Proposed Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary Designation Process - Frequently Asked Questions

Why is NOAA proposing to designate a sanctuary in Lake Erie?

NOAA proposes to designate a sanctuary in the Pennsylvania waters of Lake Erie to recognize the national significance of the area's historical, archaeological, and cultural resources and to manage this special place as part of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Through research, education, and community involvement, NOAA would work to ensure future generations can learn about and explore this unique area. In partnership with local communities, NOAA would provide a national stage for promoting heritage tourism and recreation opportunities in the sanctuary.

Designation would bring new scientific, technological, and financial resources to a collaborative effort to identify, understand, conserve, and interpret the heritage resources of the sanctuary.  A sanctuary would also create new opportunities for community involvement, scientific research, outreach and education across Pennsylvania and the international Great Lakes region. Designation would also foster long-term conservation in the area by increasing public awareness and appreciation of this area and its resources.

Does NOAA have a plan to consider additional national marine sanctuary designations from the inventory?

A: As ongoing designation processes conclude and capacity becomes available, NOAA may consider initiating designation at additional sites. However, NOAA does not have plans to advance other sites at this time.

What is the process for designating a national marine sanctuary?

There is a well-documented process to designate a new sanctuary, including:

Public Scoping Process – gather input and collect information on factors that will contribute to our determination of whether to designate the area as a NMS. 

Preparation of Draft Documents – Preparation and release of draft designation documents, including a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) that identifies boundary alternatives, a draft management plan (DMP), as well as a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to define proposed sanctuary regulations. Draft documents would be used to initiate consultations with federal, state, or local agencies and other interested parties, as appropriate;

Public Comment – Through public meetings and in writing, allow for public review and comment on the DEIS, draft management plan, and notice of proposed rulemaking;

Preparation of Final Documents – Preparation and release of a final management plan, final environmental impact statement (including a response to public comments), and a final rule, if appropriate.

Review Period – Per the NMSA, the designation and regulations take effect after the end of a review period of 45 days of continuous session of Congress. If the sanctuary is located partially or entirely within state waters, the Governor of the affected state has the opportunity to review and certify to the Secretary of Commerce that the designation or any of its terms is unacceptable.

How can I be involved in this process?

We want to hear from you! Please either attend a public meeting or submit written comments electronically or by mail. Please see the Proposed Designation of Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary page for public meeting information and information on how to submit written comments. NOAA plans to set up a Sanctuary Advisory Council to support the designation process. If you are interested in helping guide NOAA in this designation, please consider applying to be a member of the Council. Keep an eye out for an announcement on our website in the coming months.