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Marine Sanctuaries in Northern California Slated for Expansion

April 14 2014 | Ocean Ecosystems, Marine Protected Areas,
by Pete Stauffer

The federal government is moving forward with plans to expand the Gulf of Farollones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries to protect the northern California coast from offshore drilling.

Under the proposal of the National Ocean & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the sanctuaries would be enlarged by nearly 2,800 square miles, more than doubling their size. The new boundaries would extend 50 miles north up the coast to include Sonoma County and much of Mendocino County.

The sanctuary expansion would protect the region’s outstanding marine habitats, wildlife, fisheries, and recreational areas from the threat of oil and gas drilling. The designation would not affect fishing, boating, or other existing uses.

The announcement follows years of effort by Rep. Lynn Woolsey and other federal leaders to expand the sanctuary boundaries north. Woolsey, who retired from Congress last year, had championed legislation to provide similar protection. However, HR 192, which was supported by Surfrider chapters in the region, failed to pass, despite broad support from stakeholders and community leaders in northern California.

NOAA has released a proposed rule, a draft environmental impact statement (EIS), and draft revised management plans as part of the sanctuary expansion process. NOAA is soliciting public comment on these documents through June 30th, 2014. To access the documents and provide comments please click here.

NOAA is also holding public hearings to solicit public input in the following locations:

May 22, 2014, Sausalito, 6 pm-U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model Visitor Center, 2100 Bridgeway Blvd., Sausalito, CA 95465

June 16, 2014, Point Arena, 6 pm-Point Arena City Hall, 451 School Street, Point Arena, CA 95468

June 17, 2014, Gualala, 6 pm-Gualala Community Center, 47950 Center Street, Gualala, CA 95445

June 18, 2014, Bodega Bay, 6 pm-Grange Hall, 1370 Bodega Avenue, Bodega Bay, CA 94923

The Surfrider Foundation strongly supports the the proposal to expand the National Marine Sanctuaries off California and looks forward to reviewing and providing comments on the draft documents.

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