Preventative Search and Rescue – PSAR

The Preventative Search and Rescue Team has been an important program to help increase visitor safety and reduce emergency calls. 

Prior to 2017, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore conducted more than 60 search and rescue missions each year. Most of these occur at the Dune Climb and at the Lake Michigan Overlook stop on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. This project provides a trained volunteer to educate visitors about the safety issues they may face at these two popular spots in the park. Volunteers and Park staff will be available to give advice on appropriate planning, protective clothing, and more helpful information to park visitors.

In addition to volunteers, the Friends also creates, installs, and repairs critical safety and visitation signage through the Park. You fan support these efforts by donating to the Friends

PSAR Volunteer Duties

Volunteers and Park staff will be stationed at the Dune Climb and Pierce Stocking Drive Lake Michigan Overlook during peak use times.

Since beginning this program in 2017, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has reduced 911 calls dramatically (8 calls in 2019 vs. 60 calls in 2017). Part of this reduction is due to this program in part due to increased public education and improved signage.

We are looking for outgoing volunteers who have a love and knowledge of the Park. There is a role for everybody. Please review the PSAR Job Description and contact Jesse Lewit  PSAR Coordinator

PSAR Search and Rescue Day at the Dunes on July 31, 2021 

An update from last Saturday’s PSAR Water Safety Day.
The weather was cloudy and cool but we did get a decent turnout of those interested in learning more about the PSAR Program.
Up North LIve made a surprise appearance and aired a story on the PSAR program Saturday night. View the spot here:

PSAR Volunteers, NPS Staff, and the Glen Lake Fire Department will be learning about a new tool –  a robotic rescue system called Emily – learn more at

We are in the initial planning of deploying PSAR during times when the National Weather Service issues a Beach Warning for portions of Leelanau or Benzie County that fall within Sleeping Bear. The new rescue system and training will help our volunteers be prepared when the time comes for additional needed help during a Beach Emergencies. 

To learn more about becoming a PSAR Volunteer: 

  1. Review the full Preventative Search and Rescue Volunteer Description
  2. complete a Volunteer Registration and one of our Volunteer Coordinators will get in touch with you to answer questions and get you into the program.

Volunteers must report their time and observations every day in the PSAR Patrol Log


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