NOAA's Stellwagen Bank Sanctuary Extends Public Comment Period on Draft Management Plan - July 24, 2008

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has extended the period for public comment on the draft management plan and draft environmental assessment for Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to Oct. 3, 2008. The original 90-day public comment period, during which eight public hearings were held throughout New England, was scheduled to end on Aug. 4, 2008.

"The summer is a busy time in New England, and we have received requests from the public to allow more time for review and input on the draft sanctuary management plan," said Craig MacDonald, sanctuary superintendent. "Given the complexities of the draft plan and its importance to the region, we are extending the comment period into the fall."

The draft plan offers a detailed look at the current state of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and focuses on key issues affecting the sanctuary, including ecosystem-based sanctuary management, ecosystem alteration, wildlife disturbance, vessel traffic and its potential threat to marine mammals, water quality and invasive species.

The plan also addresses important sanctuary programs such as maritime heritage preservation, conservation science, enforcement, interagency cooperation, public outreach and education, and infrastructure development.

"This is a unique opportunity for the public to have a say in the management of this special place and how best to preserve and protect it for future generations," said Daniel J. Basta, director of NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. "This is everyone's sanctuary. The public's constructive ideas and input will help determine the final plan."

For a copy of the draft management plan and draft environmental assessment, contact the Management Plan Review Coordinator, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, 175 Edward Foster Rd., Scituate, MA 02066. Copies can also be downloaded from the sanctuary Web site.

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