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As a Wisconsin history buff and co-chair of the Council of Great Lakes Governors, the subject of maritime trails is of great personal and professional interest to me.
The Great Lakes and the treasures they keep in their depths are part of our identity. The stories of the Great Lakes are of exploration, awe-inspiring natural resources, hardship and bravery. Visitors to our remarkable Manitowoc Maritime Museum can hear the tale of a terrible winter storm that swept across Lake Superior, devouring the schooner Lucerne and leaving no survivors. The Great Lakes are a tremendous asset to our region's future, too, with great potential for tourism and engaging youth and
Work and recreation on the Great Lakes have left an impressive trail of maritime cultural resources along Wisconsin's Great Lakes shorelines. The Wisconsin Historical Society established the Maritime Trails program to foster wider public appreciation of the state's rich maritime past and encourage preservation of these unique historic sites – shipwrecks, lighthouses and historic waterfronts.
The trails also underscore the importance of preserving and restoring these cultural treasures. The Great Lakes Governors recognize the need for an overarching plan that identifies specific restoration goals, establishes priorities, specifies measures of success, and serves as a coordinating focus for the many federal, state and local programs directed at Great Lakes restoration. Our priorities reflect broad goals such as habitat restoration and control of invasive species, which pose a serious threat to the Great Lakes and the treasures found above and below the water.
I am honored to introduce the story of Wisconsin's Maritime Trails. On these pages you'll explore efforts to teach the historical value of shipwrecks, the environmental conditions that lead to their preservation and tales of gallant ships and crews. You will climb the winding steps of lighthouses and you will visit National Historical landmarks.