Marine sanctuary must include K/D Peninsula
If Lake Michigan is going to get its first National Marine Sanctuary in 2018, it would be a crime if the Kewaunee/Door County Peninsula wasn’t included.
There are more shipwrecks in a smaller area here than in the entire 1,075-square-mile boundary of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s preferred alternative for the sanctuary off Ozaukee, Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties.
K/D Country also has an impressive maritime history. Yes, Manitowoc has its Ships mascot, but Door County has its shipbuilding industry and maritime museum — plus the Clippers and Vikings.
Kewaunee County has Christmas Tree Point, a rich commericial fishing tradition and at least two wrecks — the Daniel Lyons east of Stony Creek and the America off the town of Carlton — listed in the Wisconsin and National Register of Historic Places.
Wisconsin’s oldest dive club, Neptune’s Dive Club in Green Bay, will celebrate its 60th anniversary next year. Members regularly choose Kewaunee and Door county dive sites for their offshore adventures.
Here’s hoping local government officials, dive club members, business owners and citizens pack a public meeting March 13 at Algoma’s Knudson Hall and make it known that we need to be included.
While there’s been a lot of support in recent months, Kewaunee County was late to the party, and as far as I’ve heard, Door has been a no-show.
It’s been three years since officials from Port Washington, Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Two Rivers joined with the state of Wisconsin in proposing the sanctuary. In fact, the work on the proposal began more than six years ago.
In October, 2015, NOAA announced its intent to designate a new national marine sanctuary, the first in Lake Michigan and only the second in the Great Lakes. My very first thought was that the K/D Peninsula most certainly had to be included, and I sent out emails encouraging local tourism officials to get involved.
Then it left my radar for months, but I did encourage citizens to send comments during the first round of public input in 2016. Those who did so may have helped spur an Alternative B, which adds 185 square miles of Kewaunee County waters.
With county officials recently gathering support for the effort from city councils, the county board, chambers of commerce and legislative representatives, let’s hope it’s not too late.
To be honest, though, my feeling is this has the best chance of becoming reality if Door County and its incredible number of wrecks and maritime history are included.
Significantly increasing the size shouldn’t be an issue. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary on Lake Huron in Michigan is the only one in the Great Lakes right now. At 4,300 square miles, it’s a vast area with more than 100 wrecks identified and many more yet to be found.
Now take a look at our two-county area. More than 200 ships are estimated to lie on the bottom of Lake Michigan and Green Bay waters off the famous thumb on Wisconsin’s east coast.
In one single November gale alone, at least 20 ships sank and nearly 250 sailors died in off the Peninsula in 1913, according to maritime historians.
Getting Door and Kewaunee included could also increase the odds of getting an office or headquarters in the area.
The Thunder Bay sanctuary and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Mich., is said to attract about 75,000 people annually to the area.
I’d encourage anyone interested to attend the meeting in Knudson Hall, above the Algoma Youth Club, 620 Lake St., from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 13.
If you don’t go, you can still comment online until March 31. See a summary document, socioeconomic report and more at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin
Russ Green is the NOAA Regional Coordinator for the proposed sanctuary; email him at [email protected] Sara Robertson is the contact for Knudson Hall; her email is [email protected]
Kevin Naze is a freelance outdoors writer. He can be reached by emailing [email protected] or calling (920) 883-9792.
• If you go
Proposed Lake Michigan Marine Sanctuary public scoping meeting
6:30 to 8:30 p.m. March 13
Knudson Hall, 620 Lake St., Algoma
This article originally appeared on Wisconsin: Marine sanctuary must include K/D Peninsula