Wisconsin - Lake Michigan

For the first time since 2000, NOAA has announced its intent to designate new sanctuaries under the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. NOAA is asking for the public's input on protecting Wisconsin – Lake Michigan's maritime heritage resources.


Wisconsin – Lake Michigan is an 875 square mile area of Lake Michigan with waters extending from Port Washington to Two Rivers. The state of Wisconsin nominated this area as a national marine sanctuary through the Sanctuary Nomination Process with broad community support.

The area encompasses historic shipwrecks of national significance that merit the additional management authority of the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. The nominated area contains an extraordinary collection of 39 known shipwrecks, 15 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fourteen of the known shipwrecks are essentially intact and three vessels possess standing masts – a rarity in the Great Lakes. The area also includes Wisconsin's two oldest known shipwrecks. Archival and archaeological research indicates that the proposed sanctuary also includes 123 reported vessel losses.

Get Into Your Sanctuary

This June 24-26, Wisconsin communities are joining in the National "Get into Your Sanctuary" celebration, when national marine sanctuaries across the system will be hosting concurrent public events to help visitors personally experience, enjoy and protect these special places. So on this weekend, NOAA, in partnership with Lake Michigan coastal communities and the State of Wisconsin, welcomes you to visit your “proposed” national marine sanctuary. A detailed calendar of events is available here or visit the following community websites:




For more information contact
Ellen Brody
Great Lakes Regional Coordinator

About the Nomination

In December 2014, the state of Wisconsin submitted a nomination to be added to NOAA's inventory of places to consider as national marine sanctuaries. The nomination is focused on protecting and interpreting the nationally significant collection of shipwrecks, fostering partnerships with education and research partners, and increasing opportunities for tourism and economic development.

It was endorsed 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.

NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary System

NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

Through the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, NOAA can identify, designate and protect areas of the marine and Great Lakes environment that have special national significance.

Through the community-based Sanctuary Nomination Process, Americans can nominate nationally significant marine and Great Lakes areas as potential new national marine sanctuaries. Nominations that successfully complete the process are added to an inventory of areas NOAA may consider for designation.

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