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June 11, 2009

Leelanau.com's Great Big Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Giveaway!

jumping-for-joyThis summer and fall Leelanau.com is bringing you America's Lakeshore: A Comprehensive Guide to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. To kick things off with a bang we've gathered together an amazing giveaway to help one lucky winner and their family & friends jump for joy and experience a range of what the Lakeshore has to offer.

To enter, all you need to do it to be on our mailing list when we draw the winner on June 30th. We'll be doing a giveaway every month, so you'll probably want to stay on!

Here's what you'll win:

To start it all off, Leelanau.com will buy you a Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Annual Park Pass. The pass provides you and your passengers free access to everything in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from July 1st 2009 -July 1st 2010! (yeah - it\'s just $20, but what a deal)tradingpost

The Trading Post is just seconds away from the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and offers, canoe, kayak, and tube rentals (and also fishing supplies & licenses, homemade pizza, hand-dipped ice cream, fresh deli sandwiches and all kinds of groceries & beverages. 8294 Deadstream Road Honor, Michigan 49640 (231) 325-2202

A unique way to experience the beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is with a sunset cruise for 6 from Manitou Island Transit. Depart at 6:30 PM from historic Leland harbor upon the large and comfortable vessel Mishe-Mokwa. As the sun slowly sinks behind the Manitou Islands, you cruise along the Manitou Passage through scenic Good Harbor Bay, passing close to such landmarks as Whaleback, Pyramid Point and the North Manitou Shoal Light. There is a cash bar available aboard the vessel. For more information on the cruise and other cruise options please visit Manitou Island Transit's website.

In the shadow of the great Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, the Crystal River winds its way from Glen Lake to Lake Michigan in no apparent rush. The River at Crystal Bend an ageless playground of native plants, putts, paddling and peeling laughter. The River also offers, canoe kayak and tube rentals, guided eco-tours, great activities and family fun for all! The River Glen Arbor 5959 Oak Street Glen Arbor, MI 231.334-PUTT

After your round of golf head on over to Cherry Republic and cool down with ice cream for 6 at Cherry Republic's World Headquarters in downtown Glen Arbor - right in heart of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. They have world renowned cherry treats throughout three buildings which are nestled among English-style gardens. 6026 Lake St Glen Arbor, MI 49636 1-800-206-6949

Take a Sleeping Bear Eco-tour with a guided Tucker Lake fishing trip for 6 from The River. All you need to do is show up and they provide the boats, rods, tackle, ice, soft drinks and an experienced guide to help you find, catch and release the fish. The River Glen Arbor 5959 Oak Street Glen Arbor, MI 231.334-PUTT

m22When your day has ended snuggle up close to the person you in your brand new matching M-22 Sweatshirts. The creators of the M-22 brand identify M-22 as "the feeling you get when you realize there is no other place you would rather be". The M-22 brand was created to express a common passion for Northern Michigan. Check out their retail store downtown Traverse City or visit the M-22 website to learn more.

Take a personal tour of anywhere in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore with former ranger Bill Herd. Name your spot or allow Bill to pick one out of his favorite places in the Park for you. Details to be agreed upon by both parties.

May 21, 2009

Nationally Significant Features of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

by Bill Herd

Sleeping Bear DunesIt's always fun to go to a park, whether it's a local park with swings and a ball field, or a state park with camping, hiking, and fishing. But National Parks are different. Sure there are still lots of ways to have fun there, but that is not the main reason for their existence. In the U.S., when citizens determine that some place is so important to us that it absolutely positively must be saved for future generations, it is frequently entrusted to the National Park System for preservation.

As a park ranger at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, I routinely greeted groups of visitors with an introduction to the park and the National Park System. I found that for elementary school kids "preservation" is an unfamiliar word. But even lower elementary grade students understand the concept if you ask them whether they have something they like so much that they are trying to make it last forever. Surprisingly, the majority have some object, an old toy, doll, blanket, or model that has special meaning to them and that they want to last. They already know that to make it last they need to be extra careful. They may play with it but not as roughly as they play with other toys.

And so it is with Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Folks have determined that there are important natural and historic features here that need to be preserved as part of our national heritage and passed on to the next generation. We can still have lots of fun in the National Lakeshore but in some areas we need to be more careful so that our fun activities do not harm those features that we agree to protect for our children's children. Visitors to a National Park area need to know what physical features are considered especially important and why. They can plan their time in the park to experience these resources, learn about them, and get the full value from their travel and vacation experience.

Every employee of a National Park should be able to list and explain what features make that national park unit important to our national heritage. Several years ago I prepared this list of nationally significant features of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to train our seasonal staff. Some of these significant features were identified in the legislation passed by Congress that created the National Lakeshore. Other nationally significant features have been identified later by required inventories, new discoveries, or new understanding of known features.

Big Blue

  1. Lake Michigan Lake Michigan is the largest body of freshwater totally within the boundaries of the United States. Its size and water quality makes it a national treasure. However, because of human impacts, it is subject to major changes to its ecology. The park extends 1/4 mile out into Lake Michigan. Of course Lake Michigan can be seen from many locations within the Lakeshore.
  2. Lake Michigan Shoreline In the 1960s the primary motivation to create Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was to protect a large section of pristine Great Lakes shoreline for future generations. The National Lakeshore protects 35 miles on the mainland and another 33 miles around North and South Manitou Islands –68 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline altogether. The park provides public access for recreation and enjoyment. The natural shoreline processes of erosion and deposition continue mostly un-impeded. The shoreline includes special features such as the mouth of the Platte River (the last natural river mouth of any size on the Michigan side of the lake, and one of last on the Great Lakes), a bar lake at North Bar, sand spits at Gull Point and Dimmick's Point and sometimes at Sleeping Bear Point. The shoreline also provides critical habitat for the endangered piping plover, a small, sand-colored shore bird that nests and feeds along sand and gravel beaches.
  3. Ghost forestSand Dunes The eastern shore of Lake Michigan has the world's largest collection of fresh water sand dunes. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has the greatest concentration and variety of dunes and the largest dune field of any site along this shore. Perched dunes are a rare type of dune formation worldwide and the park has one of the best examples of this type of dune anywhere in the world. Dune types in the park include: shore dunes, perched dunes, falling dunes, dune and swale, dune and swale with river, linear, and parabolic.
  4. Vegetated Dunes (Dune vegetation zones) From active dunes to hardwood forested dunes, Sleeping Bear has excellent textbook examples of plant succession on dunes. In fact, the first ecology textbook was conceived after field work at Sleeping Bear and North Manitou by Henry Cowls. The variety of dune types provides the basis for a variety of vegetation habitats on dunes.
  5. Historic Maritime Landscape The National Lakeshore includes several maritime related historic districts connected by the waters of the Manitou Passage. Within these districts you will find three Life-Saving Service Stations, a lighthouse, two coastal villages, summer cottages, island farms, and a shoreline that remains undeveloped. Mostly outside the National Lakeshore, but part of this maritime landscape, is the Manitou Passage Underwater Preserve which protects a couple dozen shipwrecks. Together these maritime structures and features create one of the best remaining historic maritime landscapes in the nation.
  6. Paddock Candy

  7. Historic Agricultural Landscape The Port Oneida Rural Historic District, which contains 18 farms and 3,000 acres of land, is the largest intact historic agricultural landscaped fully protected from development in the United States. In addition, the park has two more agricultural districts on the mainland and another on each island. While already significant, these historic agricultural districts will become even more important in future years as older farm buildings across the Midwest disappear and rural areas undergo modern development
  8. Glacial Landscape Knowledgeable geologists say that the park has the best examples of the effects of continental glaciations of any unit of the National Park System. The glaciers retreated from the park 11,000 years ago. This is a young land and the marks of the glaciers are still fresh. Of course the park's major landscape features, such as Lake Michigan, the inland lakes, and the rolling sand-deposit hills found here, are the direct result of the glaciers. Glen Lake was formed when glacial waters melted and the Earth rebounded, closing off the bay entrance.Often it is the smaller almost unnoticeable marks on this young landscape that geologist find most exciting. For example, marks in the hillsides, such as the Alligator's snout on Alligator Hill indicate the shorelines of ancient ice border lakes. Another example is the ridge in the open fields south of Empire, which reveal the meander bend of a huge melt water river. A long little hump behind the parking lot at the Dune Climb, small ravines in the field by the Windy Moraine parking lot, and a clay pit near Devil's Hole all have important meanings to geologists and those interested in the Earth's history .
  9. Kayaking to South Manitou Island

  10. Two Large, Undeveloped Fresh Water Islands: North Manitou and South Manitou Large islands in fresh water lake are uncommon worldwide and publicly accessible large, undeveloped islands in fresh water are rare. Because of their isolation, islands have their own ecology, history, and mystique. They provide an opportunity to protect fragile resources and natural processes.
  11. Diverse Habitats The Lakeshore's many landforms create a variety of habitats that support a large array of plants and animals. The Lakeshore provides critical habitat for rare, threatened and endangered plants and animals, and the Lakeshore has more species of nesting birds than any other unit in the National Park System.
  12. Non-threatening Habitats that Encourage Visitor Interaction Sand dunes, beaches, forest trails, gentle streams, and open fields invite visitors to get out of their cars and experience the natural environment. For several years, Sleeping Bear Dunes has been voted the best family nature vacation spot in the Midwest. Our park's natural environment is fun and welcoming. This non-threatening natural environment can support a wide variety of outdoor recreation. More than most National Parks, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore provides safe opportunities for families with limited outdoor skills to have fun and adventure outdoors. Fun outdoors is the greatest single factor in persuading people to take a greater interest in protecting the environment.

There are the ten features of national significance. Later I will discuss each one in more detail with specific information about how and where to best experience each feature.


May 18, 2009

Introducing the Guide to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore!

bill-herd-snowshoeLeelanau.com is committed to developing a truly comprehensive guide to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. The Guide will have basic information for first-time visitors, as well as in-depth features about park resources for folks who are already familiar with the National Lakeshore but want to be even better informed. I have enthusiastically agreed to edit this Guide. For the last 35 years I have had what many folks would consider to be one of the best jobs in America. As a National Park Ranger/Interpreter at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, it was my job to learn as much as possible about the park and to share this knowledge with visitors in an interesting and understandable way. Four decades of leading hikes, giving tours, and presenting campfire talks have provided me with a wealth of knowledge about the park. Equally important, years of answering questions at the information desk has given me understanding about what visitors want and need to know. While I am no longer a National Park Ranger, I will be providing the same types of services to park visitors at Leelanau.com.

Leelanau.com is an ideal place to host such a Lakeshore guide. For years folks interested in Leelanau County have gone to Leelanau.com to get the information they need about lodging, dining, activities, and special events. The staff at Leelanau.com have been long-time supporters of the National Lakeshore, helping to promote its programs and special events. Equally important, Leelanau.com has donated valuable services to many of the nonprofit groups working to preserve the natural and historic features on the Leelanau Peninsula. They are an important partner in protecting the environment that makes the area such a wonderful place to live and visit.

When I began as a seasonal ranger in 1973, the National Park Service only owned about 500 acres of land. As the park developed over the years, I took part in most of the meetings, planning sessions, and project reviews. I not only know the park facilities and activities, I helped develop most of them: from ski trails to historic villages. Frequently, during my ranger career, I would get a call from a travel writer who was seeking information about Sleeping Bear Dunes. Sometimes they had been visited the park once or twice but were still a bit fuzzy about what was where. Many times they had never even been to the National Lakeshore. You will not find any articles by these “instant” experts in this Guide, because this guide will not only be comprehensive, it will be accurate. I will personally write most of the weekly feature articles and I will review all of the information put up on the site to be certain it is correct and up to date. As the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is too diverse for any one person to know everything about it, I will be inviting guest writers who I know are experts on specific park topics.

During the first weeks the site is up, we will be addressing the basics—the most important things to see and do, campground choices, dunes, and beaches. The things folks need to know to plan their visit. However, just as basic is knowing why the National Lakeshore is important is the knowledge of what physical features are nationally significant and why. I begin the site with a quick overview of the park’s significant features and where you can see and experience them. In the following weeks I will explore many of these significant features in greater detail. There is a fair about of information about Sleeping Bear Dunes on the web, some of it quite good, some questionable, and much of it is difficult to locate. We will provide links to the sites with good information such as the park’s official website and the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes website.

Guiding hikes and tours at the Lakeshore gave me an opportunity to communicate directly with park visitors. It was a joint experience as they added their comments and questions. I would like to continue this two-way dialog, so the site will also provide a way for readers to easily provide comments and questions. I look forward to this new venture and hearing your questions and suggestions. We all love this area and together we can help others understand, appreciate, and protect it.

Bill Herd

Photos: Bill Herd at Snowshoe Hike (NPS)
~~Follow Me ~~ by KT of Lake Orion

Speaking of Photos...

We'd love it if you would share your photos of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Leelanau (dot com) pool on Flickr!

January 22, 2009

Leelanau Almanac for the Week of January 15-21, 2009

Filed under: almanac,Leelanau,michigan,photo,sleepingbeardunes,webdesign,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 8:43 am

20090101_Barns by ETCphoto

News from the Week

In addition to the upcoming Taste the Passion wine tour and the first of the Talks About Art with the Glen Arbor Artists, we had a feature on bears in Leelanau County (courtesy the Glen Arbor Sun) and a local book selected as a 2009 Michigan Notable Book, Historic Cottages of Glen Lake by Barbara Siepker, photography by Dietrich Floeter.

The Week's Weather

The weather was pretty chilly, but we did get some sun (probably more than we had in the whole month of December) and some nice snow.

January 15, 2009: Light snow, windy and single digits (10/-2)
January 16, 2009: Flurries and single digits (11/3)
January 17, 2009: Light snow, breezy & 10 (12/6)
January 18, 2009: Partly sunny & teens (20/2)
January 18, 2009: Partly sunny, flurries & teens (19/9)
January 20, 2009: Mostly sunny & teens (17/-1)
January 21, 2009: Cloudy & low 20s (25/14)

<Leelanau Almanac for the Week of January 22-28, 2009

Leelanau Almanac for the Week of January 1-7, 2009>

Click for the Leelanau News Archive from January 2008.

December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from Leelanau.com

Filed under: Arts & Entertainment,backgrounds,holiday,homes,Leelanau,michigan,photo,webdesign,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 8:08 am

The photo is Merry Christmas To All! by jsorbieus, and we at Leelanau.com would like to wish you and yours the very best of this winter season.

However, wherever and whatever you are celebrating, we hope for much joy, warmth and laughter for you and yours.

December 4, 2008

2008 Leelanau Gift Guide

Filed under: Business,food,Leelanau,michigan,Shopping,traverse city,webdesign,wine — Andrew McFarlane @ 12:26 pm

Our Leelanau Holiday Gift Guide is updated for 2008 and features all kinds of great gifts made and sold right here in Leelanau County!

Check it out and please do what you can to shop locally this holiday season!

October 27, 2008

Get your Grand Vision Scorecard in today!

There's just two days left to fill out your Grand Vision Scorecard and weigh in on how you think our region should grow. Leelanau.com developed the web site for The Grand Vision, and we feel it's critically important that everyone take a little time to think about how our region will accommodate the tens of thousands of new residents that will move to northwest Michigan in the coming years. The results of the Grand Vision will help guide how money is spent on transportation in our region for years to come.

Please take the time (just 10 or 15 minutes) to fill out your scorecard and please also pass it along to your friends & family!

October 7, 2008

The Grand Vision – October 7-28, 2008

Today begins a 3 week period in which year-round and seasonal residents from all across the region will fill out "The Grand Vision Scorecard", a survey designed by The Grand Vision to establish a long-term vision for the next 50+ years of development in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau and Wexford counties.

The Leelanau County Kickoff event takes place next Monday (October 13) at the MSU Horticultural Research Station.

Visit thegrandvision.org to fill out your scorecard online and get a list of locations where you can pick one up around the county!

Full disclosure: Leelanau.com is working for The Grand Vision!

October 3, 2008

Leelanau's wine trail featured in USA Today

Filed under: Business,farms,Leelanau,michigan,news,photo,travel,webdesign,wine — Andrew McFarlane @ 7:45 am

Article courtesy lpwines.com...

Willow Vineyard VI by Cotopaxi SprattmoranIn today's USA Today, wine writer Jerry Shriver and travel editor Chris Gray have profiled four up-and-coming wine regions in Off the beaten wine trail. The four are New York's Hudson Valley, Hill Country in Texas, the Eastern Townships, Quebec and yes, Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula!

The state's 56 wineries — six opened in the past year — are spread across Michigan along four wine trails, but most of the best grapes are grown near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and its bays. Top wineries are positioning themselves as small but key players in the Riesling renaissance that is taking hold across the country, and nearly 1 million visitors will arrive this year to sample the offerings. The most popular wine region, because of its prime setting along Lake Michigan, is the Leelanau Peninsula, home to about 20 wineries, 16 of which have public tasting rooms.

Read the rest of Riesling rising, and more, in Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan from USA Today.

The photo is Willow Vineyard VI by Cotopaxi Sprattmoran (whose photography was also used for the article). Check out her whole August at the Wineries of the LPVA set to see the amazing beauty of our wineries and vineyards!

September 5, 2008

Growth Happens … Let's Decide How

In just over a month, residents of Leelanau County (also also Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Wexford counties) will be asked to help decide the next 50+ years of transportation and land use development in our region through a project involving community, government, business and citizens known as The Grand Vision.

Leelanau.com has been working on videos that explore what people across the region feel about issues surrounding the growth of the area. Here's the latest (click to YouTube to watch in high-quality) - please share this important effort with your friends & family and click over to thegrandvision.org to see more videos, learn more about the project and how you can get involved!

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