TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) _ Gov. Richard Celeste embarked today on a two-day boat ride on once seriously polluted Lake Erie to celebrate the lake's new, clean image.

''When the obituaries were being written for Lake Erie it was called a dying lake by some, and some even said it was dead,'' Celeste told government officials and business leaders at a breakfast before departing on the trip.

He said the lake was reborn through economic development efforts by the United States, Canada and Ohio.

The lake was so polluted in the 1960s that some species of fish disappeared from it, but cleanup efforts have revitalized fishing and recreation.

Celeste's itinerary includes tours of waterfront developments and a fish hatchery before docking Thursday at Geneva Park near Cleveland, where a major capital improvement project will be announced, according to his office.

''Lake Erie is a great lake again. This trip is an opportunity to see firsthand the ways the lake has come back,'' Celeste said.

Celeste said the Great Lakes Charter signed by governors of the Great Lakes states was a commitment to protect the assets of the lake.

U.S. Sen. Howard Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, called the lake the state's ''greatest natural resource.''

''Cleaning it up and making it more usable and accessible just gives me a great source of pride to be one of two U.S. senators able to say that Lake Erie is our proud resource,'' Metzenbaum said.

Celeste and officials of the departments of natural resources, development, transportation and environmental protection will travel today on the Arawanna Queen to South Bass Island and Sandusky.

On Thursday, the group will head for Lorain, Cleveland, Fairport Harbor and Geneva.