Wallops Flight Facility Wallops Island Northern Development Draft Environmental Assessment (EA)


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Individual Appendices:

Background

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility (WFF), in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Maritime Administration (MARAD), has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) to evaluate the potential impacts for the proposed Wallops Island Northern Development Project in Accomack County, Virginia. The EA has been prepared to satisfy NASA, USACE, and MARAD obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and also serves as a means for ensuring compliance with a variety of other federal statutes, including the Endangered Species Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Clean Water Act, National Historic Preservation Act, Coastal Zone Management Act, and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority (VCSFA), through the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), operates the north island unmanned aerial system (UAS) Airstrip, as a tenant on NASA's Wallops Island in Accomack County, Virginia. As the federal landowner, NASA would authorize the construction and operation of the proposed developments for the MARS Port on its property. Development of the MARS Port would include a fixed pier, turning basin, and channel dredging along with new facilities and improvements to the existing access road, airstrip, and utilities. The purpose of the Wallops Island Northern Development EA is to analyze the potential effects of constructing and operating the MARS Port. This EA is tiered from the May 2019 NASA WFF Site-wide Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). In the Site-wide PEIS, NASA evaluated the potential environmental effects from various alternatives, including upgrades or replacement of utility infrastructure. The Site-wide PEIS is available at https://code200-external.gsfc.nasa.gov/250-wff/site-wide_eis.

The development of the MARS Port constitutes a new intermodal facility at Wallops Island. The Proposed Action includes: channel dredging; construction of a fixed pier and turning basin; construction of a second hangar at the UAS Airstrip; installation of new utility infrastructure; installation of airstrip lighting and hardening or reinforcement of a section of runway; improvements to the airstrip access road; construction of a new pier access road adjacent to the UAS Airstrip; construction of a new parking lot; and construction of a project support building. The project is needed to assist NASA in growing commercial aerospace; increasing frequency of partnerships with Department of Defense agencies; supporting academia, civil space science, exploration, and discovery; safely and securely increasing operation frequency on Wallops Island; and improving aging and inadequate infrastructure.

The Draft EA evaluates the environmental consequences of a range of reasonable alternatives that will assist with meeting NASA's needs including the Proposed Action, two (2) Action Alternatives, and the No Action Alternative.

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Cooperating Agencies

USACE is a cooperating agency since they would be authorizing permits under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act due to the potential for dredging or placement of fill in waters of the U.S. MARAD is a cooperating agency since they may grant funds toward construction of the pier and port area. VCSFA is also serving as a cooperating state agency because they are providing final funding and oversight of the design, construction, and operation of the Proposed Action. Thus, these agencies have assisted NASA in preparing the EA and have participated in all regulatory consultations during the NEPA.

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Public Involvement

To accommodate social distancing guidelines and public health recommendations related to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASA will not hold a public meeting for this Draft EA. However, the Draft EA is available above on this project website.

Also available for viewing and downloading are a slide presentation of the project and NEPA EA process.

For any questions regarding the Wallops Island Northern Development Project Draft EA, or NASA WFF's NEPA program, please contact:

Shari Miller
Center NEPA Manager 
NASA Wallops Flight Facility
Mailstop: 250.W
Wallops Island, VA 23337
Shari.A.Miller@nasa.gov
(757) 824-2327

 

Please submit your comments on the Draft EA prior to January 17, 2022.

 

Link to comment form

 

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