Our part of Lake Erie could be marine sanctuary

 Of the 14 national marine sanctuaries that currently exist in the United States, only one is within the Great Lakes region, at Thunder Bay on Lake Huron.

But with the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s community-based nomination process, Erie can join the competition for consideration as a new sanctuary. (Read our Dec. 2 story, “Treasure test,” for more information.)

This week we explore the who, what, why and how of that nomination process.

Interested communities must have broad community-based support and should answer these questions:

1. Does the place have:

▀ Natural resources or habitat with special ecological significance?

▀ Maritime heritage resources with exceptional historical, cultural, archaeological significance?

▀ Important economic uses such as tourism, fishing, diving and other recreational activities?

2. Do all of these things depend on conservation and management of the resources?

3. Are there:

▀ Opportunities for marine research, education or partnerships?

▀ Potential threats and impacts facing the marine resources?

▀ Existing management/regulations that could help with conservation efforts?

Because Erie County believes this region meets the national significance criteria and that it would benefit economically from becoming a national marine sanctuary, the county would like to submit a nomination.

There are no deadlines for submissions. Nominations will be reviewed on a rolling basis as NOAA receives them. The review process is expected to take approximately three to six months but a high volume of submissions may increase review timelines. Successful sites will be placed in an inventory of areas NOAA could consider for national marine sanctuary designation.

Making the inventory list does not guarantee designation as a national marine sanctuary, and it does not establish any regulations or limit activities in the area. However, if an area makes the list, NOAA will decide whether to begin the multi-year, highly participatory designation process for that area.

Does the Pennsylvania Lake Erie watershed have what it takes to become a national marine sanctuary? Does it have the biodiversity, culture and history that make it special? Is it situated to take advantage of economic development by promoting conservation and ecological, historic and cultural tourism? The county believes it does, but it needs community input for a successful nomination.

Attend the public meeting tonight at 6 at Blasco Library’s Hirt Auditorium to learn more and for your opportunity to ask questions and make comments. If you are unable to attend, contact Julia Donahue at jedonahue@eriecountygov.org or 451-6018. See websites below for more information.

Download the pdf of the page to see more photos and information.

Issue Publication Date: 
Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Main Office: Tom Ridge Environmental Center 301 Peninsula Dr., Suite 3 Erie, PA 16505 814-217-9011