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United States Regulations
15 CFR PART 921—NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE SYSTEM REGULATIONS
Title 15: Commerce and Foreign Trade
PART 921—NATIONAL ESTUARINE RESEARCH RESERVE SYSTEM REGULATIONS
Authority: Section 315 of the Coastal Zone Management Act, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1461).
Source: 58 FR 38215, July 15, 1993, unless otherwise noted.
§ 921.1 Mission, goals and general provisions.
(a) The mission of the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program is the establishment and management, through Federal-state cooperation, of a national system (National Estuarine Research Reserve System or System) of estuarine research reserves (National Estuarine Research Reserves or Reserves) representative of the various regions and estuarine types in the United States. National Estuarine Research Reserves are established to provide opportunities for long-term research, education, and interpretation.
(b) The goals of the Program are to:
(1) Ensure a stable environment for research through long-term protection of National Estuarine Research Reserve resources;
(2) Address coastal management issues identified as significant through coordinated estuarine research within the System;
(3) Enhance public awareness and understanding of estuarine areas and provide suitable opportunities for public education and interpretation;
(4) Promote Federal, state, public and private use of one or more Reserves within the System when such entities conduct estuarine research; and
(5) Conduct and coordinate estuarine research within the System, gathering and making available information necessary for improved understanding and management of estuarine areas.
(c) National Estuarine Research Reserves shall be open to the public to the extent permitted under state and Federal law. Multiple uses are allowed to the degree compatible with each Reserve's overall purpose as provided in the management plan (see §921.13) and consistent with paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section. Use levels are set by the state where the Reserve is located and analyzed in the management plan. The Reserve management plan shall describe the uses and establish priorities among these uses. The plan shall identify uses requiring a state permit, as well as areas where uses are encouraged or prohibited. Consistent with resource protection and research objectives, public access and use may be restricted to certain areas or components within a Reserve.
(d) Habitat manipulation for research purposes is allowed consistent with the following limitations. Manipulative research activities must be specified in the management plan, be consistent with the mission and goals of the program (see paragraphs (a) and (b) of this section) and the goals and objectives set forth in the Reserve's management plan, and be limited in nature and extent to the minimum manipulative activity necessary to accomplish the stated research objective. Manipulative research activities with a significant or long-term impact on Reserve resources require the prior approval of the state and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Manipulative research activities which can reasonably be expected to have a significant adverse impact on the estuarine resources and habitat of a Reserve, such that the activities themselves or their resulting short- and long-term consequences compromise the representative character and integrity of a Reserve, are prohibited. Habitat manipulation for resource management purposes is prohibited except as specifically approved by NOAA as: (1) A restoration activity consistent with paragraph (e) of this section; or (2) an activity necessary for the protection of public health or the preservation of other sensitive resources which have been listed or are eligible for protection under relevant Federal or state authority (e.g., threatened/endangered species or significant historical or cultural resources) or if the manipulative activity is a long-term pre-existing use (i.e., has occurred prior to designation) occurring in a buffer area. If habitat manipulation is determined to be necessary for the protection of public health, the preservation of sensitive resources, or if the manipulation is a long-term pre-existing use in a buffer area, then these activities shall be specified in the Reserve management plan in accordance with §921.13(a)(10) and shall be limited to the reasonable alternative which has the least adverse and shortest term impact on the representative and ecological integrity of the Reserve.
(e) Under the Act an area may be designated as an estuarine Reserve only if the area is a representative estuarine ecosystem that is suitable for long-term research. Many estuarine areas have undergone some ecological change as a result of human activities (e.g., hydrological changes, intentional/unintentional species composition changes—introduced and exotic species). In those areas proposed or designated as National Estuarine Research Reserves, such changes may have diminished the representative character and integrity of the site. Although restoration of degraded areas is not a primary purpose of the System, such activities may be permitted to improve the representative character and integrity of a Reserve. Restoration activities must be carefully planned and approved by NOAA through the Reserve management plan. Historical research may be necessary to determine the “natural” representative state of an estuarine area (i.e., an estuarine ecosystem minimally affected by human activity or influence). Frequently, restoration of a degraded estuarine area will provide an excellent opportunity for management oriented research.
(f) NOAA may provide financial assistance to coastal states, not to exceed, per Reserve, 50 percent of all actual costs or $5 million whichever amount is less, to assist in the acquisition of land and waters, or interests therein. NOAA may provide financial assistance to coastal states not to exceed 70 percent of all actual costs for the management and operation of, the development and construction of facilities, and the conduct of educational or interpretive activities concerning Reserves (see subpart I). NOAA may provide financial assistance to any coastal state or public or private person, not to exceed 70 percent of all actual costs, to support research and monitoring within a Reserve. Notwithstanding any financial assistance limits established by this Part, when financial assistance is provided from amounts recovered as a result of damage to natural resources located in the coastal zone, such assistance may be used to pay 100 percent of all actual costs of activities carrier out with this assistance, as long as such funds are available. Predesignation, acquisition and development, operation and management, special research and monitoring, and special education and interpretation awards are available under the National Estuarine Reserve Program. Predesignation awards are for site selection/feasibility, draft management plan preparation and conduct of basic characterization studies. Acquisition and development awards are intended primarily for acquisition of interests in land, facility construction and to develop and/or upgrade research, monitoring and education programs. Operation and management awards provide funds to assist in implementing, operating and managing the administrative, and basic research, monitoring and education programs, outlined in the Reserve management plan. Special research and monitoring awards provide funds to conduct estuarine research and monitoring projects with the System. Special educational and interpretive awards provide funds to conduct estuarine educational and interpretive projects within the System.
(g) Lands already in protected status managed by other Federal agencies, state or local governments, or private organizations may be included within National Estuarine Research Reserves only if the managing entity commits to long-term management consistent with paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section in the Reserve management plan. Federal lands already in protected status may not comprise a majority of the key land and water areas of a Reserve (see §921.11(c)(3)).
(h) To assist the states in carrying out the Program's goals in an effective manner, NOAA will coordinate a research and education information exchange throughout the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. As part of this role, NOAA will ensure that information and ideas from one Reserve are made available to others in the System. The network will enable Reserves to exchange information and research data with each other, with universities engaged in estuarine research, and with Federal, state, and local agencies. NOAA's objective is a system-wide program of research and monitoring capable of addressing the management issues that affect long-term productivity of our Nation's estuaries.
[58 FR 38215, July 15, 1993, as amended at 62 FR 12540, Mar. 17, 1997; 63 FR 26717, May 14, 1998]
§ 921.2 Definitions.
(a) Act means the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1451 et seq.
(b) Assistant Administrator means the Assistant Administrator for Ocean Services and Coastal Zone Management or delegee.
(c) Coastal state means a state of the United States, in or bordering on, the Atlantic, Pacific, or Arctic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Long Island Sound, or one or more of the Great Lakes. For the purposes of these regulations the term also includes Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, the Trust Territories of the Pacific Islands, and American Samoa (see 16 U.S.C. 1453(4)).
(d) State agency means an instrumentality of a coastal state to whom the coastal state has delegated the authority and responsibility for the creation and/or management/operation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve. Factors indicative of this authority may include the power to receive and expend funds on behalf of the Reserve, acquire and sell or convey real and personal property interests, adopt rules for the protection of the Reserve, enforce rules applicable to the Reserve, or develop and implement research and education programs for the reserve. For the purposes of these regulations, the terms “coastal state” and “State agency” shall be synonymous.
(e) Estuary means that part of a river or stream or other body of water having unimpaired connection with the open sea, where the sea water is measurably diluted with fresh water derived from land drainage. The term also includes estuary-type areas with measurable freshwater influence and having unimpaired connections with the open sea, and estuary-type areas of the Great Lakes and their connecting waters (see 16 U.S.C. 1453(7)).
(f) National Estuarine Research Reserve means an area that is a representative estuarine ecosystem suitable for long-term research, which may include all of the key land and water portion of an estuary, and adjacent transitional areas and uplands constituting to the extent feasible a natural unit, and which is set aside as a natural field laboratory to provide long-term opportunities for research, education, and interpretation on the ecological relationships within the area (see 16 U.S.C. 1453(8)) and meets the requirements of 16 U.S.C. 1461(b). This includes those areas designated as National Estuarine Sanctuaries or Reserves under section 315 of the Act prior to enactment of the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990 and each area subsequently designated as a National Estuarine Research Reserve.
§ 921.3 National Estuarine Research Reserve System biogeographic classification scheme and estuarine typologies.
(a) National Estuarine Research Reserves are chosen to reflect regional differences and to include a variety of ecosystem types. A biogeographic classification scheme based on regional variations in the nation's coastal zone has been developed. The biogeographic classification scheme is used to ensure that the National Estuarine Research Reserve System includes at least one site from each region. The estuarine typology system is utilized to ensure that sites in the System reflect the wide range of estuarine types within the United States.
(b) The biogeographic classification scheme, presented in appendix I, contains 29 regions. Figure 1 graphically depicts the biogeographic regions of the United States.
(c) The typology system is presented in appendix II.
§ 921.4 Relationship to other provisions of the Coastal Zone Management Act, and to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act.
(a) The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is intended to provide information to state agencies and other entities involved in addressing coastal management issues. Any coastal state, including those that do not have approved coastal management programs under section 306 of the Act, is eligible for an award under the National Estuarine Research Reserve Program (see §921.2(c)).
(b) For purposes of consistency review by states with a federally approved coastal management program, the designation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve is deemed to be a Federal activity, which, if directly affecting the state's coastal zone, must be undertaken in a manner consistent to the maximum extent practicable with the approved state coastal management program as provided by section 1456(c)(1) of the Act, and implementing regulations at 15 CFR part 930, subpart C. In accordance with section 1456(c)(1) of the Act and the applicable regulations NOAA will be responsible for certifying that designation of the Reserve is consistent with the state's approved coastal management program. The state must concur with or object to the certification. It is recommended that the lead state agency for Reserve designation consult, at the earliest practicable time, with the appropriate state officials concerning the consistency of a proposed National Estuarine Research Reserve.
(c) The National Estuarine Research Reserve Program will be administered in close coordination with the National Marine Sanctuary Program (Title III of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, as amended, 16 U.S.C. 1431–1445), also administered by NOAA. Title III authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to designate discrete areas of the marine environment as National Marine Sanctuaries to protect or restore such areas for their conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, research, educational or esthetic values. National Marine Sanctuaries and Estuarine Research Reserves may not overlap, but may be adjacent.
Subpart B—Site Selection, Post Site Selection and Management Plan Development
§ 921.10 General.
(a) A coastal state may apply for Federal financial assistance for the purpose of site selection, preparation of documents specified in §921.13 (draft management plan (DMP) and environmental impact statement (EIS)), and the conduct of limited basic characterization studies. The total Federal share of this assistance may not exceed $100,000. Federal financial assistance for preacquisition activities under §921.11 and §921.12 is subject to the total $5 million for which each Reserve is eligible for land acquisition. Notwithstanding the above, when financial assistance is provided from amounts recovered as a result of damage to natural resources located in the coastal zone, such assistance may be used to pay 100 percent of all actual costs of activities carried out with this assistance, as long as such funds are available. In the case of a biogeographic region (see appendix I) shared by two or more coastal states, each state is eligible for Federal financial assistance to establish a separate National Estuarine Research Reserve within their respective portion of the shared biogeographic region. Each separate National Estuarine Research Reserve is eligible for the full complement of funding. Financial assistance application procedures are specified in subpart I.
(b) In developing a Reserve program, a state may choose to develop a multiple-site Reserve reflecting a diversity of habitats in a single biogeographic region. A multiple-site Reserve allows the state to develop complementary research and educational programs within the individual components of its multi-site Reserve. Multiple-site Reserves are treated as one Reserve in terms of financial assistance and development of an overall management framework and plan. Each individual site of a proposed multiple-site Reserve shall be evaluated both separately under §921.11(c) and collectively as part of the site selection process. A coastal state may propose to establish a multiple-site Reserve at the time of the initial site selection, or at any point in the development or operation of the Reserve. If the state decides to develop a multiple-site National Estuarine Research Reserve after the initial acquisition and development award is made for a single site, the proposal is subject to the requirements set forth in §921.33(b). However, a state may not propose to add one or more sites to an already designated Reserve if the operation and management of such Reserve has been found deficient and uncorrected or the research conducted is not consistent with the Estuarine Research Guidelines referenced in §921.51. In addition, Federal funds for the acquisition of a multiple-site Reserve remain limited to $5,000,000 (see §921.20). The funding for operation of a multiple-site Reserve is limited to the maximum allowed for any one Reserve per year (see §921.32(c)) and preacquisition funds are limited to $100,000 per Reserve. Notwithstanding the above, when financial assistance is provided from amounts recovered as a result of damage to natural resources located in the coastal zone, such assistance may be used to pay 100 percent of all actual costs of activities carrier out with this assistance, as long as such funds are available.
[58 FR 38215, July 15, 1993, as amended at 63 FR 26717, May 14, 1998]
§ 921.11 Site selection and feasibility.
(a) A coastal state may use Federal funds to establish and implement a site selection process which is approved by NOAA.
(b) In addition to the requirements set forth in subpart I, a request for Federal funds for site selection must contain the following programmatic information:
(1) A description of the proposed site selection process and how it will be implemented in conformance with the biogeographic classification scheme and typology (§921.3);
(2) An identification of the site selection agency and the potential management agency; and
(3) A description of how public participation will be incorporated into the process (see §921.11(d)).
(c) As part of the site selection process, the state and NOAA shall evaluate and select the final site(s). NOAA has final authority in approving such sites. Site selection shall be guided by the following principles:
(1) The site's contribution to the biogeographical and typological balance of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. NOAA will give priority consideration to proposals to establish Reserves in biogeographic regions or subregions or incorporating types that are not represented in the system. (see the biogeographic classification scheme and typology set forth in §921.3 and appendices I and II);
(2) The site's ecological characteristics, including its biological productivity, diversity of flora and fauna, and capacity to attract a broad range of research and educational interests. The proposed site must be a representative estuarine ecosystem and should, to the maximum extent possible, be an estuarine ecosystem minimally affected by human activity or influence (see §921.1(e)).
(3) Assurance that the site's boundaries encompass an adequate portion of the key land and water areas of the natural system to approximate an ecological unit and to ensure effective conservation. Boundary size will vary greatly depending on the nature of the ecosystem. Reserve boundaries must encompass the area within which adequate control has or will be established by the managing entity over human activities occurring within the Reserve. Generally, Reserve boundaries will encompass two areas: Key land and water areas (or “core area”) and a buffer zone. Key land and water areas and a buffer zone will likely require significantly different levels of control (see §921.13(a)(7)). The term “key land and water areas” refers to that core area within the Reserve that is so vital to the functioning of the estuarine ecosystem that it must be under a level of control sufficient to ensure the long-term viability of the Reserve for research on natural processes. Key land and water areas, which comprise the core area, are those ecological units of a natural estuarine system which preserve, for research purposes, a full range of significant physical, chemical and biological factors contributing to the diversity of fauna, flora and natural processes occurring within the estuary. The determination of which land and water areas are “key” to a particular Reserve must be based on specific scientific knowledge of the area. A basic principle to follow when deciding upon key land and water areas is that they should encompass resources representative of the total ecosystem, and which if compromised could endanger the research objectives of the Reserve. The term buffer zone refers to an area adjacent to or surrounding key land and water areas and essential to their integrity. Buffer zones protect the core area and provide additional protection for estuarine-dependent species, including those that are rare or endangered. When determined appropriate by the state and approved by NOAA, the buffer zone may also include an area necessary for facilities required for research and interpretation. Additionally, buffer zones should be established sufficient to accommodate a shift of the core area as a result of biological, ecological or geomorphological change which reasonably could be expected to occur. National Estuarine Research Reserves may include existing Federal or state lands already in a protected status where mutual benefit can be enhanced. However, NOAA will not approve a site for potential National Estuarine Research Reserve status that is dependent primarily upon the inclusion of currently protected Federal lands in order to meet the requirements for Reserve status (such as key land and water areas). Such lands generally will be included within a Reserve to serve as a buffer or for other ancillary purposes; and may be included, subject to NOAA approval, as a limited portion of the core area;
(4) The site's suitability for long-term estuarine research, including ecological factors and proximity to existing research facilities and educational institutions;
(5) The site's compatibility with existing and potential land and water uses in contiguous areas as well as approved coastal and estuarine management plans; and
(6) The site's importance to education and interpretive efforts, consistent with the need for continued protection of the natural system.
(d) Early in the site selection process the state must seek the views of affected landowners, local governments, other state and Federal agencies and other parties who are interested in the area(s) being considered for selection as a potential National Estuarine Research Reserve. After the local government(s) and affected landowner(s) have been contacted, at least one public meeting shall be held in the vicinity of the proposed site. Notice of such a meeting, including the time, place, and relevant subject matter, shall be announced by the state through the area's principal newspaper at least 15 days prior to the date of the meeting and by NOAA in the Federal Register.
(e) A state request for NOAA approval of a proposed site (or sites in the case of a multi-site Reserve) must contain a description of the proposed site(s) in relationship to each of the site selection principals (§921.11(c)) and the following information:
(1) An analysis of the proposed site(s) based on the biogeographical scheme/typology discussed in §921.3 and set forth in appendices I and II;
(2) A description of the proposed site(s) and its (their) major resources, including location, proposed boundaries, and adjacent land uses. Maps are required;
(3) A description of the public participation process used by the state to solicit the views of interested parties, a summary of comments, and, if interstate issues are involved, documentation that the Governor(s) of the other affected state(s) has been contacted. Copies of all correspondence, including contact letters to all affected landowners must be appended;
(4) A list of all sites considered and a brief statement of the reasons why a site was not preferred; and
(5) A nomination of the proposed site(s) for designation as a National Estuarine Research Reserve by the Governor of the coastal state in which the state is located.
(f) A state proposing to reactivate an inactive site, previously approved by NOAA for development as an Estuarine Sanctuary or Reserve, may apply for those funds remaining, if any, provided for site selection and feasibility (§921.11a)) to determine the feasibility of reactivation. This feasibility study must comply with the requirements set forth in §921.11 (c) through (e).
§ 921.12 Post site selection.
(a) At the time of the coastal state's request for NOAA approval of a proposed site, the state may submit a request for funds to develop the draft management plan and for preparation of the EIS. At this time, the state may also submit a request for the remainder of the predesignation funds to perform a limited basic characterization of the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the site approved by NOAA necessary for providing EIS information to NOAA. The state's request for these post site selection funds must be accompanied by the information specified in subpart I and, for draft management plan development and EIS information collection, the following programmatic information:
(1) A draft management plan outline (see §921.13(a) below); and
(2) An outline of a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the state and NOAA detailing the Federal-state role in Reserve management during the initial period of Federal funding and expressing the state's long-term commitment to operate and manage the Reserve.
(b) The state is eligible to use the funds referenced in §921.12(a) after the proposed site is approved by NOAA under the terms of §921.11.
§ 921.13 Management plan and environmental impact statement development.
(a) After NOAA approves the state's proposed site and application for funds submitted pursuant to §921.12, the state may begin draft management plan development and the collection of information necessary for the preparation by NOAA of an EIS. The state shall develop a draft management plan, including an MOU. The plan shall set out in detail:
(1) Reserve goals and objectives, management issues, and strategies or actions for meeting the goals and objectives;
(2) An administrative plan including staff roles in administration, research, education/interpretation, and surveillance and enforcement;
(3) A research plan, including a monitoring design;
(4) An education/interpretive plan;
(5) A plan for public access to the Reserve;
(6) A construction plan, including a proposed construction schedule, general descriptions of proposed developments and general cost estimates. Information should be provided for proposed minor construction projects in sufficient detail to allow these projects to begin in the initial phase of acquisition and development. A categorical exclusion, environmental assessment, or EIS may be required prior to construction;
(7)(i) An acquisition plan identifying the ecologically key land and water areas of the Reserve, ranking these areas according to their relative importance, and including a strategy for establishing adequate long-term state control over these areas sufficient to provide protection for Reserve resources to ensure a stable environment for research. This plan must include an identification of ownership within the proposed Reserve boundaries, including land already in the public domain; the method(s) of acquisition which the state proposes to use—acquisition (including less-than-fee simple options) to establish adequate long-term state control; an estimate of the fair market value of any property interest—which is proposed for acquisition; a schedule estimating the time required to complete the process of establishing adequate state control of the proposed research reserve; and a discussion of any anticipated problems. In selecting a preferred method(s) for establishing adequate state control over areas within the proposed boundaries of the Reserve, the state shall perform the following steps for each parcel determined to be part of the key land and water areas (control over which is necessary to protect the integrity of the Reserve for research purposes), and for those parcels required for research and interpretive support facilities or buffer purposes:
(A) Determine, with appropriate justification, the minimum level of control(s) required [e.g., management agreement, regulation, less-than-fee simple property interest (e.g., conservation easement), fee simple property acquisition, or a combination of these approaches]. This does not preclude the future necessity of increasing the level of state control;
(B) Identify the level of existing state control(s);
(C) Identify the level of additional state control(s), if any, necessary to meet the minimum requirements identified in paragraph (a)(7)(i)(A) of this section;
(D) Examine all reasonable alternatives for attaining the level of control identified in paragraph (a)(7)(i)(C) of this section, and perform a cost analysis of each; and
(E) Rank, in order of cost, the methods (including acquisition) identified in paragraph (a)(7)(i)(D) of this section.
(ii) An assessment of the relative cost-effectiveness of control alternatives shall include a reasonable estimate of both short-term costs (e.g., acquisition of property interests, regulatory program development including associated enforcement costs, negotiation, adjudication, etc.) and long-term costs (e.g., monitoring, enforcement, adjudication, management and coordination). In selecting a preferred method(s) for establishing adequate state control over each parcel examined under the process described above, the state shall give priority consideration to the least costly method(s) of attaining the minimum level of long-term control required. Generally, with the possible exception of buffer areas required for support facilities, the level of control(s) required for buffer areas will be considerably less than that required for key land and water areas. This acquisition plan, after receiving the approval of NOAA, shall serve as a guide for negotiations with landowners. A final boundary for the reserve shall be delineated as a part of the final management plan;
(8) A resource protection plan detailing applicable authorities, including allowable uses, uses requiring a permit and permit requirements, any restrictions on use of the research reserve, and a strategy for research reserve surveillance and enforcement of such use restrictions, including appropriate government enforcement agencies;
(9) If applicable, a restoration plan describing those portions of the site that may require habitat modification to restore natural conditions;
(10) If applicable, a resource manipulation plan, describing those portions of the Reserve buffer in which long-term pre-existing (prior to designation) manipulation for reasons not related to research or restoration is occurring. The plan shall explain in detail the nature of such activities, shall justify why such manipulation should be permitted to continue within the reserve buffer; and shall describe possible effects of this manipulation on key land and water areas and their resources;
(11) A proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the state and NOAA regarding the Federal-state relationship during the establishment and development of the National Estuarine Research Reserve, and expressing a long-term commitment by the state to maintain and manage the Reserve in accordance with section 315 of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 1461, and applicable regulations. In conjunction with the MOU, and where possible under state law, the state will consider taking appropriate administrative or legislative action to ensure the long-term protection and operation of the National Estuarine Research Reserve. If other MOUs are necessary (such as with a Federal agency, another state agency or private organization), drafts of such MOUs must be included in the plan. All necessary MOU's shall be signed prior to Reserve designation; and
(12) If the state has a federally approved coastal management program, a certification that the National Estuarine Research Reserve is consistent to the maximum extent practicable with that program. See §§921.4(b) and 921.30(b).
(b) Regarding the preparation of an EIS under the National Environmental Policy Act on a National Estuarine Research Reserve proposal, the state and NOAA shall collect all necessary information concerning the socioeconomic and environmental impacts associated with implementing the draft management plan and feasible alternatives to the plan. Based on this information, the state will draft and provide NOAA with a preliminary EIS.
(c) Early in the development of the draft management plan and the draft EIS, the state and NOAA shall hold a scoping meeting (pursuant to NEPA) in the area or areas most affected to solicit public and government comments on the significant issues related to the proposed action. NOAA will publish a notice of the meeting in the Federal Register at least 15 days prior to the meeting. The state shall be responsible for publishing a similar notice in the local media.
(d) NOAA will publish a Federal Register notice of intent to prepare a draft EIS. After the draft EIS is prepared and filed with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a Notice of Availability of the draft EIS will appear in the Federal Register. Not less than 30 days after publication of the notice, NOAA will hold at least one public hearing in the area or areas most affected by the proposed national estuarine research reserve. The hearing will be held no sooner than 15 days after appropriate notice of the meeting has been given in the principal news media by the state and in the Federal Register by NOAA. After a 45-day comment period, a final EIS will be prepared by the state and NOAA.
Subpart C—Acquisition, Development and Preparation of the Final Management Plan
§ 921.20 General.
The acquisition and development period is separated into two major phases. After NOAA approval of the site, draft management plan and draft MOU, and completion of the final EIS, a coastal state is eligible for an initial acquisition and development award(s). In this initial phase, the state should work to meet the criteria required for formal research reserve designation; e.g., establishing adequate state control over the key land and water areas as specified in the draft management plan and preparing the final management plan. These requirements are specified in §921.30. Minor construction in accordance with the draft management plan may also be conducted during this initial phase. The initial acquisition and development phase is expected to last no longer than three years. If necessary, a longer time period may be negotiated between the state and NOAA. After Reserve designation, a state is eligible for a supplemental acquisition and development award(s) in accordance with §921.31. In this post-designation acquisition and development phase, funds may be used in accordance with the final management plan to construct research and educational facilities, complete any remaining land acquisition, for program development, and for restorative activities identified in the final management plan. In any case, the amount of Federal financial assistance provided to a coastal state with respect to the acquisition of lands and waters, or interests therein, for any one National Estuarine Research Reserve may not exceed an amount equal to 50 percent of the costs of the lands, waters, and interests therein or $5,000,000, whichever amount is less, except when the financial assistance is provided from amounts recovered as a result of damage to natural resources located in the coastal zone, in which case the assistance may be used to pay 100 percent of all actual costs of activities carrier out with this assistance, as long as such funds are available.
[58 FR 38215, July 15, 1993, as amended at 62 FR 12540, Mar. 17, 1997; 63 FR 26717, May 14, 1998]
§ 921.21 Initial acquisition and development awards.
(a) Assistance is provided to aid the recipient prior to designation in:
(1) Acquiring a fee simple or less-than-fee simple real property interest in land and water areas to be included in the Reserve boundaries (see §921.13(a)(7); §921.30(d));
(2) Minor construction, as provided in paragraphs (b) and (c) of this section;
(3) Preparing the final management plan; and
(4) Initial management costs, e.g., for implementing the NOAA approved draft management plan, hiring a Reserve manager and other staff as necessary and for other management-related activities. Application procedures are specified in subpart I.
(b) The expenditure of Federal and state funds on major construction activities is not allowed during the initial acquisition and development phase. The preparation of architectural and engineering plans, including specifications, for any proposed construction, or for proposed restorative activities, is permitted. In addition, minor construction activities, consistent with paragraph (c) of this section also are allowed. The NOAA-approved draft management plan must, however, include a construction plan and a public access plan before any award funds can be spent on construction activities.
(c) Only minor construction activities that aid in implementing portions of the management plan (such as boat ramps and nature trails) are permitted during the initial acquisition and development phase. No more than five (5) percent of the initial acquisition and development award may be expended on such activities. NOAA must make a specific determination, based on the final EIS, that the construction activity will not be detrimental to the environment.
(d) Except as specifically provided in paragraphs (a) through (c) of this section, construction projects, to be funded in whole or in part under an acquisition and development award(s), may not be initiated until the Reserve receives formal designation (see §921.30). This requirement has been adopted to ensure that substantial progress in establishing adequate state control over key land and water areas has been made and that a final management plan is completed before major sums are spent on construction. Once substantial progress in establishing adequate state control/acquisition has been made, as defined by the state in the management plan, other activities guided by the final management plan may begin with NOAA's approval.
(e) For any real property acquired in whole or part with Federal funds for the Reserve, the state shall execute suitable title documents to include substantially the following provisions, or otherwise append the following provisions in a manner acceptable under applicable state law to the official land record(s):
(1) Title to the property conveyed by this deed shall vest in the [recipient of the award granted pursuant to section 315 of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 1461 or other NOAA approved state agency] subject to the condition that the designation of the [name of National Estuarine Reserve] is not withdrawn and the property remains part of the federally designated [name of National Estuarine Research Reserve]; and
(2) In the event that the property is no longer included as part of the Reserve, or if the designation of the Reserve of which it is part is withdrawn, then NOAA or its successor agency, after full and reasonable consultation with the State, may exercise the following rights regarding the disposition of the property:
(i) The recipient may retain title after paying the Federal Government an amount computed by applying the Federal percentage of participation in the cost of the original project to the current fair market value of the property;
(ii) If the recipient does not elect to retain title, the Federal Government may either direct the recipient to sell the property and pay the Federal Government an amount computed by applying the Federal percentage of participation in the cost of the original project to the proceeds from the sale (after deducting actual and reasonable selling and repair or renovation expenses, if any, from the sale proceeds), or direct the recipient to transfer title to the Federal Government. If directed to transfer title to the Federal Government, the recipient shall be entitled to compensation computed by applying the recipient's percentage of participation in the cost of the original project to the current fair market value of the property; and
(iii) Fair market value of the property must be determined by an independent appraiser and certified by a responsible official of the state, as provided by Department of Commerce regulations at 15 CFR part 24, and Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition for Federal and Federally assisted programs at 15 CFR part 11.
(f) Upon instruction by NOAA, provisions analogous to those of §921.21(e) shall be included in the documentation underlying less-then-fee-simple interests acquired in whole or part with Federal funds.
(g) Federal funds or non-Federal matching share funds shall not be spent to acquire a real property interest in which the state will own the land concurrently with another entity unless the property interest has been identified as a part of an acquisition strategy pursuant to §921.13(7) which has been approved by NOAA prior to the effective date of these regulations.
(h) Prior to submitting the final management plan to NOAA for review and approval, the state shall hold a public meeting to receive comment on the plan in the area affected by the estuarine research reserve. NOAA will publish a notice of the meeting in the Federal Register at least 15 days prior to the public meeting. The state shall be responsible for having a similar notice published in the local newspaper(s).
Subpart D—Reserve Designation and Subsequent Operation
§ 921.30 Designation of National Estuarine Research Reserves.
(a) The Under Secretary may designate an area proposed for designation by the Governor of the state in which it is located, as a National Esturaine Research Reserve if the Under Secretary finds:
(1) The area is a representative estuarine ecosystem that is suitable for long-term research and contributes to the biogeographical and typological balance of the System;
(2) Key land and water areas of the proposed Reserve, as identified in the management plan, are under adequate state control sufficient to provide long-term protection for reserve resources to ensure a stable environment for research;
(3) Designation of the area as a Reserve will serve to enhance public awareness and understanding of estuarine areas, and provide suitable opportunities for public education and interpretation;
(4) A final management plan has been approved by NOAA;
(5) An MOU has been signed between the state and NOAA ensuring a long-term commitment by the state to the effective operation and implementation of the area as a National Estuarine Research Reserve;
(6) All MOU's necessary for reserve management (i.e., with relevant Federal, state, and local agencies and/or private organizations) have been signed; and
(7) The coastal state in which the area is located has complied with the requirements of subpart B.
(b) NOAA will determine whether the designation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve in a state with a federally approved coastal zone management program directly affects the coastal zone. If the designation is found to directly affect the coastal zone, NOAA will make a consistency determination pursuant to §307(c)(1) of the Act, 16 U.S.C. 1456, and 15 CFR part 930, subpart C. See §921.4(b). The results of this consistency determination will be published in the Federal Register when the notice of designation is published. See §921.30(c).
(c) NOAA will publish the notice of designation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve in the Federal Register. The state shall be responsible for having a similar notice published in the local media.
(d) The term state control in §921.30(a)(3) does not necessarily require that key land and water areas be owned by the state in fee simple. Acquisition of less-than-fee simple interests e.g., conservation easements) and utilization of existing state regulatory measures are encouraged where the state can demonstrate that these interests and measures assure adequate long-term state control consistent with the purposes of the research reserve (see also §§921.13(a)(7); 921.21(g)). Should the state later elect to purchase an interest in such lands using NOAA funds, adequate justification as to the need for such acquisition must be provided to NOAA.
§ 921.31 Supplemental acquisition and development awards.
After National Estuarine Research Reserve designation, and as specified in the approved management plan, a coastal state may request a supplemental acquisition and/or development award(s) for acquiring additional property interests identified in the management plan as necessary to strengthen protection of key land and water areas and to enhance long-term protection of the area for research and education, for facility and exhibit construction, for restorative activities identified in the approved management plan, for administrative purposes related to acquisition and/or facility construction and to develop and/or upgrade research, monitoring and education/interpretive programs. Federal financial assistance provided to a National Estuarine Research Reserve for supplemental development costs directly associated with facility construction (i.e., major construction activities) may not exceed 70 percent of the total project cost, except when the financial assistance is provided from amounts recovered as a result of damage to natural resources located in the coastal zone, in which case the assistance may be used to pay 100 percent of the costs. NOAA must make a specific determination that the construction activity will not be detrimental to the environment. Acquisition awards for the acquisition of lands or waters, or interests therein, for any one reserve may not exceed an amount equal to 50 percent of the costs of the lands, waters, and interests therein of $5,000,000, whichever amount is less, except when the financial assistance is provided from amounts recovered as result of damage to natural resources located in the coastal zone, in which case the assistance may be used to pay 100 percent of all actual costs of activities carrier out with this assistance, as long as such funds are available. In the case of a biogeographic region (see appendix I) shared by two or more states, each state is eligible independently for Federal financial assistance to establish a separate National Estuarine Research Reserve within their respective portion of the shared biogeographic region. Application procedures are specified in subpart I. Land acquisition must follow the procedures specified in §§921.13(a)(7), 921.21(e) and (f) and 921.81.
[58 FR 38215, July 15, 1993, as amended at 62 FR 12540, Mar. 17, 1997; 63 FR 26717, May 14, 1998]
§ 921.32 Operation and management: Implementation of the management plan.
(a) After the Reserve is formally designated, a coastal state is eligible to receive Federal funds to assist the state in the operation and management of the Reserve including the management of research, monitoring, education, and interpretive programs. The purpose of this Federally funded operation and management phase is to implement the approved final management plan and to take the necessary steps to ensure the continued effective operation of the Reserve.
(b) State operation and management of the Reserves shall be consistent with the mission, and shall further the goals of the National Estuarine Research Reserve program (see §921.1).
(c) Federal funds are available for the operation and management of the Reserve. Federal funds provided pursuant to this section may not exceed 70 percent of the total cost of operating and managing the Reserve for any one year, except when the financial assistance is provided from amounts recovered as a result of damage to natural resources located in the coastal zone, in which case the assistance may be used to pay 100 percent of the costs. In the case of a biogeographic region (see Appendix I) shared by two or more states, each state is eligible for Federal financial assistance to establish a separate Reserve within their respective portion of the shared biogeographic region (see §921.10).
(d) Operation and management funds are subject to the following limitations:
(1) Eligible coastal state agencies may apply for up to the maximum share available per Reserve for that fiscal year. Share amounts will be announced annually by letter from the Sanctuary and Reserves Division to all participating states. This letter will be provided as soon as practicable following approval of the Federal budget for that fiscal year. (continued)