WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that he is cosponsoring legislation that would require a federal assessment of Lake Erie and other Great Lakes waters with significant cultural, historic, or archaeological value for possible preservation as federal marine sanctuaries. Brown was joined by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), who introduced the bill, and U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, (D-MN) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) as cosponsors.

“The cultural and economic impact of Lake Erie and the Great Lakes has played a key role in the founding and development of the United States,” Brown said. “It is important that we protect these irreplaceable resources for generations to come. This legislation takes an important step in doing so.”

The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Assessment Act would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to submit to Congress a report and recommendations on possible Great Lakes sanctuaries that includes:

  • Underwater areas in the Great Lakes with “historical and archaeological resources of sufficient value and density to make them nationally significant,” with a description of those assets;
  • An evaluation of community interest in preserving such resources; and
  • Recommendations on whether such areas should be designated as national marine sanctuaries.

The bill would require also NOAA to collaborate with local communities in producing its assessment. Areas identified by NOAA as potential sanctuaries could receive protected status through action by the Secretary of Commerce, who is authorized under the 1972 law establishing the marine sanctuary system to designate marine sanctuaries. Congress also can pass legislation designating sanctuaries. Today, the nation has 14 areas protected as national marine sanctuaries.

Brown continues to fight for the protection of Lake Erie and to ensure it receives the necessary funding to strengthen Ohio’s economy. Brown helped secure more than $300 million in bipartisan Omnibus Bill funds for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), an interagency effort to target the most significant problems in the region and jumpstart restoration efforts to protect, maintain, and restore the chemical, biological, and physical integrity of the Great Lakes. Brown also is a co-sponsor of the Great Lakes Ecological and Economic Protection Act (GLEEPA), bipartisan legislation which is aimed at preserving the Great Lakes and bolstering economic growth throughout the Great Lakes region.