NOAA 2004-R404
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2004
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Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) will hold a public meeting of the Sanctuary Advisory Council on Jan. 28, 2004 in Midway, Ga. The sanctuary is managed by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The meeting will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Holton’s Restaurant, Exit #76 off Interstate 95. Public comment at this meeting is tentatively scheduled from 1 - 2 p.m. The council meeting will primarily focus on review of public comments received on the GRNMS Draft Management Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement. To receive more information on the meeting agenda, or obtain a copy of the Draft Management Plan, please contact the sanctuary’s council coordinator Becky Shortland at (912) 598-2381. All council meetings are open to the public.

The council was established in August 1999 to provide advice and recommendations on management and protection of the sanctuary. The council, through its members, also serves as liaison to the community regarding sanctuary issues, and represents community interests, concerns, and management needs to the sanctuary and NOAA.

Gray’s Reef Sanctuary is one of the largest near shore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. The area earned sanctuary designation in 1981. The sanctuary consists of a series of sandstone outcroppings and ledges up to 10 feet in height, in a predominantly sandy, flat-bottomed sea floor. The live bottom and ledge habitat support an abundant reef fish and invertebrate community. Loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, also use Gray’s Reef year-round for foraging and resting, and the reef is within the known winter calving ground for the highly endangered Northern right whale.

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) 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.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National 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.

The Commerce Department’s NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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