The following op-eds by Bob Sutherland and Julie Zapoli—both Little Traverse Lake residents and Glen Arbor business owners—were written in response to the Sun’s coverage of Little Traverse Lake Association opposition to an expansion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, a portion of which would run near the north shore of the lake. Sutherland writes, “It is unfortunate that we are going to lose more trees in the development of this trail, but in the big picture, this four-mile extension completes an infinitely positive recreational trail and a key transportation alternative for residents and vacationers in Leelanau County. The recent study that opposition used to stir up doubt in this final section should not take away from the decade of environmentally sensitive planning the National Park Service, Michigan Department of Transportation, Leelanau County Road Commission, and Army Corp of Engineers executed to meet all the federal wetlands, dune and endangered species regulations.”

A simmering feud between Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and TART Trails, and residents of Little Traverse Lake who oppose the northeast expansion of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is once again heating up. The popular, multi-use bicycle trail, which stretches 22 miles from Empire through the National Lakeshore to Bohemian Road, is set to expand by 4.25 miles northeast to Good Harbor Trail. Tree clearing and construction are slated to begin this fall, and the extension will open in late 2025 or 2026. But early this month the Little Traverse Lake Association released an environmental impact study the group had commissioned from Borealis Consulting, which found that Segment 9 of the Heritage Trail would require the removal of nearly 7,300 trees and trespass through sensitive wilderness, wetlands and dunes. Of the nearly 7,300 trees identified in the Borealis study, 82% are saplings or small trees with diameters of 10 inches or less. The Park has directed trail designers with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to “meander around the largest trees.” The Lake Association unsuccessfully sued the federal government in 2015 over the adequacy of the National Park’s 2009 environmental assessment.