Proposed Boundary Expansion

After several years of scientific and archaeological assessment and in coordination with the public, NOAA is proposing to expand Monitor National Marine Sanctuary off North Carolina's Outer Banks to include additional maritime heritage resources. The proposed expansion would protect a nationally significant collection of shipwrecks that currently have little or no legal protection, including one of America's only World War II battlefields.

 

Why Expand?

For more than 40 years, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary has served as a special place honoring the iconic Civil War ironclad, USS Monitor, and the memory and service of Civil War sailors. We now have an opportunity to honor another generation of mariners that helped defend the nation during World War I and World War II. Expansion of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary would elevate the maritime legacy of coastal North Carolina; preserve important historical sites for future generations; promote increased access and stewardship; and provide economic benefits to coastal communities.

More than any other place in the United States, coastal North Carolina serves as a uniquely accessible underwater museum and memorial to our nation's rich maritime history. It is also an ideal location to study and preserve historic wreck sites dating back to the Age of North American Exploration, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and perhaps most prominently, World War II's Battle of the Atlantic. With preservation, these resources offer historians, maritime enthusiasts, recreational divers, fishermen, beachgoers and outdoor adventure seekers the ability to experience this unique region and celebrate our nation's maritime heritage.

Maps and Models

Members of the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council Expansion Working Group presented four possible expansion models to the advisory council and the public on June 5, 2014. These models were approved by the advisory council and recommended for public review. Other potential models may arise during the public scoping process. NOAA is seeking public input on these four possible expansion models as described below.

map showing model a boundry

Model A

Isolated shipwreck sites. Boundaries would be restricted to select wreck sites and be discontiguous.

map showing model b boundry

Model B

A small area centered around the waters off Cape Hatteras. Boundaries are established to include several wrecks and adjacent waters and culturally significant features in the landscape.

Model A

What is Included

Under this model, individual shipwrecks are protected and managed. These include the USS YP-389; the WWII German submarines U-85, U-352, and U-701; the HMT Bedfordshire; the Diamond Shoals Lightship, and the E.M. Clark.

What is not Included

State waters are not incorporated into this model, thus excluding some colonial period shipwrecks that are located in shallow coastal waters. Many significant wrecks and other maritime archaeological artifacts in federal waters between the individual sites are not protected and managed. Further, several historic elements other than shipwrecks that comprise the cultural landscape of the area such as light towers and indigenous settlements are not included.

Potential Regulatory Framework

This model would maintain free and open access to ocean users, and not require permitting or check-in for public access to the wrecks. However, the removal or deliberate disturbance of artifacts or material remains of shipwrecks within the boundaries would be prohibited.

Potential Benefits

An area comprised of a few small discrete sites may be easier to create, manage and enforce. Dedicated research on a few wrecks may also be more efficient and economical.

Potential Problems with Model

This model does not include many significant wrecks or representative periods of history and, due to its lack of any maritime cultural landscape features, does not "tell the whole story" of the Outer Banks, an area of great historical significance. Thus, public education may be limited. Maritime archaeological exploration may also be restricted, and any newly discovered wrecks may not be afforded protection.

Model B

What is Included

This model includes at least 65 known shipwrecks within federal waters and, if state waters are added, 150 additional known wrecks. Many historic themes and timeframes are represented, including the period of North American exploration, several armed conflicts and maritime commerce.

What is not Included

If state waters are not included the range of historic maritime archaeological and cultural resources is limited, particularly some colonial-era wrecks found in shallow coastal waters.

Potential Regulatory Framework

This model would maintain free and open access to ocean users, and not require permitting or check-in for public access to the wrecks. However, the removal or deliberate disturbance of artifacts or material remains of shipwrecks within the boundaries would be prohibited.

Potential Benefits

This proposed area contains significant historic shipwrecks and other unique maritime cultural resources that represent many periods of history and ocean uses in the Outer Banks and off the U.S. mid-Atlantic coast. It also provides the ability to protect and manage any future potential discoveries within the larger designated area, and to promote exploration within the boundaries to discover new archaeological sites. Perhaps most importantly, it recognizes the value of the entire region and the connectivity of various maritime activities throughout history.

Potential Problems with Model

The model’s boundaries as proposed may not be large enough to "capture" the majority of historically significant wrecks, nor those individual sites outside the designated area. Excluding state waters may also limit the number of people that have access to the sanctuary’s resources, including the wrecks. Finally, any sizeable protected ocean area will be difficult to manage and enforce.

map showing model c boundry

Model C

A large area centered off Cape Hatteras that includes many historically significant wrecks in federal and potentially state waters. This model includes sanctuary boundaries around individual sites, and designates a non-­-regulatory study area.

map showing model d boundry

Model D

Three designated areas, each "capturing" 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 most of the Outer Banks.

Model C

What is Included

This proposed model encompasses the majority of the most culturally valuable wrecks in the waters off Cape Hatteras (at least 75 known wrecks in federal waters with at least 175 additional sites in adjacent state waters), and several representative wrecks from multiple periods of history. The waters in between the known sites would be designed as an “archaeological research study area” allowing for inclusion of wrecks and other significant artifacts as they are discovered and identified.

What is not Included

If state waters are not included the range of historic maritime archaeological and cultural resources is limited, particularly some colonial-era wrecks found in shallow coastal waters.

Potential Regulatory Framework

This model would maintain free and open access to ocean users, and not require permitting or check-in for public access to the wrecks. However, the removal or deliberate disturbance of artifacts or material remains of shipwrecks within the boundaries would be prohibited. If additional historically significantly wrecks are discovered and identified within the study area, they would be afforded the same level of protection and management as those originally recognized.

Potential Benefits

This proposed model highlights the "story" of maritime heritage along a wide area off of Cape Hatteras and Diamond Shoals, representing many eras of Outer Banks history and ocean uses. It also designates a research study area as a means to promote and guide future archaeological investigations. Sanctuary regulations relating to the protection and management of a known shipwreck would only exist at individual sites, but the study area would allow newly discovered wrecks to be incorporated into the system.

Potential Problems with Model

Some primary wrecks may still be outside of the designated area. Excluding state waters may also limit the number of people that have access to the sanctuary’s resources, including the wrecks. Finally, any sizeable protected ocean area will be difficult to manage and enforce.

Model D

What is Included

This model focuses on the protection and management of at least 100 known shipwrecks representing a wide range of historic and cultural significance in different areas off the Outer Banks.

What is not Included

If state waters are not included the range of historic maritime archaeological and cultural resources is limited, particularly some colonial-era and Civil War wrecks found in shallow coastal waters.

Potential Regulatory Framework

This model would maintain free and open access to ocean users, and not require permitting or check-in for public access to the wrecks. However, the removal or deliberate disturbance of artifacts or material remains of shipwrecks within the boundaries would be prohibited.

Potential Benefits

This proposed model highlights several "stories" of maritime heritage along the entire Outer Banks, allowing the benefits of sanctuary designation to be enjoyed in multiple communities along the coast. Many historically important wrecks and culturally significant archaeological artifacts from many timeframes and representing several ocean uses are included. It also provides the ability to protect and manage any future potential discoveries within the larger designated areas, and to promote exploration within the boundaries to discover new maritime heritage resources.

Potential Problems with Model

The three proposed sites are not physically connected, so future wrecks found in waters not set aside as part of the expansion will not be included in those protection and management strategies in force within the designated areas. Also, the distance between locations potentially decentralizes some sanctuary benefits such as facilities and public visitor experiences.

How to Make a Public Comment

Public scoping meetings will be held as detailed below. You may attend a meeting and provide comments. If you are unable to attend a meeting, you may also make comments electronically or by mail. See the "Comments" section below for details.

Public Meetings

Raleigh, NC
Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2016
Location: North Carolina Museum of History
Address: 5 East Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601
Phone: 919-807-7900
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Beaufort, NC
Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Location: North Carolina Maritime Museum
Address: 315 Front Street, Beaufort, NC 28516
Phone: 252-728-7317
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Hatteras, NC
Date: Thursday, February 11, 2016
Location: Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum
Address: 59200 Museum Dr., Hatteras, NC 27943
Phone: 252-986-2995
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Washington, D.C.
Date: Tuesday, February 16, 2016
Location: United States Navy Memorial - Main Auditorium
Address: 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
Phone: 202-380-0710
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Nags Head, NC
Date: Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Location: Jennette's Pier - Oceanview Hall
Address: 7223 S. Virginia Dare trail, Nags Head, NC 27959
Phone: 252-255-1501
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Comments

Comments must be received by March 18, 2016. Comments may be submitted by any one of the following methods:

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Electronic

Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Click the "Comment Now!" icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

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Mail

David Alberg
Sanctuary Superintendent
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606

For more information contact
David Alberg, sanctuary superintendent
Phone: 757-591-7326
Email: David.Alberg@noaa.gov

Sanctuary Expansion Process

The process for Monitor National Marine Sanctuary boundary expansion was initiated following a recommendation from the Sanctuary Advisory Council's Expansion Working Group and has four basic steps:

1. Scoping

NOAA announces its intent to consider possible expansion of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and asks the public for input on potential boundaries; resources to be protected; issues NOAA should consider; and any information that should be included in the resource analysis.

2. Proposed Expansion

In response to public scoping, NOAA prepares draft proposal, including a draft management plan, a draft environmental impact statement that analyzes a range of expansion alternatives and proposed regulations and boundaries.

3. Public Review

The public, agency partners, tribes and other stakeholders provide input on the draft documents. NOAA considers all input and determines appropriate changes that address this input.

4. Sanctuary Expansion

NOAA makes a final decision and prepares final documents. Before the expansion becomes effective, the Governor reviews the documents if state waters are included in the proposal.

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

Through the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, NOAA can identify, designate and protect areas of the marine and Great Lakes environment that have special national significance.

national marine sanctuary system map