Obama says NOAA will focus on creating Great Lakes preserve that would stretch from Port to Two Rivers
President Barack Obama on Monday announced that two new national marine sanctuaries are in the works, including one on Lake Michigan that would stretch from the shores of Port Washington to Two Rivers.
“We are taking steps to create two new marine sanctuaries, one in the tidal waters of Maryland and another in Lake Michigan,” the president said in addressing the 2015 Our Oceans Conference.
“These actions will protect waters of historic and natural importance.”
The announcement that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is beginning the sanctuary designation process is a huge step forward for a proposal that’s been in the works for more than six years.
The decision doesn’t guarantee the Lake Michigan sanctuary will become reality, but it is a significant step forward, Port Mayor Tom Mlada said.
“This is a great win for the community,” he said. “This represents an extraordinary milestone.
“There’s no guarantee, but we’re feeling extremely, extremely good about our chances. There are only 13 sanctuaries in the entire country, and we could be one of 15 in the U.S. when this is over. That’s huge.”
Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels said a national marine sanctuary would be “a huge economic boon for our four communities and the region, but more importantly it will serve as a tremendous source of pride and basis of celebration for our entire State of Wisconsin.”
The proposed sanctuary, a joint project between Port, Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Two Rivers, as well as the State of Wisconsin, would only be the second on Lake Michigan — the other is Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Mich. — and the second freshwater sanctuary.