Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Superintendent Dusty Shultz announced that the National Park Service (NPS) proposes to develop a hiking and paddling trail that follows the Lake Michigan shoreline in the park from Platte Bay to Good Harbor Bay. To do so, the National Lakeshore will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA), which will describe and analyze alternatives for this trail.
The 2009 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Final General Management Plan / Wilderness Study / Environmental Impact Statement (GMP) proposed a trail for hikers and Lake Michigan paddlers that would parallel the Lake Michigan shoreline within the National Lakeshore and would make use of active beach areas or existing disturbed areas and corridors. The concept is to develop a trail system for hikers and Lake Michigan paddlers that includes a designated and signed route, lake access points, and backcountry campsites. The routes could be used by “through” hikers and paddlers (those wishing to travel the entire route), as well as day users.
The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes are working with the National Lakeshore to develop this trail plan. Some preliminary work and idea generation has been performed with coordination by the NPS Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, park staff, and volunteers. A team of five graduate students from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment spent the summer of 2013 gathering data on possible backpack and kayak routes, lake access points, and backcountry campsites. While this student report is distinct from the NPS planning process, it provides a wealth of good information and ideas that the National Lakeshore may consider as they begin crafting their own plan. You can help the National Lakeshore come up with other ideas and alternatives to consider as they move forward.
Your input regarding issues or concerns relevant to you is an important part of this planning and impact assessment process. You can find background information and provide your comments online at parkplanning.nps.gov/baytobaytrail. Comments may also be mailed to the National Lakeshore (Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630).
The National Lakeshore requests that you provide your comments by September 15, 2014. The comments you submit during this “scoping” phase of planning will be evaluated and considered during the development of alternatives and analysis of impacts. The EA will then be made available for further public review and comment, scheduled for release next summer, when they will again solicit your input.
A public scoping meeting on this project is scheduled for August 14, 2014 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center Auditorium in Empire. A presentation will be made at the start of the meeting and park staff will be available to answer questions about the project. Written comments will also be accepted at the meeting.
The National Lakeshore looks forward to receiving your thoughts and opinions concerning the Bay to Bay Trail Plan and Environmental Assessment. For more information, please contact Kevin Skerl, Chief of Natural Resources, at (231) 326-4750, or visit their website at www.nps.gov/slbe/.