Platte River Campground – New Food Storage Lockers

Animal-proof Food Storage Locker

Bears, raccoons, and chipmunks all enjoy eating your food. We have experienced more animal encounters during the past couple of years at the Platte River Campground, which prompted Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes to install several Food Storage Lockers throughout the campground. Now if you don’t have a safe area to lock your food, you can store it in one of these animal-proof lockers. This is especially helpful to tent campers. We’ve had great reviews from our campers this summer. Thought you’d like to know that the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes has been working to make your camping stay safe and enjoyable!

Newly Naturalized Citizens Sworn In at Sleeping Bear

Friday, August 24, 2012 – Glen Haven

“Hear ye, hear ye.  The Federal Court for the Western District of Michigan is now in session.  The Honorable Ellen S. Carmody, presiding.”

Judge Carmody, Clerk Foster, Director Dedvukaj, Superintendent Shultz

Judge Carmody, Clerk Foster, Director Dedvukaj, Superintendent Shultz

These words rang out across the dunes, as the first-ever US Citizen Naturalization Ceremony began at the Life-Saving Station, near Glen Haven.

Twenty-seven individuals from 20 countries were administred their oath by U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen S. Carmody.  Following the oath and her remarks to the new citizens, a spectacular, low-level fly-by was performed by a flight crew from the US Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City.

In addition to Judge Carmody, Mick Dedvukaj, District Director for the Detroit District of  the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, welcomed the new citizens and presented them with their certificates.

Park Superintendent Dusty Shultz

Park Superintendent Dusty Shultz

Park Superintendent, Dusty Shultz, also welcomed them.  In her address she challenged the new citizens: “These Parks, Monuments, Memorials, Battlefields, Historic Sites and yes, Lakeshores are all yours to experience!  I encourage you to seek them out, visit them to recreate, be inspired by their natural beauty and serenity, and to establish family memories.

“Know, too, that your national parks symbolize  democracy, sacrifice, and heroism and are the perfect places to learn and reflect about what America is, and who Americans are.”This was the first time such a ceremony was conducted at the Lakeshore.  Superintendent Shultz remarked that she hopes this will be a regular, future event.

New citizens being sworn in

New citizens being sworn in

Also participating in the ceremony were Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 115 (Acme), Girl Scout Troop 440 (Traverse City), and Susan Pocklington of Empire, who sang our National Anthem and America, the Beautiful.

Everyone – new citizens, family members, and guests – enjoyed refreshments provided by Central United Methodist and Grace Episcopal churches of Traverse City, and the Presbyterian and United Methodist churches of Leland.

Thanks to all the Park staff and volunteers who helped make this event such a success!

Friends Receive Grant from National Park Foundation

We are happy to announce that the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes received a 2012 Active Trails Grant from the National Park Foundation – the official charity of America’s national parks. The Active trails program promotes national parks as venues for community engagement and encourages healthy living through various forms of recreation and volunteer service on land and water trails.

Three generations bike together on the SBHT

The $18,000 grant is being used to purchase and install signs for the first segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail (SBHT) and to develop a Trail Ambassador program for volunteers to patrol and maintain the trail. The Ambassador program has begun and you will soon see our Ambassadors on the trail with distinctive orange vests. Please stop and thank them for their service in keeping the trail safe and clean. The interpretive and way-finding signs for the first segment of the trail have been ordered and will be installed this fall. Safety and STOP signs were installed before the trail opened on June 20.

As part of the grant, usage surveys and counts will be conducted to provide a baseline of trail use. Surveys will be done in all seasons each year to monitor trends in use. You will also see a new logo for the trail on signs and stickers this summer. It is a cool, fun visual of the trail into the Sleeping Bear.

We would like to thank the Coca Cola Foundation for supporting the National Parks Foundation Active Trails Program and making this grant possible.

Platte River Point Cell Coverage Improves

Each year, management of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore presents a list of requests for funding or volunteer projects to Park Partners. In 2011, we provided over $40,000 in grants for specific projects requested by the Lakeshore. This year, we are again responding to requests with a number of grants. The first one to be implemented was to improve the cell phone signal at Platte River Point. This is one of the busiest places in the National Lakeshore, but both radio and cell phone coverage is poor. A cell booster was installed in the parking area and provides a very good signal that will ensure that rangers, visitors, and the Lake Township attendant can make calls. This will improve emergency response capability and make it much more convenient for visitors. I stopped down at Platte River Point to check it out yesterday – great signal – and I found this visitor who just got done kayaking the river to make a call to test the system!

Shipwrecks of the Manitou Passage

Please join Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Saturday, December 17 at 1:00 p.m. for a shipwreck program presented by diver/historian Ross Richardson.  Discover the legends and history of Sleeping Bear Point and learn about the shipwrecks that lie under her waters.  This program will last approximately 1 to 1.5 hours.  Meet in the Visitor Center Auditorium in Empire.

Diver on ShipwreckThe shipwrecks of the Manitou Passage have attracted underwater explorers for decades.  Today, the underwater photography of these explorers allows landsmen to visit the shipwrecks from the comfort of a warm, dry chair.  Join Park Rangers as diver/historian Ross Richardson helps us explore some of the shipwrecks of Sleeping Bear Point and unravel some of the mysteries they hold.  He has spent the last decade searching for, and documenting, shipwrecks off the coast of west Michigan.  Richardson is credited with discovering the location of the legendary steamer Westmoreland, which sank south of Sleeping Bear Point in 1854.

Ross Richardson diving a shipwreck

Offshore of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore lies the Manitou Passage.  Although this 36-mile long waterway offers some protection from the open waters of Lake Michigan, even the waters of the passage can be treacherous.  Many ships seeking shelter sank in this passage, hitting shoals and sandbars and running aground before being destroyed by the waves of Lake Michigan.  There are 16 known shipwrecks in the passage and around the Manitou Islands, but there may be as many as 45 wrecks still undiscovered on the bottom.  Many wrecks are well-preserved and offer clues on how they surrendered to the strength of the big lake in the days before advanced navigation when ships relied on basic tools like a compass, clock, and chart.  Please join us for this glimpse into the pre-railroad era when shipping on the Great Lakes provided the means for westward expansion to the upper Midwest.  There is still much to discover!

Welcome to our New Web Site

We are excited to launch our redesigned web site. We hope you will find it easy to use find the information that you value most. More photos and news stories about Sleeping Bear Dunes and the work of the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes will be published here.

Kerry Kelly working on the web site

Kerry Kelly working on the web site

This site will be updated on a much more frequent basis. You can expect to see news stories at least each week – more frequently in the summer, so come back often. If you want to be kept up to date with news about Sleeping Bear Dunes, sign up for our e-mail newsletter by clicking the button on the right.

I am looking forward to hearing from you. Many of our pages and posts offer opportunities for you to add your own comments to our site. Let me know if there is anything that you would like to have us add to the site. You can Contact Us in a number of ways – or just add a comment on the site. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is your park, we invite you to get involved. Pass the word to your friends and family. We are also on Facebook and Flickr – just click the buttons on the right to go there.

Wildflower lovers, check out our online Wildflower Database. You will find an extensive listing of flowers and indices based on color of the flower. It is a helpful tool to identify flowers you find on your hike in the Dunes or forests in the Park. Click on the button on the right to get to the database.

For History enthusiasts, check out some of our history info by clicking the button to the right. More historical information – especially related to the Port Oneida Rural Historic District – will be added over the next few months.

Autumn Colors Still Beautiful

The trees are still holding their leaves at Sleeping Bear Dunes into the end of October. The warm fall weather and proximity to Lake Michigan combine in lengthening our beautiful autumn scenery. The photo gallery below includes pictures from 10/28/2011 in the Port Oneida Rural Historic District and near Glen Haven. Come out and enjoy these scenes or take a hike on one of our 13 hiking trails. There is still time to get out and enjoy America’s Most Beautiful Place! You’ll find more Fall pictures on our Flickr site.

Click on the thumbnail pictures below to see the larger versions.



Botulism Confirmed in Birds

Four gull carcasses collected from beaches in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) have tested positive for type E botulism toxin (avian botulism).  Type E botulism is a powerful neurotoxin that has been linked to large bird die-offs throughout several areas of the Great Lakes in past years.  More than 200 birds have already been found dead on National Lakeshore beaches this summer, and based on trends from recent years, that number is expected to increase this fall.

Avian botulism is a paralytic, often fatal disease of birds that results when they ingest toxin produced by the native Clostridium botulinum type E; an anaerobic bacterium found in nutrient-rich lake bottoms.  The bacterium spores rest in the gills and digestive tracts of fish living in many North American lakes.  The spores can remain viable for years and are harmless until the correct environmental conditions prompt them to germinate.  Type E botulism occurs only when the spores germinate and the bacteria multiply and produce toxin.  Changes in the Great Lakes ecosystem have increased the growth of the botulism bacterium, which has led to an increase in birds poisoned by eating toxin-tainted fish or invertebrates.

The National Lakeshore is conducting a study of avian botulism to determine whether any steps can be taken to control outbreaks.  Dead birds and fish are identified, counted, and collected for analysis.  Dedicated National Lakeshore volunteers have helped discover that die-offs begin in the heat of the summer and reach their peak during the fall bird migrations.  It is believed that the large flocks of migrating birds ingest the toxin in offshore waters, where it has been accumulating throughout the summer, resulting in the fall die-offs.  These are usually detected when strong autumn storms blow the dead birds to shore.  At this time last year, nearly 300 birds had been found dead, and then from early October to mid-November, another 385 birds washed ashore.


In addition to actively monitoring the shoreline for sick and dead birds, the park is collaborating with scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the University of Michigan, and Northwestern Michigan College’s Water Studies Institute, to conduct studies in the Lake Michigan nearshore environment to better understand the mechanisms of toxin transmission.  Many of these studies are funded through President Obama’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative to assure that Great Lakes beaches, fish, and sources of public drinking water are safe, and that the ecosystems that fish and wildlife depend upon are healthy.

Lake Michigan beaches within the National Lakeshore remain safe for swimming and recreation, however, park visitors should exercise caution upon encountering bird or fish carcasses.  Type E botulism is not an infectious disease.  It is a poison.  You must ingest the toxin, usually by eating an undercooked infected fish or animal, to become ill.  You are not at risk for contracting botulism by swimming in Lake Michigan.  Visitors bringing pets to the park should keep them leashed and away from dead animals on the beach.  Pets may be poisoned if they eat dead birds or fish containing botulism.

Burning Trees

The National Park Service will burn debris piles this fall at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  About 45 burn piles were produced as non-native Austrian pines were cut during an invasive tree removal and dune restoration project.  Burning these piles will remove the woody material from what used to be a more open beach area, and allow native dune vegetation to again become established.  The restoration area is located in a remote section of dunes about a mile southwest of the mouth of the Platte River.

To ensure safe, but effective consumption of the piles, they will be burned only under a specific set of weather and fuel conditions, or “prescription.”  In addition to safety, smoke dispersal is a primary concern and wind direction and speed will be monitored to minimize smoke drifting into developed areas and roadways from the remote fire location.  The prescribed fire program at the National Lakeshore is conducted by trained and experienced National Park Service fire personnel.

More information can be found at

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