“The national parks are the best idea we ever had,” novelist and environmentalist Wallace Stegner proclaimed in 1983. “Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.” Many nations around the world agree. Last month, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Scott Tucker and Apostle Islands National Lakeshore superintendent Lynne Dominy spent two weeks in Saudi Arabia working with their peers in Riyadh and coaching them on community engagement, resource management, interpretation and education programs, park policy, and collaboration. “Our National Parks are the gold standard,” said Tucker. “We’ve been doing this for more than 100 years.”

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore deputy superintendent Tom Ulrich, who will retire from the Park later this month, once heard a poignant analogy at a leadership conference that compared the old style of managing a National Park to the Star Wars jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi, who deftly and constantly fends off outside threats with his light saber. By contrast, the new style of Park management is not to deflect or fight off criticism from the public, but to engage, listen and teach as Yoda does. Ulrich arrived at Sleeping Bear Dunes in late 2002 at a time when Lakeshore staff was reeling from widespread criticism after it promoted an unpopular new General Management Plan that would expand portions of the Park classified as “wilderness.” His tenure at Sleeping Bear Dunes dawned a collaborative relationship between the Park and local citizens.

United States Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on Thursday, Aug. 11, before she traveled north to Pellston to meet with survivors of Federal Indian Boarding Schools. At Sleeping Bear, she toured Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, visited the Dune Climb, and sites at Glen Haven including the Sleeping Bear Inn, the cannery and Lake Michigan. Haaland’s visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes was the second by a U.S. Secretary of the Interior. In June 1998, Secretary Stewart Udall spoke at an emotional standing-room-only public gathering at the Sleeping Bear Dunes—the Park he helped establish.

Twenty-five years from now a future superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will open a time capsule stored in a metal lockbox and read a letter written to them by Scott Tucker, the Lakeshore’s current superintendent, on the occasion of Sleeping Bear’s 50th anniversary on October 21.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore reported today that it is closing trails, trailheads, picnic areas, parking areas, and boat launches until further notice, effective immediately. These operations are to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and surrounding communities are suffering growing pains as we’ve become a prime destination for tourists from all over the world. Conscious of these growing pains, a new group called the Sleeping Bear Gateways Council is stepping forward to facilitate dialogue between the National Lakeshore, local business leaders and civic leaders.

Late last week the National Park Service (NPS) named Scott Tucker as the new superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. He will begin his assignment in mid-June. The Sun submitted the following questions to Scott Tucker. Here are his responses.

Scott Tucker, a 19-year veteran of the National Park Service (NPS), has been selected as the Superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Tucker currently serves as the Superintendent of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, which consists of seven units along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast from Long Beach, Washington, to Cannon Beach, Oregon. He will begin his new assignment in mid June.