According to an article that appeared in the Associated Press on May 30, 2014, “32,500 acres at Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore dedicated as wilderness.” brought to a close “A 13-year struggle to protect fragile characteristics of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore located in Empire Michigan.”
Unlike the National Water Trails, which are typically designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture, the designation of Sleeping Bear Dunes “Was contained in legislation approved by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in March. It guarantees protection of sand dunes, beaches, towering bluffs, forests and portions of two islands. It also provides for continued public access to recreational and cultural features, including streams, trails and historic buildings.”
From the point of view of Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, "Today's designation will go a long way to preserving and promoting one of our state's top tourist attractions.” Furthermore, according to the Senator, "Sleeping Bear Dunes is one of Michigan's indispensable treasures, and should be protected for future generations to enjoy."
Democratic Senator Carl Levin and Republican Representative Dan Benishek sponsored the bipartisan legislation, which, according to the Associated Press, “Ended years of negotiations between the local community, the National Park Service and Congress to update the lakeshore's general management plan.”
Areas classified as wilderness are undeveloped and have significant and valuable natural characteristics, according to the Wilderness Act approved by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Baines Johnson on September 3, 1964, exactly 50 years ago this September.
The 50 year anniversary of the Wilderness Act is cause for yearlong celebration for environmentalist, nature lovers and paddlers across the Nation. The fact that the legislation that designated Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore a wilderness areas was bipartisan might be even more cause for celebration.