[Federal Register Volume 81, Number 208 (Thursday, October 27, 2016)]
[Notices]
[Pages 74810-74811]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2016-26009]


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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

National Park Service

[NPS-NER-FIIS-DTS-21798; PX.P0201786a.00.1]


Draft Fire Island Wilderness Breach Management Plan/Environmental 
Impact Statement, Fire Island National Seashore, New York

AGENCY: National Park Service, Department of the Interior.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: The National Park Service (NPS) announces the availability of 
the Draft Fire Island Wilderness Breach Management Plan and 
Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Breach Plan/EIS) for Fire Island 
National Seashore, New York. The Draft Breach Plan/EIS presents and 
analyzes the potential consequences of three alternatives that will 
guide the management of the breach that occurred in the Otis Pike Fire 
Island High Dune Wilderness during Hurricane Sandy in October, 2012.

DATES: The comment period will end on December 12, 2016. A public 
meeting will be held on November 7, 2016.

ADDRESSES: Copies of the Draft Breach Plan/EIS will be available online 
for public review at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/FireIslandBreachManagementPlan. A limited number of hard copies will be 
available upon request. The public meeting will be held at the 
Patchogue-Watch Hill Ferry Terminal at 150 West Ave. in Patchogue, New 
York. Comments can be submitted electronically at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/FireIslandBreachManagementPlan. Comments in hard 
copy (e.g., in a letter) can be sent by U.S. Postal Service or other 
mail delivery service or hand-delivered to: Chris Soller, 
Superintendent, Fire Island National Seashore, 120 Laurel Street 
Patchogue, NY 11772. Written comments will also be accepted at the 
public meeting.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Kaetlyn Jackson, Fire Island National 
Seashore, 120 Laurel Street Patchogue, NY, 11772, 631-687-4770.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy created 
three breaches in the barrier island system off the south shore of Long 
Island, New York, including one within the Otis Pike Fire Island High 
Dune Wilderness Area (Fire Island Wilderness) which is within the 
boundaries of Fire Island National Seashore (Seashore).
    The existing Breach Contingency Plan, developed by the U.S. Army 
Corps of Engineers in 1996, is the only guidance currently in effect to 
address breaches along coastal Long Island from Fire Island Inlet east 
to Montauk Point. Action is needed at this time because the Breach 
Contingency Plan is outdated and does not adequately address management 
of breaches in the Fire Island Wilderness.
    Managing a breach in designated wilderness is different from 
managing breaches outside wilderness areas, as the NPS must manage 
federal wilderness to preserve wilderness character. Management of the 
Fire Island Wilderness must comply with the Wilderness Act of 1964; the 
1980 Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Act (Pub. L. 96-585); 
and the 1983 Wilderness Management Plan, Fire Island National Seashore, 
which governs NPS actions taken in the Fire Island Wilderness. However, 
while the wilderness breach must be managed to protect wilderness 
character, the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Act does not 
preclude closure of a wilderness breach if closure were needed ``to 
prevent loss of life, flooding, and other severe economic and physical 
damage to the Great South Bay and surrounding areas.'' Therefore, 
pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 
4321 et seq.), the NPS prepared this Draft Fire Island Wilderness 
Breach Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (Draft Breach 
Plan/EIS) to develop a management strategy for the breach in the Fire 
Island Wilderness. The Draft Breach Plan/EIS has several goals:
     Ensuring the continued integrity of the wilderness 
character;
     protecting the natural and cultural features of the 
Seashore and its surrounding ecosystems;
     protecting human life; and
     managing the risk of economic and physical damage to the 
surrounding areas.
    Scoping and early engagement with other agencies, tribes, 
stakeholders, and the public began in late 2014 and continued through 
2015. Formal public scoping was initiated with the publication of a 
Notice of Intent to Prepare an EIS in the Federal Register (80 FR 
53886, Sept. 8, 2015). Early in the scoping period, the US Army Corps 
of Engineers, New York district and the State of New York, Department 
of Environmental Conservation agreed to be cooperating agencies in 
development of the Breach Plan/EIS.
    The Draft Breach Plan/EIS evaluates two action alternatives and the 
no-action alternative.
    Alternative 1--Mechanical closure of the wilderness breach as soon 
as possible.
    Alternative 2 (no action)--The evolution, growth, and/or closure of 
the wilderness breach would be determined by natural barrier island 
processes and no human intervention would occur to close the breach or 
to reopen the breach if it were to close by natural processes.
    Alternative 3 (proposed action and NPS preferred alternative)--The 
evolution, growth, and/or closure of the breach would be determined by 
natural barrier island processes, and human intervention to close the 
breach would occur only ``to prevent loss of life, flooding, and other 
severe economic and physical damage to the Great South Bay and 
surrounding areas.'' The NPS would develop criteria that indicate the 
breach poses a threat to life and/or property. As long as monitoring 
data show that the established criteria have not been exceeded, the NPS 
would allow the breach to be shaped entirely by natural processes with 
no human intervention. The breach may remain open or it may close 
naturally. If monitoring data indicate that the established criteria 
have been exceeded, the breach would be mechanically closed as soon as 
practicable.
    Alternative 3 is identified as the NPS preferred alternative 
because it allows the breach to be managed according to NPS resource 
management policies and wilderness directives while allowing closure if 
necessary to prevent ``loss of life, flooding, and other severe 
economic and physical damage to the Great South Bay and surrounding 
areas.''

[[Page 74811]]

    The Draft Breach Plan/EIS analyzes the impacts of these three 
alternatives on the human environment by examining five key issues:
    (1) The wilderness breach is geologically bound by erosion-
resistant clay in the geological record to the east and west of the 
breach; however, there is uncertainty regarding how the breach will 
evolve in the future (narrow or widen from existing conditions), how 
far it might migrate along the coast, and how it affects sediment 
transport.
    (2) There is concern that the presence of the wilderness breach 
increases the potential for flooding on the mainland of Long Island 
during storm events, increasing the potential risk to life and 
property.
    (3) The wilderness breach has altered the physical characteristics 
of the Fire Island Wilderness and Great South Bay, which has led to 
changes in the ecological communities.
    (4) The wilderness breach resulted in the creation of a marine 
wilderness area that did not previously exist. The mechanical closure 
of the breach would alter the existing wilderness qualities of the 
area.
    (5) Driving access has changed since formation of the wilderness 
breach. There is concern that changes in driving access for emergency 
response could increase risks to public health and safety in several 
Fire Island communities.
    To examine these issues, the environmental analysis focuses on the 
following resources:
     Wilderness character;
     sediment transport and geomorphology;
     water quality;
     ecosystem structure and processes;
     benthic communities;
     finfish and decapod crustaceans;
     socioeconomics; and
     public health and safety.
    The NPS encourages commenting electronically through the NPS 
Planning, Environment, and Public Comment Web site. If you wish to 
comment electronically, you may submit your comments online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/FireIslandBreachManagementPlan.
    If you wish to submit your comments in hard copy (e.g., in a 
letter), you may send them by U.S. Postal Service or other mail 
delivery service or hand-deliver them to: Chris Soller, Superintendent, 
Fire Island National Seashore, 120 Laurel Street Patchogue, NY 11772.
    A public meeting will be held on November 7th from 7:00 to 8:30 
p.m. at the Patchogue-Watch Hill Ferry Terminal at 150 West Ave. in 
Patchogue, New York. The public meeting will provide an opportunity to 
learn more about the plan and to ask questions about the plan. Written 
comments will be accepted during the public meeting.
    Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, or in any form other 
than those specified above. All comments received on the Draft Breach 
Plan/EIS will be reviewed and considered. An analysis of substantive 
comments with NPS responses will be provided in a comment analysis 
report that will be included in the Final Breach Plan/EIS. A comment is 
considered to be substantive if it raises, debates, or questions a 
point of fact or policy discussed in the Draft Breach Plan/EIS. 
Comments that merely state support for or opposition to the proposed 
action, alternatives, or NPS policy, without providing supporting 
information, will not be considered substantive. Although all comments 
will be read and considered in shaping the Final Breach Plan/EIS, only 
those that are determined to be substantive will be explicitly 
addressed by the NPS response.
    Before including your address, phone number, email address, or 
other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be 
aware that your entire comment--including your personal identifying 
information--may be made publicly available at any time. While you can 
ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying 
information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be 
able to do so.

    Dated: August 22, 2016.
Jonathan Meade,
Deputy Regional Director, National Park Service, Northeast Region.
[FR Doc. 2016-26009 Filed 10-26-16; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 4312-52-P