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PLANNING UPDATE

June 25, 2005

   

Proposed RMP/Final EIS Released.  On June 10, 2005, the Proposed Resource Management Plan (RMP)/Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the California Coastal National Monument (CCNM) was formally released for public review. With this document, BLM has completed the environmental impact statement and is identifying the proposed strategies for managing and protecting the public lands contained within the CCNM. The Proposed RMP/Final EIS reflects the input and comments from governmental agencies, private organizations, and numerous individuals on the CCNM Draft RMP/Draft EIS issued in August 2004. In addition, the release initiates a 30-day public protest period that runs through July 11, 2005.

Proposed RMP Identifies Six Implementation Priorities. BLM has identified a number of topics that could serve as its initial implementation priorities for the CCNM RMP. Of these topics, six have been proposed for immediate attention to ensure that the RMP implementation contains specific actions that reflect both the intent of the Presidential Proclamation and key management initiatives that will produce visible results. The first three key priorities are (1) protecting CCNM resources and resource values, (2) developing and maintaining partnerships, and (3) conducting, maintaining, and updating a CCNM site characterization study and survey, followed by (4) establishing and supporting a dozen CCNM Gateways, (5) developing and implementing a CCNM seabird conservation initiative that will help fill some of the gaps in the existing California seabird conservation activities, and (6) designing and help with maintaining a tidepool connections network. It is not intended that these be the only aspects of the CCNM that BLM and its partners may be working on, but they are the key priorities, and when push comes to shove, they will override other potential initiatives until additional funding and staffing becomes available to take on more.

Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Signs MOU to Become a CCNM Collaborative Partner.  RFA became the newest CCNM Collaborative Partner with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by RFA Executive Director James A. Donofrio on May 20, 2005, and BLM California State Director Mike Pool on May 25, 2005. Incorporated in 1993 as an independent, non-profit 501(c)(4) corporation, the RFA focuses its efforts on representing individual sport fishermen and the sport fishing industry and is organized to safeguard the rights of saltwater anglers, protect marine, boat and tackle industry jobs, and insure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s marine fisheries. As a collaborating partner, RFA will work with BLM and its CCNM partners to assist with the long-term protection and administration of the CCNM and its various resources and resource values.  In addition, RFA will serve as a liaison for BLM with the California recreational fishing community and recreational fishing organizations. ”If there is a problem with coastal resources, recreational anglers want to be part of the solution, said Dr. Fred Hollander of the RFA.  “At the same time, we want to preserve our coastal fishing access that Californians cherish.”

Right-of-Way Issued to USCG for Reading & Mooring Rocks.  The BLM’s Arcata Field Office recently issued a right-of-way to the U.S. Coast Guard (USGS) authorizing the existing aids-to-navigation (ATNs) on Reading Rock and Mooring Rock, two CCNM rocks off the Humboldt County coast. Reading Rock (also known as Redding Rock) is located about 4½ miles offshore of Orick and Mooring Rock is located just outside the mouth of the Albion River near Albion. In March of 2003, the CCNM Manager received a call from the USCG in Alameda inquiring about what it would take to get approval to drop the steel portion of the ATN framework on Reading Rock into the ocean when they replaced it with a new ATN. Since, according to BLM’s records, the USCG did not have a current withdrawal on Reading Rock, awareness of this proposed USCG action provided the opportunity to begin discussions with the USCG regarding granting them a right-of-way for the Reading Rock ATN, a right-of-way with stipulations that would restrict activities to minimize further impact to the Common Murre (a seabird) colony on the rock. After consideration of various options, including removing the current ATN or replacing it with a buoy), the addition of Mooring Rock (another ATN within the CCNM that required BLM authorization), and the completion of an environmental assessment and related compliance processes, a right-of-way was issued to the USCG. This experience provides a template for future ATN right-of-way applications and may provide a viable option if the USCG is interested in removing any current withdrawals on offshore rocks under its jurisdiction therefore making them eligible for inclusion in the CCNM, but authorizing any needed ATNs with rights-of-way from BLM.

Aaron King Hired as CCNM Research & Grants Coordinator in Shared Position with NOAA’s NMPAC.  In March 2005, Aaron King was finally hired as a BLM employee on the CCNM staff. He had been on loan half-time to the CCNM for the past year. A 15 year veteran of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with experience in managing marine fisheries and marine protected areas, Aaron will operate in a shared position with NOAA’s National Marine Protected Area Center (NMPAC). He will serve half-time as the CCNM’s Research and Grants Coordinator, with initial focus on the CCNM Site Characterization Project, and half-time as the NMPAC’s Navigating Marine Protected Areas Project Manager. Aaron has a BA Degree in Biology from UC Santa Cruz and a MS Degree in Marine Science from CSU’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

CCNM Introduced to MARINe. Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager, and Aaron King, CCNM Research Coordinator, received a great introduction to the Multi-Agency Rocky Intertidal Network, better known as “MARINe”, by spending the afternoons of March 10 and 11, 2005, in the field working with a MARINe monitoring team. Rick and Aaron joined the U.S. Minerals Management Service’s (MMS’s) MARINe coordinator Mary Elaine Dunaway and her crew of three research technicians from UC Santa Cruz and assisted the team with the bi-annual monitoring of two sites along the San Luis Obispo County coast. The first day’s site was at Montano del Oro State Park and the second day’s site was at Shell Beach on San Luis Bay. Both locations are situated near rocks of the CCNM. Focusing on intertidal target species, the monitoring methods included band transects and irregular plot measuring for sea stars and abalone, invertebrate counts and size frequencies plots, transects measuring surfgrass cover, and scored photo plots. Coordinated by MMS, BLM’s sister agency within the U.S. Department of the Interior, MARINe is a network of more than two dozen governmental agencies, universities, and private organizations working together on long-term monitoring of shoreline resources to provide a better understanding of the dynamics of rocky intertidal communities.

U.S.Navy Offered “Steward” Role for CCNM rocks off San Nicolas & San Clemente Islands.  Following the tours of San Nicolas and San Clemente Islands and an exchange of letters discussing the Navy’s concern regarding the CCNM and related jurisdictional issues, the BLM has offered the Navy the option of serving as a CCNM “Steward” for the rocks off of San Nicolas and San Clemente Islands. An initial draft of a MOU has been sent to the Navy Region Southwest for review.

CCNM Manager’s Meetings.  Over the past four months, the CCNM Manager attended a variety of meetings or participated in a number of events related to the CCNM. Some of the key meetings and events are listed below:

  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s Currents 2005 Syposium, staffed a CCNM display & spoke with many of the 200 attendees, including representatives from various federal  & state agencies, universities, & non-governmental organizations, as well as members of the public; California State University Monterey Bay, Seaside, CA, March 12, 2005
  • BLM Washington Office briefing on PRMP, via a conference call with Jim Abbott, BLM’s California State Office (CASO) Associate State Director and representatives from the planning, recreation, & National Landscape Conservation System staffs of BLM’s Washington (DC) Office, as well as various CASO personnel & contacts from each of the 5 BLM California coastal field offices; BLM CASO, Sacramento, CA, April 8, 2005
  • Stornetta Ranch Public Lands Dedication, Point Arena, CA, May 14, 2005
  • California Coastal Commission-Central Coast District Office briefing on PRMP, Ellen Faurot-Daniels, Oil Spill Program Supervisor (& CCNM contact representative), & Lee Otter, District Chief Planner, May 24, 2005
  • Pigeon Point Light Station transfer from Federal ownership to California State Parks, with Secretary of the Interior Gail Norton & California Department of Parks & Recreation Director Ruth Coleman, San Mateo County, CA, May 25, 2005
  • The Ocean Conservancy briefing on PRMP, Kaitilin Gaffney, California Central Coast Program Manager, Santa Cruz, CA, June 24, 2005.

Contact Information.  Any questions, comments, concerns, or requests for additional information?  Contact Rick Hanks, CCNM Manager, 299 Foam Street, Monterey, CA 93940, telephone (831) 372-6105 or 372-6115, or e-mail at hhanks@ca.blm.gov or cacnm@ca.blm.gov.


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