As the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness is officially dedicated today, The Wilderness Society praised Michigan Representative Dan Benishek and Senator Carl Levin for championing the bipartisan legislation that now protects this incredible place – the first wilderness area to be approved by Congress in five years.
Today, at the dedication ceremony in Empire, Michigan, Rep. Benishek stated, “This legislation has been over a decade in the making and reflects the work of thousands of local community members from across the Grand Traverse region. It was done the right way, by local citizens, and is something we should all be proud of.”
Senator Levin commented, "This Wilderness Designation is the result of a long journey of many years of hard work. This designation will protect countless treasures, including the magnificent sand dunes, miles of picturesque beaches, bluffs towering over Lake Michigan, lush forests, and portions of two islands. The wilderness designation will also ensure public access to important recreational and cultural resources for many generations to come."
Back in March, the House of Representatives approved the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act (S. 23), which permanently protects 32,557 acres along the mainland shore of Lake Michigan. The Senate had approved the companion bill in 2013 under Senator Levin’s strong leadership. President Obama signed the bill into law on March 13.
Senior Director of Government Relations Alan Rowsome of The Wilderness Society says, “We echo the remarks of Senator Levin and Representative Benishek and praise them for responding to the strong local support for this wilderness designation and for leading the way in Congress to protect this important national treasure. This show of bipartisan cooperation is particularly welcome as we celebrate 50 years since the Wilderness Act was passed with similar bipartisan backing in 1964. There are many additional popular, bipartisan wilderness bills currently awaiting passage in Congress, and we urge lawmakers to take action on the more than two dozen similar wilderness bills that also enjoy strong local support but require approval by Congress to achieve the protection they deserve.”
The Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness area includes portions of two islands, pristine forests, and miles of beach and sand dunes rising hundreds of feet above Lake Michigan. In 2011, ABC’s “Good Morning America” called this scenic shoreline area “the most beautiful place in the country.”