Marine Sanctuaries in the Great Lakes

December 31, 2015

By Garret Ellison mlive

At some point in the next few years, it’s very likely an 875-square-mile section of Lake Michigan off Wisconsin will officially become the second freshwater national marine sanctuary in the country.

But, if a handful of communities scattered across the Great Lakes have any say in the matter, it won’t be the last.

Five groups in four states are preparing nominations for marine sanctuary designations that may result in a national sanctuary in each of the five Great Lakes.

There are more nominations under development in the Great Lakes than any other part of the country, said Ellen Brody, Great Lakes region coordinator at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) national marine sanctuary office.

Each community is in a different stage in the process, and there’s no ia points and must demonstrate “broad-based” public support in the 25-page application, which most commonly involves letters from local governments and stakeholder groups in the proposed area.

If NOAA accepts an application, it goes on a short list called an “inventory” of possible sites that might be designated protected sanctuaries, which, essentially, function like underwater national parks.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron, established in 2000 and expanded from 448 square miles to 4,300 square miles in 2014, has become a tourism draw for Alpena, where the headquarters includes nautical displays, wreck tours and exhibits.

No guarantee any of the applications will be approved, but nominations are evaluated on 11 criteria.

Visit mlive for more about proposed freshwater sanctuaries on the Great Lakes.




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