Draft Wilderness Breach Management Plan/Environmental Impact Statement


In October 2012, a breach was formed in the National Park Service (NPS) Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness as a result of storm effects from Hurricane Sandy. The NPS has prepared an environmental impact statement (EIS) to evaluate alternatives for managing the breach and is seeking public comment on the plan/EIS. The purpose of taking action at this time is to determine how to manage the breach that formed within the Fire Island Wilderness. The draft Breach Plan/EIS has several goals: ensuring the continued integrity of the wilderness character; protecting the natural and cultural features of the Seashore and its surrounding ecosystems; protecting human life; and managing the risk of economic and physical damage to the surrounding areas.

Managing a breach in designated wilderness is different from managing breaches outside wilderness areas, as the NPS must manage federal wilderness to preserve wilderness character. Management of the Fire Island Wilderness must comply with the Wilderness Act of 1964; the 1980 legislation that established the Fire Island Wilderness, the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Act; and the 1983 Wilderness Management Plan Fire Island National Seashore, which governs NPS actions taken in the Fire Island Wilderness.

This draft Breach Plan/EIS evaluates three alternatives. Alternative 1 (Closure Using Mechanical Processes) would mechanically close the breach as soon as possible. Alternative 2 (Status Determined Entirely by Natural Processes) is the no-action alternative; this alternative would allow the management of the breach under natural processes, to include evolution and potential growth and/or natural closure. Alternative 3 (No Human Intervention unless Established Criteria are Exceeded), the proposed action, is identified as the Seashore's preferred alternative. Under alternative 3, the evolution, growth, and/or closure of the breach would be determined by natural barrier island processes, and human intervention to close the breach would occur only "to prevent loss of life, flooding, and other severe economic and physical damage to the Great South Bay and surrounding areas," as allowed by the Otis Pike Fire Island High Dune Wilderness Act. If the breach were to close by natural processes, no human intervention would be taken to reopen it. The breach would be closed mechanically if evaluation of annual monitoring data indicate that changes in the conditions of the breach could elevate the risk of severe storm damage. The draft Breach Plan/EIS analyzes the potential consequences of these three alternatives on the following resources: wilderness character, sediment transport and geomorphology, water quality, ecosystem structure and processes, benthic communities, finfish and decapod crustaceans, public health and safety, flood conditions, and socioeconomics.

NPS invites you to attend a public meeting on November 7, 2016 from 7:00pm to 8:30pm at the Patchogue-Watch Hill Ferry Terminal at 150 West Ave in Patchogue, New York.

We are only accepting written comments, which can be submitted either through this website or via postal letter. Comments will only be accepted during the public review period which ends December 12, 2016. Comments must be submitted or be postmarked by midnight on December 12, 2016 to be considered. Please reference this project by name on all hardcopy correspondence. Mail hardcopy correspondence to Chris Soller, Superintendent, Fire Island National Seashore, 120 Laurel Street, Patchogue, NY 11772.

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment - including your personal identifying information - may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask us in your correspondence to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.
 
Comment Period: Closed        10/24/2016 - 12/12/2016
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