March 18, 2021
Statement by Howard A. Learner, ELPC Executive Director
“Today, the Environmental Law & Policy Center and 15 Great Lakes environmental, conservation and outdoor recreation organizations sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo requesting that the Department formally withdraw and close the Trump administration’s “review” proposing to cut the size by 90% of the popular Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron. The headquarters and visitors’ center are in Alpena, Michigan.
“It’s time to close the books and finally bring this misguided proposal to a well-deserved end.” The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the nation’s only freshwater marine sanctuary, and is a special place that’s enjoyed by tourists, school children and scuba divers. The visitor center and tours offer a unique and important maritime and trade history of the Great Lakes. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is famous for “Shipwreck Alley,” an area with a large number and variety of ships now lying at the bottom of Lake Huron.
“The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is strongly supported by environmental, conservation and outdoor recreation groups, Michigan’s Governors (both current Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder), Michigan’s Congressional delegation, and local public officials and economic development groups. The Trump administration’s proposal to cut 90% of the sanctuary’s size was rejected as bad for the local economy and bad for the environment.
“Today’s letter explains that ending this misguided proposal is consistent with President Biden’s direction to all agency heads to review “agency actions.” The Department should act to soon remove any doubt or cloud over the legitimacy of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s current boundaries and the many shipwrecks and fisheries protected within them.”