Washington, D.C- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to designate Lake Erie’s waters as a national marine sanctuary. In a letter to NOAA’s Administrator, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, Casey called for the designation which would protect over 400 shipwrecks, lighthouses, and ancient shorelines throughout a 2,500 square mile area in central Lake Erie. Preserving the area is key to the region’s economy both in terms of the shipbuilding and tourism industries.
“Lake Erie and Presque Isle are a key part of Northwestern Pennsylvania’s natural beauty and the economy,” Senator Casey said. “Designating these areas as a marine sanctuary would protect these vital natural resources for generations to come. It’s critical that NOAA move forward on this.”
The full text of Casey’s letter can be seen below:
July 20, 2015
Dr. Kathryn Sullivan
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW, Room 5128
Washington, DC 20230
Dear Dr. Sullivan:
I write today to express support for the nomination of Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie waters to receive a national marine sanctuary designation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary would protect over 400 shipwrecks, lighthouses, and ancient shorelines throughout a 2,500 square mile area in central Lake Erie. This region also includes the Presque Isle Bay, considered among the most important natural resources in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I urge you to give full and fair consideration to this nomination.
The designation of Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary would not only protect natural, historic resources in the region for future generations, it would build upon existing institutions and infrastructure to create robust educational, scientific and recreational opportunities for visitors, students and residents. The hundreds of shipwrecks found in the lake would provide ample diving opportunities and attract diving enthusiasts from around the world. The Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary would significantly contribute to and safeguard the Commonwealth’s maritime heritage and cultural history.
The proposed Lake Erie Quadrangle National Marine Sanctuary is primarily a showcase of the region’s rich maritime heritage, more so than a protected area to conserve marine life. As you may know, the Port of Erie’s thriving commerce and ship building industry are vital to the region’s economy. The ongoing projects performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) within the proposed marine sanctuary waters, including dredging the Erie Harbor and operating in Open Lake Sediment Placement Areas, are critical to the region’s manufacturing and commerce industries. Furthermore, the USACE works to maintain the park’s shoreline for economic and environmental purposes, while ensuring dredged sediment placement areas do not affect cultural resources. Erie’s harbor and federal navigation channel have not been found to contain any of the ship wreckage that would be preserved with a national sanctuary designation.
Thank you in advance for the consideration of my views. Please include this letter in the official record of the application. Consistent with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, I also respectfully request that you keep me informed of the status of this application. Finally, if you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to contact me or Jack Groarke on my staff at (202) 224-6324.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator