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National Park Service seeks authority to modify the Federal harbor line in Boston Harbor near Charlestown Navy Yard

Published April 24, 2012

CONCORD, Mass. – The National Park Service (NPS) has requested that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District modify the location of one portion of the Federal harbor lines in Boston Harbor in the vicinity of Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, Mass.


This request is to have the Federal harbor line correspond with the State harbor line location in the harbor area just offshore of the Charlestown Navy Yard. This is to be done so that the property boundaries of the Boston National Historical Park (Charlestown Navy Yard) that will be occupied by the NPS can be expanded to include an additional area of Boston Harbor that was transferred to the Boston National Historic Park by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The State law transferring this submerged land area from State ownership to the Federal government required, as a condition of the property transfer, that the Federal harbor line in this location also be modified to reflect the new property boundaries.


This harbor line revision is proposed in Boston Inner Harbor at the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston.


Relocating this harbor line channelward, as requested by the NPS, does not mean that there is a presumption that future permits authorizing further encroachments farther into the harbor at this location will be allowed. This is simply to change the property boundaries of the Charlestown Navy Yard. No physical changes or structures are being proposed. If any physical structures or work are proposed in the future they will need to go through a separate permit process including a public interest review and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review in accordance with the Corps’ normal permit requirements.  


The authority to establish and modify Federal harbor lines was created pursuant to Section 11 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899. Under this statute, the establishment of harbor lines beyond which no piers, wharves or bulkheads could be constructed was allowed by the Secretary of the Army in order to preserve and protect navigation in a harbor. From historic harbor line drawings in Corps of Engineers files, the Corps understands that harbor lines were first established in this portion of Boston Harbor as early as Sept. 7, 1898 and the locations of these lines have been modified on a number of occasions since then.


The decision whether to approve this modification will be based on an evaluation of the probable impact of the proposed activity on the public interest.  


The public notice, with more detailed information on the National Park Service proposal, can be viewed on the Corps website at http://www.nae.usace.army.mil. Select Regulatory and then public notices or go directly to http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Regulatory/Public%20Notices/.


Public comments on the Corps of Engineers review of this proposal by the National Park Service (file # NAE 2007-2144) should be forwarded no later than May 25, 2012 to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New England District, Regulatory Division (ATTN: Brian Valiton), 696 Virginia Road, Concord, MA 01742-2751. Additional information is available from Permit Project Manager Brian Valiton at 978-318-8166 or toll free 800-343-4789 or 800-362-4367 (if calling from within Massachusetts) or by email to: brian.e.valiton@usace.army.mil.

Tim Dugan

Release no. 2012-036