US approves expansion of Great Lakes sanctuary

By

DETROIT (AP) — Michigan's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary has received federal approval to expand by nearly tenfold and boost preservation of scores of sunken vessels in an area of Lake Huron once known as "Shipwreck Alley."

The only national sanctuary in fresh water is announcing Friday that the Obama administration approved the years-in-the-making effort to grow from about 450 square miles to 4,300 square miles.

The expansion incorporates waters from off Alcona, Alpena and Presque Isle counties to the maritime border with Canada and doubles the number of estimated shipwrecks to roughly 200.

Officials say the expansion fosters further exploration and locating undiscovered vessels going back three centuries.

The Alpena-based sanctuary was originally created in 2000. Efforts to expand it began about seven years ago with three failed Congressional bids.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.