[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 71 (Thursday, April 12, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 21878-21880]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-8831]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

15 CFR Part 922


Revisions of Boundaries for the Thunder Bay National Marine 
Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve; Intent To Prepare Draft 
Environmental Impact Statement; Scoping Meetings

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 revise boundaries; intent to prepare 
environmental impact statement; scoping meetings.

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SUMMARY: In accordance with section 304(e) of the National Marine 
Sanctuaries Act, as amended, (NMSA) (16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq.), the 
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) of the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric

[[Page 21879]]

Administration (NOAA) has initiated a review of the Thunder Bay 
National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve (TBNMS or sanctuary) 
boundaries, to evaluate the opportunity and effects of expanding the 
sanctuary's boundary. The process required by 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. NOAA anticipates completion of the final 
environmental impact statement and concomitant documents will require 
approximately twelve months from the date of publication of this notice 
of intent.

DATES: Comments must be received by May 25, 2012. Dates for scoping 
meetings are:
    1. April 17, 2012.
    2. April 18, 2012.
    3. April 19, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by any one of the following 
methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Submit electronic comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal with 
Docket Number NOAA-NOS-2012-0077.
     Mail: Jeff Gray, Sanctuary Superintendent, Thunder Bay 
National Marine Sanctuary, 500 West Fletcher Street, Alpena, MI 49707.

Instructions

    All comments received are a part of the public record. 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 to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic 
comments will be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, WordPerfect, or 
Adobe PDF file formats only.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Brody, Great Lakes Regional 
Coordinator, Telephone: (734) 741-2270.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background Information

    In 2000, NOAA designated the 448-square-mile Thunder Bay National 
Marine Sanctuary (TBNMS or sanctuary), which is jointly managed by NOAA 
and the State of Michigan (65 FR 39041). The sanctuary's mission is to 
preserve nationally significant shipwrecks and other maritime heritage 
resources through resource protection, education, and research. Well-
preserved by Lake Huron's cold, fresh water, these shipwrecks span a 
century and a half of Great Lakes maritime history and include 
virtually all types of vessels used on the Great Lakes. Within the 
existing sanctuary boundary are approximately one hundred shipwrecks.
    NOAA has received a number of comments expressing interest in 
expanding the sanctuary's boundary to include the waters adjacent to 
Alcona and Presque Isle Counties since the scoping process in 2006 for 
the sanctuary's management plan review. Several local government and 
non-governmental organizations passed resolutions or submitted written 
letters of support for boundary expansion (see www.thunderbay.noaa.gov/management/mpr/boundexp for copies of those documents). In 2007, the 
Thunder Bay Sanctuary Advisory Council adopted a resolution to increase 
the boundary to include Alcona, Alpena, and Presque Isle Counties to 
the international border with Canada to provide protection for those 
known maritime heritage resources and those yet to be discovered. The 
expanded sanctuary could include all or part of a study area proposed 
by the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Advisory Council. The study area for 
possible expansion contains approximately one hundred shipwrecks. Among 
them are a number of historically, archaeologically, and recreationally 
significant shipwrecks not currently included in the sanctuary.
    The sanctuary's final management plan (2009) included the following 
strategy: ``Evaluate and assess a proposed expansion of the sanctuary 
to a 3,662-square-mile area from Alcona County to Presque Isle County, 
east to the international border with Canada to protect, manage, and 
interpret additional shipwrecks and other potential maritime heritage 
resources.''
    In accordance with Section 304(e) of the National Marine 
Sanctuaries Act, as amended (NMSA), 16 U.S.C. 1431 et seq., the Office 
of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) of the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is initiating a review of the Thunder 
Bay National Marine Sanctuary boundaries to ``evaluate and assess a 
proposed expansion'' for the sanctuary. Expanding the sanctuary 
boundary to include some of the best preserved shipwrecks in the Great 
Lakes would provide protection to maritime heritage resources under the 
NMSA. Designation as a sanctuary draws public attention to the fact 
that these cultural resources have national significance and inclusion 
in the national marine sanctuary system could provide additional 
opportunities for tourism and economic growth.

Review Process

    The review process is composed of four primary stages:
    1. Information collection and characterization, including public 
scoping meetings;
    2. Preparation and release of a draft environmental impact 
statement (DEIS) as required by Section 304(a) of the NMSA that 
identifies boundary expansion alternatives, as well as a notice of 
proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend the sanctuary regulations to 
reflect any new boundary if proposed.
    3. Public review and comment on the DEIS and NPRM; and
    4. Preparation and release of a final environmental impact 
statement, including a response to public comments, with a final rule 
if appropriate.

NOAA anticipates that the completion of the final environmental impact 
statement and concomitant documents will require approximately twelve 
months.
    At this time, NOAA is opening a public comment period to:
    1. Gather information and public comments from individuals, 
organizations, and government agencies on whether TBNMS should expand 
its boundary, suggestions for the extent of an expanded boundary, and 
the potential effects of a boundary expansion;
    2. Help determine the scope of issues to be addressed in the 
preparation of an environmental impact statement (EIS) pursuant to the 
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (43 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), if 
warranted; and
    3. Conduct a series of public scoping meetings to collect public 
comment. The public scoping meeting schedule is presented below.
    Public Scoping Meetings: The public scoping meetings will be held 
on the following dates and at the following locations beginning at 5:30 
p.m. unless otherwise noted:
1. Alpena, MI
    Date: April 17, 2012.

[[Page 21880]]

    Location: Michigan Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center.
    Address: 500 W. Fletcher Street, Alpena, MI 49707.
2. Rogers City, MI
    Date: April 18, 2012.
    Location: Presque Isle District Library.
    Address: 181 East Erie Street, Roger City, MI 49779.
3. Harrisville, MI
    Date: April 19, 2012.
    Location: Alcona County EMS Building.
    Address: 2600 E. M-72, Harrisville, MI 48740.

Consultation Under National Historic Preservation Act

    This notice 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(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.; 16 U.S.C. 470.

    Dated: April 3, 2012.
Daniel J. Basta,
Director for the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.
[FR Doc. 2012-8831 Filed 4-11-12; 8:45 am]
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