It’s been almost fifteen years since the federal government designated a new National Marine Sanctuary. However, on Monday, it was announced that an 80 mile stretch of Wisconsin’s Lake Michigan Shoreline had been selected by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) to begin the sanctuary designation process.
The proposed sanctuary, which will run from Port Washington to Two Rivers, would be only the second in the Great Lakes and 14th in the United States.
The 875-square mile section of Lake Michigan contains a collection of 39 known shipwrecks, with 15 of those listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Although the shipwrecks are the main focus of the new sanctuary, NOAA also recognizes the area for its importance as a stopover for migratory birds, making the seasonal journey from Canada to Central and South America, as well as the number of important natural areas dotted along the shoreline.
Once established, the sanctuary is expected to attract thousands of visitors from around the country each year. It will also help to showcase the work of OWLT, Ozaukee County, Port Washington and many other partners whose combined efforts continue to protect the shoreline and provide nature based outdoor recreational opportunities. Sites like the Lion’s Den Gorge, Donges Bay Gorge, Forest Beach Migratory Preserve and the new Cedar Heights Gorge are expected to become major destinations.