Sleeping Bear Dunes Area History

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established by Act of Congress October 21, 1970. Public Law 91-479 states, “…the Congress finds that certain outstanding natural features, including forests, beaches, dune formations, and ancient glacial phenomena, exist along the mainland shore of Lake Michigan and on certain nearby islands in Benzie and Leelanau Counties, Michigan, and that such features ought to be preserved in their natural setting and protected from developments and uses which would destroy the scenic beauty and natural character of the area.” The Congress also directed that “…the Secretary (of the Interior) shall administer and protect Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in a manner which provides for recreational opportunities consistent with the maximum protection of the natural environment within the area.”

The legislation also required that, “…the Secretary shall prepare and implement a land and water use management plan, which shall include specific provisions for – (2) protection of scenic, scientific, and historic features contributing to public enjoyment.”
The Lakeshore mission is to preserve outstanding natural features including forests, beaches, dunes and ancient glacial phenomena along 100 km (64 miles) of Lake Michigan shoreline, in order to perpetuate the natural setting for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, and to protect it from developments and inappropriate uses that would destroy its scenic beauty, scientific and recreational value.

The Lakeshore provides the infrastructure necessary to access park resources i.e. boating access, road and trail access and the facilities to support outdoor recreation, interpretation, education and other park uses i.e. campgrounds, picnic areas, interpretive facilities, restrooms etc.. Included within the boundaries are inland lakes and rivers, glacial features such as ice block holes and moraines, and habitat necessary for the continued survival of threatened and endangered species such as Pitcher’s thistle and piping plover. Some fifty percent of Lakeshore is designated for potential wilderness. Cultural resources include remnants of prehistoric American Indian use, logging, farming, maritime commerce and outdoor recreation.

Lots more history from the National Park Service and on their Facebook page.

Information provided in part by Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore