Port of Manitowoc

NOAA, state leaders celebrate final designation of Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary

MANITOWOC, Wis. (WBAY) – It’s finally official.

As previously reported in June, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced its plans to designate a large area off the coast of Wisconsin a Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

On Saturday – following a 45-day-review period in Congress – that designation was finalized, and was celebrated at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

The Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary (WSCNMS) will be co-managed by the state and NOAA.

According to NOAA, the 962-square mile area was nominated for sanctuary consideration by a coalition of organizations, and will now protect 36 shipwrecks and related maritime heritage resources that are considered to be “historically significant.”

“Those shipwrecks and the men and women who unfortunately are at eternal rest out in Lake Michigan have a story,” Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels emphasized at Saturday’s press conference. “That story is this – is what they built: Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Port Washington, and Two Rivers. That story needs to be told for generations. That story needs to be engrained in our children and future generations “

Of the three dozen wrecks, a release sent by the office of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers says 21 are on the National Register of Historic Places. Evers adds that archival research suggests there may be as many as 60 other shipwrecks which have yet to be discovered. In addition, he says many of the shipwrecks are intact, and have been preserved by the cold freshwater of Lake Michigan.

“We’re adding recreational and educational opportunities for residents and families to enjoy, enhancing local tourism, creating economic development opportunities and sharing the story of our state,” Gov. Evers said Saturday afternoon.

Senator Tammy Baldwin, who Evers said was the champion for this project in Washington D.C., also highlighted that the sanctuary “will bring new opportunities for research and resources for educational programming. So, that our kids have access to world class, hands on learning, and visitors from near and far can enjoy this remarkable shoreline.”

The sanctuary area covers a stretch of shoreline that includes all of Manitowoc and Sheboygan Counties, as well as part of Ozaukee County.

You can watch the full celebration in the video below, as well as read the full rule issued by NOAA. You can also read the full rule by CLICKING HERE.

Additional information about the sanctuary can be found by CLICKING HERE.