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Applications now open for advisory council to proposed Lake Ontario marine sanctuary

The federal government is considering creating a 1,700-square-mile national marine sanctuary in the southeastern portion of Lake Ontario.

Local community members in central and northern New York will now be able to play an even larger role in shaping the proposed national marine sanctuary in Lake Ontario. The federal government is seeking applications from those interested in serving on a council that would advise the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as it considers creating a 1,700-square-mile national marine sanctuary in the southeastern portion of the lake to preserve the shipwrecks below its waters. 

The plans to fill the 15 seats on the advisory council with people who represent a variety of interests in the local community, including divers, recreational boaters, and educators. Ellen Brody with NOAA says the knowledge from the council will be used to draft the plan for what a potential marine sanctuary here would look like.

"They are our eyes and ears in the community," Brody said. "They provide advice to us on issues related to boundary alternatives, what activities we should put in the draft management plan - pretty much anything related to our proposals we are interested in getting community input on that."

Brody says councils associated with other national marine sanctuaries have had major impacts. The council for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Michigan helped determine the scope of the federal-state partnership that now manages the resource and later played a role in expanding the boundaries of the sanctuary. 

Candidates have until November 1to apply. They will be selected based on their expertise relating to the seat they apply for, their community and professional affiliations, and their interests regarding the protection and management of maritime heritage resources. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.