Clarifying Wilderness

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Date: July 21, 2006
Contact: Dusty Shultz, 231-326-5134
Contact: Tom Ulrich, 231-326-5134

During recent General Management Plan\Wilderness Study (GMP\WS) public planning workshops, National Park Service officials were surprised to learn that a number of people believe that wilderness would close off areas to the public within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

"Apparently a lot of people are under the impression that wilderness areas are sealed off from the public, but that’s just not true," said Dusty Shultz, Superintendent. According to Shultz, such a move would be unthinkable. "All areas of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will remain open to the public, just as Congress intended."

Shultz explained that wilderness is "intended specifically for recreational use by people who want to enjoy a primitive, ‘get-away-from-it-all’ experience." The Wilderness Act of 1964 does state that wilderness "shall be administered for the use and enjoyment of the American people" and "shall be devoted to the public for purposes of recreation, scenic, scientific, educational, conservation and historic use" (Sections 2a and 4b). The park has been managing the nearly 31,000 acres of the existing proposed wilderness as wilderness since 1981. The 1.2 million people who visit the park each year enjoy a wide range of visitor experiences in both proposed wilderness areas as well as the other areas of the park. Many do not realize that they are in areas managed as wilderness. "It has never been our intention to ban the public from areas proposed or designated as wilderness at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore," said Shultz.

"I would like to thank everyone who participated in the GMP/WS process so far," said Shultz. "We are encouraged by how smoothly the workshops went and believe that we are making great progress with this planning effort. We also want to clarify what wilderness means at the Lakeshore so that people can make fully informed comments." One of the primary outcomes of this major planning effort will be to draft alternatives which will include various configurations of proposed wilderness within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Along each step of the process, the public will be asked to provide their comments. The next step in the process will be to issue Newsletter #3 later this Fall, which will contain alternative management concepts. These concepts will be developed based on the information from the workshops and public comments. The next public meeting is tentatively planned for early May 2007. "Through cooperation and teamwork with all of our stake holders, we can develop a wilderness proposal and General Management Plan that maintains a variety of recreational opportunities from drive-to beaches to solitary hikes, while continuing to preserve and protect the nationally significant natural and cultural resources of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore," said Shultz.

You can access the latest GMP/WS Planning  page of the park’s website or for more information call (231) 326-5134.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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