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.

The former Glen Arbor Township Cemetery, located in the backwoods behind Boonedocks, has been buried in a tangle of trees since the brutal storm of August 2015. The place is dear to me because my first book, Aaron’s Crossing, began its life and death saga when I sensed a ghost there.

The National Park Service will name the next superintendent to run Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore by the end of May — if not sooner — Park spokesperson Christine Powell told the Glen Arbor Sun today. Powell works out of the National Park’s Midwest Regional office in Omaha, Neb.

Acting superintendent (and previously the deputy superintendent) Tom Ulrich has reportedly made it to the final round of interviews for the position of superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The identities and number of his competitors is not publicly known. Citizens of the Sleeping Bear region are encouraged to share their thoughts about the next superintendent with National Park Midwest Regional director Cameron Sholly.

This is the first in a series of articles prompted by the centennial celebration of the founding of the National Park Service. Throughout 2015, the Glen Arbor Sun will publish a range of stories about the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and people’s relationships with their local park.

Glen Arbor Sun editor Jacob Wheeler took a spin Thursday evening on the newly completed Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail section between the Dune Climb and Empire. It’s a beautiful, hilly ride! Along the way, he interviewed Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich and Duneswood Resort owner Debbie Rettke, about how this leg of the trail differs from the Dune Climb-to-Glen Arbor leg, what the expanded trail means for the National Park, and for local biking in general, and how folks have reacted to it so far. Check out this video.

Heritage Trail grows; Kettles, Bay-to-Bay, mountain biking trails on tap? By Jacob Wheeler Sun editor Over the next couple years, the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore could vastly expand its network, and range, of trails. By July, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail will expand south, from the Dune Climb to Empire, allowing bicyclists, rollerbladers, wheelchair-bound […]

What effect did closing of Park have on local economy? By Jacob Wheeler Sun editor Connie Bohlinger of Macomb County, Mich., and Linda Jones of Fort Myers, Fla., laughed as they descended the Sleeping Bear Dune Climb Thursday afternoon, kicking one foot in front of the other to avoid tumbling forward into its sugary sands. […]

Before the end of this year, Congress may approve “wilderness” legislation for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that — despite the implication of the word — would forever guarantee public access to the Park’s pristine beaches along county roads, to historic manmade structures, and continue to allow hunting and fishing within the Lakeshore.

By Jacob Wheeler Sun editor The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will not close Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive and facilities at the Dune Climb, Glen Haven and other crowned jewels of this National Lakeshore — as local administrators had planned to do after Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of the summer tourism season in […]