NOAA Seeks Comments on Draft Plans for Monitor National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA is soliciting public comment on the draft management plan and draft environmental assessment for Monitor National Marine Sanctuary.

DATES: Comments: Comments on the draft management plan and draft environmental assessment will be considered if received on or before June 22, 2012.

Public meetings: See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION under read more for the dates and locations for the public meetings.

ADDRESSES: To obtain a copy: For a copy of the draft management plan
and draft environmental assessment, contact the Management Plan Review
Coordinator, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, 100 Museum Drive,
Newport News, VA 23606. Copies can also be downloaded from the Monitor
National Marine Sanctuary Web site at http://monitor.noaa.gov.

To submit comments: Comments on the draft management plan and draft
environmental assessment may be submitted by one of the following
methods:

    1. Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Submit
electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal with Docket
Number NOAA-NOS-2012-0076.
    2. By email to monitor@noaa.gov;
    3. By providing comments (oral or written) at one of the public
meetings (see public meetings section below); or
    4. In writing to the Monitor NMS Management Plan Review Coordinator
at 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.

Instructions: All comments received are a part of the public record
and will be generally posted to http://www.regulations.gov without
change. All Personal Identifying Information (for example, name,
address, etc.) voluntarily submitted by the commenter may be publicly
accessible. Do not submit confidential business information or
otherwise sensitive or protected information. NOAA will accept
anonymous comments (enter N/A in the required fields if you wish to
remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will be accepted
in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or Adobe PDF file formats only.

Public meetings: See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for the
dates and locations for the public meetings.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Rides, Management Plan Review
Coordinator, at (757) 591-7328.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background information

    On January 30, 1975, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) designated Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
(MNMS) as the nation's first national marine sanctuary (NMS). Managed
by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), it protects the
wreck of the famed Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor, best known for its
battle with the Confederate ironclad, CSS Virginia in Hampton Roads,
VA., on March 9, 1862. The sanctuary also promotes appreciation and
responsible use of the ocean.

NOAA is undergoing a review of the Monitor NMS draft management
plan pursuant to section 304(e) of the NMSA, and is now releasing the
plan for public review and comment. The draft management plan (2012)
was prepared by NOAA in cooperation with the Monitor NMS Sanctuary
Advisory Council and with input from the public, local governments,
state and federal agencies, and other stakeholders. The draft plan is
comprised of eight action plans (education and outreach; research and
monitoring; resource protection; visitor use; USS Monitor sailors;
possible future sanctuary expansion; conservation; and operations and
administration). It sets priorities to guide sanctuary programs and
operations, and provides the public with a better understanding of the
sanctuary's strategies to protect the USS Monitor.

The accompanying draft environmental assessment analyzes the
environmental impacts of the draft management plan pursuant to the
National Environmental Policy Act. In doing so, it analyzes two
alternatives: the status quo (no change) and the preferred alternative
(2012 management plan).

Public meetings

    Public meetings will be held at the following locations and dates:

    1. April 30, 6:30 p.m., Raleigh, NC, NC Museum of History, 5 East
Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601.

    2. May 1, 6:30 p.m., Wilmington, NC, NC Maritime Museum, 204 E
Moore Street, Southport, NC 28461.

    3. May 2, 6:30 p.m., Beaufort, NC, NC Maritime Museum, 315 Front
Street, Beaufort, NC 28516.

    4. May 3, 6:30 p.m., Nags Head, NC, Jennette's Pier at Nags Head,
7223 South Virginia Dare Trail, Milepost 16.5, Nags Head, NC 27959.

    5. May 4, 2 p.m., Newport News, VA, The Mariners' Museum, 100
Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.