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Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) Superintendent Dusty Shultz announced today the availability of a revised South Manitou Island Boat Dock Extension Environmental Assessment for public review and comment. The Environmental Assessment describes and analyzes alternative approaches for providing boat dock access to South Manitou Island. The South Manitou Island Boat Dock Extension Environmental Assessment was previously released for public review and comment in November 2011. This revised document does not analyze additional impact topics or additional alternatives in depth, but it does clarify some information found in the initial document and briefly describes alternatives considered but dismissed early in the planning process.
The South Manitou Island boat dock lies in shallow water in an area subject to sediment accumulation. Eventually, this buildup of sediment forms a sandbar beneath the boat dock that extends out into open water, blocking access to the dock.
The South Manitou Island boat dock, located on the southeast shore of South Manitou Island bay, is the only manageable access point to the island for public visitors and National Park Service staff. From the dock, visitors have a short walk to the lighthouse, a U.S. Life-Saving Service and Coast Guard Station that now serves as a ranger station, and several historically preserved 19th century farm buildings. The island's many trails begin from the dock landing and allow visitors a scenic hike to the high perched dunes overlooking the island's western shore, a natural inland lake (Florence Lake), three designated backcountry campgrounds, and numerous other natural features.
Under the "No Action" Alternative, the proposed dock extension would not be constructed. The existing dock facility would continue to operate. There would be a continued need for ongoing maintenance dredging to support ferry operations. This dredging would be conducted as needed and would result in the removal of materials from the dock area and the disposal of such materials in nearshore aquatic habitats.
Under the Preferred Alternative, the existing dock would be extended further into Lake Michigan. This extension would allow boat access in deeper waters and would minimize or eliminate the need for future maintenance dredging at South Manitou Island. Construction of this facility is expected to be completed in a three to four week timeframe. The structure would be constructed out of wood and steel connectors. Wood pilings would be driven into the lake bottom to form the basis of the structure and would be of a similar type as the existing dock facility.
The National Lakeshore encourages you to comment on the Environmental Assessment until the public comment period closes on July 16, 2012. The document may be reviewed on the National Lakeshore's website at www.nps.gov/slbe (just click on the "South Manitou Island Boat Dock Extension EA" icon). Paper copies are available for review at the National Lakeshore Visitor Center in Empire, the Glen Lake Community Library, Leelanau Township Library, Leland Township Library, and Suttons Bay Bingham District Library.
Please submit your comments electronically through a link on the National Lakeshore's website. Alternatively, you may mail comments to Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630.