Friday, Mar 10, 2006
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz is pleased to announce the beginning of a General Management Plan/Wilderness Study/Environmental Impact Statement process. ?This planning effort is a new start, not a restart of the planning effort that ended in 2002,? said Shultz. ?This time, changes to existing wilderness boundaries will be considered in the alternatives.?
The General Management Plan will establish the overall direction for the park, setting broad goals for managing the area over the next 20 plus years. The plan will develop the desired resource conditions and visitor experiences that are to be achieved and maintained throughout the park. These will be based on such factors as the park?s purpose and significance, applicable laws and policies, resource and impact analysis, and public expectations and concerns. The plan also will outline the kinds of resource management activities, visitor activities, and developments that would be appropriate in the park in the future.
The Wilderness Study will evaluate the wilderness characteristics and values of lands within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore using definitions found in the Wilderness Act of 1964. The study may result in an entirely new configuration of lands recommended for possible designation as wilderness.
The General Management Plan and Wilderness Study will be accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement, which will evaluate the potential impacts of the alternative management approaches and the possible designation of wilderness within the park.
In the first phase of this planning process, called ?scoping,? the National Park Service is beginning to define the park?s long-term goals, different ways to achieve them, and the issues to be addressed. All interested persons, organizations, and agencies are encouraged to submit comments and suggestions on issues and concerns that should be addressed in this plan and the range of appropriate alternatives to be examined. Comments on this scoping phase of the planning process should be submitted by March 17, 2006. The public will be afforded numerous other opportunities to comment as we move though the process, which we estimate will take approximately three years.
A planning newsletter has been prepared and copies have been distributed to more than 2,000 addresses on our park mailing list. You may review and comment on the newsletter on the park?s website at http://www.nps.gov/slbe. The newsletter is also available for review at park headquarters in Empire, Michigan and at area libraries. We encourage you to review the documents and comment electronically as only a limited number of copies have been printed. The park?s website also includes answers to ?Frequently Asked Questions? (FAQs) and other information about the planning effort.
A series of public open houses have been scheduled to provide the public the opportunity to learn more about the planning effort and to provide comment during this initial scoping phase as follows:
Tuesday, February 14, 2006, 3:00-7:00 p.m. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Visitor Center Auditorium 9922 Front Street Empire, MI 49630
Wednesday, February 15, 2006, 3:00-7:00 p.m. Traverse Area District Library 610 Woodmere Avenue Traverse City, MI 49686
Thursday, February 16, 2006, 3:00-7:00 p.m. Benzonia Township Hall 1020 Michigan Avenue Benzonia, MI 49616
For more information on Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visit the park?s web site at http://www.nps.gov/slbe or call 231-326-5134.