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On Tuesday, July 9, the National Park Service (NPS) welcomed the 40 millionth visitor to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore). Superintendent Dusty Shultz, Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich, and interpretive park rangers greeted Mary and Jerry Keller of Cincinnati, Ohio, with enthusiasm and gifts, at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center in Empire. An announcement was made and the rest of the visitors applauded.
It was the Kellers’ first visit to the National Lakeshore. They were traveling with a larger, extended family group. Jerry and Mary told park staff, "We loved the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and especially the Lake Michigan Overlook!" The Kellers were presented with a certificate honoring them as the 40 millionth visitors (they walked through the door at the same time), complimentary entry, a "Passport to the National Parks" souvenir book, and a DVD of the sights and sounds of the National Lakeshore.
The National Lakeshore was created in 1970, but the NPS did not begin gathering statistics on visitor use until April 1976. This information is recorded from road, visitor center, and campground counters on the mainland as well as North and South Manitou Islands. For detailed statistics on all national park sites, the interested public is encouraged to go to https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/.