By Tim Kowols
Hope for a boom in maritime-related tourism in Kewaunee County was dashed this week when Governor Scott Walker rescinded his support for establishing a National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Michigan. The inclusion of Kewaunee County was part of two plans floated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for the planned sanctuary, which would have added federal protection for over 100 miles of eastern Wisconsin shoreline where several shipwrecks exist. According to the USA Today Network- Wisconsin, Governor Walker wrote in a letter that he believed the sanctuary would “create further unnecessary bureaucratic red tape” and the restrictions would be “too much of a tradeoff for the negligible benefit to protect shipwrecks.” Kewaunee County Tourism Coordinator Jennifer Schneider says she was hopeful the designation would have brought new people to the area.
NOAA officials had been working on the designation for three years after Governor Walker originally nominated it in 2014. Kewaunee County Board member Lee Luft called worries of federal interference unfounded last month, saying many of the concerns would still fall under state control.