Status Report

National Environmental Policy Act: International Space Research Park at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

By SpaceRef Editor
January 27, 2004
Filed under ,

[Federal Register: January 27, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 17)]
[Page 3950-3954]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []


[Notice 04-009]

National Environmental Policy Act; International Space Research
Park at the John F. Kennedy Space Center, Florida

AGENCY: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

ACTION: Notice of availability of the Draft Environmental Impact
Statement (DEIS) for the International Space Research Park (ISRP) at
the John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) and notice of meeting.

SUMMARY: Pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969
(NEPA), as amended (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), the Council on
Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural
Provisions of NEPA (40 CFR parts 1500-1508), and the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) policy and procedures (14
CFR part 1216 subparts 1216.1 and 1216.3), NASA has prepared, and is
requesting comment on, a DEIS for the proposed ISRP at KSC, located in
Florida. KSC is a major center within NASA for the Space Shuttle and
International Space Station (ISS) activities and is adjacent to Cape
Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) from which many NASA missions are
launched. The purpose of the proposed ISRP is to facilitate world-class
research and development (R&D) in areas critical to the long-term
success of KSC and its users and operators. NASA entered into an
agreement with the State of Florida, through the Florida Space
Authority (FSA), to jointly study the potential development of up to
160 ha (400 ac) of land on KSC as a research park. NASA in cooperation
with FSA completed the International Space Research Park Development
Study. As a result of the Development Study, NASA is proposing to lease
approximately 142 ha (360 ac) in phases to the State of Florida
(through the FSA), which would create an ISRP Authority (ISRPA) to develop and manage the site for the ISRP. The DEIS describes the
potential environmental impacts and proposed mitigation associated with
development alternatives under the proposed concept as well as the no-
action alternative.

NASA has included, as an appendix, and is requesting comment on,
the Biological Assessment prepared pursuant to Sec.Sec. 7(a)(2) and
(b)(4) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (16 U.S.C. 1536(a)(2) and 16
U.S.C. 1536(b)(4)). NASA has also included in the appendix the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Biological Opinion prepared under
Sec. 10(a)(1) of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1539(a)(1)).

DATES: The agency must receive written or electronic mail comments on
the DEIS and the other listed documents on or before 50 days from the
date of publication in the Federal Register of the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s notice of availability of the ISRP DEIS, whichever
is later. Public meetings to receive comments on the DEIS will be held
in the vicinity of KSC. The specific times and locations will be
published in Florida Today.

ADDRESSES: The DEIS may be reviewed at the following locations of the
Brevard County Library:

(a) Central Brevard Library & Reference Center, 308 Forrest Ave.,
Cocoa, FL 32922, (321) 633-1792;

(b) Cocoa Beach Branch Library, 550 North Brevard Ave., Cocoa
Beach, FL 32931, (321) 868-1104;

(c) Melbourne Branch Library, 540 E. Fee Ave., Melbourne, FL 32901,
(321) 952-4514;

(d) Merritt Island Branch Library, 1195 North Courtenay Parkway,
Merritt Island, FL 32953, (321) 455-1369;

(e) St. Johns Branch Library, 6500 Carole Ave., Port St. John, FL
32927, (321) 633-1867;

(f) North Brevard Branch Library, 2121 S. Hopkins Ave., Titusville,
FL 32780, (321) 264-5026.
The DEIS may also be examined at the following NASA locations by
contacting the pertinent Freedom of Information Act Office:

(g) NASA, Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA 94035 (650-604-

(h) NASA, Dryden Flight Research Center, P.O. Box 273, Edwards, CA
93523 (661-276-2704);

(i) NASA, Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field, 21000 Brookpark
Road, Cleveland, OH 44135 (216-433-2755);

(j) NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt,
MD 20771 (301-286-0730);

(k) NASA, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058 (281-483-8612);

(l) NASA, Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA 23681 (757-864-

(m) NASA, Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, AL 35812 (256-

(n) NASA, Stennis Space Center, MS 39529 (228-688-2164). In
addition, the DEIS may be examined at the following locations:

(o) NASA Headquarters, Library, Room lJ20, 300 E Street SW,
Washington, DC, 20546 (202-358-0167);

(p) Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Visitors Lobby, Building 249, 4800
Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109 (818-354-5179).

The DEIS can be accessed electronically at

Limited copies of the DEIS are available, on a first request basis,
by contacting Mr. Mario Busacca, NASA, Mail Code TA-C3, Kennedy Space
Center, Florida, 32899; Telephone 321-867-8456; e-mail (mario.busacca-
Submit all comments in writing to Mr. Mario Busacca, NASA, Mail
Code TA-C3, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 32899, or electronically to

C3, Kennedy Space Center, Florida, 32899; Telephone (321) 867-8456; e-
mail (

mission, facilitate public-private collaboration, provide for
complementary R&D objectives, and further space commercialization and
development, consistent with the Space Act of 1958, as amended to
authorize Enhanced Use Leasing (EUL) (42 U.S.C. 2459j). The mission of
the FSA is to retain, expand, and diversify the State’s space-related
industry. As a center for R&D, the ISRP would bring together a dynamic
mix of industry, academia, and government researchers to focus their
combined strengths in areas of R&D critical to the long-term success of
NASA and its partners, including, but not limited to, the FSA.

NASA KSC often collaborates with others in funding and implementing
projects consistent with NASA’s mission and the Space Act.
Collaborators who would be located on KSC at the ISRP would be those
whose activities require proximity to the launch and payload-processing
infrastructure of KSC. Of these, non-governmental collaborators would
need greater access and operational flexibility than is currently
available at KSC. NASA has, therefore, determined a need to develop a
site within KSC but outside the security fence that will provide the
desired proximity and flexible operating environment. The proposed
action is to lease approximately 142 ha (360 ac) in phases to the State
of Florida (through the FSA), which would create an ISRPA to develop
and manage the site as the ISRP. The lease period is proposed to be 50
years, after which NASA may extend the lease for an additional period
of 25 years. Upon termination of the lease, the ISRPA would demolish
the buildings and return the land unless reuse were negotiated. NASA
would also retain the right to terminate the lease at any time to meet
KSC requirements.

Study Area and Project Alternatives

Study Area: Kennedy Space Center occupies 56,500 ha (139,490 ac) of
land located within Brevard and Volusia Counties and controlled by
NASA. The study area includes KSC, Brevard County, and the five
adjoining counties (Indian River, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and
Volusia). The alternative development sites proposed for the ISRP are
located on KSC along the south portion of Kennedy Parkway South (also
known as State Road 3). Kennedy Parkway South is the major north-south
transportation arterial that allows public ingress and egress through
KSC into Merritt Island and Titusville.

Project Alternatives: NASA evaluated the potential environmental
impacts of three alternatives (Alternative 1, Alternative 2, and the No
Action Alternative). The first two alternative actions involve
developing and operating the ISRP at alternate locations on KSC and the
associated environmental impacts of each option. The No Action
Alternative was analyzed for the potential environmental consequences
that may result if the proposed action is rejected (or not recommended)
and present management of the study area continues.

Alternative 1 (Preferred Alternative): In Alternative 1, NASA
proposes the development of the ISRP on approximately 142 ha (360 ac)
of KSC property to the west of Kennedy Parkway South (State Road 3).
Development and related construction activities would occur on land
located immediately south of the KSC Visitors Complex along Space
Commerce Way. Approximately 128 ha (316 ac) of the development (Phases
A-E) would occur on the west side of Space Commerce Way. Phase F would
occur on a 10 ha (24 ac) parcel east of Space Commerce Way, adjacent to
and west of the Space Experiments Research and Processing Laboratory
(SERPL). The larger area (Phases A-E) considered in Alternative 1 is dominated by citrus groves and includes remnant wetlands and
disturbed habitats. The smaller area (Phase F) is undeveloped.

In Alternative 1, development would occur in 6 phases (Phases A-F)
over 25 parcels, which would be serviced by approximately 4.5
kilometers (km) (2.8 miles (mi)) of roads. The parcels range from 1.8
to 10.2 ha (4.5 to 25.3 ac) in size with developable acreage between
1.8 and 6.2 ha (4.5 and 15.4 ac). Some parcels have dedicated no-build
zones due to existing wetlands and stormwater ponds. The stormwater
ponds would become part of the master stormwater system for the park.
The proposed stormwater management system includes 10 connected
treatment ponds for the collection and treatment of runoff generated
from the developed parcels. Parcels would be developed to include 35
percent open space overall. The open space would include a central
greenway, which would offer sidewalks and pedestrian access along
wetlands and stormwater retention areas.

Alternative 2: Alternative 2 proposes construction and development
of the ISRP in six phases on approximately 130 ha (321 ac) located
northeast of the KSC south security gate (Gate 3) on Kennedy
Parkway South (State Road 3), near B Avenue SW (or Tel-4 Road). This
alternative, like Alternative 1, also considered Phase F development of
10 ha (24 ac) east of Space Commerce Way, adjacent to and west of the
SERPL. The combined areas considered in Alternative 2 are undeveloped
and characterized by high quality pine flatwoods and scrub habitat
embedded with wetlands.

The area considered in Alternative 2 (including Phase F) is defined
by 26 parcels, which would be serviced by approximately 4.2 (km) (2.6
(mi)) of roads. Of the 26 parcels, 25 parcels are proposed for
development. These parcels range in size from 1.6 to 10.0 ha (4.0 to
24.0 ac) with developable acreage from 1.5 to 5.6 ha (3.7 to 13.8 ac).
A 34.7 ha (85.7 ac) parcel has been established under this development
plan to protect an extensive wetlands system. Four stormwater
management ponds are proposed for the collection and treatment of
runoff generated from the developed parcels. The Alternative 2 land use
plan offers extensive greenways and sidewalks for pedestrian access
along the wetland conservation area and between parcels.

Alternative 3 (No Action Alternative): Under the No Action
Alternative, no new development would be proposed regarding the ISRP on
KSC. This No Action Alternative would result in continuing the present
management of the two proposed sites at KSC. Under the No Action
Alternative, land currently managed by the USFWS would remain under
USFWS management. Land leased through 2008 to the Kerr Foundation for
citrus grove production would, after the lease expires, become part of
the undeveloped KSC buffer, which is managed by the USFWS as part of
the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The USFWS has long-term
plans to restore the citrus groves to natural conditions.

Issues Identified During Scoping

Public involvement is a key element in the NEPA process. NASA
initiated public involvement when it issued the October 8, 2002 Notice
of Intent to prepare an EIS and conduct scoping meetings for the
proposed action. All responses received from interested parties during
the 45-day scoping period (October 8, 2002 through December 9, 2002)
are presented in Appendix A of the DEIS. The primary concerns raised in
public comments relate to traffic, socio-economics, housing, security,
air quality, wetlands, and wildlife. These concerns were addressed in
the DEIS. Impacts to soils from construction were indicated and thus
were also analyzed.

Environmental Impacts

Traffic: The results of modeling studies of traffic, especially on
north Merritt Island, showed that the implementation of either
Alternative 1 or Alternative 2 would not result in significant
degradation to traffic patterns or flows. Even at full build out of the
ISRP, traffic would not be significantly degraded either on KSC or
within Brevard County. To maintain acceptable levels of service after
2022 and with the existing roadway geometry, adjustments to traffic
signal timing and other traffic management measures may be needed.
Before such changes would be implemented, further environmental review
would be conducted.

Socio-economics: The implementation of either Alternative 1 or
Alternative 2 would draw major economic resources to the area, which
would be positive and not adversely impact the growing regional

Housing: The expected increase in demand for housing if the ISRP is
implemented is consistent with planning within Brevard County and
surrounding counties and is not expected to have a significant impact
on the housing supply.

Security: The security issues raised during scoping have been
addressed. NASA has constructed two new entrance gates, one on Kennedy
Parkway and another on NASA Causeway respectively, to allow for 24-hour
access through the Center via the new Space Commerce Way. These
measures also allow the proposed ISRP, under both Alternatives 1 and 2,
to be located outside of the secure areas of KSC.

Air Quality: Air quality would be impacted within the surrounding
local area by construction and controlled burning activities and at KSC
by increased traffic and associated emissions, especially of carbon
monoxide. Construction activity would generate particulate matter (PM)
and PM10 emissions that could significantly impact the quality of the
air within the local region. Dust suppression methods and phasing of
development would reduce the PM and PM10 emissions to well below the
significance level of 5 tons per year, resulting in a negligible air
quality impact.

Chapter 62-256 of the Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) allows
the use of air curtain incinerators to dispose of ground cover and
construction debris from land clearing activities. If an air curtain
incinerator were properly used as prescribed in F.A.C. 62-256, the air
emissions would remain minimal and thus have no significant impacts.

Although vehicular traffic would increase, the levels would not be
expected to be larger than what has occurred in the past on the Kennedy
Space Center in the 1970’s at the height of the Apollo Program. In
addition, the vehicles today are more efficient and have better
emission controls. However, the increase in traffic could be expected
to produce a significant impact to local air quality at KSC. This
traffic would not have a significant negative impact on air quality
outside KSC in Brevard County and the remaining study region. Because
the potential significant decrease in air quality is estimated to be
local to KSC and no justification or need currently exists to develop a
regional mass transport systems plan, the ISRPA would encourage the use
of the Brevard County sponsored commuter van pool systems and other
public transportation systems such as Space Coast Area Transit, known
locally as SCAT. As a part of the NASA and the FSA educational outreach
activities, NASA would provide educational information on the value of
reducing traffic and improving air quality within KSC. There are few
direct mitigating actions that could be performed by NASA or FSA.

Wetlands and Hydrology: Construction and operation of the ISRP may
alter surface water quality or hydrological processes, including
impacts to Class II and III Waters, and surface water flows. Surface water quality, hydrological processes, and
surface water flows are regulated by the Florida Water Resources Act of
1972 (Part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statues (F.S.) and Chapter 62-40
of the F.A.C.), Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, and NASA
regulations at 14 CFR subpart 1216.2, implementing Executive Order
11988, Floodplain Management, and Executive Order 11990, Protection of
Wetlands. A Wetland Mitigation Plan would be required to address
impacts related to wetland systems and stormwater flow within the
alternative sites. The ISRPA or NASA as the landowner would obtain a
Florida Environmental Resources Permit prior to any construction on the
selected ISRP site, which would address issues of water quality,
general hydrology, and surface water flow. Water quality monitoring may
also be required to mitigate impacts. Low-impact Best Management
Practices (BMP) and a Stormwater Management System would be implemented
in the design, development, and operation of the ISRP.

Construction runoff into preserved wetlands could cause indirect
impacts to water quality. To minimize disturbances to wetlands from
construction-related runoff, construction would be avoided within the
7.6 m (25 ft) upland buffer extending from the delineated edge of
preserved wetlands toward the upland. Standard BMPs would be
implemented to minimize runoff into these protected areas. Dewatering
into the sensitive hammock wetlands and swale marshes would be

Wildlife: The cumulative effects of habitat fragmentation due to
habitat loss from development, introduction of new roads, and increased
human presence in either Alternative 1 or Alternative 2 could cause
mortality or substantial harassment of individual eastern indigo snakes
(Drymarchon corais couperi.), a species listed as threatened by the
USFWS under the ESA, and thus be significant, unless mitigated. The
USFWS has issued a Biological Opinion for Alternative 1, which is
included in the appendixes to the DEIS. The Biological Opinion covers
the eastern indigo snake, the only federally listed species that may be
adversely affected by Alternative 1, the preferred alternative. The
Biological Opinion indicates no jeopardy to the continued existence of
the eastern indigo snake or adverse modification to critical habitat
would occur if the recommended reasonable and prudent measures are
taken to minimize the level of take of individuals of this species.

The indirect effects of habitat fragmentation, increased traffic on
multiple roads, and increased human presence potentially resulting from
implementation of the ISRP under Alternative 1 were determined in the
Biological Assessment and Biological Opinion as “likely to adversely
affect” the eastern indigo snake. The potential for the proposed
action to result in incidental take of the indigo snake in the form of
harm was considered significant. The USFWS Biological Opinion approved
incidental take of all individuals.

The impact of habitat fragmentation and roads under Alternative 1
on Federal and State-listed threatened or endangered wading birds and
the southeastern American kestrel (Falco sparverius paulus) would not
be considered significant since the disturbed or artificial habitats
being used are locally abundant and these species have a high
opportunity to disperse.

If Alternative 2 were selected, several Federal and State-listed
threatened or endangered species would be impacted. Both the Florida
scrub-jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) and the eastern indigo snake are
federally listed threatened species. Direct and indirect effects would
occur to individuals within these species due to development of the
site under Alternative 2 and consequent loss of critical Florida scrub-
jay and eastern indigo snake habitat, and habitat displacement and
consequent increased risk of predation and vehicular collisions.

A Biological Opinion was not sought from the USFWS. If NASA
selected Alternative 2, development could not proceed without obtaining
a Biological Opinion from the USFWS for the eastern indigo snake and
Florida scrub jay, and other federally listed threatened or endangered
species, indicating no jeopardy to the species and no adverse
modification of critical habitat, subject to limits on incidental take
and implementation of recommended reasonable and prudent measures. The
eastern indigo snake is also protected under Florida law.

The Biological Assessment determined that implementation of the
proposed ISRP action on the Alternative 2 site would cause the direct
loss of 73.4 ha (181.4 ac) of occupied Florida scrub-jay habitat
resulting in incidental take, in the form of harm, of a minimum of
eight Florida scrub-jay territories. Based on the long-term research of
this local population the majority of the territories that would be
impacted under this alternative are likely sources to the local KSC
scrub-jay population. The Tel-4 Road (B Avenue SW) population is the
only population on KSC that is not in decline and is known to be
increasing. The proposed ISRP development on the Alternative 2 site has
the potential to jeopardize core recovery efforts of this species at
KSC. Development would not proceed on Alternative 2 without preparation
of a new Biological Assessment, formal consultation with the USFWS, and
procurement of a Biological Opinion, including a finding of “no
jeopardy” and an Incidental Take Statement for this species. This
potential impact would be considered significant.

Implementation of Alternative 2 would also have the potential to
affect 125 to 206 gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus), their
habitat, and several commensals (species that benefit from co-existence
with gopher tortoises, such as the Florida gopher frog (Rana capito
aesopus), and the Florida mouse (Podomys floridanus). The gopher
tortoise and other commensal species are protected under Florida State
law. The direct and indirect effects of the loss or displacement of
critical gopher tortoise habitat, destruction of occupied burrows,
increased predation, and increased risk of vehicular collision could
cause individual mortality of gopher tortoises and listed commensals.

Development could not proceed under Alternative 2 until a permit is
secured pursuant to the requirements of Rules 68A-25.002 and 68A-
27.005, F.A.C. authorizing the incidental take or relocation of gopher
tortoises, including any encountered State-listed commensals.
Alternative 2 also has the potential, due to disturbance of soils
and surface vegetation, to impact local and globally rare freshwater
swale marshes, which harbor threatened populations of such species as
Curtiss reedgrass (Calamovilfa curtissii (Vasey) Scribn.), a federally
and State-listed threatened plant.

The potential exists for the effects of the various projects in the
vicinity combined with the significant direct and indirect effects of
the ISRP under Alternative 2 to result in highly significant impacts to
biological resources. This finding considers the critical importance of
the biological resources existing on and surrounding this site. The
ability to provide adequate compensation for potential cumulative
impacts would be of concern, particularly for impacts on the regionally
important Tel-4 Road (B Avenue SW) Florida Scrub-jay population and the
local and globally rare freshwater swale marshes, and associated species such as Curtiss reedgrass.

Lighting along roads and around and within buildings within newly
developed areas of Alternative 2 (Phases A-E) may impact the federally
listed bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) by disrupting movement and
breeding behaviors. A monitoring program, conducted in accordance with
Bald Eagle Monitoring Guidelines (USFWS 2002), for any development
activities occurring within 1 km (0.6 mi) of a bald eagle nest tree
would be implemented to determine the eagle’s response to these
potential impacts. If significant changes in behavior were identified,
then mitigation actions would be employed. For example, construction
would be prohibited during the nesting season or nighttime lighting
would be reduced to levels tolerated by the species.

Cumulative impacts of habitat fragmentation from habitat loss and
introduction of new roads and increased human presence under
Alternative 2 could cause the mortality or substantial harassment of
numerous individual indigo snakes. Over time, this impact could
negatively influence population viability. To reduce the adverse
effects of this cumulative impact NASA would: (1) create an education
program aimed at informing employees about the indigo snake’s protected
status and consequences of violating applicable laws, the indigo
snake’s high susceptibility to road mortality, its beneficial roles,
and its generally gentle disposition towards humans (Breininger et al.
1994); (2) design new roads and retrofit, where practicable, existing
roads to provide underpasses for movement between habitats; and (3)
establish a monitoring program that would evaluate the effectiveness of
the underpasses and address needed demographic data gaps to enable
future establishment of sound conservation strategies. The second
action presented would be expected to benefit other important wide-
ranging wildlife.

Soils: Construction of the proposed ISRP would change the soil
composition, structure, and function only within the proposed ISRP site
under Alternatives 1 and 2. Construction impacts to on-site soils are
considered unavoidable since on-site soils would need to be moved and
augmented to raise finish floor elevations of facilities to be
constructed. Therefore, no mitigation measures are proposed for
reducing impacts to on-site soils. No impacts to soils are expected to
occur off site. Operation of the ISRP would not impact soils either on
or off-site.

Under the No Action Alternative, no adverse impacts would result.
The activities associated with the development and operation of the
proposed ISRP would not occur, therefore, no additional activities
would occur to produce such impacts or contribute to cumulative
impacts. Alternative 1 (after the citrus grove leases expire) and
Alternative 2 sites would continue to be part of the undeveloped buffer
area at KSC and as such be managed by the USFWS as part of the Merritt
Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Jeffrey E. Sutton,
Assistant Administrator for Management Systems.
[FR Doc. 04-1694 Filed 1-26-04; 8:45 am]


SpaceRef staff editor.