What’s going on?

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed a National Marine Sanctuary to stretch over 80 miles of Wisconsin coast and include all the shoreline of Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, and optionally Kewaunee, counties. It will extend from shore up to 20 miles into Lake Michigan in some places and control 1,075 (optionally 1,260) square miles of the water and bottom land.  The purported purpose of the sanctuary is to “protect” 37/38 known shipwrecks of the estimated 2,000 shipwrecks in Lake Michigan.

Up to 1,260 square miles of Lake Michigan could become a federal marine sanctuary. (NOAA map)

Is the sanctuary really needed?

Shipwrecks are already protected by overlapping sets of federal and Wisconsin laws and regulations. NOAA hasn’t determined whether the shipwrecks need further legal protection. NOAA states that the Wisconsin Historical Society Marine Archeology Program, with its extensive educational, public outreach and on-line presence, does as good a job as NOAA is doing in Alpena, Michigan, site of the Thunder Bat National Marine Sanctuary. According to the Marine Sanctuary Act, a sanctuary should be proposed only in locations that cannot provide protection on its own. Wisconsin does in fact provide that level of protection.

But think of all the tourism dollars we’ll take in!

There is no factual claim to increased tourism.  All language is carefully couched:  “In each of the alternatives, there is anticipated to be direct, significant, and beneficial consequences to tourism. It is expected that the proposed sanctuary would draw more tourists to the area due to the national designation, enhanced education and outreach programs, and improved public access. The State’s nomination to NOAA highlighted the opportunity to promote recreation and tourism. It is possible that tourism-related businesses that relate to the proposed sanctuary could be established or enhanced.”  (DMP, Section Tourism, page 86, emphasis added)

In fact, a University of Michigan economic impact study of the Thunder Bay Sanctuary on Lake Huron in Alpena, MI, funded by NOAA, conducted in 2012 and published in 2013, found that “most people” were from the state of Michigan, more than half of those were from outside the Thunder Bay tri-county area.  “Thus, while it appears that the mainstay of tourist business is from Michigan, there appears to be great potential to expand the reach to a wider segment of the U.S. and Canadian populations.”  (ThunderBayNMS_FinalReport.pdf, page 81, emphasis added)  So, after 12 years, the Thunder Bay sanctuary has “great potential”.  There doesn’t appear to be a great infusion of out-of-state tourism dollars.

But… It’s a “sanctuary?”

The proposed regulations to take our lake are hidden behind façades of protecting shipwrecks and promoting tourism… Wisconsin already has legislation to safeguard historical wrecks.

And promoting tourism…less then 1% of the U.S. populations are SCUBA divers.  The rest of us would have difficulty seeing a shipwreck 30 feet down in murky Lake Michigan water.  Nor is Lake Michigan always safe for snorkeling, kayaking or canoeing.

Control of Our Freshwater

Wisconsin surrendering control of Lake Michigan and the fresh water to a Federal Agency that has a history of abusive behavior and less than ethical standards. A National Debt that is out of control and that will crush future economic growth and prosperity while energy independence and well-paying jobs are killed by NOAA Sanctuary rules that eliminate exploration and development of natural resources in the Great Lakes.

Wait a minute – Energy Independence?

The United States Geological Survey thinks there may be petroleum under the Great Lakes.  There is some risk in drilling, but the technology keeps improving.


Quagmire of Bureaucracy

Distant, unresponsive, unelected Federal bureaucrats writing rules and regulations for Lake Michigan and the people of Wisconsin. Your children, grand children, and all future generations will be burdened and restricted from using the lake as a resource to better the human environment all because of the short-sighted goal of protecting shipwrecks that are already protected under state and federal law.

Financial Burden

Sanctuaries have no role in stopping pollution and preventing invasive species. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) for water quality is an EPA program not involved with or dependent on NOAA.  Many people think their federal tax dollars would be better spent on identified GLRI projects that improve Great Lakes water quality.

How Can I Help?

Contact you state and federal representatives. Email, phone, write…
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