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Sleeping Bear Dunes Management Plan

Anne Stanton - June 8th, 2006
From 1999 to 2002, officials at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore attempted to write a new General Management Plan. Essentially it was a 20-year vision for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a gorgeous landscape of dunes, fields and woodlands hugging the Lake Michigan shoreline.
That attempt failed, largely owing to fears that some popular areas would be designated as wilderness areas and made off-limits to cars.
Now officials have wiped the slate clean and started over.
The most controversial element of the plan is what’s called a wilderness study, which defines areas in the park that are off-limits to anything with wheels, but still open to hikers and swimmers.
The first time that park officials tried to put together a 20-year plan, many citizens feared the park would close off Esch Road, a dirt road leading to the popular Otter Creek beach. That’s because Esch Road is currently managed as a wilderness area and the park was not looking at redefining wilderness areas.
This time the park is and is seeking lots of public input early on, said Tom Ulrich, assistant superintendent.
Ulrich explained that the park has never shut down Esch Road because Benzie County owns the road and supersedes federal authority in how it’s used. Unless the county abandons it, the road will stay open.
Whether Esch Road remains a proposed wilderness area depends on public input on the wilderness study, he said.
In that spirit, Ulrich has already met with various community groups and held three open houses earlier this spring. So far, the park has collected 300 written comments. Suggestions, so far, have included adding mountain bike trails somewhere in the park.
Why do a General Management Plan at all? The park’s last General Management Plan dates back to 1979 and a lot has changed since then. Some new areas have been added to the park, including the Crystal River, Bow lakes, and Miller Hill.
“And there’s also a recognition of historic features in the park that weren’t there earlier—Port Oneida and mainland agricultural history,” Ulrich said.
Park officials aim to submit the wilderness study for presidential and Congressional approval by the end of 2008.
Three identical workshops are scheduled for June (you just need to go to one). All workshops will be held in the commons area at Traverse City West High School, 5376 North Long Lake Road. Dates are June 20, 6-9 p.m., June 21, 1-4 p.m., and the evening of June 21, 6-9 p.m.

Complaints about newspaper
to be delayed by a month
Local newspaper critic K. Ross Childs said that he won’t submit a packet of complaints about the Traverse City Record-Eagle until June 30, a month after his original deadline.
Childs, the former administrator of Grand Traverse County, had originally planned to submit 500 signatures and written complaints to the board chairman of Dow Jones & Company, owner of the Traverse City Record-Eagle, at the end of May.
Childs just underwent hip surgery and said he’s been “basically out of commission” since mid-May and unable to work on the packet. Childs, acting as an individual, asked in an undated letter for people to share their opinion about the newspaper, preferably on letterhead. He said in an interview last Thursday that he won’t ask for signatures until the documents are compiled, although his original letter indicated that he would have petition type sign-up forms available.
“We need to say, ‘If you agree with what people are saying, please sign this,’” he said. “That you are supporting that there is an issue with the Record-Eagle being accurate and somewhat vindictive, the word I tend to use. It’s not like it was and it needs to be better than what we have.”
Childs, who sits on the board of Northwestern Michigan College, and is a former county administrator, has been criticized in the paper, along with his friends, state Senator Jason Allen, Tim Nelson, president of Northwestern Michigan College, and Grand Traverse County board members.
A story ran in the Northern Express on Childs’ attempt to go to the top with his
complaints, a move that R-E editor Bill Thomas described as “bullying this newspaper into shutting up.”
The Record-Eagle has covered a range of stories, from an $8 million septage plant partially collapsing 30 days after it was built to the most recent story on thousands of dollars that went into a fund of Sen. Jason Allen’s that, by law, can be kept secret. That story has prompted newspapers across the state to investigate the secret funds relative to their own legislators.
Meanwhile, Bill Thomas, editor of the Record-Eagle, said he’s received many votes of confidence from readers. “They were very, very supportive and these phone calls were made by the people who we’re doing these stories for, who we’re doing this work for.
“The thing that might not have gotten across (in the article) is that Ross Childs is a public official and that he is subject to the same scrutiny as any public official, whether he likes it or not.”
An article this spring criticized NMC college board members for spending thousands on travel for seminars. The biggest criticism was that no one could say what they learned and how it would benefit the college.

Walk, ride and be merry
If gas prices aren’t enough to get you on a bike, on your feet or into a carpool, how about a free breakfast of scones, bagels, cream cheese, fruit, muffins, juice and coffee?
From June 7 to 11, anybody who bicycles, walks, carpools, kayaks or takes a bus to work will be treated to a free breakfast at different spots throughout Traverse City.
It’s all part of the 10th annual Smart Commute Week sponsored by TART Trails, which builds trails throughout the region.
Part of the event includes a Commuter Cup Challenge—in which area organizations and businesses compete on getting to work on their own leg power. For more information on the challenge or TART Trails, call 941-4300 or go to
So now onto the free breakfasts: Served from 7 to 9 a.m., look for the breakfast spots at the following locations: Monday, F&M Park on Washington and Railroad Avenue and Another Cuppa Joe in Building 50 at the Grand Traverse Commons; Tuesday, Oryana Natural Foods on E. 10th and Lake streets; Wednesday at NMC Main Campus (the museum building) and the BATA Transfer Station on Hall Street; Thursday at Munson Medical Center on 6th St. and Munson Community Health Center (the old osteopathic hospital) on Munson Avenue; and Friday at Mustard’s on the corner of State and Cass.

Slipping into Leland will get easier
By next spring, the Leland Township Marina will open with more than double the number of boat slips, a reconstructed parking area and a new marina services building, said Laney Henson, who is with Soil and Material Engineers. The Plymouth-based firm was recently awarded the task of geotechnical engineering for the project.
The picturesque town of Leland in Leelanau County is known for its historic Fishtown, which boasts little shops of smoked fish and cheeses, clothes boutiques, and art shops that are nestled alongside a boat dock. The township marina is immediately adjacent, but north of Fishtown.
“Those slips on the Carp River won’t be changed. And the slips are being designed in the existing harbor structure, so there are no changes in the breakwater walls, those are not moving. They had existing capacity within the existing structure,” Henson said.
The township now has 45 transient slips and one commercial slip—that number will increase to 105 with the expansion.
The $3.5 million construction project will start this fall and the new slips will open in spring of 2007.
Most of the funding comes from the Michigan Waterways Commission, which gets its revenue from Michigan watercraft registration fees and marine fuel taxes.
The Abonmarche Group of Benton Harbor is designing the project.

Aliens invading your lake?
A free workshop in June is being offered to show water lovers how to identify and control alien species that can wreak havoc in a lake or river.
Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council of Petoskey is offering Aquatic Invasive Species Patrol Trainings on June 21-22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The hands-on workshop will focus on identifying purple loosestrife and Eurasian watermilfoil, with other aquatic invasive species to be discussed, including zebra mussels, round gobies, and rusty crayfish, said Ann Baughman, watershed protection director.
Then participants will learn different strategies to reduce and control the alien species.
The workshop is being held in two locations (you need attend only one); the June 21 workshop will take place on Crooked Lake north of Petoskey and the second at Thurston Park in Central Lake.
The workshop is free, however, registration is requested. For info or to register email or call Ann Baughman at 231-347-1181, ext. 110 for details.

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