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Oct 29 -- NOAA is seeking public input by December 28, 2021 on how NOAA should, using its existing authorities and associated measures, conserve and restore America's ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. In addition, it invites the public to participate in a virtual listening forums on November 8 and 16, 2021.
 
On May 6, 2021, the U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality released a preliminary report on Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful (Report). The Report recommends a decade-long national initiative to advance locally led conservation and restoration in public, private, and tribal lands and waters toward addressing three threats: Disappearance of nature, climate change, and inequitable access to the outdoors.
 
Guided by the Report's eight core principles and six focus areas, NOAA is seeking public input on how NOAA should, using its existing authorities and associated measures, conserve and restore America's ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes.    
 
The Report proposes guidelines for determining whether lands and waters qualify for conservation, and establishes mechanisms to measure and monitor progress toward the 30-percent goal. This will be accomplished through two complementary steps described in the Report. The first is the development of an American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas, which will provide a baseline assessment of the amount and types of lands and waters that are currently being managed for conservation and restoration purposes, as well as track progress of conservation and restoration efforts going forward. The Atlas will be developed by an interagency working group of agency experts, co-chaired by NOAA, with input from the public, states, tribal nations, scientists, and a wide range of stakeholders. The second step is the publication of annual America the Beautiful updates on Federal efforts to support locally led conservation and restoration efforts, with the first update due by the end of 2021.
 
The Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce through the NOAA Administrator, and the Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality are directed by the President to solicit input from state, local, tribal, and territorial officials, agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, and other key stakeholders in identifying strategies that will encourage broad participation in the goal of conserving at least 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
 
NOAA has significant experience in the conservation and restoration of U.S. lands and waters. Accordingly, NOAA has existing authorities, as well as associated regulations, conservation and management plans, and similar measures. These include the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act, Coral Reef Conservation Act, and others. NOAA is seeking public input on the use of NOAA's existing authorities and associated measures to advance the goals and recommendations in the Report, including the eight core principles and six areas of early focus and progress. As such, NOAA invites the public to provide input to help guide NOAA's conservation and restoration of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources; NOAA's engagement on the development of the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas; and NOAA's efforts to track its progress toward advancing the goals and recommendations in the Report for inclusion in the annual updates. Specifically, NOAA is seeking public input on the following:

Which of NOAA's existing authorities and associated measures, as listed above, are most appropriate for addressing the threats identified in the Report, which are the disappearance of nature, climate change, and inequitable access to the outdoors.  
 
Whether NOAA should better apply its existing authorities and associated measures, as listed above, to advance the goals and recommendations in the Report.
 
What criteria NOAA should consider in working with other agencies to identify existing or potential new “conserved” or “restored” areas for the purpose of advancing the goals and recommendations in the Report.
 
What additional scientific information, Indigenous Knowledge, or other expertise NOAA should consider in order to advance the goals and recommendations in the Report.
 
How NOAA should consider tracking its actions and measuring its progress, including with partners, toward advancing the goals and recommendations in the Report.
 
What actions NOAA should consider taking to support non-Federal entities, including tribal, state, territorial, and local governments and non-governmental organizations and other private entities, to advance their efforts to conserve and restore U.S. lands and waters.
 
What actions NOAA should consider taking to facilitate broad participation in the America the Beautiful initiative.
 
What additional information NOAA should consider as relevant to its role in implementing the America the Beautiful initiative.
 
More information on NOAA's authorities, the eight core principles and six areas of early focus and progress in the Report, and other relevant resources is available at NOAA's website for Conserving and Restoring America the Beautiful: https://noaa.gov/​america-the-beautiful.
 
FR RFI: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2021/10/29/2021-23590/request-for-information-on-noaa-actions-to-advance-the-goals-and-recommendations-in-the-report-on

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