Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 14, 2013

George Weeks: Sleeping Bear — beauty, clean energy

Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — Since 1970, Earth Day has been celebrated April 22, although some places — including those in 170 countries — observe it at different times. As the date nears, cheers for some folks dedicated to making Michigan’s slice of earth a better place:

- In 2011, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was named the most beautiful place in the nation in an online poll conducted by the ABC-TV show Good Morning America.

Now, the park is teaming with the Clean Energy Coalition to reduce the environmental impact of its vehicle fleet by 15 percent and to share information about alternative fuels and fuel-efficient driving habits with the 1.3 million visitors who visit the Lakeshore each year.

It will employ three Chevrolet Volt plug-in electric vehicles, two Liquefied Petroleum Gas-fueled pick-up trucks, and install charging and fueling stations for the vehicles. The park also will implement “a public awareness campaign to communicate fuel-efficient driving behaviors to park visitors and staff. These measures will reduce the environmental impact of the entire National Lakeshore fleet and encourage visitors to reduce the impact or their own vehicles.”

National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz said: “This project is an important step toward using alternative fuel technologies in our fleet and complements our plan to become a Climate Friendly Park by reducing our impact on the environment while operating more efficiently. Our new alternative fuel vehicles will emit fewer greenhouse gases, reduce air pollution and helping preserve the park’s natural environment.”

Tom Ulrich, the Lakeshore’s deputy superintendent, said the vehicles purchased with the Clean Cities grant will displace 21 percent of the current fuel use.

Sleeping Bear is one of 17 such national park projects in the nation and the only one in Michigan.

- The Clean Energy Coalition also has Michigan programs in 14 counties in

West Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Detroit. In Detroit, there are plans for a 12-mile bike ride among environmental projects.

- The Michigan Environmental Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Muskegon Environmental Research & Education Society, has announced its selections for 2013 to be inducted May 9 at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids.

They are 1969-82 Gov. William G. Milliken (“during his time in office many of the environmental laws we have today were passed”); ex-Department of Natural Resources Director Howard Tanner (“played a key role in establishing the billion dollar salmon fishery”); Fred Wilder of Muskegon, 2011 winner of the Michigan United Conservation Club Past Presidents’ Award for conservation; Huron Pines, for river restoration and other projects in Northeast Michigan; and Michigan State University/Extension which “has been providing environmental education to the people of Michigan for several years.”

- The 2014 budget released by President Barack Obama last week maintains support for the Great Lakes Restoration at $300 million. It also contains over $1 billion for the national Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund to help Michigan and seven other states fix old sewers to prevent sewage overflows.

Grand’s Giant

Grand Hotel Chairman Emeritus Dan Musser, who died Saturday at age 80, was, as observed by ex-Gov. William G. Milliken, not only a long-time Mackinac Island host of politicians but also a friend of many a governor and others. Milliken said:

“Dan Musser was a pillar of great strength on Mackinac Island. He will be greatly missed not only on the Island but also among those across the state who value what he did to assure the excellence of the Grand Hotel and that he so long did to promote the state. He was an important figure in Michigan politics as host and friend.”

George Weeks, a member of the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame, for 22 years was the political columnist for The Detroit News and previously with UPI as Lansing bureau chief and foreign editor in Washington. His weekly Michigan Politics column is syndicated by Superior Features.