Press Release: Gov. Evers, Sen. Baldwin, and Mayor Nickels Announce Final Designation of the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Office of Governor Tony Evers
Gov. Evers, Sen. Baldwin, and Mayor Nickels Announce Final Designation of the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary 
The governor joined federal, state, and local leaders to celebrate designation in Manitowoc  
MANITOWOC — Gov. Tony Evers today announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in partnership with the state of Wisconsin, officially designated the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary (WSCNMS), following the close of a 45-day review period of continuous session of Congress that began on June 23, 2021, with the publishing of the final ruleThe WSCNMS will be co-managed by the state of Wisconsin and NOAA and will provide an exciting opportunity to renew the appreciation of the state’s Great Lakes’ maritime heritage and history.

“The official designation of the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast National Marine Sanctuary is a tremendous victory for our state,” said Gov. Evers. “After years of hard work and bumps along the way, I am thrilled to join in celebrating the designation of the Wisconsin Shipwreck Coast Marine Sanctuary, which will be one of only two designated national marine sanctuaries in the Great Lakes. This achievement was fueled by the passion of those determined to see this project over the finish line, and I commend and congratulate the local communities and elected leaders who made this possible for our state.” 

The governor joined federal, state, and local leaders to celebrate the designation at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc.

“Lake Michigan has long been a gateway for Wisconsin to the rest of the world. Preserving these shipwrecks ensures that generations to come can not only enjoy the beauty of our fresh coast but learn about the role our waterways played in establishing Wisconsin as a manufacturing hub of the Midwest,” said Senator Baldwin. “This dedication will bring new opportunities for research and resources for educational programming, so our kids have access to world-class, hands-on learning and visitors from near and far can enjoy this remarkable shoreline.”

“This is a great day for the State of Wisconsin and the local communities this National Marine Sanctuary impacts,” said Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels. “Governor Evers and Senator Baldwin have been staunch advocates for this designation from day one, and I personally want to thank them for their hard work to bring us to today.”

The area was nominated for National Marine Sanctuary consideration by a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals at local, state, regional, and national levels. This included elected officials, historical societies, businesses, museums, and environmental, recreational, conservation, fishing, tourism, and educational groups, including dedicated work on behalf of the project from NOAA, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, as well as the Wisconsin Departments of Administration and Natural Resources and the Wisconsin State Historical Society. The governor recognizes and applauds the commitment, engagement, and effort by coastal communities in Manitowoc, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Kewaunee Counties.

The WSCNMS spans 962 square miles and will protect 36 historically significant shipwrecks and related maritime heritage resources. Many of the shipwrecks are largely intact, being well-preserved by Lake Michigan's cold freshwater. Of the 36 wrecks, 21 of them are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the area also includes Wisconsin's two oldest known shipwrecks. Archival research suggests there may be 60 additional undiscovered shipwrecks.

The WSCNMS will expand on the nearly 30-year investment the citizens and state of Wisconsin have made in the identification, interpretation, and preservation of shipwrecks and other maritime resources and will be a catalyst for continued economic development by serving as a premier Great Lakes maritime heritage tourism attraction.

Additionally, there will be an increase for both physical and virtual access to the sanctuary’s maritime heritage resources providing added recreation for community residents and visitors and will provide a unique opportunity to enhance educational programming and public outreach, both in Wisconsin and across the Great Lakes, through programs in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). 
More information about the WSCNMS is available on the NOAA website here.