Sanctuary review period ends with no reported extension

by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor

Just as residents of northeast Michigan started to get wind of a White House executive order calling for a review of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary’s expansion into the waters off of Presque Isle County, the review for public comment came to an end (Wednesday).

There was a call for an extension of the comment period by Washington, D.C. lawmakers to allow for more meaningful participation, but it does not appear that was granted. The Department of Commerce opened a 30-day comment period on the review, June 26.

Early last week, northeast Michigan residents scrambled to get the word out with less than 10 days before the deadline.3017-Sanctuary-Update

Sen. Gary Peters sent a letter July 18 to U.S, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross asking for more time because the review “provides very little opportunity for public engagement.” The letter was signed by 20 U.S. Senators and members of Congress.

Former Rogers City mayor Beach Hall sent a letter Monday to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Monday. He was a strong advocate for expansion of the sanctuary, working hard to gather bi-partisan support for it, and was pleased when it occurred.

Hall believes the review is “unwarranted and unnecessary.” He said expansion has been good for the area, “With no negatives that I am aware of, and I would hate to see such a worthwhile endeavor eliminated by approval of the executive order dealing with the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

Hall urged for a modification of the executive order with the removal of the review. As of Wednesday morning, he had not heard of any extension of the deadline.

On April 28, President Donald Trump issued an executive order, “implementing an America-first offshore energy strategy,” directing the Department of Commerce to review the designations and expansion of 11 national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments.

The order targets any marine sanctuary or monument established or expanded since April 2007.

Members of the Rogers City Council approved a resolution, July 18, opposing the executive order.