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Contact: Tom Ulrich or Dusty Shultz, 231-326-5134
The South Manitou Island Lighthouse is about to beam for the first time in 50 years and the National Lakeshore’s famous sand dunes are going to be protected from a weed invasion. “These two projects have been made possible due to the generosity of our partners and the new National Park Service Centennial Initiative,” said Superintendent Dusty Shultz.
National Park Service Director Mary A. Bomar announced the Centennial Projects on April 24, saying, “With the nearly $25 million Congress has appropriated and nearly $27 million of matching commitments from our park partners, the Centennial Initiative today moves onto the landscape and into people’s lives. It’s a great day for the National Park Service.”
The National Park Centennial Initiative is a 10-year program to reinvigorate America’s national parks and prepare them for a second century. The initiative includes a focus on increased funding for park operations plus a President’s Challenge: up to $100 million a year in federal funds to match $100 million a year in philanthropic donations to the National Park Service.
Lighting the South Manitou Island Lighthouse is a joint effort with three partners: Manitou Islands Memorial Society, Manitou Island Transit, and Electro-Optics Technology, Incorporated. The project will include purchasing and installing a replica third-order Fresnel lens, illuminating the lens with a low-wattage bulb using solar power as the energy source, and restoring the lantern room and stairwell. The total project cost is $93,000. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the1858 Keepers Quarters and the 50th anniversary of when the light was extinguished. “Visitors to the lighthouse will be able to view the replica lens and many visitors will see the distant light on the horizon,” said Shultz.
A similar partnership between the National Park Service and The Nature Conservancy will help to preserve the namesake sand dunes of the Lakeshore and the plant and animal community they support. A 2005 survey of Baby’s Breath found that 1,325 acres of the total 5,348 acres of active dunes in the Lakeshore had infestations of this plant. Baby’s Breath has a deep taproot and a “tumbleweed” seed spreading ability which allows it to thrive on sand dunes and alter the native community there, including habitat for the endangered Piping Plover and threatened Pitcher’s thistle. A jointly funded crew will work throughout the summer to eradicate these plants from hundreds of acres of the most critical habitat areas using a variety of plant removal techniques, and extending the work The Nature Conservancy has already begun on the borders of the Lakeshore. The funding will also provide workshops for area residents on how they can identify, prevent, and control weed infestations on their own property. Superintendent Shultz said, “People often do not realize the dramatic changes that invasive plants can bring to the dunes they know and love. The hard work of these crews will preserve the dynamic nature of the dunes by removing this weedy invader.” The total cost of the Baby’s Breath project is $100,000.
The National Park Centennial Initiative provides a framework for the National Park Service to engage the public in its mission. Its goals and strategies will embrace new constituents and gain support from a broad array of public and private partners to ensure America’s national parks continue to thrive into the next 100 years. “This is how we put our Centennial goals on the ground and it’s quite a beginning,” Director Bomar said. “We have 110 programs and projects involving more than 130 individual, public and non-profit partners benefitting 76 national parks in 38 states and the District of Columbia.”
Centennial Challenge programs and projects for 2008 elsewhere in the United Sates include:
- Lewis and Clark National Historical Park where park rangers and staff will adopt the Class of 2016, today’s fourth-graders, and bring them into the park for special programs several times a year until they graduate from high school.
- Nine national parks across the country will embark on a national effort to discover and catalog all plant and animal life in the national parks – technically speaking, they will conduct all taxa biologic inventories.
- Padre Island National Seashore will expand its project to restore the endangered Kemps-Ridley sea turtle.
- Upgraded and new interpretive trails at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, Valley Forge National Historical Park, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore and other parks.
- Restoration of ancient redwood forest and watershed in Redwood National Park.
- Water quality enhancement, restoration of endangered mussels, reintroduction of Trumpeter Swans and wetland habitat learning experiences for visitors at Buffalo National River.
- Creation of the Institute at the Golden Gate to Advance Preservation and Global Stability, Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco.
- New or expanded Junior Ranger programs at many national parks.
- Expansion of ranger interpretation at the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park and the George Washington Memorial Parkway with new technology including podcasts and videocasts.
- Rejuvenate coral reefs with a community program at Biscayne National Park.
For a complete list of the 2008 National Park Service Centennial Challenge projects and programs, please visit www.nps.gov/2016. For more information on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore please call 231-326-5134.