Sleeping Bear Dunes proposes “Kettles Trail” in Bow Lakes area

BowLakesAreaFrom staff reports

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz announced that the National Park Service proposes to develop a trail system (“Kettles Trail”) on federal lands in the Bow Lakes area of the National Lakeshore. To do so, the National Lakeshore will prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) which will describe and analyze alternatives for the Kettles Trail.

The Bow Lakes area is a detached section of the National Lakeshore, created when a 1982 amendment of the National Lakeshore’s enabling legislation authorized a boundary revision that added the area to the park. There are currently no developments in this area.

The leadership and fundraising to make this project a reality is coming from the Friends of Sleeping Bear, reports the group’s chairperson Chuck Schaeffer. To date, Friends of Sleeping Bear has raised and committed $10,000 to conduct the Environmental Assessment portion of the project. And one of the nonprofit group’s members has spent numerous hours hiking the parcel to identify possible routes the trail might take.

The 2009 Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Final General Management Plan/Wilderness Study/ Environmental Impact Statement (GMP) proposed a small parking area and a loop hiking trail in the Bow Lakes area to facilitate visitor use (including nature observation and backcountry hiking on NPS-owned lands). Development of these facilities would fulfill the intent of the GMP and would provide opportunities that do not currently exist in this area. The objectives of the project are to provide: 1) user facilities that meet the public need and are within the capacity of the National Park Service to maintain, 2) facilities that are sensitive to, and protect, the natural features of this area, 3) user facilities that respect adjacent private property, 4) interpretation of natural features, and 5) research and educational opportunities.

The project concept is to develop a trail system for hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, a small parking area, adequate signing, and interpretive information.

Planning for the Kettles Trail is just beginning and, as part of this planning process, the National Lakeshore welcomes the public’s ideas and input regarding issues or concerns. The public may comment electronically through a link on the National Lakeshore’s website. Comments may also be mailed to the National Lakeshore (Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, Michigan, 49630) until May 20.

Comments submitted during this “scoping” phase of planning will be evaluated and considered during the development of alternatives and analysis of impacts. The EA is scheduled for release in late summer and will then be made available for further public review. At that time, the National Lakeshore will again solicit public input. For more information, please contact the National Lakeshore at (231) 326-5134 or visit their website.