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21 National Park System Units Nominated For "Marine Protected Area" Status


The waters off Cape Cod National Seashore are among those recently nominated for status as "Marine Protected Areas." Kurt Repanshek photo.

Twenty-one units of the National Park System, including five national seashores and four national lakeshores, have been nominated for status as "Marine Protected Areas."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Protected Areas Center, in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, has created a first-ever inventory of the nation’s marine protected areas. This unique, comprehensive inventory catalogs and classifies marine protected areas within U.S. waters. Thirty-two sites, including the 21 National Park Service sites and several national wildlife refuges, have been nominated to join the national system of Marine Protected Areas.

What does such designation extend? Here's how that question is answered in the Federal Register notice on this matter:

Benefits of joining the national system of MPAs, which are expected to increase over time as the system matures, include a facilitated means to work with other MPAs in the region, and nationally on issues of common conservation concern; fostering greater public and international recognition of MPAs, MPA programs, and the resources they protect; priority in the receipt of available technical support, MPA partnership grants with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, cooperative project participation, and other support for cross-cutting needs; and the opportunity to influence Federal and regional ocean conservation and management initiatives (such as integrated ocean observing systems, systematic monitoring and evaluation, targeted outreach to key user groups, and helping to identify and address MPA research needs).

In addition, the national system provides a forum for coordinated regional planning about place-based conservation priorities that does not currently exist. Joining the national system does not restrict or require changes affecting the designation process for new MPAs or management of existing MPAs. It does not bring State, territorial or local sites under Federal authority. It does not establish new regulatory authority or interfere with the exercise of existing agency authorities. The national system is a mechanism to foster great collaboration among participating MPA sites and programs to enhance stewardship in the waters of the United States.

National Park System units proposed for inclusion are:

* Acadia National Park

* Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

* Buck Island Reef National Monument

* Cabrillo National Monument

* Canaveral National Seashore

* Cape Cod National Seashore

* Cape Hatteras National Seashore

* Cape Lookout National Seashore

* Fire Island National Seashore

* Gateway National Recreation Area

* Golden Gate National Recreation Area

* Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

* Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

* Kalaupapa National Historical Park

* Kaloko-Honokahau National Historical Park

* National Park of American Samoa

* Olympic National Park

* Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

* Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve

* San Juan Island National Historical Park

* Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Developed in response to Executive Order 13158 on Marine Protected Areas, the final framework for the national system was published on November 19, 2008. Comments on the nominations to the national system are due February 22, 2010.



Why not Padre Island NS and Gulf Islands NS?

Watch for an update on this topic in Traveler. There are now 26 NPS units in the National System of Marine Protected Areas. Padre Island and Gulf Islands have not yet been added to the system.

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