Wallops Flight Facility Marsh Fiber Draft Environmental Assessment (EA)


Individual Appendices:


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has prepared a Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for its proposed Marsh Fiber Project in Accomack County, Virginia. The EA has been prepared to satisfy NASA's 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 purpose of the Marsh Fiber EA is to analyze the potential effects of installing a fiber optic cable from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Wallops Island National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Airstrip on NASA's Wallops Island. 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.

Currently, a single fiber optic cable system along Atlantic Road provides communications and command data from the WFF Main Base to Wallops Island. Damage or failure of the single cable system would put NASA, its tenants, and the public at risk for disruptions to launch command and information technology services. The project is needed to provide a redundant, geographically diverse, and reliable means of highspeed fiber optic communications for NASA, Department of Defense, and commercial systems on Wallops Island. The existing cable system would remain in operation to complete the communications loop.

NASA proposes to use a combination of horizontal directional drilling and vibratory trenching methods to install the fiber optic cable under waterways and across the saltmarsh. The Draft EA evaluates the environmental consequences of the Proposed Action and No Action Alternative.

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Cooperating Agencies

Because a portion of the proposed Marsh Fiber path would be installed in the Wallops Island NWR, the USFWS is a cooperating agency on this EA, and, as such, has assisted NASA in preparing the EA and has participated in all regulatory consultations during the NEPA process.

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Public Involvement

Due to the current situation with COVID-19, Governor Northam's resulting Temporary Stay at Home Order (Executive Order 55), and in the interest of public safety, there will not be a public meeting for this Draft EA. The EA is available for review at the link above.

Below is a presentation of the Marsh Fiber project and the NEPA EA process.



Also available for viewing and downloading is the project Fact Sheet.

For any questions regarding the Marsh Fiber Draft EA, or NASA WFF's NEPA program, please contact:

   Shari Miller
   NASA Wallops Flight Facility
   Mailstop: 250.W
   Wallops Island, VA 23337
   (757) 824-2327

The scoping period for this project is open until May 18, 2020. Comments for the Draft EA may be submitted by completing this hyperlinked Google form.


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