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Marine sanctuary 'a house of cards built on nothing'

The Sanctuary’s proposed western boundary is the ordinary high water mark (OHWM) which is inland from the water’s edge, as much as hundreds of feet in some areas. A group of concerned riparian owners such as myself has researched NOAA’s proposal. I read hundreds of pages including proposed regulations, the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Sanctuary, financial statements and two economic studies of Alpena, MI, (home of the Thunder Bay Sanctuary), the National Marine Sanctuary Act, litigation against NOAA and research on NOAA’s conduct in other Marine Sanctuaries. We visited Alpena where we interviewed business owners and citizens; read every public comment submitted to NOAA; and filed numerous FOIA requests.

After amassing this information, it became obvious that there are serious problems with the proposed Sanctuary which will affect every user of the Lake and its shoreline, and every unit of government.

The Definitions in the proposed Regulations are alarming. NOAA gives itself powers to protect far more than “shipwrecks” as people think of that word. NOAA defines “shipwreck” to include any “piece of debris . . . regardless of where taken, removed, moved, caught, collected or harvested.” [emphasis added] Thus, a “shipwreck” can be a piece of driftwood, beach glass or metal found anywhere. In Alpena, a NOAA employee took photos of and stopped a local organization from using their metal detectors on a public beach — before they found anything. In other Sanctuaries, this definition of “shipwreck” has interfered with prime fishing spots of commercial and recreational fishermen.

NOAA also gives itself authority over any “sanctuary resource” which includes “… “any living or nonliving resource of a national marine sanctuary that contributes to the conservation, recreational, ecological, historical, educational, cultural, archeological, scientific, or aesthetic value of the sanctuary.” NOAA uses airplanes and drones along the shoreline to find new sanctuary resources. NOAA ticketed a couple in a California Sanctuary who picked up beach rocks for “unlawful mineral extraction.” IFines for violation of NOAA’s overbroad regulations will be increased from Wisconsin’s $5,000 per violation to $130,000 per violation per day. To enforce regulations, NOAA uses numerous large ships, as well as federal agents on piers and beaches.

Marinas in four cities are grandfathered. All other activities will require federal permits of some sort, granted at the discretion of a federal bureaucrat. The National Marine Sanctuary Act allows NOAA to assess and collect fees for the conduct of any activity under a Special Use Permit, including “the fair market value of the use of sanctuary resources. “ [emphasis added] This gives NOAA the right to charge for activities we presently enjoy along the Lake. Our Lake Michigan public recreational areas will come under the control of a federal bureaucrat, which could mean permit fees and expensive project requirements. Beware the law of unintended consequences.

The Sanctuary’s claimed narrow focus is to “protect shipwrecks.” Shipwrecks are already protected by overlapping sets of federal and Wisconsin laws. The Sanctuary adds three more layers of federal law and regulation on top of the regulatory scheme already in place. NOAA never studied whether the shipwrecks need further protection. It proposes to do so only after the Sanctuary is designated. NOAA itself states that the Wisconsin Historical Society Marine Archeology Program, with its extensive educational, public outreach and on-line presence, does as good a job as NOAA itself is doing in Alpena. According to the Marine Sanctuary Act, a sanctuary should be proposed only in locations that cannot provide protection on its own. Wisconsin does in fact provide that level of protection. NOAA touts increased tourism as a reason to support the Sanctuary. NOAA states that the Sanctuary will create economic benefit but not SO much economic benefit as to create any additional infrastructure cost. NOAA wants it both ways, but offers no substantiation for either claim. To the contrary, Alpena, home to the Thunder Bay Sanctuary, spent $300,000 in 2014 on bridge and road repairs directly resulting from the location of the Sanctuary there. In 2012, the University of Michigan “finished an assessment on the sanctuary's economic impact in Alpena, Alcona and Presque Isle counties, concluding its potential is great” (twelve years after it was created)[emphasis added]. The only economic boon directly attributable to the Sanctuary is the spike in fuel sales to NOAA boats at the Alpena Marina. Many people I have met believe money for the Sanctuary would be better spent on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which is correcting identified problems and is in danger of defunding.

Wisconsin Maritime Museum CEO Rolf Johnson may warmly welcome yet another maritime museum in Sheboygan. However, isn’t it is a colossal waste of tax money to support two maritime museums in neighboring small cities?

NOAA provides no budget for the Sanctuary - there is no accountability for taxpayer dollars. NOAA identifies five State agencies and five communities as “committed partners” to ensure the success of the Sanctuary. This potentially obligates them to make additional direct and indirect taxpayer dollar expenditures to the Sanctuary.

Our research shows that bringing in a federal presence will weaken, not strengthen, local civic organizations. We are inviting the 400 pound gorilla to the dance. Are we going to lead? Until now, the federal government has bullied its way through our community with a “sell job” that has deliberately omitted facts necessary to make an informed decision. The whole proposal is a house of cards built on nothing.

We welcome NOAA’s help and expertise. NOAA itself emphasizes Wisconsin’s strong educational and cultural maritime infrastructure. We deserve NOAA’s financial support without having to sell them Lake Michigan.

The good news is that this is not yet final. We deserve a real public debate on the issue — One based on discussion of costs as well as benefits.

The final decision rests with Governor Walker. If he does not sign, it does not happen. Make your opinion known to him today

Judith Perlman


The Sheboygan Press

July 20, 2017

Don’t Rubberstamp Sanctuary Designation

Most of us who live on the Wisconsin lakeshore love Lake Michigan. It supplies the water we drink and generates cooling summer breezes. It renews the spirit. We fish, paddle, and sail on it. We build boats. We camp in state parks at its edge: Kohler-Andrae, Point Beach, Peninsula, … We never tire of watching its daily mood swings. We romanticize its dramatic history, the boats and ships that took their final frigid plunge during every major storm before the days of rail and interstate highways.

We are now being told that we must cede control of much of our lakeshore, up to the high-water line, to a federal agency which claims without evidence that it will protect our shipwrecks better than the state has been doing.

Who could be crass enough to oppose a “Sanctuary”? “What could be more harmless than a mere ‘designation’?” we are asked. Never fear, we hear. An agency like NOAA does not have the will or budget to track down all undocumented beachcombers, fishermen and divers, anyway. Although our federal government is pretty much bankrupt, think of the federal grants. Think of the tourism.

Despite the usual seductive promises, our public officials should not rubberstamp this expansion of federal jurisdiction over our lakeshore any more than they should agree that a federal agency should take oversight over state parks like Kohler-Andrae, Point Beach, or Peninsula. These wonderful places belong to the people of Wisconsin.

Art DeJong


The Sheboygan Press


Why preserve wrecks?

This whole business by the government of preserving the wreckage of ships under Lake Michigan and other waters does not make any sense to me.

I assuredly will not be diving down anytime soon to enjoy and study the history of the various wrecks in our area or elsewhere. I don’t even own a fin or a snorkel.

Now a federal agency called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wants to have control of the waters, shoreline and floor of 1,200 square miles of Lake Michigan along the Sheboygan, Manitowoc and Ozaukee coastline.

This, at a time when we already have layers of state and federal agencies with their noses poked into every facet of preserving our past.

I can imagine that this preservation of our shipwrecks will require government employees to don expensive gear and dive down to document the remains. Government employees doing that kind of work would make big money plus benefits plus hazardous duty pay. I will never get a chance to view the wreckage, not even in a museum because nothing will be allowed to be removed from the bottom of the Lake. For sure, I will be forced to pay for another extravagance and the expansion of the D.C. swamp.

What would it hurt if some adventurer grabbed a souvenir from a wreck? I surely wouldn’t notice. In fact, it might even end up in a museum where I would be able to enjoy viewing some early maritime artifacts. What’s it to me if these relics become part of someone’s personal collection? At least I wouldn’t have to pay for a boat, gear or his time.

Don’t hesitate to contact your congressman, senators, president and governor. This is about to happen.

Dennis Gasper


Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel


A Call To Action

From: Scott Grabins, Dane County Republican Party Chair


As many of you know, my earlier days in political action revolved around an effort called Reach Out Wisconsin. Reach Out Wisconsin (ROW) is a non-partisan organization I helped create to encourage civil discourse on political issues. Although I turned the reins of the ROW over to others when I became Chair, I remain committed to the founding principles of that organization.


While I still believe in the mission of ROW, I can't ignore the reality of where we are as a nation. Last week we had a gunman target Republicans practicing to play a baseball game for charity. You would think this would be an opportunity for a nation to come together but unfortunately it hasn't.  Too many liberals continue to cling to some equivalent of "Republicans asked for it" in the aftermath.


I didn't get into politics to drive a hard line. I absolutely believe in live and let live as a personal philosophy - somewhat libertarian frankly. Yet more and more I find that's not good enough for the liberals in our country and especially here in Dane County.  


I can't simply accept how an adult chooses to express their sexual identity.  Unless I embrace it, encourage my children to embrace it, and rearrange society to embrace it, I'm the bigot. 


I can't believe in an individual's right to bear arms.  Unless I recognize that Republicans asked for it when a gunman starts shooting then I'm a hypocrite.  


I can't believe that climate change is more complex than blaming it on the industrial revolution.  Unless I recognize the infallibility of Al Gore then I'm a 'science denier'.  


It goes on and on but the bottom line is that there is no middle ground.


Furthermore, what we see on the national level today is nothing short of John Doe III. We lived through the John Doe and John Doe II investigations here in Wisconsin as liberals went after Governor Walker.  It was a witch hunt then and it's a witch hunt now.  


This is the logical application by liberals of a "John Doe" investigation on the national level as they go after President Trump now.  Russian collusion, obstruction of justice, we just need to keep investigating until we find something!  In a nutshell, as it was in Wisconsin, it's an investigation in search of a crime. They will not stop unless we beat them back as we did five years ago, first here in Wisconsin.


This is the reality we face today. We should continue to encourage civil dialogue but we can't stop fighting at the same time. We need to support the President's agenda, we need to support the President, and we need to keep fighting right here in Wisconsin for our beliefs.  We need to not lose focus of what we have gained here and what we need to do to not lose ground in Wisconsin in the coming year. 


We all have a role to play in this fight.  Our role is right here in Dane County; right here on the front line of liberal extremism.