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Lake Ontario sanctuary designation hooks Jefferson County residents

pWATERTOWN — The possible cultural, educational and economic opportunities from a proposed national marine sanctuary designation for Eastern Lake Ontario has hooked several maritime enthusiasts and local officials. /ppRepresentatives from the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, held the last public input meeting for the pending Lake Ontario designation Thursday at Jefferson Community College. The four counties, the city of Oswego and the state applied for the sanctuary designation in 2017./ppIf the designation is established, the agency will help protect and highlight 21 known shipwrecks and a sunken aircraft within 1,700 square miles of lake in Oswego, Jefferson, Cayuga, and Wayne counties. It could also help protect 47 shipwrecks and two aircraft that may be located within the proposed sanctuary boundaries. /pp“The proposed new national maritime sanctuary is also spurring on a whole new level of joint collaboration with, again, all of the players we think of today, from tourism, to economic development, to museums,” said County Administrator Robert F. Hagemann III. “It’s going to take our opportunities to build off of this and make it into something even more.” /ppReceiving a national marine designation can establish additional regulations to protect the shipwrecks, prompt research and monitoring to learn more about them, help create educational programs and provide funding for displays and visitor centers./ppThe Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary on Lake Huron, where there is an interpretative center and other education opportunities, generates about $100 million in economic activity, brings in 60,000 visitors a year and supports 1,500 jobs. /ppJoe Hoyt, national maritime heritage coordinator, said NOAA supported projects in different sanctuaries such as capturing 3-D photogrammetric models of shipwrecks like the Cornelia B. Windiate Wreck in Thunder Bay, National Geographic specials, an opportunity for students to search for unknown shipwrecks and document them and outreach programs that teach diving practices that ensure shipwrecks remain intact. Public-private partnerships with companies, nonprofits and universities helps bring projects to support sanctuaries to fruition, he said. /ppEllen Brody, NOAA’s Great Lakes regional coordinator, said having a designation can also attract funding for visitor centers, like the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, Alpena, Mich.; kiosks and signage to help promote sanctuaries’ maritime resources. /pp“A designation for the Eastern shore of Lake Ontario could really be another arrow in our quiver, so to speak, for tourism promotion,” said Corey C. Fram, executive director of the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council. /ppThe federal government funds efforts to protect and promote maritime resources in these sanctuaries, although they also benefit from partnerships with local and statewide organizations, Ms. Brody said. The government allocated more than $55 million toward the program in the 2019 fiscal year, but specific funding for each sanctuary varies. /pp“On the surface, I think it’s rather promising,” said Edward P. Bender, supervisor for the town of Cape Vincent. “The devil is in the details.” /ppSpecific regulatory protection measures would arise from crafting a management plan for the Lake Ontario sanctuary, Ms. Brody said, but they would build from existing state regulations and can include prohibitions on damaging maritime resources. These regulations, however, would not affect riparian rights. /ppSeveral attendees from Jefferson County expressed support for a sanctuary designation for Eastern Lake Ontario. A couple of them made suggestions about sanctuary boundaries, such as extending it to the St. Lawrence River, and what it should protect. /ppDonald J. Metzger, a town of Lyme resident, said he hopes the designation could somehow help protect a couple of shipwrecks on the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, the Hamilton and Scourge, which were built in Sackets Harbor. /pp“Maybe there can be some help — some international collaboration there,” he said. /ppEstablishing a sanctuary designation for Eastern Lake Ontario, which is not guaranteed, can take two to three years and requires several steps from NOAA. The designation process includes a,public comment period, which ends July 31; creating a draft proposal with boundaries and regulations, a final decision on whether to grant the designation, creating final documents and gathering approvals from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Congress. /ppThe Office of National Marine Sanctuaries oversees 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments, each one protecting and highlighting different cultural and biological resources. /ppVoice your opinion/ppAnyone wishing to submit public comments on the proposed sanctuary designation for Eastern Lake Ontario can submit them online by at the Federal Rulemaking Portal, www.regulations.gov by July 31. Use docket number NOAA-NOS-2019-0032./ppBy mail, address comments to Ellen Brody, Great Lakes Regional Coordinator, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, 4840 South State Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48108.national marine sanctuaries/ppspan class="bullet"n/span Thunder Bay: Protects a collection of shipwrecks within 4,300 square miles of aquatic territory in Northwest Lake Huron, which are highlighted at the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, Alpena, Mich., and through various educational and outreach programs/ppspan class="bullet"n/span Gerry E. Studds Stellwagen Bank: Protects several habitats within 842 miles of water between Cape Cod and Cape Ann, Mass. The sanctuary is one of the world’s top whale watching destinations, and researchers use it to study humpback whale behavior, among several other topics /ppspan class="bullet"n/span Monitor: The first national marine sanctuary that was established off of the coast of North Carolina to protect the USS Monitor, a Civil War ship used in the Battle of Hampton Roads. The sanctuary is highlighted in ongoing research efforts, the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Va., and the Monitor Trail/p

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