Proposed NOAA Wisconsin—Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary

March 10 2017

Two Wisconsin middle school teachers and two of their students will join NOAA researchers aboard the R/V Storm as they complete a lakebed mapping project in the northern part of the Proposed NOAA Wisconsin—Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary.

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March 10 2017

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Expedition Background

Two Wisconsin middle school teachers and two of their students are planning to join NOAA researchers onboard the R/V Storm on Friday, June 2, 2017, as they use multibeam sonar to map the northern lakebed of the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary. The teachers previously participated on a Center for Great Lakes Literacy Shipboard Science Workshop aboard the S/V Denis Sullivan, the world's only re-creation of a three-masted 19th Century Great Lakes schooner.


While onboard the R/V Storm, the teachers and their students will use an OpenROV Trident to document lakebed habitat and explore one of the shipwrecks located within the proposed marine sanctuary. One of the teachers, Lynn Kurth of Prairie River Middle School in Merrill, Wis., is working with Wisconsin Sea Grant and the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board to create a free ROV loan program for Wisconsin teachers using the OpenROV Trident.

Overall Project Background: Mapping, Environmental, and Socioeconomic Assessments to Support the Proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are working with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and state and local partners to compile data and map important lake resources and historic shipwrecks of western Lake Michigan, and also to improve our understanding of the relationships between these resources and coastal communities. Data and assessments will support the management of the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan sanctuary.

Why We Care

In December 2014, the state of Wisconsin nominated an 875 square mile area of western Lake Michigan as a national marine sanctuary. This is a special nomination because there haven’t been any new sanctuaries designated since 2000. This proposal was made through a new community-based Sanctuary nomination process, and it is only the second sanctuary to be proposed within the Great Lakes.

The proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary has deep ties to nearby communities since it encompasses a key portion of an early transportation corridor that was critical to the expansion of the United States and the development of the agricultural and the industrial core of the Nation. The nominated area contains an extraordinary collection of 37 known shipwrecks, 18 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a reported 80 which are yet to be discovered. Designation of a national marine sanctuary will expand the legacy of Wisconsin’s maritime archaeology preservation program, help conserve the largest freshwater system in the world, expand recreational and tourism opportunities, and provide education opportunities and job skills for the next generation.

What We Are Doing

This three-year project includes mapping, ecological and socioeconomic assessments that, together, will improve our understanding of the nominated region’s maritime heritage, ecology and coastal communities. This project will locate shipwrecks and important habitats, characterize water quality and living resources, document which of Lake Michigan’s resources and ecosystem services are most valuable to communities, and identify the conditions of environmental and social parameters linked to the successful management of maritime heritage resources. Some of these data will come from existing sources and will be synthesized for interpretation. Other data, notably remotely sensed lakebed data and socioeconomic data, will be newly acquired.

The National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are coordinating this project with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and local partners, including local municipalities, the Wisconsin Historical Society and other state agencies, Wisconsin Sea Grant, the University of Wisconsin, and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Additional Information

NCCOS Project Details https://coastalscience.noaa.gov/projects/detail?key=285

Proposed NOAA Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin/

Wisconsin's Great Lakes Shipwrecks http://www.wisconsinshipwrecks.org/

NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory https://www.glerl.noaa.gov/

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This is fantastic. Can't wait to see where this project uncovers!