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Lake Mead considers allowing divers at submerged aircraft

Public comment period ends on June 30
Posted: 10:32 AM, May 30, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-30 17:32:50Z
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BOULDER CITY (KTNV) — The National Park Service is considering issuing a limited Commercial Use Authorization for guided access to underwater archeological site 28CK7829, also known as the Overton Arm B-29, at Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

In compliance with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Park Service seeks public comment on potential impacts of the proposal on the historic aircraft.

The B-29 crashed into Lake Mead in 1948. Its location was discovered in 2003.

After divers conducted a thorough assessment of the plane and crash site, it was opened to limited permitted diving from 2008-2009 and 2015-2017.

The site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

At the conclusion of the last CUA, the National Park Service chose to pause permitted diving to re-assess the condition of the aircraft.

After a year of assessments, the National Park Service is considering re-issuing a CUA for permitted dives.

The permit would specify technical qualifications for dive master, dive guide, and diver, the client-to-guide ratio, the number of client dives per month, NPS monitoring of diving activities, and adjustment of the requirements of the CUA in response to changes in the condition of the site. The condition of the site is assessed by an NPS underwater archeological team at least twice per year.

The existing site management guidelines state that new damage to the site, such as damage to the aircraft surfaces can result in in a temporary halt in diving permits while NPS reassesses diving access and carrying capacity, while major damage such as theft or significant damage to the site can result in a total closure of the site to diving permits.

The National Park Service believes commercial use authorization stipulations outlined in the previous CUA are sufficient to mitigate any potential environmental concerns the proposed activities may pose.

The permitted numbers of individuals for dives on the site may be revised upward in the case of no diver impact to the resource, downward in case of some impact to the resource, or closed altogether in the case of severe impact to the resource. Assessment of diver impact will be at the conclusion of the permit period or as deemed necessary by the National Park Service.

In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the issuance of commercial use authorizations not involving new construction is categorically excluded from further analysis.

Comments can be made online here or via mail to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, B29 CUA, 601 Nevada Way, Boulder City, NV 89005.

Comments will be accepted through June 30, 2019.