Thousands of people are drawn to the beautiful beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore each year. Each person is responsible to leave the beach in at least as good condition as they found it. While visitors are encouraged to take out all their trash and to pick up any litter that they see while at the beach, it is important to have a program of regular maintenance to assure the beauty of the beaches.

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes in cooperation with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Alliance for the Great Lakes has developed an Adopt-A-Beach program to provide regular monitoring and clean-up of the Lake Michigan beaches within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Adopt-A-Beach Team on patrolWhen you become an Adopt-A-Beach volunteer, we request that you or your group make five (5) clean-up visits per year. These visits will usually occur once a month during spring through early autumn. You will be asked to evaluate the state of the beach and related facilities, and keep an inventory of the trash you pick up. Learn more about what is involved at the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-A-Beach web site. Still interested?

The following beaches are in the Adopt-A-Beach program:

  • Boekeloo Road
  • Platte River Point
  • Tiesma Road
  • Peterson Road
  • Esch Road (Otter Creek)
  • North Bar Lake
  • Glen Haven
  • Sunset Shore
  • Lane Road
  • Pyramid Point
  • County Road 669
  • County Road 651
  • South Manitou Island
  • North Manitou Island

How to become an Adopt-A-Beach Volunteer

  1. Contact the Adopt-A-Beach Coordinator, Kerry Kelly, by e-mail or phone (231-631-4244) to indicate your interest. The Coordinator will help you select a beach and help you through the process of getting signed up and obtain the materials you will need including a Sleeping Bear Dunes Ambassador vest, litter-gitter, and an Annual Pass to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
  2. Sign up as a Volunteer-in-Park (VIP) at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. If you are already a VIP, we will add this job to your existing VIP profile. If you are not a VIP, fill out the Volunteer Agreement Form.
  3. The AAB Coordinator will provide a short orientation and training session and answer any questions you may have. You will be shown how to enter your Beach Patrol Data on our web site. If you choose not to report online, you can drop off your forms at the Visitor Center in Empire, or mail or e-mail them to Kerry Kelly, AAB Coordinator.


Procedures for the Beach Clean-up

Pick a date to clean your beach. You should do this at least once per month. Twice per month in the summer would be even better!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore conducts water sampling at each beach once a week during the summer, so we do not expect our volunteers to test the water.

If you don’t have a set of forms, download one. Choose between a small print, 1-page version and a larger print, 2-page version.

Wear your Adopt-A-Beach T-Shirt or Ambassador Vest. Visitors at the beach will want to talk with you and learn what you are doing.

Take a garbage bag, litter-gitter, clip board, and forms. Take a GPS unit if you have one available to document the location of hazards, large items that you need help removing, or dead birds or fish.

Begin picking up trash in and around the parking area. Be careful of poison ivy around the edges of the parking lot and along the path to the beach. Keep track of the type of trash you pick up on the back of the Adopt-A-Beach Litter Monitoring form.

Do not pick up any dead birds. Notify Kerry Kelly, AAB Coordinator, about any sick or dead birds and their location. He will notify our Botulism Study crew who will report it and either remove it for testing or bury it. Dead birds or fish on our shore may be related to avian botulism. We support an extensive, multi-agency study into the cause of waterfowl deaths on our Lake Michigan shores. If you are interested in learning more about this study check the study web site or read the latest newsletter: The Bot. Squad Newsletter Vol. 1 2015. If you would be interested in joining our team of volunteers who walk a beach once a week from June through November checking for water and beach conditions, dead birds and fish, contact Kerry Kelly, who will get you in touch with the Avian Botulism Program Coordinator for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Keep track of the time you spend (including travel and reporting time) and the number of people in your group to calculate the total volunteer hours. Include your Volunteer hours when you enter your Beach Patrol Data. Volunteer hours are reported as part of the National Park Service annual report and impact the future budget for the park, so please be sure to report your time.

When you are done, you can enter your data online on our web site.

If you prefer, you can e-mail them to Kerry Kelly or leave the forms at the Visitor Center in empire.

If you have any questions, contact Kerry Kelly.

Adopt-A-Beach Instructions 20140501 is a pdf version of the instructions and contact phone numbers.