Thousands of people are drawn to the beautiful beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore each year. Each person is responsible to leave the beach in at least as good condition as they found it. While visitors are encouraged to take out all their trash and to pick up any litter that they see while at the beach, it is important to have a program of regular maintenance to assure the beauty of the beaches. In 2018, volunteers picked up almost a ton of litter from Sleeping Bear Dunes beaches! Wonder what they picked up? Click here to see the AAB SLBE 2018 Summary.

The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes in cooperation with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and the Alliance for the Great Lakes has developed an Adopt-A-Beach program to provide regular monitoring and clean-up of the Lake Michigan beaches within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. When you become an Adopt-A-Beach volunteer, we request that you or your group make five (5) clean-up visits per year. These visits will usually occur once a month during spring through early autumn. You will be asked to evaluate the state of the beach and related facilities, and keep an inventory of the trash you pick up.

The following beaches are in the Adopt-A-Beach program:

  • Boekeloo Road
  • Platte River Point
  • Tiesma Road
  • Peterson Road
  • Esch Road (Otter Creek)
  • North Bar Lake
  • Glen Haven
  • Sunset Shore
  • Lane Road
  • Pyramid Point
  • County Road 669
  • County Road 651
  • South Manitou Island
  • North Manitou Island

How to become an Adopt-A-Beach Volunteer

  1. Fill out our Volunteer Registration Form and check “Adopt-A-Beach”. A Volunteer Coordinator will contact you to answer questions and set up training.
  2. Our Volunteer Coordinator will help you sign up as a Volunteer-in-Park (VIP) at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. If you are already a VIP, we will add this job to your existing VIP profile. If you are not a VIP, fill out the Volunteer Agreement Form.
  3. The AAB Manager will provide a short orientation and training session and answer any questions you may have. You will be shown how to enter your Beach Patrol Data on our web site.

Procedures for the Beach Clean-up

Pick a date to clean your beach. You should do this at least once per month. Twice per month in the summer would be even better!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore conducts water sampling at each beach once a week during the summer, so we do not expect our volunteers to test the water.

If you don’t have a set of forms, download one. Choose between a small print, 1-page version and a larger print, 2-page version.

Wear your Sleeping Bear Dunes Ambassador Vest. Visitors at the beach will want to talk with you and learn what you are doing. They often have general questions about the Park or surrounding region. It is helpful to carry a Park map to help you answer questions.

Take a garbage bag, litter-gitter, clip board, and forms. Take a GPS unit if you have one available to document the location of hazards, large items that you need help removing, or dead birds or fish.

Begin picking up trash in and around the parking area. Be careful of poison ivy around the edges of the parking lot and along the path to the beach. Keep track of the type of trash you pick up on the back of the Adopt-A-Beach Litter Monitoring form.

Do not pick up any dead birds. Include the location and description of any dead birds you find on the beach in the Comments section of your online report. We will notify the Bot Squad volunteer for that beach who will report it and either remove it for testing or bury it. Dead birds or fish on our shore may be related to avian botulism. We support an extensive, multi-agency study into the cause of waterfowl deaths on our Lake Michigan shores. If you are interested in learning more about this study check the study web site or read the latest newsletter: May 2016 Bot Squad Newsletter. If you would be interested in joining the Bot Squad team of volunteers who walk a beach once a week from June through November checking for water and beach conditions, dead birds and fish, contact

Keep track of the time you spend (including travel to the beach and home as well as reporting time). Include your Volunteer hours when you enter your Beach Patrol Data. If you do a beach patrol with other Adopt-A-Beach volunteers, just enter each person’s first and last names in the box provided. For example, if Mary Smith and John Jones did a patrol together, enter “Smith and Jones” in the LAST NAME box and “Mary and John” in the FIRST NAME box. That way both Mary and John will get credit for their volunteer hours. Volunteer hours are reported as part of the National Park Service annual report and impact the future budget for the park, so please be sure to report your time.

When you are done, you can enter your data online on our web site.

If you have any questions, contact the Adopt-A-Beach Manager, Mary Peterson.

Adopt-A-Beach Instructions 20180519 is a pdf version of the instructions and contact phone numbers.



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