Senators Stabenow, Levin Join Dedication of 32,000 acres of Wilderness at Sleeping Bear Dunes

Friday, May 30, 2014

At the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin today participated in the dedication of 32,000 acres of the lakeshore as Wilderness, which will guarantee the protection and preservation of the land while providing important access to the lakeshore's recreational opportunities and cultural resources. The law that directed the designation, which was signed into law by President Obama in March, was authored by Sen. Levin and cosponsored by Sen. Stabenow.

"Today's designation will go a long way to preserving and promoting one of our state's top tourist attractions," said Sen. Stabenow. "Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of Michigan's indispensible treasures, attracting more than 1.2 million visitors a year, and should be protected for future generations to enjoy."

"This Wilderness Designation is the result of a long journey of many years of hard work. The designation will protect countless treasures, including the magnificent sand dunes, miles of picturesque beaches, bluffs towering over Lake Michigan, lush forests, and portions of two islands," Sen. Levin said. "At the same time, the designation will ensure public access to important recreational and cultural resources for many generations to come."

The Wilderness designation culminates 13 years of efforts by the local community, the National Park Service and Congress to update the lakeshore's general management plan and protect the park's unique natural habitat from harmful development while enabling public access to its beaches, trails and streams. Most of these areas have been managed as wilderness since 1982 when Congress passed a law that required the National Park Service to manage them as such until Congress acted upon a new recommendation.

Under the legislation, areas designated as wilderness are undeveloped and possess significant and valuable natural characteristics. Developed county roads and state highways, boat launches and many historical structures are excluded from the wilderness designation to maintain access and recreational opportunities and ensure preservation and interpretation of historical resources. Hunting, fishing, trail use and camping will continue, and motor boats will still be allowed offshore of the dunes and allowed to beach in areas adjacent to the wilderness area.