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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Superintendent Dusty Shultz is pleased to announce that the worst of the budget cuts will be averted this fiscal year, which ends on September 30. Most notable are the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and restroom and trash services at prime visitor areas such as the Dune Climb, Historic Village of Glen Haven, and Platte Point. They will remain open after Labor Day thanks to park savings throughout the year and the recent receipt of $20,000 from the Midwest Regional Office of the National Park Service.
Here is what can be expected this fall:
- The Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will remain open through October 20.
- Ranger programs, including environmental education programs for school groups, will be offered on a reduced schedule through September 30. Teachers and group tours should call for availability at 231-326-5135, ext. 301.
- Restrooms and trash cans will be available at least through September 30, except for North Manitou Island and a few of the road-end beaches, which will close on September 3.
- Mowing will still be sharply reduced.
- Some noxious weed control activity will be restored
On March 1st of this year, the National Lakeshore was required by “sequestration” (a series of automatic, across-the-board permanent federal spending cuts) to reduce its annual budget by five percent. The $234,000 from a budget of $4.68 million resulted in program cuts in all areas of park operations, including travel, training, overtime, supply purchases, and cutting of five seasonal employee positions, and shortening of the season for 22 other employees, which resulted in facility closures last spring prior to Memorial Day. These closures were planned to be repeated this fall after Labor Day weekend. Superintendent Shultz expressed gratitude for this funding stating, “We managed the budget reduction to welcome visitors during the busiest time and protect the places they come to see; however, understandably, people were disappointed with the facility closures and the lack of ranger programs for school children and families this spring.” Shultz added, “Less apparent, but equally important, was our biologists and rangers who were unable to accomplish the park’s resource protection goals.”
Superintendent Shultz noted the budget for next fiscal year, which begins October 1, is still unknown. “We may not yet know the details of what we will be able to offer with next year’s funding, but we do know the park will be open. Please check our website for the latest information at www.nps.gov/slbe/. Our staff works very hard to care for this special place so all can enjoy their visit. I couldn’t be more proud of the way our employees have continued to dedicate their talents to preserve and protect Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore despite these budget reductions.”