LANSING, Mich. — Michiganders would be able to purchase a special Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore license plate under legislation introduced in the state Senate on Tuesday, said state Sen. Darwin Booher.
“The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of Pure Michigan’s treasured natural wonders,” said Booher, R-Evart, who introduced Senate Bill 91. “Even beyond the dunes, there are culturally important historic structures and other resources that are often overlooked. By purchasing a specialty license plate, Michiganders will not only be able to show their support for the park, but also contribute to its use and preservation.”
Proceeds from the sale of the specialty plate will go to help support Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear (PHSB), a nonprofit that works to preserve and restore the park’s resources, as well as educate the public about all it has to offer.
“Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear hopes to help fund needed preservation projects in the park by launching a successful Sleeping Bear Dunes fundraising plate,” said Susan Pocklington, director of PHSB. “With the sponsorship of Senator Booher, a yes vote from the Legislature, signature from the governor, and the purchasing support of Michigan residents, there is hope for significant impact to protect and preserve the resources of this national park that so many love and enjoy.”
Officially established by Congress in 1970, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore stretches across 70,000 acres of Leelanau and Benzie counties. The park includes the natural geography and forests of birch, pine, beech, and maple, along with 64 miles of Lake Michigan beaches, two islands, 26 inland lakes and the monumental sand dunes.
Beyond these natural features, the park also contains a treasure trove of Michigan history, including pioneer farmsteads, early cabins and cottages, and three U.S. life-saving service stations, including a lighthouse. In 1998, however, the park service found itself unable to care for these 200-plus historic structures and began to demolish them as they fell into disrepair.
A grass-roots effort led by local citizens resulted in the founding of PHSB. The group, an official park partner for more than 15 years, helps protect and preserve the historical resources and cultural landscapes embodied in the remnants of 19th century agriculture, logging, maritime and tourism activities in the area.
Booher said funds from the license plates sales, which will be transmitted quarterly, will go a long way to support the group and the park.