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March 22, 2017

Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary Nomination Accepted by NOAA

OSWEGO, NY - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) announced yesterday that it has reviewed and accepted the nomination of southeastern Lake Ontario to become a National Marine Sanctuary.

Over the past two years the counties of Oswego, Jefferson, Wayne and Cayuga, along with the City of Oswego, New York State, and several community organizations developed a heritage nomination based on historic shipwrecks in the lake.

In his written notification, ONMS Director John Armor stated the federal agency completed "our detailed reviews and determined that this nomination meets the national significance criteria and management considerations. Thus, we have added the nomination to the inventory of areas NOAA may consider in the future for national marine sanctuary designation. We look forward to working with you, your colleagues and the community organizations that have proposed the Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary nomination as we consider possible national marine sanctuary designation."

Acceptance of the nomination means that it will now enter NOAA's final phase in the designation process, which will include additional research, public participation, and development of a draft management plan.

"The proposed Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary includes unique and significant shipwrecks and aircraft within one of the most historically significant regions in the Great Lakes and North America," said Oswego County Administrator Philip Church, chairman of the local nominating task force. "The proposal is a maritime heritage nomination designed to protect, study and create economies around the submerged resources. It does not propose any new regulations on fishing, scuba diving, boating, water quality, or commercial shipping and dredging."

Within the nomination area there are 21 shipwrecks and one aircraft whose locations are known. Vessel loss reports and news reports indicate that an additional 47 shipwrecks and two historic aircraft are likely within the nomination area. Of those known shipwrecks, the St. Peter is on the National Register of Historic Places, and another, the David W. Mills, is New York State's only Submerged Cultural Preserve and Dive Site in its Great Lakes.

According to the nomination document, several of the known shipwrecks are intact and are likely eligible for listing on the national register. These include the Atlas, Bay State, Queen of the Lakes, Royal Albert, Roberval, Black Duck and the Lady Washington, which is the second oldest (1797) intact shipwreck discovered in the Great Lakes. The oldest is also in Lake Ontario, the Revolutionary War-era HMS Ontario (1780), which is proposed to be a non-contiguous part of the sanctuary.

The nomination document is available online at http://www.nominate.noaa.gov/nominations/

Congressman John Katko, 24th District, NY

"This is a critical step forward for our local leaders, advocates, and members of the community who have worked tirelessly to raise awareness for this project. This designation has the potential to grow tourism and boost our local economy while preserving some of our region's most historic and unique resources. As one of only a few accepted sanctuaries nationwide, I urge the administration to swiftly take action to ensure that this nomination receives proper consideration."

Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner

"NOAA's acceptance of our nomination is great news for the whole region and Oswego County. Our county has several initiatives underway designed to provide opportunities to improve our economy, job growth, and quality of life, including a county-wide economic advancement study, public safety study, Anti-Poverty Task Force, and the effort to make Fort Ontario a National Historic Landmark. The marine sanctuary project is one of these initiatives, and it's exciting to see it progressing so well. This is a collaborative effort of officials in four counties, several state agencies, and key community organizations, and I'd like to thank them all for their work. In particular, I'd like to thank County Administrator Phil Church for chairing the nomination task force and spearheading the entire effort; and Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose support was critical to the success of the nomination."

Oswego Mayor William Barlow

"It is extremely exciting to know we are one step closer to the creation of a marine sanctuary and all the positive benefits that come with such a designation. This will only add to the momentum our community currently has and further diversifies what we have to offer as a region. We will continue to partner with Oswego County and work to capitalize on such an extraordinary opportunity."

Wayne County Board of Supervisors Chairman Steven LeRoy

"With the successful nomination behind us, we are eager to get started on the designation process with NOAA. Wayne County is the home of the wreck of the St. Peter, currently the only shipwreck in Lake Ontario that is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are many more out there off the coast of all four counties. Eventual designation as a national marine sanctuary will protect those historic vessels, and create educational and economic opportunities for us. Having been a charter fishing captain for many years, I'm particularly happy that the sanctuary program would accomplish this without placing new restrictive regulations on our terrific sportfishing and marine recreation industries."

Cayuga County Legislature Chairman Keith Batman

"NOAA's acceptance of the Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary application is exciting news for everyone in our region. The economic development that will come with final designation will be a welcome stimulus for tourism and the many related businesses as well as bring national attention to the beauty, diversity, and opportunities in our area. We are excited and look forward to working with NOAA toward final approval. This is a great example of how a multitude of counties, towns, villages, businesses and citizens can come together to work on a common project with regionwide benefit. Thanks to all but especially to Phil Church of Oswego for working hard and long on the application."

Jefferson County Legislature Former Chairwoman Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick

"How wonderful ! -- Acceptance of the nomination brings our counties one step closer to providing better protection and preservation of history in the deep waters of our Great Lake Ontario. The designation will afford unique educational opportunities for young and old alike."

Oswego County Administrator Philip Church, Chairman of the Nomination Task Force

"This is certainly great news for the whole region. I'm very grateful for the support this project received from our local leaders and everyone across the state who worked to put it together. We received letters of support and petitions from over 200 people and agencies, locally and internationally. If we are successful in achieving designation as a national marine sanctuary based on the historic shipwrecks and aircraft in the lake, it will open up significant opportunities for education, tourism, research and economic development. To compare the significance, other national marine sanctuaries include the Florida Keys, USS Monitor, Olympic Coast, and Thunder Bay. Joining those ranks would be terrific for the communities of southeastern Lake Ontario."

Oswego County Legislature's Economic Development and Planning Committee Chairman, Legislator Roy Reehil

"This represents important progress in our regional economic development efforts. NOAA's acceptance of the application for a National Marine Sanctuary recognizes the significance of the vast freshwater resources and important history of Lake Ontario and its communities in the four-county area. I congratulate Phil Church and the members of the nomination task force for their successful nomination."

Senator Patty Ritchie

"Lake Ontario is one of our region's most spectacular natural resources, and I am excited about this next step toward the designation of the Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary. If named a National Marine Sanctuary, not only will we be able to highlight the significance of the lake, we will also be able to draw more tourists to our region, create jobs and boost our economy."

Assemblyman Will Barclay

"This designation as a National Marine Sanctuary is a great opportunity for the whole county, to help draw tourists from outside the region and will even draw international visitors. Those who live here know that Lake Ontario has some of the best fresh water, sandy beaches and sunsets in the world. This designation will help others learn about these attractions, help promote our fishing and boating opportunities, which will, in turn, support the local economy."

Assemblyman Robert Oaks

"The acceptance of the nomination application for Lake Ontario as a potential National Marine sanctuary is great news for our region. Lake Ontario has offered numerous benefits to our area throughout New York's history. The Marine Sanctuary designation would be a huge boost to our tourism industry, as well as our overall economy."

CNY Regional Economic Development Council Co-chair Rob M. Simpson

"The designation of a National Marine Sanctuary for the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario will protect, preserve and promote a significant historic, cultural, and natural asset and lead to increased tourism and economic activity for the area. Projects like the Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary support regional efforts to showcase the Great Lakes as a visitor attraction and we are excited that its nomination application was advanced so the project can be eligible for final review."

Jean B. Gleisner, Program Manager, Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board

"If we are successful in earning designation, our region will be identified as part of a collection of very few spectacular settings in the nation, including the Olympic Coast of Washington State, the Florida Keys, and American Samoa in Hawaii. National designation would provide the basis for significant economic growth opportunities founded on preservation and conservation of Central New York's compelling collection of natural and cultural resources, for the enjoyment of present and future generations."

Mercedes Niess, Executive Director, H. Lee White Maritime Museum

"The Maritime Museum is pleased to hear that the proposed Great Lake Ontario National Marine Sanctuary is continuing to be considered in the next steps of the NOAA approval process. It would be exciting to have our region officially recognized as a nationally significant shipwreck area within the Great Lakes. This would have a tremendous impact on the communities within the sanctuary boundaries and well beyond. We look forward to continuing to partner with the local marine sanctuary committee and NOAA to develop this unique educational and cultural heritage opportunity."

New York Sea Grant Recreation Specialist, Associate Director - Great Lakes Research Consortium David White

"New York Sea Grant has enjoyed the opportunity to assist in the development of this nomination. The acceptance of the nomination into the NMS inventory is a wonderful and well-deserved recognition of the vast historic and cultural submerged resources of eastern Lake Ontario."

Sanctuary Designation Process

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