June 1, 2012
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail officially opens with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Dune Climb on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. The ribbon cutting celebrates the completion of nearly five miles of trail between Glen Arbor and the Dune Climb. When fully completed, the 27-mile trail will run from the southern edge of Leelanau County through the National Lakeshore, Empire, and Glen Arbor, to Good Harbor Bay. Construction of the remaining segments will continue as funds are raised.
Julie Clark, Executive Director of Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc., is heartened by the strong show of support from local residents and foundations, "This spring we surpassed a million dollars in private funding, much of that generated by the local community. We've got some big milestones ahead of us this summer to keep trail construction rolling next year, but I think we can now see and experience the trail and benefits it can bring, and they'll want to help keep the project going."
The trail was included in the National Lakeshore's most recent General Management Plan and then was analyzed and approved more specifically in an Environmental Assessment. According to the National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz, "The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is the single most exciting project to come out of our recently completed General Management Plan. The trail will provide a wonderful way to explore and learn about the park, as well as become a meaningful alternative for visitors to travel between park sites and local businesses - without having to use their cars!"
Patty O'Donnell, Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail Project Manager - Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, is excited about the trail's success in obtaining federal and state grant funding. "This will be a wonderful day to celebrate the opening of this major segment of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the many years of planning! This segment was chosen as the first to complete because of the connectivity between the Dune Climb, the Group Campground, Historic Glen Haven, D. H. Day Campground, and Glen Arbor."
Funding for trail construction is secured from the Dune Climb to Empire and Glen Arbor to Port Oneida. To move forward with construction, nearly $500,000 in matching funds are needed. To learn more about the project and how you can be a part of the effort, visit www.sleepingbeartrail.org or call Pam Darling, Development Director, TART Trails, 231-941-4300.