Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy by EPADocs

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									                                       Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 86 / Friday, May 3, 2002 / Notices                                             22415

     Secretary of the Army is requested to                   3868. See SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION                   discussion of the monitoring data
     review the report of the Chief of                       section for electronic filing address.                standards, but does include a discussion
     Engineers on the Shore of New Jersey                    FOR FURTHER ASSISTANCE CONTACT: Ms.                   of the need for monitoring.
     from Sandy Hook to Barnegat Inlet,                      Ellen Cummings, Headquarters, U.S.                       The Council is looking for comments
     published as House Document, 332,                       Army Corps of Engineers, Washington,                  on the entire strategy, including any
     85th Congress, 2nd Session, the Report                  DC 20314–1000, (202) 761–4558; or Ms.                 omissions. The following questions
     of Limited Reconnaissance Study on the                  Cynthia Garman-Squier, Office of the                  have been developed to indicate areas
     entire Shore of New Jersey, dated                       Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil                where additional discussion may be
     September 1990, and other pertinent                     Works), Washington, DC, (703) 695–                    beneficial. However, these questions are
     reports, with a view to determining                     6791.                                                 not intended to limit the nature and
     whether any modifications of the                                                                              content of the comments you may wish
                                                             SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The
     recommendations contained herein are                                                                          to provide.
                                                             Estuary Restoration Act of 2000, Title I                 a. Introduction, Paragraph 3—Calls
     advisable at the present time, in the                   of Public Law 106–457 has four
     interest of water resources development,                                                                      for supporting restoration activities that
                                                             purposes: (1) Promotion of estuary                    create self-sustaining systems integrated
     environmental restoration, and other                    habitat restoration; (2) development of a
     applied purposes.                                                                                             into the surrounding landscapes. What
                                                             national strategy for creating and                    criteria should the Council use in
        1. Public scoping meetings are                       maintaining effective estuary habitat
     schedule for June 13, 2002 from 2 p.m.                                                                        evaluating whether a project is ‘‘self-
                                                             restoration partnerships; (3) provision of            sustaining’’?
     to 5 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The                 Federal assistance for estuary habitat
     meetings will be held in Monmouth                                                                                b. Introduction, Paragraph 5—
                                                             restoration projects; and (4)                         Interprets the definition of ‘‘estuary’’
     County at the Sea Bright Borough Hall                   development and enhancement of
     gymnasium. Results from the public                                                                            that is set forth in the Act. Is the
                                                             monitoring and research capabilities to               definition of ‘‘estuary’’ contained in this
     scoping meetings with the District,                     ensure that estuary habitat restoration               paragraph consistent with how you
     Federal, state, and local agency will be                efforts are based on sound scientific                 would define estuary? If not, why not?
     addressed in the DEIS. Parties interested               understanding and innovative                          What definition would you propose
     in receiving notices of public scoping                  technologies. The Act authorizes an                   using, consistent with the intent of the
     meetings or copies of the Scoping                       estuary habitat restoration program for               Act? Should the Council provide more
     Document should contact Ms. Alvarez at                  implementation of Federal assistance                  guidance on defining the boundaries of
     the above address.                                      through cost-shared estuary habitat                   an estuary? If so, what would you
        2. Federal agencies interested in                    restoration projects. The Act authorizes              propose?
     participating as a Cooperating Agency                   funds to be appropriated to Army for                     c. Introduction, Paragraph 6—For
     are requested to submit a letter of intent              this program. Funds were also                         measuring progress toward the one
     to COL. John B. O’Dowd, District                        authorized for the National Oceanic and               million acre goal, ‘‘restored area’’ is
     Engineer, at the above address.                         Atmospheric Administration to                         considered to be the area where
        3. Estimated date of DEIS availability:              establish a database of restoration                   monitoring can document restored
     July 19, 2005.                                          project information and to develop                    function. Is this a realistic measurement
     Luz D. Ortiz,                                           monitoring data standards. The Estuary                of progress? What other means would
     Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.                  Habitat Restoration Council consisting                you suggest be used to measure progress
     [FR Doc. 02–11068 Filed 5–2–02; 8:45 am]                of representatives from Department of                 toward the goal and why?
                                                             the Army, National Oceanic and                           d. Trends of Estuary Habitats,
     BILLING CODE 3710–06–M
                                                             Atmospheric Administration, the                       Paragraph 3—States that the Council
                                                             Environmental Protection Agency,                      will develop a habitat classification
     DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE                                   United States Fish and Wildlife Service,              system based on Cowardin et al. to
                                                             and the Department of Agriculture was                 address habitat trends as required in the
     Department of the Army, Corps of                        established to oversee these activities.              Act. The Federal Geographic Data
     Engineers                                                  The Council is charged to develop an               Committee has adopted Cowardin as the
                                                             estuary habitat restoration strategy                  Federal standard for wetland mapping,
     Request for Comments on the Draft                       designed to ensure a comprehensive                    monitoring and data reporting. Does
     Estuary Habitat Restoration Strategy                    approach to maximize benefits and                     Cowardin address all components of
     Prepared by the Estuary Habitat                         foster coordination of Federal and non-               estuary habitat for which status and
     Restoration Council                                     Federal activities. The goal of the                   trends data should be developed and for
                                                             strategy is restoration of 1,000,000 acres            which monitoring data should be
     AGENCY: Department of the Army, Army
                                                             of estuary habitat by the year 2010.                  tracked? If not, what components are
     Corps of Engineers, DoD.                                Elements of the draft strategy are                    missing? What classification systems are
     ACTION: Notice; request for comments.                   discussed in section 106(d) of the Act.               currently being used by States and
                                                             The intent of this notice is to obtain                others who track status and trends
     SUMMARY: The Corps of Engineers on
                                                             comments on the draft strategy prepared               information?
     behalf of the interagency Estuary Habitat                                                                        e. Trends of Estuary Habitats,
                                                             by the Estuary Habitat Restoration
     Restoration Council is soliciting                                                                             Paragraph 6—Directs the Council,
                                                             Council in accordance with these
     comments on the draft ‘‘Estuary Habitat                                                                       within two years, to review estuary
                                                             requirements.
     Restoration Strategy.’’                                    While the authorized estuary habitat               habitat trends data and identify data
     DATES: Submit comments on or before                     restoration program is discussed in this              gaps. What information should be
     June 17, 2002.                                          draft strategy, the implementation                    included in the Council’s review of
     ADDRESSES: Send comments to Estuary                     process for solicitation and review of                trends data? What are the most
     Habitat Restoration Strategy, U.S. Army                 project proposals and evaluation criteria             significant gaps in habitat trends data,
     Corps of Engineers, Institute for Water                 will be the subject of a separate notice              either geographically or in terms of
     Resources, 7701 Telegraph Road, Casey                   at a later date. The strategy is also not             habitat types, which should be
     Building, Alexandria, Virginia, 22315–                  intended to be the forum for a detailed               addressed by the Council?


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     22416                             Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 86 / Friday, May 3, 2002 / Notices

       f. Trends of Estuary Habitats,                        specifically excluded by the Act? If not,             technically sound and cost-effective
     Paragraph 6—States that trends data                     which additional activities should be                 estuary habitat restoration projects, and
     collected by the Council will be used to                considered?                                           encourages the use of innovative
     establish restoration priorities. Should                   n. Habitat Restoration Program,                    technologies.
     the Council use trends data to establish                Paragraph 4—The Council and the                          Congress enacted the Estuary
     national and regional restoration                       Secretary may consider additional                     Restoration Act to establish a
     priorities? If yes, how should the data be              factors, other than those set forth in the            collaborative process for addressing the
     used and which types of information are                 Act, for project evaluation, ranking, and             pressures facing our Nation’s estuaries.
     most critical? If no, how should national               selection. What additional factors                    As part of the Act, an inter-agency
     and regional priorities be identified?                  should the Secretary and the Council                  Estuary Habitat Restoration Council
       g. Trends of Estuary Habitats,                        consider?                                             (Council) was established to develop
     Paragraph 7—Encourages organizations                       o. Habitat Restoration Program,                    and submit the Strategy to Congress,
     preparing or updating estuary                           Paragraph 6—Defines a small project as                solicit, review, and evaluate project
     management and restoration plans to                     generally one with a Federal cost of                  proposals, and recommend projects to
     incorporate available trends data and                   $250,000 or less and that manipulates                 the Secretary of the Army. Much of the
     use it to plan priorities. Are there good               50 acres or less. Is this definition                  Council’s work will involve soliciting
     examples of trends data collection by                   adequate for balancing small and large                and funding on-the-ground habitat
     local or regional groups?                               projects in the program?                              restoration projects. The Strategy,
       h. Estuary Management or Habitat                         p. Ensuring Success, Paragraph 5—                  however, is broader than site-specific
     Restoration Plans, Paragraphs 2–5—                      Encourages local, State and regional                  restoration. It encourages coordinating,
     Describes seven elements that are                       groups to monitor on an estuary or                    integrating, and capitalizing upon the
     typically found in effective estuary                    regional scale. How can restoration                   broad spectrum of ongoing estuary
     habitat restoration plans. Should there                 success be documented over estuary or                 restoration efforts throughout the
     be other minimum requirements used to                   regional scales (especially considering               country. Its goal is to bring together the
     identify effective restoration plans? If                funding constraints and the level of                  collective expertise, technical, and
     so, what do you think they are?                         effort that might be required)?                       financial resources of the Federal
       i. Ecosystem Level Approach,                             q. Ensuring Success, Paragraph 7—                  community, the practical experience of
     Paragraph 5—Directs the Council in its                  Directs NOAA to establish standard data               State, local and nongovernmental
     review of project proposals to support                  formats for project monitoring and to                 groups, and the vision of the corporate
     projects developed in an ecosystem                      maintain a database on restoration                    world to restore the integrity of our
     context with multiple benefits. What do                 projects. What existing monitoring                    Nation’s estuarine systems. The Federal
     you believe would indicate that an                      standards and guidance are available                  investment will be used to leverage the
     ecosystem approach has been used in                     that should be considered in developing               financial and technical contribution of
     project planning?                                       monitoring requirements under the Act?                non-Federal partners, providing sound
       j. Partnerships, Paragraph 3—Calls for                What existing restoration 5 project                   ecological and economic returns.
     collaboration among government and                      databases already exist that could serve                 The Strategy calls for restoration
     non-government entities involved in                     as a model for the database to be created             activities that improve degraded
     habitat restoration. How can                            for the Estuary Restoration Act?                      estuaries or estuary habitat, or those that
     collaboration among agencies, private                      Electronic Filing Address. You may                 create estuary habitat with the goal of
     organizations and individuals be                        submit comments by e-mail to:                         attaining a self-sustaining system
     improved to ensure that all interested                  estuary@usace.army.mil. Comments                      integrated into the surrounding
     parties are involved and in a position to               should be in one of the following                     landscape. Restoration projects must
     contribute to the restoration effort?                   formats: Word, WordPerfect, or ASCII.                 improve or reestablish function to
       k. Partnerships, Paragraph 4—                                                                               degraded or destroyed habitats, and be
                                                             The subject line for submission of
     Encourages the use of awards to                                                                               located to recapture regional ecological
                                                             comments should begin with ‘‘Estuary
     encourage restoration partnerships and                                                                        integrity. Successful restoration will
                                                             Habitat Restoration Strategy comments
     the involvement of volunteers. Would a                                                                        protect native fish and wildlife in
                                                             from [insert name of agency,
     national process be beneficial for                                                                            estuaries and their watersheds, while
                                                             organization, or individual].’’
     granting awards or should the process                                                                         providing multiple additional benefits
     be developed locally by project                         Draft Estuary Habitat Restoration                     such as improved surface and ground
     partners? Should such a process be run                  Strategy                                              water quality and quantity, flood
     by a Federal agency?                                                                                          control, outdoor recreation, and other
                                                             Introduction
       l. Partnerships, Paragraph 7—                                                                               services, valued by local stakeholders
     Encourages Council members and                            This draft Estuary Habitat Restoration              and consistent with the re-establishment
     private partners to use web sites to                    Strategy (Strategy) has been developed                and maintenance of healthy ecosystems.
     provide the public with information on                  in accordance with the requirements of                   The goal of the Strategy is to restore
     funding for estuary restoration projects.               the Estuary Restoration Act of 2000,                  one million acres of estuary habitat by
     Should a Federal agency develop a                       Title I of Public Law 106–457 (the Act).              2010. The Council will organize and
     national Web site that would act as a                   The purpose of the Strategy is to ensure              support a task force to recommend
     clearinghouse to other Web sites?                       a comprehensive approach to maximize                  methods for tracking progress toward
       m. Habitat Restoration Program,                       benefits derived from estuary habitat                 the million-acre goal, including defining
     Paragraph 2—Describes habitat                           restoration projects, provide incentives              a baseline timeframe for comparison.
     restoration activities that are eligible for            for the creation of new partnerships                  The task force will consider regional
     funding under the Act. Are the                          between the public and private sectors,               and local perspectives on quantifying
     categories of included activities (1)                   and foster coordination of Federal and                project successes. Subsequently, the
     sufficient to achieve the Act’s goal of                 non-Federal activities related to                     Council will produce periodic reports
     restoring one 4 million acres of estuary                restoration of estuary habitat. The Act               on progress toward meeting the
     habitat by 2010 and (2) inclusive of all                also provides Federal assistance,                     Strategy’s million-acre goal, as well as
     critical restoration activities that are not            promotes efficient financing of                       other habitat trends.


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                                       Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 86 / Friday, May 3, 2002 / Notices                                            22417

        The Act defines estuary as ‘‘a part of               partners as habitat priorities, project               physical and hydrologic features and
     a river or stream or other body of water                efficiencies, and funding sources are                 living organisms within estuaries and
     that has an unimpaired connection with                  identified.                                           their associated ecosystems, including
     the open sea and where the sea water is                                                                       salt and fresh water coastal marshes,
                                                             Trends of Estuarine Habitats [This
     measurably diluted with fresh water                                                                           coastal forested wetlands and other
                                                             section covers 106(d)(4) and (5)]
     from land drainage.’’ Estuary also                                                                            coastal wetlands, maritime forests,
     includes the ‘‘* * * near coastal waters                   Section 106(d) of the Estuaries and                coastal grasslands, tidal flats, natural
     and wetlands of the Great Lakes that are                Clean Water Act of 2000 requires that                 shoreline areas, shellfish beds, sea grass
     similar in form and function to                         the National Strategy include guidance                meadows, kelp bed, river deltas, and
     estuaries. * * *’’ For the purposes of                  on addressing trends of estuarine                     river and stream banks under tidal
     this Strategy, estuary is considered to                 habitats. For each estuarine habitat type,            influence.
     extend from the head of tide to the                     the Strategy addresses historic losses,                  There are several studies that
     boundary with the open sea (to                          estimated current rate of loss, the extent            document estuary habitat trends on both
     downstream terminus features or                         of the threat of future loss or                       a national and regional basis. For
     structures such as barrier islands, reefs,              degradation, and a measurement of the                 instance, Dahl (2000) summarized the
     sand bars, mud flats, or headlands in                   rate of change.                                       status and trends of wetlands in the
     close proximity to the connection with                     Understanding trends as well as the                conterminous United States from 1986–
     the open sea). In the Great Lakes,                      structure, function and extent of various             1997. Three categories of estuarine and
     riparian and nearshore areas will be                    estuary habitats is key to an effective               marine wetlands were included and
     considered to be estuaries. Estuary                     and efficient restoration program.                    together these comprise about five
     habitat includes the estuary and its                    Trends data provide a chronological and               percent (5.3 million acres) of the total
     associated ecosystems, such as: salt,                   geographic picture of change in habitat               wetland acreage in the conterminous
     brackish, and fresh water coastal                       types, thereby helping managers to                    United States. During the study period,
     marshes, coastal forested wetlands and                  recognize ecological stability or stress.             a net loss of 10,400 acres of estuarine
     other coastal wetlands, maritime forests,               They help to identify existing or                     and marine wetlands occurred. Filling
     coastal grasslands, tidal flats, natural                potential habitat threats so that early               or draining for urban and rural
     shoreline areas, shellfish beds, sea grass              action can be taken to avoid or rectify               development accounted for 43 percent
     meadows, kelp beds, river deltas, and                   them. This information can be used to                 of estuarine and marine wetland losses,
     river and stream corridors under tidal                  establish a baseline from which to                    while saltwater intrusion accounted for
     influence.                                              quantify restoration success. By                      an additional 12 percent of the loss.
        Some restoration projects can easily                 identifying both healthy and impaired                    Within two years, the Council will
     measure success in terms of acreage (for                ecosystems, trends information can help               review information available for estuary
     example, projects that plant vegetation),               managers to target habitat restoration                habitats concerning historic losses,
     but many cannot (for example, projects                  efforts in a cost-effective manner. For               current rates of loss, the extent of the
     that alter hydrology). By manipulating a                these reasons this Strategy will promote              threat of future loss or degradation, and
     relatively small area, the function of a                the development and use of trends data                measures of the rate of change, and
     much larger habitat area can be                         in designing restoration programs for                 identify gaps in trends information that
     improved. For the purposes of this                      estuary habitats.                                     can be addressed by the Council
     Strategy, therefore, the restored area will                Council member agencies use                        members and/or its partners. Data
     be defined as that area over which                      different terminology to describe                     collected will be used to identify
     appropriate monitoring can document                     estuarine habitat. The Council will use               regional and national restoration
     restored function.                                      a classification system based on                      priorities based on this information.
        The Estuary Habitat Restoration                      Cowardin et al. (1979). The Cowardin                     Organizations and agencies preparing
     Council developed this Strategy                         classification system is the national                 or updating estuary management or
     building on work done by Council                        standard for wetland mapping,                         restoration plans should incorporate
     member agencies, environmental                          monitoring and data reporting as                      available information on estuary trends
     professionals, and private conservation                 determined by the Federal Geographic                  in their documents and consider this
     organizations, including Restore                        Data Committee (http://www.fgdc.gov/).                data when establishing project
     America’s Estuaries (RAE). In                           Examples of the relevant classes are:                 priorities. Among the sources of
     consultation with restoration                           estuarine subtidal, including open                    information to consult are historic maps
     professionals, scientists, academics, and               water, bay bottoms, and reefs; estuarine              and navigation charts, State and local
     nonprofit organizations, RAE has                        intertidal emergents, such as salt marsh;             agencies, available aerial photography
     developed A National Strategy for                       estuarine intertidal forested/shrub, such             and other remote sensing data, Federal
     Coastal and Estuarine Habitat                           as mangroves; estuarine intertidal                    agencies, such as the members of the
     Restoration. The document provides a                    unconsolidated shore, such as beaches,                Estuary Habitat Restoration Council and
     framework for restoring function to                     bars and mudflats; and estuarine                      the United States Geological Survey,
     estuarine and coastal habitats, which                   aquatic bed, such as submerged or                     reports on Federal projects in estuaries,
     can aid in focusing restoration efforts to              floating estuarine vegetation. Freshwater             and universities conducting research in
     reach this Strategy’s million-acre goal.                habitat categories to be included                     local estuaries.
        This Strategy is dynamic. It will                    because they are estuarine-associated                    It is also important to collect
     evolve over time according to                           ecosystems or are found in the Great                  information relating to the causes of
     information collected through                           Lakes include: palustrine forested                    change in estuary habitat types,
     monitoring and research programs and                    wetlands, such as forest swamps or                    distribution, and quantity. This will
     feedback from restoration practitioners,                riparian zones; palustrine shrub                      help in defining the types of projects
     scientists, and public agencies and                     wetlands; and palustrine emergents,                   that may be needed, setting realistic
     private organizations. Reaching the one                 including inland marshes and wet                      goals, and influencing the design. For
     million acre goal will require further                  meadows.                                              example, if the primary limiting factor
     close coordination among the Federal                       For purposes of this Strategy, estuary             is water quality and the source of the
     partners, and state, local and private                  habitats will include the complex of                  problem is upstream, success of any


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     22418                             Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 86 / Friday, May 3, 2002 / Notices

     estuary restoration project might be                    Performance measures may be as simple                 estuarine and coastal habitat restoration
     limited until the upstream problem is                   as the number of acres of habitat                     varies significantly among the regions
     resolved.                                               directly restored or protected. Many                  and watersheds of the United States. In
       Project proposals submitted to the                    federally approved estuary management                 some coastal areas, only broad, coastal
     Council for potential funding should                    and restoration plans track major                     management planning has been
     contain information related to the trends               milestones or other implementation                    completed, while in other areas
     for estuary habitat types in the project                activities to ensure progress is                      sophisticated planning efforts with
     area and explain how this information                   occurring, or if it is not, to identify what          strong community and stakeholder
     was considered when developing the                      necessary steps to take to move forward.              participation have determined specific
     project proposal. The Council will give                    Successful plans also include trend                habitat restoration goals and priorities.
     priority to projects that clearly address               assessment, which is critical to                         By working with State and local
     historic losses in areas where steps are                watershed characterization, such as loss              agencies and nongovernmental
     being taken to address the causes of                    of historic estuarine habitat, land use,              organizations, the Council will help to
     degradation and where there is a                        development, recreation, and fisheries                identify gaps in planning, and
     reasonable likelihood of success in the                 pressures. This information is necessary              encourage sharing of information and
     foreseeable future.                                     to identify problems facing a given                   other collaborative efforts to improve
                                                             estuarine watershed and to select those               restoration plans. The Council will also
     Estuary Management or Habitat
                                                             actions necessary to return it to the                 seek to promote coordination of
     Restoration Plans [This section covers
                                                             desired state. Status and trend                       planning activities associated with other
     106(d)(2)]
                                                             information can help to assess the                    State and Federal programs. For
        This Strategy will be implemented in                 condition of the highest priority                     example, the Council will encourage
     a manner consistent with estuary                        resources and can forecast future                     regional planning workshops, bringing
     management or habitat restoration                       conditions should current trends                      together resource managers, scientists,
     plans. An estuary habitat restoration                   continue. It can also highlight data gaps.            and other stakeholders to establish
     plan is defined in the Act as ‘‘* * * any                  Finally, plans should identify                     restoration goals and priorities. The
     Federal or State plan for restoration of                management and restoration priorities.                Council could also identify and
     degraded estuary habitat that was                       Identifying regional or estuary-level                 recommend the use of successful
     developed with the substantial                          restoration priorities will help projects             planning frameworks such as those
     participation of appropriate public and                 address the most critical habitat needs.              developed by the National Estuary
     private stakeholders.’’ Included are the                The Council will give priority to those               Program and other examples.
     estuary habitat restoration components                  projects that have the best potential to
     of comprehensive conservation and                       restore critical habitat functions                    Ecosystem Level Approach [This section
     management plans approved under                         successfully. Improved planning will                  covers 106(d)(3)]
     section 320 of the Federal Water                        also allow benefits to be accrued over a                 This Strategy recognizes that
     Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), lake                     larger scale, enhancing the overall                   successful estuary restoration projects
     wide management plans or remedial                       effectiveness of restoration efforts.                 with multiple goals will improve
     action plans developed under section                       In accordance with the Act, every                  ecosystem function. Restoration projects
     118 of the FWPCA, management plans                      project considered for funding under                  should be designed using an ecosystem
     approved under the Coastal Zone                         this authority must address restoration               or watershed approach to re-establish a
     Management Act of 1972, and the                         needs identified in an estuary habitat                self-sustaining area that provides the
     interstate management plan developed                    restoration plan. Additionally, one of                structure and function necessary to
     pursuant to the Chesapeake Bay                          the factors for the Secretary of the Army             support the many interrelated physical,
     program under section 117 of the                        (Secretary) to consider when selecting a              biological, and chemical components of
     FWPCA.                                                  project to fund is whether the project is             healthy estuary habitats. An ecosystem
        Effective estuary habitat restoration                part of an approved Federal estuary                   or watershed approach will facilitate the
     plans typically contain common                          management or habitat restoration plan.               development of projects with multiple
     elements such as focusing on the                        This selection criterion will help ensure             benefits. Examining how actions fit into
     watershed as the basic management                       that the Strategy is implemented in a                 the surrounding area and considering
     unit, integrating good science with                     manner consistent with such plans.                    economic, recreational, water quality,
     sound decision-making, and                                 Agency staff supporting the Council                land use, and other parameters is
     emphasizing collaborative problem                       participated in and reviewed the results              necessary to achieve restoration goals.
     solving. Also essential is public and                   of a recent effort supported by the                   Estuarine habitats are a web of
     private stakeholder participation. This                 National Oceanic and Atmospheric                      interrelated components, each
     is crucial to the final success of any                  Administration (NOAA) and led by                      supporting and depending on the other
     plan, because those individuals and                     Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), a                  for healthy function.
     private interests affected by measures to               nongovernmental organization, to                         Estuary restoration projects that
     maintain and restore the estuary are                    review existing estuary restoration                   include physical and functional
     ultimately responsible for implementing                 plans. Plans reviewed included those                  restoration should provide healthy
     the plan. Providing them the                            developed for Federal programs such as                ecosystems to support wildlife,
     opportunity to design and contribute                    the National Estuary Program                          including endangered and threatened
     during early planning stages promotes                   (Comprehensive Conservation and                       species, migratory birds, and resident
     ‘‘buy-in’’ when the time comes to                       Management Plans), State Coastal Zone                 species of an estuary watershed, as well
     undertake restoration actions and                       Management Plans, and other State                     as fish and shellfish, including
     activities.                                             plans and watershed or estuary plans,                 commercial and recreational fisheries.
        Another component of successful                      such as the Puget Sound Water Quality                    Restoration of healthy ecosystem
     restoration plans is clearly identifying a              Management Plan and Ecoregional Plans                 function can provide improved water
     central goal or set of goals and                        developed by The Nature Conservancy.                  quality and flood control benefits. For
     describing means for measuring                          Review of these plans revealed that the               example, healthy and intact tidal
     progress toward achieving these goals.                  level and sophistication of planning for              wetlands filter water flowing from rivers


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                                       Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 86 / Friday, May 3, 2002 / Notices                                              22419

     and tributaries to the ocean, remove                    Restoration Partnership, a voluntary                  private parties to identify and publicize
     pollutants from runoff and trap and                     public-private partnership in which                   funding sources, and will also identify
     assimilate nutrients. Estuarine wetlands                corporations join with Federal and State              examples of effective partnerships that
     also have the capacity to store                         agencies to restore wetlands and other                have implemented estuary restoration
     floodwater and can provide a critical                   aquatic habitats.                                     projects. For example, the U.S.
     physical buffer between land and water,                    Private support can range from                     Environmental Protection Agency has
     protecting communities from flooding                    providing materials or funding to the                 established the Environmental Finance
     and storm surge.                                        use of volunteers for hands-on                        Program to assist communities in their
        Healthy estuaries also provide                       restoration or monitoring. One way to                 search for creative approaches to
     multiple opportunities for outdoor                      encourage resourceful, active                         funding their environmental projects.
     recreation, such as recreational fishing,               partnerships, and especially to                       Environmental finance centers at
     boating, birding, and a variety of water                acknowledge the efforts of volunteers, is             universities provide publications,
     sports. The recreation industry                         to establish annual awards recognizing                analyses of financing alternatives,
     dependent on healthy estuaries provides                 successful restoration efforts. These                 training, and technical assistance,
     significant income to coastal regions.                  awards may be given to a wide variety                 including workshops for local
     Restoration projects completed under                    of groups, including nongovernmental                  governments that discuss watershed-
     this Strategy may incorporate                           organizations, individuals, businesses,               financing alternatives. In 2001, the
     recreational features that are compatible               and local, State and Federal agencies to              National Estuary Program sponsored
     with the primary goal of restoring                      reward efforts at all levels.                         workshops on funding solutions for
     healthy habitat function.                                  Private partnerships may also be                   estuary programs and comprehensive
        In its review of project proposals, the              critical for those projects involving                 conservation management plan
     Council will support projects developed                 demonstration or pilot testing of an                  implementation. The National Fish and
     in an ecosystem context with multiple                   innovative technology. The estuary                    Wildlife Foundation and the Coastal
     benefits. The Council will work with                    habitat restoration program established               America Corporate Wetlands
     others to share examples of particularly                in the Act requires a non-Federal                     Restoration Partnership ( http://
     effective projects that exemplify this                  interest to provide a minimum of 35                   www.coastalamerica.gov/text/cwrp) are
     process.                                                percent of the costs of a restoration                 other examples of the resources
                                                             project. However, when innovative                     available to help non-Federal interests
     Partnerships [This section covers
                                                             technology is involved, the percentage                obtain support for estuary projects.
     106(d)(1)]
                                                             required to be contributed by the non-
       To achieve the goal of restoring one                  Federal interest shall be reduced to 15               Habitat Restoration Program [This
     million acres of estuary habitat, it will               percent for the incremental cost of using             section covers 106(d)(6) and (7)]
     be important to involve individuals and                 the new technology. The Council will                    The Act establishes ‘‘an estuary
     organizations from both the public and                  consider technology ‘‘innovative’’ if it              habitat restoration program under which
     private sectors. Enhancing partnerships                 involves a new process, technique, or                 the Secretary may carry out estuary
     among agencies and establishing new                     material or uses existing processes,                  habitat restoration projects and provide
     public-private partnerships is a central                techniques, or materials in a new                     technical assistance in accordance with
     theme of the Act and a critical part of                 application.                                          the requirements of this title.’’ This is
     this Strategy.                                             The non-Federal interests must                     one means for achieving the one million
       In order to meet the goals of the Act,                provide all of the lands, easements,                  acre goal of the Strategy. The statute
     the Council will improve coordination                   rights-of-way and relocations. The non-               includes requirements for non-Federal
     among existing restoration programs by                  Federal interest is also responsible for              origination of projects, selection criteria,
     reviewing and discussing programs                       all costs associated with operation,                  cost-sharing, operation and
     administered by agencies represented                    maintenance, replacement, repair and                  maintenance, authority for
     on the Council, and developing shared                   rehabilitation of the project, including              nongovernmental agencies to be
     goals and objectives for habitat                        monitoring. This presents many                        sponsors, a requirement for a written
     restoration. Although agencies may                      opportunities for the involvement of a                agreement between the non-Federal
     differ in their implementation strategies,              broad array of individuals and                        sponsor and the Secretary, and potential
     developing common goals will facilitate                 organizations to participate in the                   delegation of project implementation.
     coordination. The Council will also                     restoration effort.                                     The Act defines the term estuary
     coordinate with State habitat restoration                  To expand the base of support for                  habitat restoration activity to mean ‘‘an
     programs to improve the effectiveness of                restoration, the Council will encourage               activity that results in improving
     restoration efforts.                                    member Agencies and private partners                  degraded estuaries or estuary habitat or
       In order to maximize public-private                   to maintain and expand existing web                   creating estuary habitat (including both
     partnerships, the Council encourages                    sites that provide information on both                physical and functional restoration),
     collaboration among public agencies,                    public and private sources of funding                 with the goal of attaining a self-
     private organizations, companies, and                   for estuary projects. Web sites should                sustaining system integrated into the
     individuals (e.g., private landowners,                  include links to other web sites that                 surrounding landscape.’’ Projects
     hunters, birders, fishermen, etc.) in                   emphasize accomplishments of                          funded under this program will be
     restoration efforts. This connectivity                  completed restoration projects. Effective             consistent with this definition. Eligible
     encourages private organizations,                       implementation of any restoration plan                habitat restoration activities include re-
     companies, landowners and others to                     requires a well-developed funding                     establishment of chemical, physical,
     bring their resources (financial or in-                 strategy that identifies governmental,                hydrologic, and biological features and
     kind) to the table to assist in planning                nonprofit, and private resources to                   components associated with an estuary.
     and implementing successful restoration                 provide support both in the near and                  This may entail improvement of
     projects. There are several existing                    long term.                                            estuarine wetland tidal exchange or
     programs that provide models for                           The Council will work with other                   reestablishment of historic hydrology,
     successful partnerships, including the                  Federal, State and local agencies,                    providing fish passage, establishment of
     Coastal America Corporate Wetlands                      nongovernmental organizations and                     riparian buffer zones, construction of


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     22420                             Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 86 / Friday, May 3, 2002 / Notices

     reefs to promote fish and shellfish                     selecting a balance of smaller and larger             also be useful to compare the project
     production, reintroduction of native                    estuary habitat restoration projects, the             site to degraded, non-restored ‘‘control’’
     species, and control of nonnative or                    Council will use a combination of cost                sites to better document project-induced
     invasive species. Cleanup of pollution                  and acreage to be manipulated as                      improvements in habitat condition.
     for the benefit of estuary habitat may be               criteria to define small projects. In                    Ideally, restoration goals should be
     considered, as long as it does not meet                 general, a small project would be one                 quantitative, as well as spatially and
     the definition of excluded activities in                with a Federal cost of $250,000 or less               temporally specific. Project goals should
     the Act. Excluded activities are those                  and that manipulates 50 acres or less.                also be measurable and realistic. A
     required for mitigation of adverse effects              The Council will discuss and classify                 realistic goal should consider causes of
     of a regulated activity or that constitutes             projects that cannot be easily                        past decline of the habitat proposed for
     restoration for natural resource                        characterized as ‘‘small’’ because of                 restoration and surrounding land cover
     damages.                                                conflicts between cost and acreage                    and ecosystem conditions. Monitoring
        Section 104(c) of the Act contains four              factors. The availability of funding,                 data should be used to guide project
     required elements and seven listed                      project costs, and the nature of the                  operations and maintenance.
     selection factors to be considered by the               proposals will affect the ability to assure              Specific project goals will determine
     Secretary of the Army when                              equitable geographic distribution of                  the appropriate complexity of each
     determining which projects to fund.                     projects funded by this program. In any               monitoring plan. The project must
     Projects must address restoration needs                 one year, the Council may recommend                   include monitoring on a regular basis
     identified in an estuary plan, be                       funding more projects in one region                   and over a meaningful time period. The
     consistent with this Strategy, include a                than another but will consider the                    length of the ideal monitoring program
     monitoring plan, and include                            number, scope and cost of funded                      will vary depending on the habitat type
     satisfactory assurance that the non-                    projects in a region when making                      and project goals for restoring function,
     Federal interest has adequate authority                 subsequent funding decisions.                         but should always include pre-
     and resources. The listed selection                       The goal will be to select those                    construction measurements to establish
     factors are: inclusion in an approved                   projects of highest national priority                 baseline conditions, monitoring during
     Federal plan, technical feasibility,                    while assuring that all regions of the                project construction to determine
     scientific merit, encouragement of                      country benefit from the program. The                 whether to adjust techniques or goals,
     increased cooperation among                             Council will explore various means for                and post-construction monitoring to
     government agencies at all levels,                      defining national priorities and consider             confirm success of the restoration and
     fostering of public-private partnerships,               those priorities in project selection.                alert project managers to the need for
     cost effectiveness, and whether the State                                                                     adjustments. Project monitoring should
                                                             Ensuring Success                                      document any changes to the original
     has a dedicated source of funding for
     acquisition or restoration of estuary                      The Act stipulates that monitoring is              construction specifications, including
     habitat. If a project merits selection                  essential for evaluating and                          what problems were encountered, the
     based on the above criteria, then priority              documenting our progress toward                       reasoning behind any changes, and any
     consideration will be given to a project                reaching the goal of restoring one                    changes the project staff would
     if it: (a) Occurs within a watershed                    million acres of estuary habitat. By                  recommend with the knowledge they
     where there is a program being                          closely tracking progress at the project              now possess. Information on changes
     implemented that addresses sources of                   level, we can determine whether                       from baseline conditions and
     pollution and other activities that                     individual projects contribute to                     comparison to reference or control sites
     otherwise would adversely affect the                    meeting the goals of estuary and                      should be included as well.
     restored habitat water quality in the                   regional restoration plans, and tally                    Beyond monitoring individual
     watershed; or (b) includes an innovative                habitat acreage restored over a national              restoration projects, local, State or
     technology having the potential for                     scale. In addition to monitoring at the               regional groups should also conduct
     improved cost-effectiveness.                            project level, ecosystem-level                        monitoring over the estuary or regional
        The Council will consider the factors                monitoring may also be needed to judge                scale to allow a more complete
     discussed above during its review and                   restoration success. Monitoring                       evaluation of restoration successes.
     ranking of proposals for the Secretary’s                information will allow restoration                    System-wide monitoring of water
     consideration. Additional criteria may                  planners and practitioners to modify                  quality and other habitat parameters can
     also be developed by the Council to                     their efforts according to on-the-ground              gauge ecosystem improvements beyond
     facilitate review and these will be                     results, and can build long-term public               those achieved at project sites.
     included in the program guidance. The                   support for habitat protection and                    Additionally, remote sensing may be
     list of recommended projects will be                    restoration efforts.                                  useful in documenting both baseline
     provided in priority order. The                            Because monitoring is essential to                 habitat information and large-scale
     Secretary may consider other factors                    both documenting success and adapting                 changes in habitat coverage and
     when selecting projects to fund from the                project and program approaches, it                    conditions.
     list provided by the Council.                           should be a central concern of those                     The restoration and maintenance of
        In addition to considering the                       designing a restoration project or                    healthy coasts and estuaries will require
     selection and priority factors in sections              regional restoration plan. For each                   the long-term support of a broad cross-
     104(c)(3) and (4), the Secretary will also              habitat type to be restored, the                      section of the public. Including local
     select a balance of smaller and larger                  monitoring plan should define the                     communities in planning and
     estuary habitat projects and ensure an                  desired structure and functions in the                implementing restoration projects will
     equitable geographic distribution of the                context of project goals, and identify                build interest in protecting and
     funded projects. The Council recognizes                 attributes indicating those functions.                maintaining restored habitat. Increased
     that the scope of a project is not always               Quantitative performance standards for                awareness of the attributes needed to
     directly proportional to the cost and that              projects should include functional and                sustain healthy habitat will increase
     projects are sometimes difficult to                     structural elements and be linked to                  local stewardship of the environment
     characterize adequately in terms of                     appropriate, local reference habitats that            and will help to ensure the long-term
     acreage to be restored. For purposes of                 represent ‘‘target conditions.’’ It may               success of restoration projects.


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                                       Federal Register / Vol. 67, No. 86 / Friday, May 3, 2002 / Notices                                            22421

       The National Oceanic and                                 The Council will prepare additional                requirement for public consultation to
     Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),                      documents and make them available for                 the extent that public participation in
     in consultation with the Council, will                  public comment regarding habitat                      the approval process would defeat the
     develop standard data formats for                       restoration program implementation and                purpose of the information collection,
     project monitoring, along with                          the development of the monitoring                     violate State or Federal law, or
     requirements for types of data collected                standards. As indicated in this Strategy,             substantially interfere with any agency’s
     and frequency of monitoring. These                      the Council will promote a variety of                 ability to perform its statutory
     standards will build on existing inter-                 efforts to facilitate promotion of                    obligations. The Leader, Regulatory
     agency efforts to develop monitoring                    partnerships and efficient, effective                 Information Management, Office of the
     protocols and restoration databases.                    restoration of estuary habitats.                      Chief Information Officer, publishes this
     These standards are not intended to                     References
                                                                                                                   notice containing proposed information
     limit the types of information gathered                                                                       collection requests at the beginning of
     by project managers, but rather to                        Cowardin, L.M. V. Carter, F.C. Golet, and           the Departmental review of the
                                                             E.T. LaRoe. 1979. ‘‘Classification of wetlands
     ensure that data will be useful to other                and deepwater habitats of the United States.’’
                                                                                                                   information collection. Each proposed
     parties, and to facilitate regional and                 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Biological            information collection, grouped by
     national tracking of restoration success.               Services Program; FWS/OBS–79/31. 131 pp.              office, contains the following: (1) Type
     Consistent data collection and reporting                Dahl, T.C. 2000. ‘‘Status and trends of               of review requested, e.g., new, revision,
     standards should clarify results, make                  wetlands in the contiguous United States,             extension, existing or reinstatement; (2)
     selection and justification of restoration              1986–1997.’’ US Department of the Interior,           Title; (3) Summary of the collection; (4)
     methods more straightforward, ensure                    Fish and Wildlife Service. Washington, DC.            Description of the need for, and
     that success is documented based on                     Luz D. Ortiz,                                         proposed use of, the information; (5)
     sufficient data, enhance the restoration                Army Federal Register Liaison Officer.
                                                                                                                   Respondents and frequency of
     knowledge base, and increase the                                                                              collection; and (6) Reporting and/or
                                                             [FR Doc. 02–11074 Filed 5–2–02; 8:45 am]
     comparability of data among restoration                                                                       Recordkeeping burden. ED invites
                                                             BILLING CODE 3710–92–P
     projects.                                                                                                     public comment.
       In addition to developing monitoring                                                                          The Department of Education is
     data standards, NOAA will also                                                                                especially interested in public comment
     maintain a database of information                      DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION                               addressing the following issues: (1) Is
     concerning estuary habitat restoration                                                                        this collection necessary to the proper
                                                             Notice of Proposed Information
     projects carried out under the Act,                                                                           functions of the Department; (2) will
                                                             Collection Requests
     including information on project                                                                              this information be processed and used
     techniques, project completion,                         AGENCY:  Department of Education.                     in a timely manner, (3) is the estimate
     monitoring data, and other relevant                     ACTION:  Notice of proposed information               of burden accurate; (4) how might the
     information. This database will be                      collection requests.                                  Department enhance the quality, utility,
     Internet-accessible, to allow widespread                                                                      and clarity of the information to be
     dissemination and use of restoration                    SUMMARY: The Leader, Regulatory                       collected, and (5) how might the
     project and monitoring data.                            Information Management, Office of the                 Department minimize the burden of this
                                                             Chief Information Officer, invites                    collection on respondents, including
     Conclusions                                             comments on the proposed information                  through the use of information
        The actions described in this Strategy               collection requests as required by the                technology.
     facilitate reaching the goal of restoring               Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.
                                                                                                                     Dated: April 29, 2002.
     one million acres of estuary habitat by                 DATES: An emergency review has been
                                                                                                                   John Tressler,
     2010. There are many existing programs                  requested in accordance with the Act
                                                                                                                   Leader, Regulatory Information Management,
     and organizations actively involved in                  (44 U.S.C. Chapter 3507(j)), since public             Office of the Chief Information Officer.
     estuary restoration whose efforts will                  harm is reasonably likely to result if
     also contribute significantly to estuary                normal clearance procedures are                       Office of Educational Research and
     restoration. Examples include the                       followed. Approval by the Office of                   Improvement
     National Estuary Program, the National                  Management and Budget (OMB) has                          Type of Review: Reinstatement.
     Estuarine Research Reserve System,                      been requested by May 3, 2002.                           Title: Fund for the Improvement of
     Restore America’s Estuaries member                      ADDRESSES: Written comments                           Education: Partnerships in Character
     organizations, and the program                          regarding the emergency review should                 Education Program.
     implementing the Coastal Wetlands                       be addressed to the Office of                            Abstract: This application package,
     Planning, Protection, and Restoration                   Information and Regulatory Affairs,                   based on the Department of Education’s
     Act.                                                    Attention: Karen Lee, Desk Officer:                   Generic Application package, has
        The Strategy is intended to be                       Department of Education, Office of                    program specific criteria which is used
     dynamic. Working with the                               Management and Budget; 725 17th                       to provide guidance to applicants on
     organizations listed above and other                    Street, NW., Room 10235, New                          new statutory requirements. Because
     interested stakeholders, the Council will               Executive Office Building, Washington,                this application package is based on the
     review and refine this Strategy over time               DC 20503.                                             generic application package, it is in an
     in an iterative process, as new                         SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Section                    easily recognizable format for
     information becomes available and                       3506 of the Paperwork Reduction Act of                applicants. It is necessary to announce
     progress toward meeting the goals of the                1995 (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35) requires                  the competition as soon as possible to
     Act is evaluated. Section 108(a) of the                 that the Director of OMB provide                      allow state education agencies (SEAs)
     Act requires the Secretary to report to                 interested Federal agencies and the                   and local education agencies (LEAs)
     Congress at the end of the third and fifth              public an early opportunity to comment                time to submit the application with a
     fiscal years. As part of this process the               on information collection requests. The               reasonable expectation that awards will
     Council will review the Strategy and                    Office of Management and Budget                       be made before the next school year
     update as necessary.                                    (OMB) may amend or waive the                          begins.


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