. Consultation Under the National Historic Preservation Act

    This document confirms that NOAA will fulfill its responsibility 
under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA, 16 
U.S.C. 470) through the ongoing NEPA process, pursuant to 36 CFR 
800.8(a), including the use of NEPA documents and public and 
stakeholder meetings to meet the section 106 requirements. The NHPA 
specifically applies to any agency undertaking that may affect historic 
properties. Pursuant to 36 CFR 800.16(l)(1), a ``historic property 
means any prehistoric or historic district, site, building, structure, 
or object included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National 
Register of Historic Places maintained by the Secretary of the 
Interior. The term includes artifacts, records, and remains that are 
related to and located within such properties. The term includes 
properties of traditional religious and cultural importance to an 
Indian tribe or Native Hawaiian organization and that meet the National 
Register criteria.''
    In fulfilling its responsibility under the NHPA and NEPA, NOAA 
intends to identify consulting parties; identify historic properties 
and assess the effects of the undertaking on such properties; initiate 
formal consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer, the 
Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, and other consulting 
parties; involve the public in accordance with NOAA's NEPA procedures; 
and in consultation with the identified consulting parties, develop 
alternatives and proposed measures that might avoid, minimize or 
mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties and describe them 
in any environmental assessment or draft environmental impact 

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 470.

    Dated: December 22, 2015.
John Armor,
Acting Director, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
[FR Doc. 2015-33169 Filed 1-7-16; 8:45 am]