Protect Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

UPDATE: On March 26, Governor Rick Snyder sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross urging him to support and maintain the existing boundaries of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This letter comes after ELPC took the lead on submitting comments on behalf of Great Lakes-area environmental groups urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to retain boundary and marine sanctuary protections for Thunder Bay.

Read Howard Learner’s Op-Ed in Crain’s Detroit Business asking Gov Snyder to step up and protect Thunder Bay HERE.


Continuing his war on the Great Lakes, President Trump ordered a “review” of the 2014 expansion of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in northwest Lake Huron. The purpose is to potentially cut down the size the only freshwater National Marine Sanctuary in our country.

Thunder Bay is home to one of America’s nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks. In 2014, following participatory processes with input from a broad range of stakeholders, the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was expanded from 448 square miles to include 4,300 square miles running from Alpena to Mackinac City, Michigan. This Marine Sanctuary now protects nearly 100 nationally significant shipwrecks in an area called “Shipwreck Alley.” The sanctuary draws visitors to explore these treasures and offers a microcosm of maritime commerce and travel while promoting research and scientific monitoring vital to understanding the recreational, ecological and archeological value of the GreatLakes.

Oil and gas drilling in the Great Lakes, including Lake Huron, home to Thunder Bay, is prohibited under federal and state law. Congress included a permanent ban on drilling in the Great Lakes in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The state of Michigan banned drilling in its waters in 2002. Further, the original designation and the expansion of Thunder Bay included transparent, inclusive and participatory processes with input from a broad range of stakeholders.

A bipartisan group of Michigan U.S. Senators Peters and Stabenow and U.S. Representatives Bergman, Dingell, Kildee, Lawrence, Trott, and Upton submitted a joint letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Ross also expressing their “strong opposition” to the Administration reducing the boundaries of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Marine Sanctuary status helps preserve and protect this historical maritime commerce site for visitors today and for future generations.

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