About two years of work to include Kewaunee County in a proposed marine sanctuary sank indefinitely after the board voted it down 10-5 last week. By including the shoreline of Kewaunee County in the proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary, approximately 185 square miles of water would have been protected. Proponents say marine sanctuary inclusion would have given Kewaunee County an economic boost with divers visiting to explore the waters to see the area’s shipwrecks up close. Opponents believe it would have given the state and federal governments too much power when it came to how the lake’s water was used. Supervisor Lee Luft was one of the leading voices for the proposed sanctuary and hopes it will be reconsidered in the future after he leaves the board.
Luft used the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary as an example of what could have been for Lake Michigan communities. He says there has not been additional federal overreach since it was established in Lake Huron in 2000 and it has brought lots of visitors to the city of Alpena, where the sanctuary’s visitor center is located.