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It was a big day at Sleeping Bear Dunes dune climb Friday as Senator Carl Levin joined about 150 others to share the groundbreaking of the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The trail has been 14 years in the planning and will be a 10-foot-wide paved pathway starting near the northern boundary of the National Lakeshore and running south 27 miles to the Leelanau-Benzie county line.
Several dignitaries, including Senator Carl Levin and park superintendent Dusty Schultz, spoke, but the highlight of the presentation was actually when Bob Sutherland's two boys rode up on little bikes, supposedly impromptu, in the middle of his talk. Sutherland leveraged the moment to reinforce the notion that trails like this live for generations and generations, and he was happy his young boys would have the opportunity to ride their bikes safely within the forest of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
It was also nice to see much-deserved recognition shine upon Patty O'donnell and Barbara Nelson Jameson, who have worked in the background with an unwavering commitment to the project. As Superintendent Schultz said, "We wouldn't be standing here today if not for these two women."
A year from now you will be able to ride the first section of the path, which will run from Glen Arbor to D.H. Day campground and then on to the dune climb. The second stage will run from the dune climb to Empire.
Senator Carl Levin speaks with Lissa Edwards, managing editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine, about his own attachment to Sleeping Bear. (See Senator Levin's video interview.)
Levin took the opportunity to remind people that this is the kind of project that reflects the good that happens when we do things together as a people. Much of the funding thus far for the project has come through government recreation and transportation grants, with private fund raising just now kicking into high gear.—Jeff Smith is editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine