Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore turns 51 today!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by Thomas DB

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by Thomas DB

(via leelanau.com) On October 21st, 1970 the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore became the third US National Lakeshore. The online book A Nationalized Lakeshore: The Creation & Administration of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has a good overview of what was a remarkably contentious issue back in the day:

A Nationalized Lakeshore: The Creation & Administration of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Beginning in 1919 a small portion of what is now the national lakeshore was set aside as a state park. The idea of a national park in northwestern Michigan did not surface until the National Park Service’s Great Lakes Shoreline Survey visited the area in 1958. Between 1959 and 1970 there was a continuous and controversial effort in Congress to create a park unit around the Sleeping Bear Dune. The legislative leader of the Sleeping Bear park proposal was United States Senator Philip A. Hart. The senator’s persistence and patience in the end led to the creation of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on October 21, 1970.

Opposition to the creation of the lakeshore was very strong among local summer homeowners. More than 1,400 tracts of private land had to be acquired to create the lakeshore. A heavy-handed, poorly planned land acquisition program reinforced the bitterness that surfaced during the decade of struggle that preceded authorization. The legacy of those actions has been twofold. On one hand the National Park Service has been vilified by many local property owners and the park staff have had to work in an environment that is unnecessarily confrontational. On the other hand, the presence of an organized local populace wary of National Park Service policy has influenced for the better the development of the national lakeshore. Local sentiments played an important role toning-down the agency’s initial plans to intensively develop the area’s recreational assets. More recently local sentiment has influenced the agency’s approach to the lakeshore’s rural cultural landscapes. Unfortunately, resistance to the National Park Service in the region has also hindered opportunities to bring more land under protection and to develop scenic drives for park visitors.

The National Park Service conceived the Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore at a time when the shores of Lake Michigan were rapidly undergoing privatization. Subdivisions of vacation and year round homes threatened to keep ordinary citizens from enjoying Michigan’s broad, sandy shoreline. A nationalized lakeshore along the beaches and bluffs of the Sleeping Bear made available for all what might have been enjoyed only by a select few. The cost was millions of dollars of federal funds and the hopes and dreams of hundreds of small property owners. Sleeping Bear Dunes was a tragedy for the latter and a wise investment of the former.

Indeed. You can read lots more in A Nationalized Lakeshore.

It was hard to pick a photo for this post, but I ended up going with Thomas’s beautiful shot from June of 2016 of my favorite view in the Lakeshore atop the Empire Bluffs where you can see South Bar Lake, the southern end of the main dune complex, and the Manitou Islands in the distance. See more in Thomas’s 6/1-6/3/16 Grand Traverse & Leelanau gallery on Flickr.

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Good to the last drop

Good to the Last drop by Rudy Malmquist

Good to the Last Drop by Rudy Malmquist

Rudy got a stunning shot of the view from the Pierce Stocking Overlook in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Head over to his Flickr for more!

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Michigan Lake Appreciation: Glen Lake edition

via Leelanau.com
Sunglow over Glen Lake by Owen Weber

Sunglow over Glen Lake by Owen Weber

While Minnesota gets a lot of mileage out of their “Land of 10,000 Lakes” slogan, Michigan has over 10,000 lakes larger than 5 acres. Clean Water Action of Michigan has been working to draw attention to our incredible good fortune with an incredible Twitter thread of Michigan’s largest lakes.  

Big & Little Glen Lake check in at #18 on the list of Michigan’s largest inland lakes or 23 if you include the 4 Great Lakes & Lake St. Clair. Glen Lake is 6265 acres (9.8 square miles) with 17 miles of shoreline and a maximum depth of 130 feet. The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore page on Glen Lake says:

Glen Lake, with its remarkably blue waters, is famous for its beauty. The lake appears divided into two parts by the constriction at the “narrows” bridge. The two parts are Little Glen Lake in the foreground, only 12 feet deep, and Big Glen Lake, beyond the M-22 bridge, about 130 feet deep. Glen Lake used to be connected to ancestral Lake Michigan. Glacial erosion carved out both lakes during the Ice Age. In post-glacial times, a sand bar developed, separating Glen Lake from Lake Michigan. Both the D.H. Day Campground and the village of Glen Arbor are located on that sandbar. The flat terrain and proximity to Lake Michigan made it a desirable site for these developments.

Check the lakes out at #LakesAppreciation on Twitter! & learn more about Clean Water Action Michigan on their website.

Owen took this photo a few years ago from atop the Sleeping Bear Dunes. See more in his Michigan gallery on Flickr & view and purchase prints at OwenWeberPhotography.com

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Happy 50th Birthday, Sleeping Bear Dunes

via leelanau.com…

The Big Sweep by Mark Smith

The Big Sweep by Mark Smith

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was officially authorized on October 21, 1970 making today the 50th birthday of Michigan’s most visited national park. Our Sleeping Bear Dunes History page says in part:

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 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.

I know that there’s few people in Leelanau who would disagree that the park has helped to maximally protect our area’s incredible natural beauty with over 60 miles of shoreline open & accessible to all as well as miles of forest, dune & farmland. Head over to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Facebook page for all kinds of 50th Anniversary fun!

Mark took this photo back in 2018. See lots more in his Sleeping Bear/Glen Arbor gallery on Flickr!

More from the Sleeping Bear on Michigan in Pictures!

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Dune Days at Sleeping Bear

Dune Days by Mark Smith

Mark took this beautiful photo a couple of summers ago on the Treat Farm Trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Guessing it looks much the same today, but you should check it out just to be sure! 😉

Head over to Mark’s Flickr for more & here’s the Park’s writeup on the trail:

The trail that leads from the corner of Norconk Road into the woods is about ½ mile long through the maple-beech forest and will take you to the Treat Farm. As you reach the top of the hill, the canopy of trees opens up to a view of the farmstead. A portion of the original barn has been rebuilt on the original foundation.

Visitors are drawn to this intriguing farmstead for several reasons. The trail leading up the slight incline from Norconk Road holds an allure of its own… it seems to beckon passers-by. It piques the curiosity by conjuring visions of what might be at its terminus. It is also one of the most beautiful areas for spring wildflowers in all of Michigan!

Click for trail map & check out more great Michigan trails on Michigan in Pictures.

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Wildfire in the Sky

Sleeping Bear Bay Northern Lights, photo by Kenneth Snyder

Here’s a feature via Leelanau.com

A Conflagration of Storms from his online book The 23rd Cycle, Dr. Sten Odenwald tells of the evening of March 13, 1989 when a massive wave of solar energy struck our atmosphere, creating one of the most impressive northern lights displays of the modern era.

Alaskan and Scandinavian observers were treated to a spectacular auroral display that night. Intense colors from the rare Great Aurora painted the skies around the world in vivid shapes that moved like legendary dragons. Ghostly celestial armies battled from sunset to midnight. Newspapers that reported this event considered the aurora, itself, to be the most newsworthy aspect of the storm. Seen as far south as Florida and Cuba, the vast majority of people in the Northern Hemisphere had never seen such a spectacle. Some even worried that a nuclear first-strike might be in progress.

Luke Pontin, a charter boat operator in the Florida Keys, described the colors in reddish hues as they reflected from the warm Caribbean waters. In Salt Lake City, Raymond Niesporek nearly lost his fish while starring transfixed at the northern display. He had no idea what it was until he returned home and heard about the rare aurora over Utah from the evening news. Although most of the Midwest was clouded over, in Austin Texas, Meteorologist Rich Knight at KXAN had to deal with hundreds of callers asking about what they were seeing. The first thing on many people’s mind was the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS29) which had been launched on March 13 at 9:57 AM. Had it exploded? Was it coming apart and raining down over the Earth? Millions marveled at the beautiful celestial spectacle, and solar physicists delighted in the new data it brought to them, but many more were not so happy about it.

Silently, the storm had impacted the magnetic field of the Earth and caused a powerful jet stream of current to flow 1000 miles above the ground. Like a drunken serpent, its coils gyrated and swooped downwards in latitude, deep into North America. As midnight came and went, invisible electromagnetic forces were staging their own pitched battle in a vast arena bounded by the sky above and the rocky subterranean reaches of the Earth. A river of charged particles and electrons in the ionosphere flowed from west to east, inducing powerful electrical currents in the ground that surged into many natural nooks and crannies. There, beneath the surface, natural rock resistance murdered them quietly in the night. Nature has its own effective defenses for these currents, but human technology was not so fortunate on this particular night. The currents eventually found harbor in the electrical systems of Great Britain, the United States and Canada.

Read on for much more about how our electrical grid can be brought to its knees by the power behind the beauty of the northern lights and get much more in the 23rd Cycle.

Kenneth took this photo back in July of 2012. See more great pics in his Sleeping Bear Dunes album & also check out many more northern lights photos in the Leelanau.com group on Flickr!

Morning on the Dunes

Morning on the Dunes, photo by Owen Weber

Here’s a phenomenal shot of the sunrise on Glen Lake from atop the dunes in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

View Owen’s photo bigger and see more in his Michigan album.

Textures of Sleeping Bear Dunes

Textures, photo by JamesEyeViewPhotography

View the photo from the Sleeping Bear Dunes background bigtacular, see more in James’ The Great Lakes slideshow, and follow James Eye View Photography on Facebook.

Feeling Free at Pierce Stocking

feeling-free

Feeling Free, photo by Matt Kazmierski

Few places in Michigan have the expansive view of the Lake Michigan overlook on Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. It’s 450′ feet down to the water, so remember that freedom comes at a price!

View Matt’s photo bigger and see more in his slideshow.

Soaring Saturday: Hang Gliding in Michigan

coming-in-by-david-clark

Coming In, photo by David Clark

USA Today has a feature on Hang Gliding Sites in Michigan that says (in part):

Most individuals will need lessons in hang gliding from a certified instructor prior to their first flight. Hang gliding schools provide instructions, gear, permits and safety equipment. The Draachen Fliegen Soaring Club is located in Cloud 9 Field between Detroit and Lansing, with instructors offering “tandem discovery” flights lasting from 15 minutes to one hour. Gliders drift in air space up to two miles high, in tandem with an instructor. Individuals with proven experience and certifications may rent gliders for solo flights. Traverse City Hang Gliders offers full programs of training and instruction in both traditional powerless hang gliding and “the Mosquito” powered hang gliding harness.

Hang gliding enthusiasts can enjoy practicing the sport at national parks within the state of Michigan, including Sleeping Bear Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Several spots within the park are approved for powerless flight. Hang gliders can take off and land at Empire Bluff, Pyramid Point and Lake Michigan Overlook on the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, as well as Dune Climb in the months of November through March. Powerless flight permits are required and can be obtained free of charge at the Visitor Center Information Desk. Launch sites within the park require proficiency ratings established by the U.S. Hang Gliding Association. Gliders must also follow safety and federal regulations. Warren Dunes State Park also issues permits for hang gliding along the coastal dunes, about 14 miles from the state border with Indiana. Favorite launch and return sites within the park include Tower Hill and New Buffalo.

In the 1970s, Elberta Beach and the adjacent city of Frankfort, in Northern Michigan, were popular spots for what was then the new sport of hang gliding. Once referred to as the “Sail Plane Capital,” the area is still a magnet for gliders today. Just south of Frankfort, gliders can experience the thrill of soaring over sand dunes at Green Point Dunes. The Green Point Flyers Association, established in 1978, is a club for both hang gliders and parasailers, with a main flying site that is a sand dune stretching for three miles at a height of 370 feet. Licenses are required to fly at Green Point, and certified instructors are available. Pilots at Green Point also have access to hang gliding sites inside the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, as well as the bluffs of Elberta. Visitors can also team up for a ride with members of the Northwest Soaring Club, which is located in Cadillac, Michigan. Flights depart from the Wexford County Airport, then cruise over Lake Mitchell and Lake Cadillac.

View David’s photo background bigilicious, see more in his Turning 42 slideshow, and view and purchase work at leelanauphotography.com!

If you’d like to get a look at the process, here’s a video of aerial photographer Jim Anderson taking a flight from the Bluffs!