- Associated Press - Friday, July 15, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Federal wildlife and fisheries regulators have scheduled two meetings in Louisiana to get feedback on their proposal to expand the boundaries of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will convene the public meetings on Tuesday, July 19, at the Hilton New Orleans Airport hotel in Kenner and on Thursday, July 21, at the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center in Lafayette. Both meetings will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

NOAA is considering five different options for expanding the sanctuary to better manage and protect important habitat and cultural resources and provide more opportunities for research and restoration. Options range from keeping the status quo to expanding the sanctuary up to 935 square miles.

For additional details about the five alternatives being considered, visit www.flowergarden.noaa.gov/management/expansiondeis.html

If you cannot attend, comments can be submitted electronically or by mail.

- Electronically: go to www.regulations.gov using docket number NOAA-NOS-2016-0059. Click the “Comment Now!” icon, complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.

- Mail: George P. Schmahl, Sanctuary Superintendent, Flower Garden Banks NMS, 4700 Avenue U, Building 216, Galveston, Texas, 77551

The deadline for submissions is Aug. 19.

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