Secretary Jewell Commends President Obama, Congress for Designating 32,557 Acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as Wilderness

Legislation Protects Park's Backcountry While Continuing Hiking, Fishing, and Other Non-Motorized Recreational Activities

Last edited 09/29/2021

WASHINGTON, DC – Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today commended President Obama for signing into law S.23, legislation designating 32,557 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan as wilderness, the first congressional designation under the Wilderness Act since 2009.

“President Obama and Congress have given the American people a priceless gift by ensuring that this extraordinary landscape with its towering sand dunes and bluffs will be preserved forever as wild and primitive,” Jewell said. “Hikers, anglers, paddlers and others who venture into this wilderness will find it just as the Ottawa and Chippewa tribes have for the past 3,000 years – a place of quiet solitude, spectacular views, and abundant wildlife.”

“As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act this year, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is now our 50th national park with wilderness areas,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “Thanks to the commitment of local advocates and the Michigan congressional delegation, we can now improve our preservation efforts for this beautiful and significant national treasure.”

The Wilderness Act, signed into law in 1964, established the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands. It prohibits permanent roads and commercial enterprises, except commercial services that may provide for recreational or other purposes of the Wilderness Act. Wilderness areas generally do not allow motorized equipment, motor vehicles, mechanical transport, temporary roads, permanent structures or installation. Visitors can engage in non-motorized recreation in wilderness areas, including hiking, fishing, camping, and hunting.

S. 23 was introduced by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) and co-sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). A similar bill was introduced in the House (H.R. 163) by Rep. Dan Benishek, which had 11 co-sponsors.

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