Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is walking back plans he previously submitted to designate a National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Michigan, saying it would created unnecessary “red tape.”
In a letter he sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) last week, Walker said he’s pulling his 2014 nomination for the monument over “concerns” from citizens.
“One of the hallmarks of my administration has been to reduce the regulatory burden on the citizens of the State of Wisconsin,” Walker said in the letter, obtained by the Sheboygan Press. “We believe this designation would create further unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. The addition of another level of federal bureaucracy will not materially advance our shared commitment to protecting shipwrecks.”
Of the original plan to protect submerged shipwrecks in Lake Michigan, Walker said there was a “negligible benefit” for protection, which was too burdensome for those who would need to get a permit to use the areas.
The plan would have protected dozens of offshore shipwreck sites, which are popular locations for divers and researchers due to their attraction for fish.
“The addition of a new level of government for citizens to petition for permits and certifications for normal use of Lake Michigan is too much of a tradeoff for the negligible benefit to protecting shipwrecks,” Walker said. “Wisconsin has and will continue to protect our submerged cultural resources.”
Last April, President Trump signed an executive order reviewing all national marine sanctuary creations and expansions, effectively putting a hold on new designations.
Walker first started the process of designating a portion of Lake Michigan as a sanctuary in 2014, with the process continuing steadily until last year.
A NOAA official involved with the designation process in Wisconsin told the Sheboygan Press last year Walker had the authority to veto any sanctuary designation.
Trump’s marine monument review order went hand in hand with an Interior Department review of national monuments designated on public lands conducted last year.
In February, the department shrunk the size of two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.