Habitat Conservation

Department of Defense Consultations

1. Farallon de Medinilla (FDM) Target Island

Marsh Planting

Conditions stipulated by NOAA Fisheries Service, PIRO, during review of the 1998 programmatic EIS for DOD training in the Mariana Islands requires annual multi-agency surveys of the coral reef habitat surrounding Farallon de Medinilla (FDM) target island, located approximately 70 miles north of Saipan, CNMI. NOAA Fisheries participates in these surveys every July, in conjunction with biologists from FWS, CNMI, and with support of a U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Detachment (EOD) team to assess damage to coral reef habitat and associated biota from continued aerial bombardment and ship-to-shore live fire training operations. Annual reports are prepared which provide recommendations to minimize damage to coral reef resources, marine mammals, and seabirds utilizing FDM and surrounding waters.

2. Palau Compact Road Project

Under a Cooperating Agency Agreement (CAA), NOAA Fisheries Service, PIRO, conducts environmental oversight for the US Army Corps of Engineers on the Palau Compact Road Project, the largest project ever undertaken in Micronesia. The 53-mile road project is being constructed under Treaty between the Republic of Palau and the US Government. The Federal EIS has been completed by the US partner agencies, and the CAA was recently amended to mandate that the partners conduct biannual site surveys in order to insure that all environmental controls stipulated in the EIS are being implemented during construction. The biannual surveys also document the success of two large compensatory mitigation protected areas. The CAA Team will continue monitoring the project until completion, schedules for summer 2007.

3. U.S. Army Kwajalein Atoll Missile Range (USAKA)

Under treaty agreement with the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), NOAA Fisheries Service, PIRO, conducts biennial coral reef habitat and marine resource inventories for the US Army Space Missile Defense Command (SMDC) at the US Army Kwajalein Atoll (USAKA) Missile Range. The inventories are required for USAKA to be in compliance with the Environmental Standards developed under treaty with the RMI. NOAA Fisheries and the other resource agency members also review all new activities proposed at USAKA, including construction of harbors, dredging, and testing of new weapon systems. Surveys are presently underway for proposed testing of two new weapon systems at USAKA, the MinuteMan III at Illeginni Island and the Falcon IX at Omelek Island.