You might not guess it from the title, but the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 30 contains several provisions related to ocean and coastal research, monitoring, and conservation—central responsibilities of NOS. Here is a rundown of the 'National Ocean Service highlights' found in the legislation:
Establishes a coordinated federal program to develop an ocean and coastal mapping plan for the Great Lakes and coastal state waters, the territorial sea, the Exclusive Economic Zone, and the continental shelf of the United States. The intent of the new program is to foster ecosystem approaches in decision-making for conservation and management of marine resources and habitats, establish research and mapping priorities, support the siting of research and other platforms, and advance ocean and coastal science.
Establishes a National Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System that is designed to address regional and national needs for ocean information, to gather specific data on key coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes variables, and to ensure timely and sustained dissemination and availability of this data.
Amends the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 to authorize the Secretary of Commerce to conduct a Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program to protect important coastal and estuarine areas. Requires related property acquisition grants to coastal states with approved coastal zone management plans or National Estuarine Research Reserves.
The Omnibus Public Land Management Act also establishes new ocean acidification, national ocean exploration, and national undersea research programs—broad initiatives that will affect all NOAA line offices and many other federal agencies. The full text of the Act is available online.