BOEM has designated two Wind Energy Areas (WEAs) offshore Wilmington, North Carolina identified as the Wilmington East and West WEAs (Figure 1). BOEM has a need for baseline archaeological data within wind energy areas in order to make sound decisions about how to minimize impacts, to form postconstruction comparisons during monitoring of environmental changes that might be discernable later, and to assist in meeting the bureau’s responsibilities under Sections 106 and 110 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Identified geophysical targets (e.g., sidescan 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 within a specific area of the seafloor. Archaeological identification and ground truthing of these targets is necessary for informed, responsible decision-making and to assist BOEM in considering the effects of its undertakings subject to review under the NHPA and NEPA.
To meet these needs, BOEM invited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to collaborate via an Interagency Agreement to conduct a baseline archaeological survey in the vicinity of the Wilmington East and West WEAs. NOAA provided scientific and technical services, shared its resources, and assisted BOEM with conducting and analyzing the resulting data. This partnership afforded both BOEM and NOAA a unique opportunity to share equipment and expertise for mutual benefit. BOEM and NOAA finalized a research design, collaboratively performed the survey and investigations, analyzed results, and produced this jointly authored report.