Thousands of people are drawn to the beautiful beaches of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore each year. While visitors are encouraged to take out all their trash and to pick up any litter that they see while at the beach, we also see a lot of trash wash up after traveling in the lakes. It is important to the park to have regular maintenance and assure the beauty of the beaches.
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.
Over 30 of the Friends’ Adopt-a-Beach volunteers gathered at the Sleeping Bear Inn on Wednesday, April 27, 2022 to meet with representatives of the Alliance for the Great Lakes. Our volunteers monitor and clean a dozen different beaches in the National Lakeshore. They also inventory and measure the amount of litter and polluting materials that they find. This data is reported to the Alliance for the Great Lakes, which is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization working across the region to protect the waters of the Great Lakes. The Alliance combines our data with that from 15,000 other volunteers in the Great Lakes area to create a database on the health of the lakes that supports research and government policy making.
The following beaches are in the Adopt-A-Beach program:
How to become an Adopt-A-Beach Volunteer
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.
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.
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!
Download one of the tracking forms below, 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. 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 Erica_Plesha@partner.nps.gov.
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, please create a report for each volunteer. The list of items picked up only needs to be entered for one volunteer, but the Name, date, and hours for each other volunteer should be entered separately, so we can keep track of each person’s 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 Beach Clean-up data entry form.
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.