BOEM has a need for baseline data within wind energy planning and lease areas in order to make sound decisions about how to minimize impacts, to form post-construction comparisons during monitoring of environmental changes that might be discernable later, and to meet its responsibilities under Sections 106; 110(a)(2)(A), (B), (C), and (E); and 110(b) of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). Previously identified geophysical targets (side scan sonar contacts and magnetic anomalies) in these areas may prove to be archaeological resources that should be avoided, or they may prove not to be resources and therefore should not prevent development. Archaeological ground-truthing of these targets is necessary for informed, responsible decision-making and to consider the effects of BOEM’s undertakings subject to review under the National Historic Preservation Act.
During summer 2013 the State of Maryland contracted with Coastal Planning & Engineering, Inc. and Tidewater Atlantic Research Inc. to conduct a reconnaissance-level geophysical survey within the Maryland Wind Energy Area (MD WEA) and to complete a preliminary archaeological review of the survey data (Coastal Planning & Engineering Inc. 2014; Watts 2014). In 2015, BOEM invited NOAA to collaborate on this current investigation and together the agencies leveraged the results of the reconnaisance-level survey to develop and execute an archaeological investigation to gather baseline information regarding potential archaeological sites within the MD WEA (Figure 1).