NOAA 2002-R418
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Stephanie Balian
6/24/02
NOAA News Releases 2002
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NOAA's MONTEREY BAY NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY BEGINS
SEARCH FOR VISITOR CENTER SITE
Seacliff State Beach, Cities of Monterey and Santa Cruz Considered

The Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary has contracted with AMS Planning & Research of Petaluma, Calif., to conduct a comparative feasibility study of potential locations for a new marine sanctuary visitor education center. Funding for the $150,000 contract comes from the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which manages the sanctuary.

Sanctuary staff, working with local governments, will identify three locations for the consultants to evaluate. These sites will meet preliminary requirements — places with ocean views in popular, high foot traffic waterfront areas. The team of consultants will study each site to determine potential opportunities and constraints for a sanctuary visitor center. Aspects such as infrastructure requirements, visitor demographics, estimated costs, geotechnical feasibility and permit feasibility will be included in the consultants' final report. The final report is expected in spring 2003.

"I'm happy that we're able to start this important analysis with help and input from our regional communities," said William J. Douros, Monterey Bay sanctuary superintendent. "Our existing management plan, now a decade old, directs the sanctuary to develop one or more visitor centers. We now have the funds to begin that planning process."

One of the locations under consideration is Seacliff State Beach in Aptos. California State Parks, who own and manage Seacliff State Beach, have offered Seacliff as a potential site for a Sanctuary visitor center somewhere on their property. Another site to be evaluated is in the city of Monterey, and the third is in the Santa Cruz waterfront area. The exact locations for these last two sites are still being discussed by Sanctuary and city staff.

The Sanctuary and its consultants will be seeking public input and guidance from local and state agencies and community members as the feasibility study is carried out.

The visitor center concept envisioned by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is an interactive interpretive center highlighting the natural and cultural resources of the marine sanctuary, the roles that citizen stewardship can play in marine resource protection, and the National Marine Sanctuary System.

The center will also serve as an orientation or "welcome" center to distribute information on nearby opportunities to experience the marine sanctuary and learn more about the ocean. Ideally, the center will include exhibit space, aquaria, a teaching lab, a public meeting room and a small public resource library.

The team of consultants chosen for the job has many years of facility planning experience. AMS Planning & Research will provide project management and lead the economic feasibility and visitation studies. Nolan, Zinn, and Associates from Watsonville, Calif., will provide geologic analysis. Strelow Consulting in Santa Cruz has local expertise in environmental planning. Pacific Legacy of Albany, Calif., will serve as cultural resource experts, and architects Fletcher, Farr, Ayotte will do some preliminary physical planning and cost estimates.

The National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America's maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration, and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources. In addition, the National Marine Sanctuary Program is carrying out the designation process for converting Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve into a sanctuary. For more information about the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, visit http://montereybay.nos.noaa.gov.

NOAA's National Ocean Service manages the National Marine Sanctuary Program, and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving, and restoring the nation's coasts and oceans. NOAA Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats, and mitigating coastal hazards.

To learn more about NOAA Ocean Service and the National Marine Sanctuary Program, visit http://www.nos.noaa.gov.