Friends March in Glen Arbor July 4 Parade

Once again the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes marched in the Glen Arbor 4th of July parade. There were more people than ever lining the streets of Glen Arbor. We were happy to be a small part of the FUN and to tell the community and visitors what we do.


Celebrate the New Segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

Heritage Trail partners are inviting the public to help celebrate the opening of the newest segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (SBHT) during a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 2, at the Dune Climb of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). The Dune Climb to Empire segment more than doubles the miles of trail completed, bringing the total to 9.5 miles. In addition, the newly installed donor recognition plaza will also be unveiled, which recognizes donors of $1,000 or more.

Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation Trails, Inc. is the fundraising partner for the SBHT, and coordinates the “Pathways to Sleeping Bear” fundraising campaign. Campaign Chair Carol Quarderer notes, “The newest, well-constructed segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail has exceeded our expectations. The trail winds through scenic forests, over beautiful rolling terrain, with short, but moderately challenging hills. Our two communities, Empire and Glen Arbor, are now linked by this beautiful trail. We celebrate this connection that so many people are now using and enjoying.”

DSCN5562-200x150National Lakeshore Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich has heard a lot of positive feedback from trail users, “People are telling us the Dune Climb to Empire segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is even more beautiful than the first stretch! It certainly adds a new dimension to the trail, as the topography allows users to challenge some hills, even with the excellent design. I think that will be one of the best things about the SBHT; when it is done, it will give people whatever kind of ride or hike they are in the mood for, through fields or forest, and it will have plenty of places to hop on and access it!”

The who patrol the trail and greet visitors. National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz, MDOT Director Kirk Steudle, and Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Chairman Kerry Kelly will all be there to celebrate the opening of the new segment. Everyone is invited to join the community at the ribbon cutting at 10:00 a.m. on July 2, and take a ride or walk along the trail to check it out for yourself.

IMAG0044-200x354Those traveling from Traverse City to the ribbon cutting are encouraged to take the Bike and Ride BATA Bus to Glen Arbor and then to bike to the event. BATA has announced their Bike and Ride service route will run along M-109 between Glen Arbor and Empire, with flag stops at the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive trailheads. BATA Operations Director Kelly Yaroch said, “We are proud to further enhance our partnership with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, and TART Trails by adjusting our route direction in this fashion. We see great benefit to the constituent groups of all the mentioned parties, including the village of Empire, by offering public transportation that allows for penetration directly into the National Lakeshore.” The schedule of bus service is online at www.bata.net.

When fully completed, the 27-mile trail will run from the southern edge of Leelanau County through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire, and Glen Arbor, to Good Harbor Bay.

Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness Dedication

Senator Carl Levin, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Dan Benishek, and many others joined the National Park Service in dedicating the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness on Friday, May 30, 2014 at the #3 Dune Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive.  This newest of the nation’s Wilderness areas was the accomplishment of many individuals and organizations working together to preserve this special place for all to enjoy.

Wilderness DedicationThe new wilderness designation sets aside over 32,000 acres of natural habitat to provide a place for people to experience the natural world without the intervention of human development. The new designation also preserves access by the public to the Lake Michigan shore via county roads, which are excluded from the wilderness designation.

2014 Annual Newsletter Available Now

Each year we publish a short (3-page) newsletter that summarizes the work the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes did during the previous year and plans for the coming year. There are some significant changes coming in 2014 with the possible transfer of our history and cultural projects to Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (another Park Partner at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore). We believe that this realignment of projects among the Park Partners will be more efficient and effective.

The Friends have been taking on a number of large new initiatives in recent years and our board feels that we need to focus our efforts on these recreation, education, safety, and natural resource projects. Read more in our Newsletter!

SBHT Winter Open House

About 100 people skied or snowshoed to the DH Day Log Cabin

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes hosted an Open House on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Saturday, February 15, 2014. The snacks (cookies and coffee from Cherry Republic, Hot Chocolate from the Grocer’s Daughter, and Hershey’s Kisses from Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes) were at the DH Day Log Cabin, which is right next to the trail in the DH Day Campground.

The Friends groom the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail for cross-country skiing several times each week during the winter. We put down two sets of classic tracks on the outside of the trail and corduroy for skate skiing and snowshoeing in the middle of the trail. We had the grooming equipment out at the Log Cabin too so visitors could see what we use to groom the trail and meet some of the volunteers that take care of your trail.

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!

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