High Water Impact

As we have witnessed for the past months, Lake Michigan has had higher than usual water levels which has caused erosion problems at some of the stairs going down to the Lake (Lane Rd, No-Name Rd, Sunset Shores). In each case, the sand has been washed away at the bottom of the stairs. When built, the bottom step was at ground level. Now they are all about 3 feet above ground (or water) level. One (No Pets) signpost at CR-669 has almost washed away.
The Park will schedule time in the spring to dis-assemble these stairs and replace them where appropriate. The Friends will provide funding and volunteers to work with them to do the repairs. Stay Tuned for updates to dates to which the park may require help. 
Please be aware when visiting that the beach is both difficult to get to in some places as well as the ground is very icy. Please be advised that the trails and beaches will continue to be slippery with on and off snowmelt. Take additional precautions by using trekking poles and crampons or other ice-grabbing additions to shoes. 

The History of the Dunes Area

This year, as we will be celebrating the park’s 50th anniversary in 2020 and are celebrating the Park’s past, present, and future. The park was authorized by Congress on October 21, 1970 to protect the natural environment and historic landmarks. There is so much to love about this area, from it’s unique and beautiful landscape to the history of the area during the turn of the century boom of the area was a transportation hub. 

This year, Friend’s volunteers put together a book that celebrates the history of the Sleeping Bear Dunes area with beautiful photographs by local artists to showcase historic and educational information. The book, The Life of the Sleeping Bear is now on the bestseller list by Horizon Books. You can still order your copy of the first edition, but the books are going fast. 

Greetings From Yellowstone!

Our Communications Director recently took a trip to visit family right outside of Yellowstone National Park. Not only did they travel around the park but Laura Ann also met with Wendie Carr the Chief Marketing Officer for Yellowstone Forever, the National Parks official non profit partner organization.  Below are photos from her adventures.

Ranger Bob Furhmann and Laura Ann Johnson FSBD Communications Director

Here I am with my brother-in-law Bob Furhmann who is the Supervisory Park Ranger Branch Chief, in front of the Yellowstone National Park sign at the North entrance to the park.  Bob oversees all the youth programming in the park and is gearing up for a great summer hosting about 60 youth who will come to help build and maintain trails through Yellowstone National Park’s Youth Conservation Corps program.

Roosevelt Arch

The Roosevelt Arch is a famous landmark at the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. The arch was constructed per the request of  President Theodore Roosevelt, under the supervision of the US Army at Fort Yellowstone, in 1903. The top of the arch is inscribed with a quote from the Organic Act of 1872, the legislation which created Yellowstone, which reads: “For the Benefit and Enjoyment of the People”.

four bull moose in the Lamar Valley


Much like Michigan, spring takes a long time to arrive, but the animals are starting to move back to higher elevation which means back into the park.  We were taking a drive through the Lamar Valley between Mammoth hot springs and Cook City and stumbled upon a very rare sight…. Four bull moose! This is the time of year when many animals like moose and elk shed their antlers.  All four of these guys had recently lost their antlers and will start to re-grow them. Fun fact about Moose, they start to overheat at 45 degrees which is why they spend much of their time in or near water.

Hike on the Rescue Creek Trail


They say if you don’t like the weather in Yellowstone, wait five minutes…. This is a photo of my husband Tom and our 20 month old Abner on the Rescue Creek trail. It was sunny, cloudy, rained a little, but overall a great hike! We saw five different types of ungulates (hoofed animals) bison, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer (not nearly as pretty as our white tailed deer).

Yellowstone Forever in Gardiner MT

Lastly a big thank you goes to Wendie Carr, the Chief Marketing Officer at Yellowstone Forever, Yellowstone National Parks official non profit partner. This organization is really cool! They do a ton of education programs for all ages, help fundraise for projects and in general raise awareness about the park and how to help preserve it. I had a great meeting with Wendie and learned a lot about how we can effectively spread the word about these amazing National Parks and Lakeshores!

Friends Annual Report – 2018

This year we provided about $114,000 in support of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Our 618 members also provided over 11,000 volunteer hours. As an all-volunteer organization, we have very low overhead (only 4%). Any donation we receive for a specific project goes 100% to supporting that project. If you are not already a member, consider joining. All you have to do is make a donation or sign up as a volunteer!

Preventative Search and Rescue – PSAR

PSAR Volunteers helped reduce the number of Search and Rescues in the Park by over 50%. Fewer emergencies = happier visitors! Join our PSAR team!

A Busy Year – 2017 Accomplishments

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes spent over $70,000 in support of a wide variety of projects at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The largest projects in 2017 were maintenance of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, Beach and Trail Accessibility Projects, and the snowshoe program for 4th graders. Click here to see our annual newsletter that describes some of the projects and includes a list of projects we funded. For those of you who want more details about all of the projects we funded in 2016, click here.

What’s in the Plan for 2018?

We will definitely be busy in 2018 with our ongoing volunteer programs, but there will also be several big projects that we will need your help with. We will need volunteers AND donations to accomplish these big goals next year.

  • Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail – Annual Operations & Maintenance ($25,000)
  • Kettles Trail in the Bow Lakes Region of the Park – We will be building trail and parking lot in 2018 ($40,000). The first part of the trail from the parking lot to an overlook at the nearest kettle will be accessible (packed crushed stone).
  • A new accessible walkway and platform at the Maritime Museum beach ($15,000).
  • Replacement of the dock at Bass Lake (Benzie County) and accessible trail near the lake.
  • Supporting the Park’s Environmental Assessment for the Echo Valley Mt. Bike Trail.

Click here to make a donation for one of these projects or our General Fund.

Exploring Track Chairs

A major area of emphasis for Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is to make Park beaches and trails more accessible to people of varying abilities. We know that it is often difficult for someone to get from the parking lot to a beach or a scenic overlook. So we’ve been exploring a variety of approaches.

We have been working with the Park’s Roads and Trails crew to design a hard walkway from the handicap parking area at the Cannery in Glen Haven to the beach. This will allow families with small children, older visitors, and those in wheelchairs an easier way to get down to the beach. This walkway will be installed before Labor Day.

Hiking with a Track Chair on Bay View Trail

Trails in Sleeping Bear Dunes often have steep slopes or sandy soil, which makes it difficult for some visitors to experience the natural environment or get to some of the spectacular vistas that others can hike to. We’ve been exploring the possibility of purchasing a track chair to make available to visitors with limited mobility. We will be working with Park management to see if we can set up a system to make one of these chairs available in the Park by 2019.


Making the Park Accessible to More People

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a beautiful place, and one of our goals is to make it more accessible to people of all levels of ability.. Our efforts are focused on awareness, training, and projects to improve access to trails and beaches.

Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (SBHT) is a hard-surface multi-use trail that passes through Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from Empire through Glen Arbor to the Bohemian Road (CR-669).

Ski Conditions

We groom the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail from Glen Arbor to Empire when snow conditions allow. Ski conditions will be posted here whenever there is a change in conditions. This winter, we will also groom from Crystal View Trailhead past the Homestead to Port Oneida Road.

Ski conditions will be posted on our web site whenever conditions change.

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