M22 and M109 Road Construction

Planned Road improvements are planned for this fall along M22 & M109 around Sleeping Bear Dunes between Empire and Glen Arbor. Specifically, the section of M109 to the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Drive and various spots around Glen Arbor. View the MDOT Map on their website for up-to-date details. 

Construction will start on September 5th with occasional lane closures. The goal of the construction is resurface the road in locations where it is uneven or needs adjustments to level the roadway to bridges that pass over waterways. An addition to the roadway is also planned to include a turn-lane into the Dune Climb entrance. 


NEW Trails Guide!

Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Unveils New Trails Guide

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, known for its beauty and numerous trails, now has trail maps worthy of its stunning scenery. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is proud to unveil the Mainland Trails of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a 40 page guide featuring the first updated maps of the park’s mainland trail system since the non-profit volunteer group was formed 29 years ago.

This new guide covers 15 trails in Leelanau and Benzie Counties, and includes mile-by-mile trail descriptions, suggested routes, difficulty ratings and color photos. The Friends teamed up with to produce the guide’s full-color, highly detailed maps featuring contour lines, elevation figures, mileage flags and location icons covering everything from scenic views and ghost forests to swimming beaches, picnic areas and shipwrecks. These comprehensive maps replace the original hand-drawn maps found in the previous booklet.

The 72,000-acre National Lakeshore, home to the largest freshwater dunes in the country, attracts 1.7 million visitors a year. Visitors travel from across the country to experience the beloved Dune Climb, incredible beaches and stunning trails. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes will have the new trail guide available this season at the Lakeshore’s Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire, the Dune Climb, DH Day Campground and Glen Haven historical village. The Mainland Trails of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will also be available at area bookstores, shops and online at

Safety Topic: Tick Report

Benzie/Leelanau public health

Ticks have already made several appearances this year, so protect yourself to reduce the risk of a bite and possible disease transmission.

  • Use a repellent that contains 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin, or IR3535 on exposed skin for protection that lasts several hours, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) – care should be taken to avoid eyes and mouth. 
  • Wear clothing that has been treated with permethrin.  
  • Be extra vigilant in warmer months (April – September) when ticks are most active.  However, ticks can be active anytime the temperature outside is warmer than 40° F.
  • Stay on well-groomed trails and avoid high grass, brush, and fallen leaves.
  • Before going back indoors, check & remove ticks from your clothes and pets.
  • Look for ticks on your body, especially the scalp, ears, armpits, belly button, waist, and groin.    
  • Put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for 60 minutes to kill any remaining ticks.  
  • Take a shower as soon as you can after coming indoors. 
  • If you find an embedded tick, immediately remove it, as it typically requires 36 to 48 hours to transmit Lyme disease. Then, use tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin’s surface as possible and pull upward.  
  • Report any embedded ticks to the FOSBD immediately through the safety report link:


To Learn More:

2023 Spring Volunteer Training

Annual Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Volunteer Training

May 13th, 1-3 pm

The Annual Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes training is scheduled for May 13, at the Empire Town Hall. The training begins with a general orientation at 1 pm, which is applicable for all volunteers, both experienced and new. This training is a once-a-year chance for volunteers to hear the latest park news from park staff. It will include updates from the park superintendent, park rangers, and the park volunteer coordinator. The 1 pm general training will be followed by 2 pm breakout sessions to provide more information about individual volunteer opportunities including Adopt-A-Beach and Adopt-A-Trail.

What: Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes Volunteer Training
Saturday, May 13th 1pm – 2pm, Break-out sessions start at 2pm
Empire Town Hall, 10088 W Front St, Empire, MI 49630
All Current and Interested Volunteers 

Join Us Virtually 

If you can not make it in person, join the Friends ZOOM at:
The ZOOM meeting will open at 12:45 PM and close at 2:00 PM and will not include the break-out sessions. 

Additional Training 

Track Chair Training

We will be training on Saturday, May 6th, for the upcoming Track Chair season; this training is open to new and old volunteers.  We will be doing the Bayview at 10am (meet at the lower trailhead off of Port Oneida Rd. near the Kelderhouse) and the Platte Campground at 2:30pmboth lasting 2.5 hours. You can attend one or both sessions depending on which trail you want to help with. This is a great way to learn about our program and how the Track Chairs operate.
If you have any questions, please email us: 

What: Track Chair Volunteer Training
Saturday, May 6th 10am – 4:20pm
Bayview Trail – Meet at the Trailhead at 10am, or Platte Campground at 2:30pm
All Current and Interested Volunteers 

Glen Haven Volunteer Training

Learn more about volunteering in Glen Haven. Over two trainings, the park will focus on Interpretation, and the other on volunteer safety, specifically in Glen Haven. Training is two nights on May 9th and May (), both events are virtual.
For more information, contact Casey for more info at

Bark Ranger Volunteer Training

The Park will hold a kick-off event for new volunteers of the Bark Ranger Program. Help the National Park and The Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Team protect piping plovers. We are recruiting dog owners to join our BARK Rangers program. Volunteering focuses on encouraging pet owners to recreate responsibly in the park with a lead-by-example approach. Training for new volunteers will be held in June.

Bark Ranger Informational Kick-off
Saturday, May 31st 6:20pm
Empire Township Hall
Interested Volunteers 

Glen Lake Picnic Area
Saturday, June 10th 10:30am
Glen Lake Picnic Area
New Volunteers 

Position Opening – Fund Development Director

Position Opening – Fund Development Director


Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has an opening for a volunteer position:

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has been called “The most beautiful place in America” and it needs your help. Our 600+ member organization helps ensure that the more than a million people who visit the Dunes each year have a great experience, while helping to protect this precious resource. We are looking for a person with good communication, organizational and interpersonal skills to join our high functioning all-volunteer organization.

The Fund Development Director helps integrate all fundraising programs to assure financial support for operations and programs approved by the Friend’s Board and National Park administration. This is accomplished by helping to direct a group of dedicated fellow volunteers seeking donations via fundraising events, granting sources, individuals and businesses.

Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes will provide training and assistance as needed. Time commitment will vary with the individual and seasons but typically can be very flexible.

Interested in helping out? For more information please email our secretary at

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, all-volunteer organization.

North Manitou Volunteer Sign Up

North Manitou VIP

North Manitou Volunteer Sign Up

“Volunteers In Parks; is an official program supervised by National Park Service employees

throughout the country. Some of you may be familiar with other VIP projects in Sleeping Bear

Dunes, such as beach patrol. There has been a continuing VIP project on South Manitou

Island for many years, and the North Manitou Island VIP crew is just getting started under the

leadership of Jennifer Miller, the Island Maintenance Supervisor.


North Manitou VIPWe had a full season in 2022 after a slow start in previous years. From May through October,

29 individuals spent a total of 217 days on the island, recording 1823 volunteer hours. Major

categories of effort were: visitor assistance/VIP Rangers (624 hours), historic cottage window

and shutter repair (381 hours), trail maintenance (276 hours), and village mowing (115 hours).

We are looking forward to another busy season in 2023, and are taking applications for new

crew members.


North Manitou VIPHousing in park buildings for up to 14 VIPs will be available on North Manitou for at least one

week every month from May through October. Typical trip length is about a week, and you

can come to the island more than once in a season. Different trips lengths are negotiable, but

each trip must include at least 3 nights on the island. The proposed projects for 2023 are

similar to those of 2022: trail maintenance, village mowing and bush-hogging, and building

historic cottage screens and storm windows. New projects could be fence repairs (and other

work) in the cemetery, back-country campsite clean-up, and installing a floor in a wilderness

farmhouse. The project list is not final and may be revised before season begins.

North Manitou VIP

All VIPs will be provided transport and housing (with full kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom

facilities) at no charge in exchange for their labor, but must bring their own food and drink.

VIPs work alongside Park staff and are considered colleagues, not subordinates. Individuals

will need to sign a formal agreement and comply with National Park Service guidelines while

volunteering. Your volunteer hours are credited to you individually (instead of to a group) and

you earn gratuities for continued service, such as Dune Dollars, badges, hats and T-shirts.

If you are interested in applying to serve on the North Manitou VIP crew, contact me by email


Alan Richardson

VIP Crew Lead

North Manitou Island

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Winters Quiet Secret Spots

Looking to chase those winter blues away? Research shows that getting outside even in the winter is a great way to keep those blues at bay. We recently received a request for some secret, quiet, special spots in the park that are good to visit during the winter. We came up with a few. 


Winter Canoeing the Crystal River

Winter Canoeing the Crystal River

1. Take a paddle down the Crystal or Platte Rivers.


These rivers are full of visitors during the warmer summer and fall months.  Consider bundling up and bringing a few extra lawyers to pad your seat for insulation and take a paddle down a quiet empty river! It is a great time to see wildlife and enjoy some peace and quiet. 






2. Explore a new trail.

Empire Bluffs Trail

Empire Bluffs Trail


We have a great web page dedicated to trails, this page provides easy ways to research each trail with information like, length, location, difficulty and more. Consider taking one a weekend to explore. Do keep in mind that with all of our thaws and freezes shoe grips and poles might be a good idea if there is not enough snow to use snowshoes or skis. 







Common Goldeneye

Common Goldeneye

3. Winter birding. 


Did you know that spring birding starts in March and birders look and listen for Red Winged Blackbirds who signify that spring is coming! Meanwhile in the colder months grab your binoculars, field guide and look up your local audubon society and join a winter birding adventure.  Inland lakes as well as lake Michigan are a great place to spot lots of different ducks. Or consider setting up a bird feeder in your yard and birding from the comfort of your own home.

Beat the End-Of-Summer Blues

Looking for ways to beat the end-of-summer blues in Northern Michigan? There is still plenty of time and sweet September weather to enjoy outdoor recreation in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The traffic lightens as folks head home for the start of the school year and the end of summer vacation. Let the locals’ summer begin! The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is the perfect gateway to fun in our National Lakeshore. With twenty scenic miles of trail, the SBHT can lead you to places for relaxation, food, drink, beaches or other adventures. 

Be sure to check out the map to plan your route and read about each section of trail on our website here. Also, visit this page to learn about the history of the SBHT, find out how you could volunteer to be a SBHT Ambassador and discover ways to financially support construction of future sections of trail!


Here is a reminder of the guidelines for utilizing this wonderful multi-use trail:


  • Stay to the right of the trail and alert others when you are passing on the left.
  • Move to the side when you are stopped. Do not block the trail.
  • Travel single file when other users are present.
  • Clean up after your pets and don’t litter.
  • Stay on the trail. Respect private property, plants and wildlife. 
  • Wear a helmet for your safety.


*One popular question often heard is, “Are e-bikes allowed on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail?” The answer is yes. However, with a top speed of 20 miles per hour in the electric mode, just as with other high-speed bicyclists, caution is necessary when in areas of heavier use, sharp or blind corners and any unusual conditions. Let’s be safe, kind and respectful of all trail users!


Meet Matt Mohrman

An Interview with SLBE Volunteer Coordinator, Matt Mohrman

Where did you go to school and what was your field of study in order to work for NPS?

First off, let me say that I’m doing this under duress – I would rather go to the dentist than talk about me (no offense DD​S’s). Anyway, I had a non-traditional path in coming to the NPS. I was a helicopter pilot with the U.S. Coast Guard and retired after 24 years. It didn’t take — I retired on a Friday and started working for the park on Monday — but the transition from blue, to green & gray was a natural fit. It’s a job with a righteous mission and I still didn’t need to decide what to wear every day!

How long have you worked for the NPS? Always at SLBE? In what roles? 

​I started here in 2010 as a seasonal staff member in maintenance. I was on a crew with mason, Bill Love, and was lucky to be able to help in some really cool jobs like rebuilding the stone walls on Forest Haven Rd and working on historic building foundations throughout the park. In 2012 I moved into the volunteer coordinator position. 

What made you want to pursue this career? 

Besides what I noted above, it was mainly location. My last CG duty station was in Traverse City and we weren’t leaving the area when I retired – so Sleeping Bear Dunes was perfect. 

What is your favorite memory since working for SLBE?

That is a difficult question, there are so many! Probably the opportunity to work with groups of kids (scouts, school groups, etc). They are so full of energy and fun to be around. I really enjoy getting them going on a project and then just circulating around listening to them talk with each other & answering their questions. And, I get to ask them about the latest trends…like what the heck does YOLO mean…which it turns out, isn’t all that trendy anymore – no wonder my adult kids laugh at me.

What do you like to do in your down time? 

I’m usually doing something outside – biking or kayaking this time of year, and potentially enjoying a libation on the beach afterward. 

What is the craziest thing you’ve seen in the Park (that’s fit for print)?

Hmmm – another hard one – it might have been a water snake and frog fighting on the shore of Bass lake. It’s sort of “wildlife-graphic” so skip ahead if you don’t like that kind of thing. The snake had the frog head-first in his mouth – but the frog was using his front and back legs to fight his way out. He would get most of the way out of the snake’s mouth and then the snake would get another hold and partially swallow him down again – this went on, back and forth, and finally the frog ended up getting away. Guess the moral is don’t bite off more than you can chew…if you’re a snake, that is….maybe it’s don’t give up if you’re a frog – anyway pretty cool. 

In your opinion, what makes a good volunteer?

All volunteers are good – that’s not cliché – it’s true! We have 100’s of awesome volunteers that have had ridiculously successful careers and are now choosing to help the park in its mission. I just try to support everyone in whatever way they prefer to volunteer by making sure we have the equipment, uniforms & safety gear in place, then finding an opportunity that matches their skills/desires, and then I just get out of the way! 

Any advice you would offer to kids wanting to work as a Park Ranger. 

I don’t think kids realize there are so many different jobs in the NPS – they maybe saw an Interp ranger at a program, and that’s what the Park Service is to them. There are probably 25+ totally different jobs just at Sleeping Bear Dunes – 3 different kinds of biologists and their crews, trail workers, carpenters, cops, human resources, campground managers and more. Kids should first talk to someone at a park to learn about all the opportunities. When you figure out what you might want to do, volunteer or apply for an internship – both are great ways to get your foot in the door and see if the NPS is a good fit. We have an outstanding track record of hiring our interns as staff in following seasons — or getting them hired at another park — it is a super way to start a career. 

Any advice you have for volunteers? Visitors to the area? 

Explore the whole park – I’ve been in the area since 2002 and am still finding places that I haven’t been!

What is your favorite spot in the Park?

Can’t tell you…’s actually wherever I am in the park (except my office)…..really…..I’m not going to tell you! But I’ll give you one that is top 5 for me, and I bet most people haven’t been there, plus it’s a bit of a scavenger hunt! Go find the geodetic marker out on the dune plateau, here’s a picture to help find it. 

The marker is on top of the glacial erratic boulder in the foreground (it’s a brass disk, dated 1932, you can kind of see it in the first pic on top of the stone, close-up below); the big Dune in the background is the Mother Bear, it’s 1500 feet to the South; and just beyond the grass to the right is the bluff down to the lake. 

Good luck – take water & be safe!

2022 Annual Meeting (Updated)

Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes 2022 Annual Meeting (Update)


Thank you Volunteers!

On August 21st Friends gathered at the Empire Town Hall to hear park updates and vote for new board members (read their profiles below). It was a nice time to visit with old friends and meet new ones while enjoying ice cream graciously provided by Cherry Republic of Glen Arbor. SLBE Superintendent Scott Tucker had nothing but kind, encouraging words for the work that Friends do to help support our favorite National Lakeshore. Thank you, Friends! 

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