Gov. Evers Rescues Marine Sanctuary

Making good on Scott Walker's broken promise

Man with
Save Our Sanctuary Rally in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, March 2018 (Creative Commons photo CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

On Friday, Gov. Evers rode to the rescue of our Lake Michigan environment and the municipalities of Manitowoc, Port Washington, Sheboygan, and Two Rivers.

He did so by expressing support for the Wisconsin-Lake Michigan National Maritime Sanctuary, which former Gov. Scott Walker tried to deep-six in March of 2018. The sanctuary would cover about 1,075 square miles of Lake Michigan, and it’s a rich area for shipwrecks. There are 37 known shipwrecks there and about 80 suspected ones, making the area a big draw for tourists and explorers.

“This project will expand on state and local tourism initiatives, create a heightened appreciation of the Great Lakes, and provide educational opportunities on the historical significance of this lakeshore,” Evers said at a press conference in Manitowoc.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin also has been diligently promoting this designation. “We’ve been working towards a National Marine Sanctuary designation for a long time,” Baldwin said at the press conference. “We have reached this milestone because of the incredible vision and hard work of community leaders, business owners, and residents up and down the Lake Michigan shoreline. I’m pleased this effort can finally move forward thanks to the support of Governor Evers.”

Walker pulled a fast one when he moved against designating the sanctuary in 2018, since in 2014 he had actually nominated it for national designation. 

He did so, typically, because far-right private property shills and the Koch group, Americans for Prosperity, opposed it.

Take Jim Zeller, a realtor in Hudson, Wisconsin, on the other side of the state from Lake Michigan. In 2009, he was named “Volunteer of Year” by Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin.  In 2017 and early 2018, heading up a group called Citizens for Responsible Zoning and Landowner Rights, he came clear across the state to gin up opposition to the designation of the sanctuary, claiming that the federal government was on a “quest for added jurisdiction and power.” 

Another rightwing outfit, the Wisconsin Conservative Coalition, consisting of four Tea Party groups, also opposed the designation.

Manitowoc Mayor Justin Nickels said, at the time of Walker’s reversal, that he “was appealing to a tiny fringe of his base.”

Now Nickels is ecstatic.

“This national marine sanctuary will not only put us on the map, but it will educate future generations as to how we got here,” said Nickels at the press conference.

What a difference a governor makes!