An important question hovers over the Leelanau Conservancy’s push to build a 10-car parking lot east of Wheeler Road, which mountain bikers will use starting next year to access the expanding Palmer Woods trail network. Neighbors opposed the initiative, but the Cleveland Township Board sided with the Conservancy and greenlit the project on Nov. 14. Do mountain bike trails and infrastructure in preserved natural areas reflect development (most mountain bikers drive fossil fuel-burning cars to access trails)? Or does the sport increase environmental awareness? In other words, does mountain biking compromise or help the environment?

The Centerville Township Planning Commission will meet on Dec. 4, in the upper level of their Township Hall at 6:30 pm. Although that meeting is not yet the public hearing on the issue, on the agenda is the Amoritas Vineyards/Under Canvas Proposal for a commercial resort featuring 75 fixed platforms for tents, each of which will have its own plumbing with toilet and shower (water heated by individual propane tanks), and wood-burning stove. These and related infrastructure including a new drive with an estimated 100-car parking lot and several other buildings, if approved, would be on the Amoritas Vineyard’s property located on Amore Road.

During 2023, Suttons Bay resident Rebecca Gearing Carlson has researched and written a series of narrative historical pieces about Leelanau County farming families, which we have published in the Glen Arbor Sun. Read those stories here.

Six days in July, three emergencies on lakes near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, two cases of people not wearing life vests, and one death. These stories yield cautionary tales about enjoying but respecting these waters which are beautiful but can prove perilous, too. Read about the young men rescued in Lake Michigan floating in inner tubes one mile off Platte Point, a death on South Bar Lake in Empire, and a family that survived a boat fire on Big Glen Lake.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel met with local business owners and nonprofit leaders at the solar array on the corner of M-72 and Bugai Rd in southeastern Leelanau County on Friday, July 7. Nessel said that renewable energy generators such as this solar array are an important tool to combat man-made climate change, which has affected Michigan in recent years in the form of rainstorms and flooding, heat waves, toxic algal blooms, rapidly fluctuating Lake Michigan water levels and beach erosion, and more ticks and tick-borne diseases. Warmer and shorter winters have also put northern Michigan’s cherished cherry crop at risk, and smoke from Canadian wildfires has polluted the air across the Midwest this spring and summer. “Climate change is real,” said Nessel. “And if you didn’t believe it before, you ought to start believing it now.” Under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and a Democratic-led state legislature, Michigan’s climate plan to wean utilities and industry off fossil fuels and coal- and gas-fired power plants is among the most ambitious nationwide.

On calm days this spring when Sleeping Bear Bay resembled glass, some Glen Arbor residents with homes on Lake Michigan heard what they described as periodic burps, or the sounds of water gurgling in a pipe. On days with wind and waves, they heard nothing. The sound may have come from two “propane cannons” on the North Manitou Shoal Light Station, commonly called “the Crib” which lies 4 miles from Pyramid Point, the closest spot on the mainland. According to Dan Oginsky president of the North Manitou Light Keepers, which acquired the Crib from the federal government in 2016, the canisters are used to scare away cormorants, large aquatic birds that nested on the lighthouse and covered it with “guano” poop after it was decommissioned by the government and sat empty for decades.

The historical and human significance of the presence of the Johnsons and other African-American families in the Empire and Glen Lake area cannot be overestimated. To be there they would have had to deal with all the exigencies of frontier life, mainly the constant hard work and the ability to maintain good cheer and endure isolation. In addition, to get there in the first place, they would’ve had to have survived slavery, including the physical brutality and the trauma of family members being sold. They would have needed to be diplomatic enough to circumvent the laws that made it illegal for slaves to learn to read, write or own property in order to acquire the skills and the goods they’d need if they were later to escape.

“As my 80-year-old dad and I make the trek slowly up the heavily-canopied, half-century old two-track, I wonder what his reaction will be as we make it to the cherry orchard entrance,” writes Rebecca Carlson in this first installment in a series about the legacy and impact of Leelanau County farming families. “With the sun shining in our faces, Dad stops dead in his tracks and takes his first look at the orchard in several years. ‘Where are all the trees? Where are all Herman’s trees?’ Silent and shaking his head, my Dad continues to scan the empty orchard. ‘Dad, all our trees were removed last year,’ I say. ‘There were only about 20 cherry trees left.’ He responds, ‘But I don’t remember agreeing to that.’ While his eyes well with tears, I realize this was yet another loss of family ties and precious memories from our years of farming.”

Tick bites and cases of tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme Disease and Anaplasmosis are increasing in northern Michigan, according to statistics from the Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department and confirmed by local doctors and staff within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Leelanau County registered 14 cases of tick-born illness last year, more than doubling the previous year’s tally. Beyond statistics, the upward trend has proven tragic for this community. Glen Arbor lost popular realtor and ski coach John Peppler to a tick-born disease last August. National Lakeshore superintendent Scott Tucker said that one Park employee nearly died last year of Anaplasmosis caused by a tick bite that happened at a Sleeping Bear campground.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Spring Enduros Contentious debate fills Township Hall tonight; riders invited to flood meetings By Jacob Wheeler Sun editor Voices both in favor and against a proposed motorbike race on Memorial Day weekend on rural farmland in Leelanau County’s Kasson Township will flood the Solon Township Hall tonight, May 8, and on […]