Port council not ready to give up on NOAA marine sanctuary

Ozaukee Press Staff

Port Washington officials continued their quest to persuade Gov. Scott Walker to reinstate his application for a national shipwreck sanctuary to be designated from Ozaukee County north to Two Rivers.

“We need to send a very strong message of the value we as a community place on this sanctuary designation,” Mayor Tom Mlada said on April 4. “I think this may be our last opportunity to weigh in before the governor makes his final, final decision.”

Aldermen approved a resolution supporting the sanctuary — the third time the council has voiced its support, Mlada noted.

The resolution cites the potential value of the sanctuary, including its impact on tourism, research, education and access to the wrecks, noting that designation of the 1,075-square-mile sanctuary could have brought resources to find even more shipwrecks than the 39 already discovered.

The sanctuary had received bipartisan support, the resolution notes, and was supported by state, county and federal officials as well as local municipalities.

Walker submitted the application for the shipwreck sanctuary to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2014, and Mlada said officials were expecting the designation to occur in June.

But last month Walker rescinded the application, saying he had unanswered questions and concerns about the designation and its potential impact. 

The four communities that have spearheaded the effort to create the sanctuary have been trying to talk to Walker about his abrupt decision. 

“We’re hopeful we can get back to the table,” Mlada said, and get the sanctuary process back on track so it can be designated later this year or early in 2019.  

“The impact this could have is profound. To miss out on that would be significant,” he said.


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