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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) is hosting an informational meeting to explore volunteer interest in a new program in which volunteers and their dogs serve as “Bark Ranger” ambassadors to the National Lakeshore. Bark Ranger volunteers would walk beaches and trails with their canine companions to help share information about the park with visitors, highlighting pet policies and responding to questions. National Lakeshore Wildlife Biologist Sue Jennings is looking forward to the event. “We welcome dogs in the park, but are seeing an increase in piping plover nest disturbances from dogs whose owners are not fully aware of the negative impact dogs can have on nesting plovers. We think a Bark Ranger volunteer program could be a fun way to help bridge the information gap and protect our plovers.”
Tom Makled, who works as a piping plover monitor for the National Lakeshore, is coordinating the informational meeting to gauge interest in the program. “Volunteers play an integral role in our visitor education and outreach efforts,” Makled noted, “and can often make a greater impact leading by example. We hope there is enough interest to give this approach a try.” Interested individuals (no dogs, please) can attend an information session on Wednesday, July 29 from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m. at the Philip A. Hart Visitor Center, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630. If you are unable to attend, contact Tom Makled at firstname.lastname@example.org to express interest.