Sequestration and the Sleeping Bear Dunes

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Park IS open. You can enjoy trails and other amenities. 

"Lake Michigan Overlook" Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive - Sleeping Bear Dunes National LakeshoreWhile the sequestration – the automatic, across-the-board permanent spending cuts that was triggered by  the Federal Government’s inability to come to a budget deal – is a largely ephemeral concept for most so far, it has some very real consequences for Leelanau’s #1 tourist attraction.

On March 1, 2013, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was required to reduce its annual budget by 5%. That’s a $234,000 reduction from a budget of $4,676,000, and as the fiscal year ends September 30, they have just 7 months to make the required reductions. Superintendent Dusty Shultz explains that, “The park remains open, welcoming visitors and continuing to protect the resources entrusted to our care.”

Here are the major actions being taken to implement the cut:

  • Staffing and fixed costs like utilities make up about 98% of the park’s budget, and they shortened 22 seasonal positions and cut 5 seasonal jobs.
  • Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive will not open until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day.
  • Ranger programs, including environmental education programs for school groups, will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will cease after Labor Day.
  • Other than those at the Visitor Center and campgrounds, restrooms and trash cans will not be available until Memorial Day Weekend and will close after Labor Day. This includes the Manitou Islands.
  • Mowing of picnic areas and historic farmsteads will be sharply reduced.
  • Protection and monitoring of the endangered Piping Plover will be sharply reduced.
  • Follow-up control of invasive plants such as black locust will be sharply reduced.

Photo credit: Manitou Island Park Ranger by lee.ekstrom

4 replies
  1. Andrew McFarlane
    Andrew McFarlane says:

    I posted this to Michigan in Pictures as well and there was a comment about the need for belt-tightening. Here’s my response:

    The idea that our national parks have an out of control budget is simply not true. The article linked to above explains that “Staffing and fixed costs like utilities make up about 98% of the park’s budget.”

    In 2011, there were 1,348,304 visitors to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They estimate that these people spent $132,774,000 in communities surrounding the park, supporting roughly 2,347 jobs in the local area. The annual budget of the Lakeshore is just under $4.6 million, making the Park an extraordinarily cost-effective economic driver with a 3.4% cost/benefit ratio. The overall NPS administration adds costs and there’s no doubt that the natural beauty would attract visitors in any case, but the park system protects, improves and promotes the safe & wise use of these shared national treasures in a way that would be impossible without our investment in them.

    This is EXACTLY why the blindly brutal across the board slash that is the Sequester is so senseless. The National Park System WORKS and we are putting the people out of work who make it work.

  2. Tim Boland
    Tim Boland says:

    I agree Andrew McFarlane. It is so foolish to across the board make cuts like this that impact such beautiful natural areas. I live in Massachusetts but find myself returning each year to the Manitou Islands in Northern Michigan because they remain some of the most pristine habitats in the world, globally unique! The services that the park provides strikes a wonderful balance of accessibility, responsible use, education, and recreation that few other places do. I hope our federal government starts working “for the people” again, and settles the petty differences that drive down the value of the things that mean the most to us.

  3. Gino Schafer
    Gino Schafer says:

    Elections have consequences. Stop electing democrats and you won’t get these stupid policy ideas, like the sequester, which was proposed by President 0bama.

    Of course park closings like this were simply done to inflict damage on the American people to score political points. Another reason not to vote democrat.

    Elections have consequences…

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