Lakeshore communities from Two Rivers to Port Washington can apply
for federal marine-sanctuary status, which could lead to
protections for natural resources and improved research on
875-square-mile area of Lake Michigan encompasses 33 known
shipwrecks and countless others, HTR Media reported (http://htrne.ws/1lrd3Ix
established by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.
Agency spokeswoman Ellen Brody said she expects the first
applications to begin arriving in the fall.
officials plan to be among those applying, citing tourism and
educational benefits. A successful application would lead to more
research on local shipwrecks and also allow more access for sport
divers, students and the general public, said Jason Ring, the
president of the Manitowoc Area Visitor & Convention Bureau.
To be considered
for sanctuary status, a community has to demonstrate having
environmental and cultural significance. Other factors include
education and research opportunities, the level of community
support and existing regulations that could aid conservation
The only Great
Lakes sanctuary to date is Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
in Alpena, Michigan. Its visitor center attracts more than 80,000
people per year, a tourism boon for Alpena and its 12,000
448-square-mile sanctuary is home to more than 40 known wrecks,
and more may yet be discovered, said Stephanie Gandulla, Thunder
Bay's maritime archaeologist and media coordinator.
many significant shipwrecks here," she said. "The
stories they tell are so important to our national history."
Thunder Bay's success could bode well for Wisconsin tourism.
Rolf Johnson, the
chief executive of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum, said the
sanctuary could focus new attention on an area whose history is
process is "giving us a chance to really highlight the
importance of underwater archaeology as a science," he said,
adding that shipwrecks have a meaningful story to tell about the
communities' shared maritime heritage.