2013 – A Very Productive Year

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has done a lot again this year! While reviewing all of the projects underway this year, I was amazed by all the hard work done by so many volunteers. Over 170 volunteers worked over 3,200 hours in our Adopt-A-Beach, Adopt-A-River, Adopt-A-Trail, and our Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Ambassador Program.  In addition, we made good progress in planning and developing new hiking and paddling trails – Kettles Trail and Bay to Bay Trail.


SBHT Trail Crew removes down tree

From a purely financial standpoint, the Friends provided grants or purchased equipment for the benefit of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore of almost $77,000. About $33,500 of this total came from the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Maintenance Fund managed by TART.

Click here to read a summary of all of our 2013 projects. You can also read more details on all of our projects by going to our Projects Page.


New Trail Needs Your Input

The proposed Bay to Bay Trail will be a 35-mile hiking trail for backpackers looking for a multi-day wilderness backpacking experience. The proposed trail would run the length of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore near the Lake Michigan coast. Some new backcountry walk-in campgrounds might be needed away from roads but near the lakeshore so that kayakers can also use them while making a multi-day kayak trip.

P5160005-600x450Your 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).

A lot of work was done this summer to map potential trail routes, map possible new backcountry campsites, and describe potential lake access or kayak launch points. The team is made up of staff members from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, NPS Rivers, Trails, Conservation Assistance group, and several other interested folks.

One of the next steps is to conduct an Environmental Assessment to evaluate various trail options and assess impacts and obtain more public input. Your help is critical in making this the kind of trail we all want to enjoy! For more information see the Bay to Bay Trail under our Projects Tab.

Experience 231 Smart Phone App

Got a couple of hours and want to take a hike? Where’s the closest trail? How do I get there, and what can I expect when I do find it? Got some pictures or video? What about a trail map? Maybe you’re looking for a beach close-by but you’re not sure how to find one…

You’re in luck! A new smart phone App called EXPERIENCE 231 has just launched in the I-Tunes store and the Google Play Android store. It has all the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore trails, Lake Michigan beaches, and rivers (Platte & Crystal). And it is FREE. Go to iTunes or Google Play Store to download it on your smart phone.

This is a collaboration between several regional organizations who manage natural areas in northwest lower Michigan including Grand Traverse Conservation District, TC Parks & Recreation, Garfield Township, TART Trails, Grand Traverse Conservancy, Leelanau Conservancy, and Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes.

In August, a group of AmeriCorps workers supervised local high school students in taking and editing video for each of the partner groups to create short videos for the Experience 231 App. You’ll love the videos they did for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Click the links below to watch them.

Sleepy Bear Twilight Ride – August 11

The first annual Sleepy Bear Twilight Ride on Sunday, August 11th was a success. The event, sponsored by Cherry Republic and Friends of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, brought in over $2,000 in donations to support operations of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail.  About 190 riders of all ages rode the trail with glow-stick necklaces and ate Cherry Republic snacks at a Glen Haven stop. The biggest indication that the ride was a success is that everybody was smiling and laughing along the trail. When asked if they were having a good time, everyone said “YES” and “THANK YOU FOR DOING THIS”!

The non-competitive ride began at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor and refreshments were provided at the half-way point of the ride in Glen Haven.  Registration started at 7:30, and riders could start as soon as registered. The 22 volunteers that worked at the event kept everybody safe, and really were the key to making the ride a success. Thank you for riding in support of the trail!

Next year’s Sleepy Bear Twilight Ride will be held on Sunday, August 10, 2014 with registration beginning at 7:00 PM.

New Mower for South Manitou Island

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes purchased a new riding mower for volunteers to use in mowing around the village and historic farms and cemetery on South Manitou Island. This grant illustrates how most of our projects are accomplished.

Patty-on-Mower-250x333I received a call in the fall of 2012 from one of the volunteers who works on South Manitou Island. She told me that the mower they use there has fallen into disrepair and a new one was needed. Much of the mowing on the island is done by volunteers and they need a new, safe mower to keep the island looking good and maintaining the historic landscapes. I explained to her how a project like this gets done. The first step is to take the need to the appropriate person at the National Park Service management and it would have to be included on the annual project list we receive in the spring from Park Management. Then, if the project is prioritized by the park, the Friends board needs to see an interest and commitment by people to make it happen – that means donations! The Friends has a very limited budget, so to fund a project like this, requires donations from individuals or companies.

They did even better than that! They talked to their friends and to the local dealer who sold us the mower. The dealer (Lark Lawn & Garden, Grawn, MI) gave us a significant discount on the mower and the group was able to raise donations from individuals who wanted to see this project go forward that came just $500 short of the total price.

Now that’s TEAMWORK. Kudos to Patty Kelly & Gwen Glatz for making this project happen!

Mower-on-trailer-300x225Once the funds were in place, it took only a couple of days to get the mower to South Manitou Island. Memorial Day weekend saw Patty smiling as she mowed around the historic houses and farms on SMI. Thanks to David Chew, island Park Maintenance staff, a trailer was found to move the mower from the village to the farms! I hope you’re getting the idea that when we all get on the same page and work together we can make things happen!

Environmental Assessment of Kettles Trail

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Superintendent Dusty Shultz announced today that the National Park Service proposes to develop a trail system (“Kettles Trail”) on federal lands in the Bow Lakes area of the National Lakeshore.  To do so, the National Lakeshore will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) which will describe and analyze alternatives for the Kettles Trail.

The Bow Lakes area is a detached section of the National Lakeshore, created when a 1982 amendment of the National Lakeshore’s enabling legislation authorized a boundary revision that added the area to the park.  There are currently no developments in this area.

The project concept is to develop a trail system for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, a small parking area, adequate signing, and interpretive information.

Planning for the Kettles Trail is just beginning and, as part of this planning process, the National Lakeshore welcomes your ideas and input regarding issues or concerns relevant to you.  They are especially interested in things you would like them to consider as they plan the project.  Please provide your comments electronically through a link on the National Lakeshore’s website at www.nps.gov/slbe/.  Comments may also be mailed to the National Lakeshore (Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, Michigan, 49630).

The National Lakeshore requests that you provide your comments to them by May 20, 2013.  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 is scheduled for release in late summer and will then be made available for further public review.  At that time, the National Lakeshore will again solicit public input.

Effects of Sequestration

Effective March 1, 2013, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) was required by “sequestration” (a series of automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts) to reduce its annual budget by five percent. The park must absorb that cut in the remaining seven months of this fiscal year that ends September 30. The federal law imposing sequestration requires that each park take this cut.

For Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, this amounts to a $234,000 reduction from a budget of $4,676,000. The park cut travel, training, overtime, and supply purchases, and reduced the number and length of seasonal employee positions to meet the required spending reduction. The park was not given the option of furloughing permanent employees.

While the National Lakeshore takes the actions necessary to comply with sequestration, Superintendent Dusty Shultz noted that, “The park remains open, welcoming visitors and continuing to protect the resources entrusted to our care.”

Following are the major actions being taken to implement the cut:

(Note: About 98 percent of the park’s budget pays for salaries and fixed costs like utilities)

  • Shortened Seasonal Positions:  22
  • Cut Seasonal Positions:  5

Park Operations
Reduced staffing will reduce park operations in the following ways:

Visitor Services and Facilities:

  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will not open until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day.
  • Ranger programs, including environmental education programs for school groups, will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will cease after Labor Day.
  • Other than those at the visitor center and campgrounds, restrooms and trash cans will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day. This includes the Manitou Islands.
  • Mowing of picnic areas and historic farmsteads will be sharply reduced.
  • These actions are expected to affect over 250,000 visitors to the park, including 10,000 school children.

Resource Protection:

  • Protection and monitoring of the endangered Piping Plover will be sharply reduced.

Follow-up control of invasive plants such as black locust will be sharply reduced

2012 – A Very Productive Year

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has done a lot this year! While reviewing all of the projects we had underway this year, I was amazed by all the hard work that had been done by so many dedicated volunteers. Over 150 volunteers worked many hours in our Adopt-A-Beach, Adopt-A-Trail, and Adopt-A-River programs in addition to the 40 SBHT Trail Ambassadors and those who worked at the Port Oneida Fair. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Building Beach Access Stairs

From a purely financial standpoint, the Friends provided grants or purchased equipment for the benefit of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore of almost $90,000 in the past fiscal year! That number includes over $47,000 which was used to purchase equipment to maintain the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. Those funds came to the Friends from the SBHT fundraising. We also installed signs for the first segment and hired an intern this summer to help us set up our Trail Ambassador program, through the Active Trails Grant from the National Parks Foundation funded by the Coca Cola Foundation.

Click here to see the summary of all the 2012 projects.

You can see much more detail on each of our projects by clicking on the Projects Tab on this web site and browsing through each of the project pages.

SBHT Update – Signs, Maintenance & Grooming

New signs have arrived for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, and a group of volunteers has been busy installing them along the 4.25-mile section of the trail between the Dune Climb and Glen Arbor. A few more signs will be coming this fall and by spring, there will be a kiosk at the Dune Climb and in Glen Haven. The trail signs were provided thanks to an Active Trails Grant from the National Parks Foundation and funded by the Coca Cola Foundation.

Down Tree Removal

While we were out installing signs, we came across a large beech tree that fell across the trail. fortunately, some of us were on the Trail Crew and were trained in chainsaw safety, so we used some of the logs from the tree to create a place to sit and rest along the trail. You’ll find these new “benches” about 1/4 mile from Glen Arbor.

Groomer is being set-up

Groomer is being set-up

The cross-country ski grooming equipment is here and is being set-up for the first season. The gator is in the shop having the wheels replaced by tracks and electrical wiring done to be able to control the groomer from the cab of the gator. Now all we need is SNOW! I’ve been told not to wish for snow too early, but I can’t wait to get my skis out and give this new groomed trail a try!


Charge Up The Dunes! – VOLT Raffle

Following a summer-long raffle, Bill Janis of Traverse City was announced as the winner of a new cherry red Chevrolet Volt at a drawing held Saturday, September 1 at Cherry Republic of Glen Arbor. The “Charge Up The Dunes” raffle, conducted by TART Trails and Cherry Republic, sold all 1200 tickets, raising more than $100,000 for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (SBHT).

Raffle Drawing by Marc Schollett of TV 7&4

Marc Schollett of TV 7&4 emceed the celebration and drew the winning ticket from the drum. Mr. Janis said he intends to do a free drawing among all of the employees at his Traverse City-based company, Century Inc, and donate the Volt to one lucky worker. Special thanks to the Cherry Republic, all of the ticket sellers, everyone that purchased a raffle ticket, and the event planners that made the Volt raffle such a success.

The first four-mile section of trail connecting Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb was completed in June, providing easy, car-free access to amenities and attractions including the DH Day Campground, and Glen Haven. Since opening, counts conducted by Friends of Sleeping Bear estimate more than 30,000 people of all ages and abilities visited the trail. Fundraising continues with a focus on raising the remaining $213,000 needed to construct the next four-mile segment from the Dune Climb to Empire. Donors of $1,000 or more will be recognized at a permanent donor plaza located at the Dune Climb. Well-known local artist Glenn Wolff created an illustrated map of the trail and donors of $5,000 or more will receive a limited edition signed print.

To donate or learn more about the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail please visit www.sleepingbeartrail.org or contact Pam Darling, Development Director for TART Trails (pam@traversetrails.org or 231-941-4300).

In addition to pledges and cash donations, here are some other ways you can support the SBHT:

The Inaudible Auction: Each week Cherry Republic auctions off a highly desired item or experience. Sign up to receive the weekly Orchard Report e-mail to learn about that week’s auction.

Sleeping Bear Heritage Blend: Great Lakes Tea & Spice created a special seasoning blend based on a 1930’s recipe from the Peter Van Nort family. A portioin of each sale goes to the SBHT. It can be purchased online or at the Great Lakes Tea & Spice headquarters at 6610 Western Avenue in Glen Arbor.

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Stickers: Stop in at one of the following retailers to get your SBHT sticker for a donation of only $10. The stickers are a great way to show your support of the trail.

  • Anderson’s Beach Shop
  • Brick Wheels
  • City Bike Shop
  • The Cyclery
  • Crystal River Outfitters
  • MacBeth and Co.
  • Miser’s Hoard
  • M-22
  • Northwoods Hardware

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Hats: Support the trail in style! The new SBHT cadet style hats are available for $20 donation at Anderson’s Beach Shop, The Cyclery, and Empire Surf!


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