The Dune Climb Inn is proud to announce the renovation and rebrand of a classic motel, formerly Duneswood Resort, on M-109 in the heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Inspired by the nature surrounding it, the rooms are dressed in blues and greens and feature local art and photography, retaining that intimate motel feeling with a colorful refresh. It is the perfect home base for an outdoor adventures and escape.

Join Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes for their annual spring safety training on Saturday, May 18, from 1-3 pm at the Empire Town Hall. Those unable to attend in person can find a link here to join online. This event is a chance for volunteers to hear the latest park news and safety information from park staff.

This op-ed by Doug Verellen, former vice president of the Little Traverse Lake Association, addresses previous op-eds published in the Sun last month that express support for the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail’s northeast extension along Little Traverse Lake. The National Park System was founded based on this purpose: “To conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” It’s on the back of their business card. This Heritage Trail Segment 9 initiative is the opposite of that directive, opines Verellen.

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.

Following the blizzard earlier this weekend, the Friends of Sleeping Bear, who manage the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, report fresh snow last night and today. Nice, cool temperatures make for fluffy snow and the groomer is leaving a perfect corduroy and classic tracks. Read more for details.

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.

TART Trails and Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes will host two summer open houses at the intersection of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail and Glen Haven Road —on Thursday, July 27, from 11 am-1 pm, and Thursday, August 10, from 11 am-1 pm. Community members, visitors, trail users and those interested in learning more about the trail and its Pathway to Good Harbor extension are invited to stop by to talk trails.

This weekend, the Friends of Sleeping Bear reported on ski and sledding conditions throughout the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The groomers have been out on both trails. Unfortunately, the lack of snow on the Heritage Trail meant that the south trail does not have classic tracks, but it has been rolled to form a really nice flat corduroy. Skate skiers will love this! Heritage trail north of Glen Arbor had a little more snow, and we did get a set of classic tracks down. Palmer Woods has the best snow conditions in the area. 6-8″ of fresh powder. Nice groom and classic tracks in most places.

Snow conditions are very good in most places along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, report Friends of Sleeping Bear, which grooms and maintains the popular multi-use trail in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Get out there before the weather warms up the middle of this week.