Beach Access Stairs

There are a couple of places in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District, where getting to the Lake Michigan beach can be difficult because of the steep bluffs you have to find a way down. This has caused significant erosion and safety concerns – especially if the soil is wet.

In 2010, Cherry Republic and the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes worked with the National Park Service to build beach access stairs at the end of Lane Road. We’ve received may positive comments from grateful beach-goers, and at the suggestion of the NPS, we’ve identified another access point on the gravel road about a mile north of Lane Road which has experienced significant erosion and is becoming quite a challenge to climb down.

Lane Road Beach Access Stairs

We will again team up with Cherry Republic and NPS Roads and Trails crew the week of July 9, 2012 to build another beach access stairs here. We need volunteers, so if you are willing and able, please contact us. We will get back to you with details on the work and the schedule.

Historic Pruning Workshop

A pruning workshop was held on May 4th at the Dechow Farm in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District.  About 30 people were given instruction by professionals from the Leelanau County Soil Conservation District in Lake Leelanau.

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes provided a grant to purchase pruning equipment that was used at the workshop and will be used by volunteers throughout the year to maintain orchards within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Participants learn skills then practice

The workshop focused on maintenance of neglected apple, apricot, and pear trees and how to bring them back into production, and maintain their health.  The course included 1) how to identify and properly remove dead materials from abandoned trees 2) proper pruning of the canopy for optimum maintenance and fruit production, 3) maintaining tree health, 4) how to maintain ground cover under the tree, 5) watering and care of the tree, and 6) equipment safety.

After training, we all grabbed some tools and started pruning the apple trees in the Dechow Farm orchard to get some hands-on experience and specific guidance from our instructors. This marks the seventh year that a pruning workshop has been conducted at Sleeping Bear Dunes. Participants in the workshop can sign up to take care of one of the historic orchards in the park through the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Adopt-An-Orchard program.

The pruning workshop is often a family affair with multiple generations attending to share the learning experience.

Snowshoe Hikes at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Explore Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) on snowshoes this winter!  Join Park Rangers for a guided snowshoe hike this winter.  Snowshoe hikes will be held each Saturday at 1:00 p.m.  Meet at the National Lakeshore Visitor Center in Empire.  If you do not have your own, snowshoes will be loaned out at no charge.

Inside the Visitor Center, Park Rangers will first provide basic snowshoeing instructions and then everyone will travel by car to the trailhead or area of the National Lakeshore pre-selected for that day. Once there, the Park Ranger will help participants learn about the park’s unique features and winter’s effect on them by exploring and discovering clues on site.  Be prepared and plan to be outside until about 3:00 p.m.  Dress in layers and wear waterproof boots to be most comfortable.

Snowshoeing on Pierce Stocking Drive

Not only is snowshoeing easy, fun, and good exercise, it is also an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages.  The Park Ranger-led hikes are mildly strenuous, yet they proceed at a leisurely pace for only one and a half miles at the most.

Since the National Park Service has a supply of snowshoes for use within the National Lakeshore, participants need only purchase the park entrance pass or have an annual pass to join in the fun.  Reservations are required.  Park Ranger-led snowshoe hikes are limited to 30 participants.

For more information, please call the National Lakeshore at 231-326-5134, extension 328, for details and to make reservations or visit the Park website at www.nps.gov/slbe.

Source of Beach Trash Identified

Two major beach trash wash-ups occurred in the summer of 2008 and 2010. In both cases, a large amount of trash covered our Lake Michigan beaches. The Adopt-A-Beach volunteers were quick to respond and spent hours cleaning the beaches and looking for trash that might identify the source of the trash. Heavy rains and flooding in southern Wisconsin and the Chicago area a couple of weeks before the trash appeared on our beaches was thought to be the cause.

The Alliance for the Great Lakes worked with our Adopt-A-Beach program and the Coast Guard to identify the source and find ways to keep this from happening in the future. Finally in November, 2011 the source of the problem was confirmed: flooding caused overflow in the storm sewer system in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District resulting in raw sewage and trash being washed into Lake Michigan. The currents in the lake and westerly winds eventually resulted in the trash being washed up on our beautiful Lake Michigan beaches. Read more about the study on the web site for the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Aloha Gets a New Roof

The Aloha Fishing Tug, located near the parking lot in the historic village of Glen Haven has a new roof! The Aloha has been undergoing restoration by volunteers and Park Staff for several years. It was relocated to it’s present position in the fall of 2010 and the observation deck was built, so visitors can get a closer look inside as well. Interpretive signs will be placed on the deck to explain the boat, how it was used, and some of the design features. The Aloha is an example of a typical commercial fishing boat used on the Great Lakes. Although Glen Haven was not a commercial fishing center, the Cannery Boat Museum includes a wide variety of Great Lakes boats, and this is part of their collection.

Installing the Roof on the Aloha

The latest repair was the installation of a new roof to protect the inside from rain and the summer sun. The roof is on two levels: the bow and the higher rear cabin. Each of these is covered by a single sheet of white rubber membrane attached with adhesive and fastened around the edges.  For the winter, the tug has been shrink-wrapped for added protection from the winter weather.

More work has to be done  to complete the restoration. A new paint job – outside and inside will be done next year along with some detail work inside the boat. The engine also needs a little repair work and painting, so if you are interested in helping finish this project, contact us.

Aloha Wrapped for the Winter

Beach Clean-up Sept 24, 2011

National Public Lands Day at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore focused on cleaning our Lake Michigan beaches. The day started out with rain but cleared up nicely as we got to the beach. Twenty one people walked over 10 miles of beach from Platte River Point to Empire Bluffs. We picked up over 100 pounds of trash including a tire that had washed up about 2 miles north of the Esch Road Beach. One thing we’ve learned after several years experience in the Adopt-A-Beach program is that large, heavy items always was ashore at the furthest point from a beach access. This tire was quite a project to carry, roll, and sled the 2 miles back to Esch Road.

Sledding the Tire down the beach

We carried, rolled, and sledded the tire for 2 miles.

We all enjoyed a nice day at the beach with friends helping keep our beaches clean. Click here to learn more about our Adopt-A-Beach program where you can help us keep our beaches clean. We provide you with training and the tools you’ll need if you can walk your beach once a month on your own schedule.

2011 Port Oneida Fair

The 2011 Port Oneida Fair featured 6 historic sites in the Rural Historic District of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore about 4 miles north of Glen Arbor on M-22. The Fair is held on the second Friday and Saturday of August each year to highlight the rural culture and arts of the region.

Teams of workhorses and oxen were working in the fields while music was being played in the barn and kids were making ropes and eating popcorn. Over 100 demonstrators were practicing their crafts.

The Port Oneida Fair is sponsored by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear. The planning committee is made up of numerous community groups that fund and support the fair with volunteers. This was the 10th anniversary of the Fair and was attended by over 3,500 visitors.

Click for more information about the Port Oneida Fair.



Beach Clean-upHelp us keep our Lake Michigan beaches beautiful and safe. Adopt your favorite beach and walk your beach at least once a month picking up trash and reporting on beach conditions. It’s a great way to enjoy the beach – with a purpose.

More information: Adopt-A-Beach program

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