The Steering Committee for the proposed Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve announced the opening of the public comment period for two critical documents in the federal approval process:
We are sending this message regarding important information on providing public comment and input to the required Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Draft Management Plan (DEIS/DMP) for the proposed CT National Estuarine Research Reserve (CT NERR). On September 3, 2021, a notice was published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the Federal Register announcing the opening of a 45-day comment period and two public hearings for accepting oral comments.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) received the State of Connecticut’s nomination of the proposed Connecticut National Estuarine Research Reserve (CT NERR) on January 3, 2019. NOAA informed the State of Connecticut on September 27, 2019, that it was accepting the nomination and that the next steps for the designation process would involve preparing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) and a Draft Management Plan (DMP). The DMP addresses research, monitoring, education, and stewardship, as well as cultural resource needs for the proposed CT NERR; and the DEIS analyzes alternatives to the proposed action along with their potential environmental impacts. (To learn more about the proposal, visit: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=6295.)
Comment Period Summary:
NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management has announced a 45-day public comment period beginning on September 3rd, 2021 and will hold public hearings for the purpose of receiving comments on the DEIS and DMP. NOAA is accepting written public comments through 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST), October 18, 2021. In addition NOAA will accept oral or written public comments during public hearings held from 2:30 to 4 p.m. and 7:30 to 9 p.m. (local time) on October 7, 2021, online via WebEx and by phone. All relevant comments received at the October 7, 2021, public hearings and during the 45-day public comment period ending at 5 p.m. EST, October 18, 2021, will be considered in the preparation of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and Final Management Plan for the proposed designation of the CT NERR.
Access to documents:
- To download the DEIS and DMP documents, go to: https://www.regulations.gov/docket/NOAA-NOS-2020-0089/document. The documents are listed as “Supporting and Related Materials”, and are both dated 8-25-21.
- To access the Federal Register Notice (FRN) that provides additional information on process and instructions on how to provide written comments via electronic or mail, go to: https://www.regulations.gov/document/NOAA-NOS-2020-0089-0018
Comments may be provided in writing using the methods described below or orally at either public hearing (see below).
As identified in the FRN, written comments may be submitted by any one of the following methods:
- Electronic Submission: Submit all electronic public comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov and enter NOAA-NOS-2020-0089 in the search box. Click on the “Comment” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments. Written comments provide electronically must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. (EST) October 18, 2021.
- Mail: Submit written comments to Erica Seiden, Stewardship Division (N/OCM6), Office for Coastal Management, NOS, NOAA, 1305 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910: ATTN CT NERR. Written comments submitted by mail must be postmarked by October 18, 2021.
The October 7, 2021 public hearings will be conducted online via WebEx and by phone. Two options are available (the same content will be provided during both meetings): 2:30 to 4 p.m. and 7:30 to 9 p.m. (local time).
- Online participants should go to the following University of Connecticut website at one of the designated times to attend the public hearings: https://uconnvtc.webex.com/meet/ctnerr.
- You may also participate in the hearings by phone, by using the toll-free number +1 415-655-0002 and the attendee access code (meeting number) 120 996 1055.
Both sessions will be identical and attendees may choose the session most convenient for them. Registration to attend is not required. Notices of the Hearings will also be published in the Hartford Courant, Middlesex Press, and New London Day newspapers no later than September 22, 2021.
Hearing documents will be available on the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment’s (DEEP) CT NERR website: https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/Coastal-Resources/NERR/NERR-Home-Page, (see the Event/Status Update section) as well as on the Federal eRulemaking Portal: www.regulations.gov (enter NOAA-NOS-2020-0089 in the search box). The DEEP CT NERR website will also provide additional information on the hearing process as needed.
For Further Information:
Erica Seiden, Stewardship Division (N/OCM6), Office for Coastal Management, NOS, NOAA, 1305 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910; ATTN: CT NERR; phone (240) 533-0781; or email: Erica.Seiden@noaa.gov.
The Connecticut NERR Steering Committee looks forward to your participation.
Jamie Vaudrey (UConn) and Kevin O’Brien (DEEP)
On behalf of the proposed CT NERR Steering Committee:
Kevin O’Brien, DEEP
Jamie Vaudrey, UConn
Ivar Babb, UConn
Sylvain De Guise, CT Sea Grant
John Forbis, CT Audubon Society
Annemarie Seifert, UConn
Brian Thompson, DEEP
Craig Tobias, UConn
J. Evan Ward, UConn
Ralph Wood, CT Audubon Society