Press Release

Pew: First Wilderness Bill Is Powerful Example of Bipartisanship



Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act Becomes Law

“It is fitting that the bill to protect Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes is the first wilderness measure to be signed this year, the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act,” said Mike Matz, director of U.S. public lands initiatives for The Pew Charitable Trusts. “Just as that landmark legislation became law through the bipartisan efforts of Senator Hubert Humphrey (D-MN) and Representative John Saylor (R-PA), the Sleeping Bear Dunes act was championed by Republican Representative Dan Benishek and Democratic Senator Carl Levin. These Michigan legislators bridged the partisan divide in the interests of the local community. They've set a powerful example, and we hope this spirit of bipartisanship will help win approval for the rest of the nearly two-dozen measures now pending in Congress that would safeguard our wild landscapes.”



The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act (S. 23) protects more than 32,500 acres in Michigan, including a pristine shoreline and forests along Lake Michigan, and has received strong support from area residents, the National Park Service, and the Michigan congressional delegation. The area stretches along 35 miles of coastline northwest of Traverse City, and includes land on the Lower Peninsula as well as North and South Manitou islands, which will also be designated as wilderness. The lakeshore's miles of sandy beaches, towering bluffs, lush forests, clear inland lakes, and unique flora and fauna earned it the title of “Most Beautiful Place in America” in 2011 from ABC's “Good Morning America.”

Congress officially recognized the area's wild qualities in 1970, by establishing the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, a unit of the National Park Service, which protected the area from development, logging, and commercial interests.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is the first wilderness bill signed into law since the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009.

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Susan Whitmore

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