Cover to A Nationalized Lakeshore: The Creation and Administration of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Cover Page


Table of Contents


Chapter One,
"National Parks Are Where You Find Them:" The Origins of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Chapter Two,
"We're Going For The Right Thing:" The Legislative Struggle to Create Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 1971- 1977

Chapter Three,
Changes on the Land: The Early Management of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 1977-1983

Chapter Four
Plans, Programs and Controversy: The Reassessment of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 1977-1983

Chapter Five,
"A Local and National Treasure:" Managing the Sleeping Bear Dunes Park, 1984- 1995

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore At Twenty-Five

Appendix One,
Budgetary Progress of Sleeping Bear Dunes N.L.

Appendix Two,
Selected Past and Present Employees of Sleeping Bear N.L.

Appendix Three,
Selected Visitation Statistics

Appendix Four,
Public Law 91-479

Chapter 1 Notes

Chapter 2 Notes

Chapter 3 Notes

Chapter 4 Notes

Chapter 5 Notes

Conclusion Notes




A Nationalized Lakeshore:
The Creation and Administration of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
Chapter Two

     It was both an end and a beginning. For Allen T. Edmunds, the Michigan man near the end of a long career in the National Park Service, being invited to address a joint session of the Michigan State legislature on the findings of the Great Lakes Shoreline Survey was a culminating honor.  For the National Park Service the evening session in 1960 was the beginning of the political fight to ensure that the recommendations of the survey would become public policy.  A few legislators, in studied disregard of Edmunds, read newspapers at their desks as he began his presentation.  But the breathtaking pictures of Michigan’s shoreline beauty soon riveted the entire legislature.  The presentation went on for nearly an hour and introduced many of the politicians to the splendors of the Huron Mountains, the Pictured Rocks, and Sleeping Bear Dunes.  Afterward, at an evening reception, park advocates and politicians shared their enthusiasms for what they had seen.  Ronald Lee, representing the Northeast Regional Office, gushed to the other park service staff that the evening would be something to “write down in their history book” because he “didn’t think it would ever happen in any other state.” If the effort to create a national park can be likened to a courtship ritual between park advocates and politicians, the first date had gone very well.  Yet it certainly would have taken the edge of triumph off the evening if Allen Edmunds and Ronald Lee had known that it would take ten difficult years to finally tie-the-knot on a Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.  The presentation to the Michigan legislators was only the start of a long and divisive political fight.[1]

      A quarter century after the creation of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore pockets of deep resentment to the lakeshore continue in Benzie and Leelanau counties.  Some of this is the fault of National Park Service planners, such as Allen T. Edmunds, who in the rush to present five Great Lakes areas as shoreline national parks, did not thoroughly examine the assets required to make an effective Sleeping Bear park. The frequent fluctuation in the size and boundaries of the proposed park during the initial stages of the legislative process weakened the public creditability of the National Park Service.  The agency was also guilty of failing to anticipate and bring into the planning process local stake-holders, so that the polarization that occurred during the struggle to create the park was more bitter and lasting than need have been.  The early 1960s were an era of “top-down” federal leadership, an era when in both domestic and international affairs bureaucrats had considerable freedom of action.  The later 1960s were a period of growing distrust of government and federal initiatives.  The attempt to create Sleeping Bear Dunes took place in the midst of these contradictory political currents and the clash over the lakeshore was in part shaped by this tension.  In the end, however, the vision of a publicly owned and accessible Sleeping Bear was at odds with the pattern of private recreation, which had taken root in northwestern Michigan since 1900.  Property owners with deep personal attachments to their holdings were never going to yield without a fight.

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Last Modified: January 10, 2001 10:00:00 am PST

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