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Shapiro Administration Announces Support for NOAA National Marine Sanctuary for Lake Erie Proposal, Encourages Pennsylvanians to Participate in Public Comment Period

05/18/2023

If approved, the 740-square-mile area along the shoreline of Erie County would be Pennsylvania's first national marine sanctuary

​Harrisburg, PA -- The Shapiro Administration today announced its support for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) draft proposal for a national marine sanctuary in Lake Erie. The proposal recognizes Lake Erie's rich historical significance, tourism, recreational opportunities, and economic contributions to Pennsylvania and the United States.

The proposed marine sanctuary would protect natural and historic resources in the approximately 740-square-mile area adjacent to the 75-mile-long shoreline of Erie County, highlighting the national significance of the area’s maritime history and cultural resources while expanding upon existing local and state efforts to create educational, scientific and recreational opportunities for visitors, residents, teachers and students.

“Lake Erie and its beautiful shoreline are true national treasures worthy of protecting – and on behalf of 13 million Pennsylvanians, I strongly support NOAA moving forward with its effort to designate a national marine sanctuary in Lake Erie,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “Lake Erie is a critical part of Pennsylvania’s history, culture, and economy, generating millions of dollars in tourism and economic activity for northwestern Pennsylvania. This designation would ensure we protect that heritage and safeguard those benefits for generations to come, and my Administration looks forward to working with NOAA to make this designation a reality.”

The Erie region's commerce and ship building industries are important to the Commonwealth's economy, and if designated by NOAA, Lake Erie would be the first national marine sanctuary in Pennsylvania.

“Erie already has a tremendous wealth of natural resources and recreational opportunities to draw in tourists, and this designation would be a welcome addition to the region,” said Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn. “I am excited at the thought of the impact this designation would have for visitors to Presque Isle and Erie Bluffs state parks and the Great Lakes Region at-large. From the untold stories to the scientific possibilities, this would be a great opportunity for Pennsylvania to show off what we have to offer to the nation and world.”

Presque Isle State Park is a 3,200-acre sandy peninsula that arches into Lake Erie. As Pennsylvania’s only “seashore,” Presque Isle offers its visitors a beautiful coastline and many recreational activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating.

Erie Bluffs State Park also lies along the shores of Lake Erie and protects endangered and threatened plant species, an old-growth forest, and a world-class steelhead fishery in Elk Creek which runs through the park.

The Shapiro Administration encourages Pennsylvanians to participate in NOAA's public comment period to ensure the Commonwealth’s voice is represented throughout the process.

NOAA published a Notice of Intent inviting the public to comment on the first step in the designation process and comments will be accepted until July 18, 2023 through the Federal Rulemaking Portal by searching for docket number NOAA-NOS-2023-0039.

For more information on the potential sanctuary, and additional information regarding opportunities to provide comment, visit the National Marine Sanctuaries website.

Visit DCNR’s website for more information about Presque Isle State Park and Erie Bluffs State Park, and check DCNR’s Calendar of Events for happenings on public lands.

MEDIA CONTACT: Wesley Robinson, 717-877-6315

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