Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary, 60634-60636 [2015-25510]

Download as PDF 60634 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 194 / Wednesday, October 7, 2015 / Notices Result of 2013 EFP During the 2013 season, a total of 3,500 horseshoe crabs were gathered over a period of ten days, from the Reserve for the manufacture of LAL. After transportation to the laboratory, the horseshoe crabs were inspected for size, injuries, and responsiveness. The injured horseshoe crabs numbered 272, or 7.8% of the total, while 36, or 1.0%, were noted as slow moving. In addition, three horseshoe crabs were rejected due to small size. Overall, 3,189 horseshoe crabs were used (bled) in the manufacture of LAL. Two hundred of the bled horseshoe crabs were randomly selected for activity, morphometric and aging studies. The activity level was categorized as ‘‘active’’ for 192 studied animals and ‘‘extremely active’’ for eight. Morphometric studies noted that average inter-ocular distances, the prosoma widths and the weights of these 200 horseshoe crabs trended toward the higher end of the range established over the study period (2001– 2011). Of the 200 horseshoe crabs examined in 2013, more than half (57%) were categorized as medium aged followed by young (37%). Older animals numbered 10 or 5% which is much less than the percentages reported in 2010 and 2011 and similar to the 2007 year. The 200 studied horseshoe crabs and 325 additional bled horseshoe crabs were tagged and released into the Delaware Bay. To date, 116 live resightings have occurred from the release of 5,463 horseshoe crabs collected from the Reserve. The observed horseshoe crabs were found 1 to 8 years after release, primarily along the Delaware Bay shores during their spawning season. Data collected under previous EFPs were supplied to NMFS, the Commission and the State of New Jersey. There was no EFP issued for 2014. asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES Proposed 2015 EFP Limuli Laboratories proposes to conduct an exempted fishery operation in 2015 using the same means, methods, and seasons proposed/utilized during the EFPs in 2001–2013. Limuli proposes to annually continue to tag at least 15 percent of the bled horseshoe crabs as they did in 2013. NMFS would require that the following terms and conditions be met for issuance of the EFP for 2015: 1. Limiting the number of horseshoe crabs collected in the Reserve to no more than 500 crabs per day and to a total of no more than 10,000 crabs per year; 2. Requiring collections to take place over a total of approximately 20 days VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:12 Oct 06, 2015 Jkt 238001 during the months of July, August, September, October, and November. (Horseshoe crabs are readily available in harvestable concentrations nearshore earlier in the year, and offshore in the Reserve from July through November.); 3. Requiring that a 51⁄2 inch (14.0 cm) flounder net be used by the vessel to collect the horseshoe crabs. This condition would allow for continuation of traditional harvest gear and adds to the consistency in the way horseshoe crabs are harvested for data collection; 4. Limiting trawl tow times to 30 minutes as a conservation measure to protect sea turtles, which are expected to be migrating through the area during the collection period, and are vulnerable to bottom trawling; 5. Requiring that the collected horseshoe crabs be picked up from the fishing vessels at docks in the Cape May Area and transported to local laboratories, bled for LAL, and released alive the following morning into the Lower Delaware Bay; and 6. Requiring that any turtle take be reported to NMFS, Northeast Region, Assistant Regional Administrator of Protected Resources Division, within 24 hours of returning from the trip in which the incidental take occurred. As part of the terms and conditions of the EFP, for all horseshoe crabs bled for LAL, NMFS would require that the EFP holder provide data annually on sex ratio and daily harvest. Also, the EFP holder would be required to examine at least 200 horseshoe crabs annually for morphometric data. Terms and conditions may be added or amended prior to the issuance of the EFP or on an annual basis. The proposed EFP would exempt two commercial vessels from regulations at 50 CFR 697.7(e) and 697.23(f), which prohibit the harvest and possession of horseshoe crabs from the Reserve on a vessel with a trawl or dredge gear aboard. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1801 et seq. Dated: October 2, 2015. Emily H. Menashes, Acting Director, Office of Sustainable Fisheries, National Marine Fisheries Service. [FR Doc. 2015–25540 Filed 10–6–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–22–P PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Mallows Bay—Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary 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 conduct scoping, hold public scoping meetings and to prepare a draft environmental impact statement and management plan. AGENCY: In accordance with section 304(a) of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, as amended, (NMSA) (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.) and based on the resources and boundaries described in the community-based nomination submitted to NOAA on September 16, 2014 (nominate.noaa.gov/nominations) NOAA is initiating a process to consider designating Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary. The designation process, as required by the NMSA, will be conducted concurrently with a public process under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). This notice also informs the public that NOAA will coordinate its responsibilities under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470) with its ongoing NEPA process, pursuant to 36 CFR 800.8(a), including the use of NEPA documents and public and stakeholder meetings to also meet the requirements of section 106. The public scoping process is intended to solicit information and comments on the range of issues and the significant issues to be analyzed in depth in an environmental impact statement related to designating this area as a national marine sanctuary. The results of this scoping process will assist NOAA in moving forward with the designation process and in formulating alternatives for the draft environmental impact statement and proposed regulations, including developing sanctuary boundaries. It will also inform the initiation of any consultations with federal, state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate. DATES: Comments must be received by January 15, 2016. Public scoping meetings will be held as detailed below: (1) La Plata, MD Date: November 4, 2015 SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 194 / Wednesday, October 7, 2015 / Notices Location: Charles County Government Building Auditorium Address: 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, MD Time: 6:30–9:00 p.m. (2) Annapolis, MD Date: November 10, 2015 Location: Annapolis Maritime Museum Address: 723 Second Street, Annapolis, MD Time: 6:30–9:00 p.m. ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by any one 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-20150111, click the ‘‘Comment Now!’’ icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. • Mail: Paul Orlando, Regional Coordinator, Northeast and Great Lakes Region, 410 Severn Ave, Suite 207–A, Annapolis MD 21403. 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: Paul Orlando, Regional Coordinator, Northeast and Great Lakes Region, (240) 460–1978, paul.orlando@noaa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES I. Background The NMSA authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to designate and protect as national marine sanctuaries areas of the marine environment that are of special national significance due to their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, scientific, cultural, archeological, educational, or esthetic qualities. Day-to-day management of national marine sanctuaries has been delegated by the Secretary to ONMS. The primary objective of the NMSA is to protect the biological and cultural resources of the sanctuary system, such as coral reefs, marine animals, historical shipwrecks, VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:12 Oct 06, 2015 Jkt 238001 historic structures, and archaeological sites. The Mallows Bay area of the tidal Potomac River being considered for designation as a national marine sanctuary is an area 40 miles south of Washington, DC off the Nanjemoy Peninsula of Charles County, MD. The area includes submerged lands along the Potomac River that begin at the mean high tide water mark off Sandy Point and extend westward to the low water line just east of the Maryland-Virginia border near Clifton Point, VA. From there, the area extends southward following the Maryland-Virginia border to Brent’s Point, VA. It then extends northeast to Smith Point, MD and follows the low water mark north along the Maryland shoreline back to Sandy Point. This area includes the waters of Wades Bay, Blue Banks, Mallows Bay, Liverpool Cove and the Mallows Bay ‘‘Burning Basin’’ as far east as the egress for Marlow Creek into the basin itself. This is an area of national significance featuring unique historical, archaeological, cultural, ecological, and esthetic resources and qualities, which offer opportunities for conservation, education, recreation, and research. Its maritime landscape is home to a diverse collection of historic shipwrecks from the Revolutionary War through the present, totaling nearly 200 known vessels including the remains of the largest ‘‘Ghost Fleet’’ of World War I, wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet. The area’s archaeological and cultural resources cover centuries of history from the earliest American Indian presence in the region circa 12,000 years ago to the roles that this area played in the Revolutionary, Civil and two World Wars, as well as in successive regimes of Potomac fishing industries. Its largely undeveloped landscape and waterscape have been identified as one of the most ecologically valuable areas in Maryland, providing important habitat for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened and endangered species. NOAA encourages the public to review the full nomination at www.nominate.noaa.gov/ nominations. II. Need for action On September 16, 2014, pursuant to Section 304 of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act and the Sanctuary Nomination Process (79 FR 33851), a coalition of community groups submitted a nomination asking NOAA to designate Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary. The nomination cited conservation goals to protect and conserve the fragile remains of the Nation’s cultural heritage PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 60635 as well as the opportunities to expand public access, recreation, tourism, research, and education to the area. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Maryland Historical Trust, Maryland Department of Tourism, and Charles County, MD, have worked together with community partners to initiate additional conservation and compatible public access strategies in and around Mallows Bay, consistent with numerous planning and implementation documents. In 2010, DNR purchased a portion of land adjacent to Mallows Bay and made it available to Charles County to create and manage Mallows Bay County Park, the main launch point for access to the historic shipwrecks. Pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act, Maryland Historical Trust has stewardship and oversight responsibility for the shipwrecks, along with hundreds of other historic sites around the state. Maryland DNR manages the waterbody and associated ecosystem resources, including land use, resource conservation and extraction activities. The lands on either side of Mallows Bay County Park are held by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management and a private citizen. DNR and the Mallows Bay Steering Committee convened a committee to discuss the concept of a national marine sanctuary and ultimately to develop the nomination that was submitted to NOAA. The committee, which represented a broad base of constituency groups, employed a consensus-based process to discuss a variety of issues, considerations, and priorities leading up to the nomination. The nomination was endorsed by a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals at local, state, regional and national levels including elected officials, businesses, Native Americans, environmental, recreation, conservation, fishing, tourism, museums, historical societies, and education groups. The nomination identified opportunities for NOAA to protect, study, interpret, and manage the area’s unique resources, including by building on existing local, county, and State of Maryland efforts to manage the area for the protection of shipwrecks. NOAA is initiating the process to designate this area as a national marine sanctuary based on the nomination submitted to the agency as part of the Sanctuary Nomination Process (SNP). NOAA’s review of the nomination against the criteria and considerations of the SNP, including the requirement for broad-based community support indicated strong merit in proposing this area as a national marine sanctuary. E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1 60636 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 194 / Wednesday, October 7, 2015 / Notices asabaliauskas on DSK5VPTVN1PROD with NOTICES NOAA completed its review of the nomination in accordance with the Sanctuary Nomination Process and on January 12, 2015 added the area to the inventory of nominations that are eligible for designation. Designation under the NMSA would allow NOAA to supplement and complement work by the State of Maryland and other federal agencies to protect this collection of nationally significant shipwrecks. III. Process The process for designating Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary includes the following stages: 1. Public Scoping Process— Information collection and characterization, including the consideration of public comments received during scoping; 2. Preparation and release of draft designation documents including a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that identifies boundary alternatives, a draft management plan (DMP), as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to define proposed sanctuary regulations. Draft documents would be used to initiate consultations with federal, state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate; 3. Public review and comment on the DEIS, DMP, and NPRM; 4. Preparation and release of a final environmental impact statement, final management plan, including a response to public comments, with a final rule and regulations, if appropriate. With this notice, NOAA is initiating a public scoping process to: 1. Gather information and public comments from individuals, organizations, and government agencies on the designation of Mallows Bay— Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary based on the communitybased nomination of September 2014, especially: a) the spatial extent of the proposed boundary; and b) the resources that would be protected; 2. Help determine the scope and significance of issues to be addressed in the preparation of an environmental analysis under NEPA including socioeconomic impacts of designation, effects of designation on cultural and biological resources, and threats to resources within the proposed area; 3. Help determine the proposed action and possible alternatives pursuant to NEPA and to conduct any appropriate consultations. IV. Consultation Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act This notice confirms that NOAA will fulfill its responsibility under section 106 of the National Historic VerDate Sep<11>2014 18:12 Oct 06, 2015 Jkt 238001 Preservation Act (NHPA) 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(1)(1), historic properties includes: ‘‘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 develop in consultation with identified consulting parties 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 statement. Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq. Dated: September 30, 2015. John Armor, Acting Director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. [FR Doc. 2015–25510 Filed 10–5–15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 3510–NK–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration RIN 0648–XE069 Takes of Marine Mammals Incidental to Specified Activities; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to the Kodiak Ferry Terminal and Dock Improvements Project National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. AGENCY: PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 Notice; issuance of an incidental harassment authorization. ACTION: In accordance with the regulations implementing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) as amended, notification is hereby given that we have issued an incidental harassment authorization (IHA) to the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) to incidentally harass four species of marine mammals during activities related to the reconstruction of the existing ferry terminal at Pier 1 in Kodiak, AK. DATES: This authorization is effective from September 30, 2015, through September 29, 2016. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Robert Pauline, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, (301) 427–8401. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: SUMMARY: Availability An electronic copy of DOT&PF’s application and supporting documents, as well as a list of the references cited in this document, may be obtained by visiting the Internet at: www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/permits/ incidental/construction.htm. In case of problems accessing these documents, please call the contact listed above (see FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT). Background Sections 101(a)(5)(A) and (D) of the MMPA (16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.) direct the Secretary of Commerce to allow, upon request, the incidental, but not intentional, taking of small numbers of marine mammals by U.S. citizens who engage in a specified activity (other than commercial fishing) within a specified geographical region if certain findings are made and either regulations are issued or, if the taking is limited to harassment, a notice of a proposed authorization is provided to the public for review. Authorization for incidental takings shall be granted if NMFS finds that the taking will have a negligible impact on the species or stock(s), will not have an unmitigable adverse impact on the availability of the species or stock(s) for subsistence uses (where relevant), and if the permissible methods of taking and requirements pertaining to the mitigation, monitoring and reporting of such takings are set forth. NMFS has defined ‘‘negligible impact’’ in 50 CFR 216.103 as ‘‘. . . an impact resulting from the specified activity that cannot be reasonably expected to, and is not reasonably likely to, adversely affect the species or stock through effects on annual rates of recruitment or survival.’’ E:\FR\FM\07OCN1.SGM 07OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 194 (Wednesday, October 7, 2015)]
[Notices]
[Pages 60634-60636]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-25510]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Notice of Intent to Conduct Scoping and to Prepare a Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Mallows Bay--Potomac 
River 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 conduct scoping, hold public scoping 
meetings and to prepare a draft environmental impact statement and 
management plan.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In accordance with section 304(a) of the National Marine 
Sanctuaries Act, as amended, (NMSA) (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.) and based 
on the resources and boundaries described in the community-based 
nomination submitted to NOAA on September 16, 2014 (nominate.noaa.gov/nominations) NOAA is initiating a process to consider designating 
Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary. The 
designation process, as required by the NMSA, will be conducted 
concurrently with a public process under the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.). This notice also informs 
the public that NOAA will coordinate its responsibilities under section 
106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) (16 U.S.C. 470) 
with its ongoing NEPA process, pursuant to 36 CFR 800.8(a), including 
the use of NEPA documents and public and stakeholder meetings to also 
meet the requirements of section 106. The public scoping process is 
intended to solicit information and comments on the range of issues and 
the significant issues to be analyzed in depth in an environmental 
impact statement related to designating this area as a national marine 
sanctuary. The results of this scoping process will assist NOAA in 
moving forward with the designation process and in formulating 
alternatives for the draft environmental impact statement and proposed 
regulations, including developing sanctuary boundaries. It will also 
inform the initiation of any consultations with federal, state, or 
local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 15, 2016. Public scoping 
meetings will be held as detailed below:

(1) La Plata, MD
    Date: November 4, 2015

[[Page 60635]]

    Location: Charles County Government Building Auditorium
    Address: 200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, MD
    Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m.
(2) Annapolis, MD
    Date: November 10, 2015
    Location: Annapolis Maritime Museum
    Address: 723 Second Street, Annapolis, MD
    Time: 6:30-9:00 p.m.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by any one 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-2015-0111, click the 
``Comment Now!'' icon, complete the required fields, and enter or 
attach your comments.
     Mail: Paul Orlando, Regional Coordinator, Northeast and 
Great Lakes Region, 410 Severn Ave, Suite 207-A, Annapolis MD 21403.
    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: Paul Orlando, Regional Coordinator, 
Northeast and Great Lakes Region, (240) 460-1978, 
paul.orlando@noaa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    The NMSA authorizes the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) to 
designate and protect as national marine sanctuaries areas of the 
marine environment that are of special national significance due to 
their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, scientific, 
cultural, archeological, educational, or esthetic qualities. Day-to-day 
management of national marine sanctuaries has been delegated by the 
Secretary to ONMS. The primary objective of the NMSA is to protect the 
biological and cultural resources of the sanctuary system, such as 
coral reefs, marine animals, historical shipwrecks, historic 
structures, and archaeological sites.
    The Mallows Bay area of the tidal Potomac River being considered 
for designation as a national marine sanctuary is an area 40 miles 
south of Washington, DC off the Nanjemoy Peninsula of Charles County, 
MD. The area includes submerged lands along the Potomac River that 
begin at the mean high tide water mark off Sandy Point and extend 
westward to the low water line just east of the Maryland-Virginia 
border near Clifton Point, VA. From there, the area extends southward 
following the Maryland-Virginia border to Brent's Point, VA. It then 
extends northeast to Smith Point, MD and follows the low water mark 
north along the Maryland shoreline back to Sandy Point. This area 
includes the waters of Wades Bay, Blue Banks, Mallows Bay, Liverpool 
Cove and the Mallows Bay ``Burning Basin'' as far east as the egress 
for Marlow Creek into the basin itself.
    This is an area of national significance featuring unique 
historical, archaeological, cultural, ecological, and esthetic 
resources and qualities, which offer opportunities for conservation, 
education, recreation, and research. Its maritime landscape is home to 
a diverse collection of historic shipwrecks from the Revolutionary War 
through the present, totaling nearly 200 known vessels including the 
remains of the largest ``Ghost Fleet'' of World War I, wooden 
steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet.
    The area's archaeological and cultural resources cover centuries of 
history from the earliest American Indian presence in the region circa 
12,000 years ago to the roles that this area played in the 
Revolutionary, Civil and two World Wars, as well as in successive 
regimes of Potomac fishing industries. Its largely undeveloped 
landscape and waterscape have been identified as one of the most 
ecologically valuable areas in Maryland, providing important habitat 
for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened and endangered 
species. NOAA encourages the public to review the full nomination at 
www.nominate.noaa.gov/nominations.

II. Need for action

    On September 16, 2014, pursuant to Section 304 of the National 
Marine Sanctuaries Act and the Sanctuary Nomination Process (79 FR 
33851), a coalition of community groups submitted a nomination asking 
NOAA to designate Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national marine 
sanctuary. The nomination cited conservation goals to protect and 
conserve the fragile remains of the Nation's cultural heritage as well 
as the opportunities to expand public access, recreation, tourism, 
research, and education to the area.
    The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Maryland 
Historical Trust, Maryland Department of Tourism, and Charles County, 
MD, have worked together with community partners to initiate additional 
conservation and compatible public access strategies in and around 
Mallows Bay, consistent with numerous planning and implementation 
documents. In 2010, DNR purchased a portion of land adjacent to Mallows 
Bay and made it available to Charles County to create and manage 
Mallows Bay County Park, the main launch point for access to the 
historic shipwrecks. Pursuant to the National Historic Preservation 
Act, Maryland Historical Trust has stewardship and oversight 
responsibility for the shipwrecks, along with hundreds of other 
historic sites around the state. Maryland DNR manages the waterbody and 
associated ecosystem resources, including land use, resource 
conservation and extraction activities. The lands on either side of 
Mallows Bay County Park are held by the U.S. Department of Interior's 
Bureau of Land Management and a private citizen.
    DNR and the Mallows Bay Steering Committee convened a committee to 
discuss the concept of a national marine sanctuary and ultimately to 
develop the nomination that was submitted to NOAA. The committee, which 
represented a broad base of constituency groups, employed a consensus-
based process to discuss a variety of issues, considerations, and 
priorities leading up to the nomination. The nomination was endorsed by 
a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals at local, state, 
regional and national levels including elected officials, businesses, 
Native Americans, environmental, recreation, conservation, fishing, 
tourism, museums, historical societies, and education groups. The 
nomination identified opportunities for NOAA to protect, study, 
interpret, and manage the area's unique resources, including by 
building on existing local, county, and State of Maryland efforts to 
manage the area for the protection of shipwrecks.
    NOAA is initiating the process to designate this area as a national 
marine sanctuary based on the nomination submitted to the agency as 
part of the Sanctuary Nomination Process (SNP). NOAA's review of the 
nomination against the criteria and considerations of the SNP, 
including the requirement for broad-based community support indicated 
strong merit in proposing this area as a national marine sanctuary.

[[Page 60636]]

NOAA completed its review of the nomination in accordance with the 
Sanctuary Nomination Process and on January 12, 2015 added the area to 
the inventory of nominations that are eligible for designation. 
Designation under the NMSA would allow NOAA to supplement and 
complement work by the State of Maryland and other federal agencies to 
protect this collection of nationally significant shipwrecks.

III. Process

    The process for designating Mallows Bay-Potomac River as a national 
marine sanctuary includes the following stages:
    1. Public Scoping Process--Information collection and 
characterization, including the consideration of public comments 
received during scoping;
    2. Preparation and release of draft designation documents including 
a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that identifies boundary 
alternatives, a draft management plan (DMP), as well as a notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to define proposed sanctuary regulations. 
Draft documents would be used to initiate consultations with federal, 
state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate;
    3. Public review and comment on the DEIS, DMP, and NPRM;
    4. Preparation and release of a final environmental impact 
statement, final management plan, including a response to public 
comments, with a final rule and regulations, if appropriate.
    With this notice, NOAA is initiating a public scoping process to:
    1. Gather information and public comments from individuals, 
organizations, and government agencies on the designation of Mallows 
Bay--Potomac River as a national marine sanctuary based on the 
community-based nomination of September 2014, especially: a) the 
spatial extent of the proposed boundary; and b) the resources that 
would be protected;
    2. Help determine the scope and significance of issues to be 
addressed in the preparation of an environmental analysis under NEPA 
including socioeconomic impacts of designation, effects of designation 
on cultural and biological resources, and threats to resources within 
the proposed area;
    3. Help determine the proposed action and possible alternatives 
pursuant to NEPA and to conduct any appropriate consultations.

IV. Consultation Under Section 106 of the National Historic 
Preservation Act

    This notice confirms that NOAA will fulfill its responsibility 
under section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) 
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(1)(1), historic properties includes: ``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 develop in 
consultation with identified consulting parties 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 statement.

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

    Dated: September 30, 2015.
John Armor,
Acting Director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
[FR Doc. 2015-25510 Filed 10-5-15; 11:15 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-NK-P