TRAVERSE CITY — It’s official: Legislation to protect Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is now law.
President Barack Obama signed the legislation Thursday that designates 32,500 acres of the federal park as “wilderness” area. This means no new buildings, roads or mechanized equipment will pop up in the designated areas, while historic structures at Port Oneida Rural Historic District, and the Treat Farm and Cottage Row on North Manitou Island will be easier to preserve.
“We are very happy about it,” said park Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich. “It finally resolves an issue that’s been here in front of Sleeping Bear managers since the park was established in 1970.”
Until Thursday the park operated under a 1982 law that required the National Park Service to maintain Sleeping Bear under its wilderness management plan, but didn’t officially designate the park as wilderness until the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act was signed.
Efforts to obtain the wilderness designation through federal legislation failed repeatedly in Congress before this year’s success. The legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-1st District.