• Purple, yellow, gold and orange sponges and soft corals wave against a turquioise sea.

    Biscayne

    National Park Florida

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Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan

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Date: July 21, 2010
Contact: Elsa Alvear, 305-23-1144, x002

An Open Letter from the Superintendent Regarding the Mooring Buoy & Marker Plan

The National Park Service (NPS) today announced the availability of the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan within Biscayne National Park. Public workshops will be held from six to eight p.m. on August 3, 2010 in Florida City Commission Chambers, 404 West Palm Drive, Florida City, FL 33034-3346 and on August 4, 2010 at Crowne Plaza Miami International Airport, 950 N.W. LeJeune Road, Miami, FL 33126. The public is encouraged to attend at any time during the meeting. The workshop format will be informal, though a brief presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Park staff will be on hand to discuss the EA and answer questions. Exhibits will be on display to help the public understand the project. People attending will have the opportunity to offer written or verbal comments.

The purpose of this EA is to assist the NPS in analyzing the impacts from different alternatives to manage its embedded and floating marker system, as well as to determine criteria for adding or relocating markers and mooring buoys. The marine areas of the park are a great place to recreate, and embedded and floating aids to navigation and informational markers are integral to safe boating practices. Additionally, mooring buoys can be utilized to protect sensitive marine resources such as seagrass beds, coral reefs, and historic shipwrecks. To ensure visitor safety and resource protection, one of the proposed actions is to test shallow water mooring fields to determine if they can take the place of beaching and anchoring in crowded areas such as Biscayne Channel and Sands Cut. This plan is also intended to formalize the park’s Maritime Heritage Trail in order to offer a greater variety of visitor experiences.

The EA analyzes the environmental impacts associated with the proposed plan, and addresses the National Park Service need to develop a defined buoy and marker management framework. Two alternatives are discussed:

  1. The no action alternative would continue current management of the park’s mooring buoy and marker system, with no changes to the existing network of buoys and markers, or their associated maintenance. Maintenance of the existing mooring buoys and markers would be continued by volunteer efforts and by the maintenance division on no regular schedule. Visitor access to mooring buoys and the associated experience of park resources would not be changed; and,
  2. The preferred alternative would implement a defined management strategy and an adaptive management approach to the park’s installation, placement, and maintenance of buoys and markers. The plan would use siting criteria, monitoring data, and a set of management tools to identify appropriate locations and types of mooring buoys and markers to meet plan objectives. The plan includes actions to address immediate needs within the park to protect resources, reduce visitor crowding, and improve safety of navigation. The plan would also formalize a new visitor experience in the park, the Maritime Heritage Trail, in which visitors could experience submerged archeological sites.

A copy of the plan and EA is available on the NPS park planning website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov.

Printed copies of the plan and EA will also be available for review at the following public libraries:

MONROE COUNTY
Key Largo Branch Library, 101485 Overseas Highway, Key Largo 33047

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY
Main Library, 101 W. Flagler Street, Miami 33130
South Dade Regional Library, 10750 S.W. 211th Street, Miami 33189

The NPS will accept written comments through September 3, 2010. If you wish to comment on the Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan EA scoping, you may submit your comments by any one of several methods. You may mail comments to Biscayne National Park, 9700 SW 328th Street, Homestead, Florida 33033, Attention Mooring Buoy and Marker Plan. You may also comment via the Internet at http://parkplanning.nps.gov. If you do not receive a confirmation from the system that we have received your Internet message, contact Biscayne at 305-230-1144. You may submit verbal and written comments at one of our public meetings. Finally, you may hand-deliver comments to Biscayne National Park, 9700 SW 328th Street, Homestead, Florida 33033. 

Please be aware that names and addresses of respondents may be released if requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Our practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address from the record, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. There also may be circumstances in which we would withhold from the record a respondent's identity, as allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comment. We will make all submissions from organizations, or businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses, available for public inspection in their entirety. Anonymous comments may be included in the public record. However, the NPS is not legally required to consider or respond to anonymous comments.

Did You Know?

Caribbean Spiny Lobster

While lobstering is permitted in Biscayne National Park, the tasty crustaceans are protected in the Biscayne Bay-Card Sound Lobster Sanctuary, where harvest is prohibited year round. More...