Dr. Dan Benishek (MI-01) announced today that he has introduced legislation (H.R. 163) in the House of Representatives to protect the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the Lower Peninsula, while ensuring recreational access for over 32,000 acres of lakeshore.
"Northern Michigan is very fortunate to be home to this extraordinary stretch of shoreline and I am proud to introduce legislation to help protect it. This bill strikes a common sense, balanced approach between conservation and recreation that nearly all Michiganders will support. I am hopeful that we can get this bill passed and delivered to the president's desk so that future generations will also be able to enjoy the natural wonder that is Sleeping Bear Dunes," said Dr. Benishek, a surgeon and lifelong resident of Northern Michigan.
The legislation, authored by Dr. Benishek, would designate approximately 32,500 acres of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as "wilderness" areas. This bill ensures that natural features of the area will be preserved, while protecting county roads, historical structures, and access to recreation and enjoyment of the lake. The right to hunt and fish in designated wilderness areas is specifically protected in this legislation. Several members of the Michigan Congressional delegation, including Representatives Camp, Huizenga, Rogers, Upton, and Walberg have also signed on as original cosponsors of Dr. Benishek's legislation. An identical piece of legislation, sponsored by Senator Carl Levin, passed in the U.S. Senate on December 30, 2012, and enjoyed broad bipartisan support.
"I've lived in Northern Michigan my entire life, so I know just how important it is to safeguard our state's natural beauty while at the same time maintain access to our lands for hunters, trappers, and fishermen. This bill does just that," added Dr. Benishek.
In 2011, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was named by ABC's "Good Morning America" as the most beautiful place in America. Last year, over 1.4 million people visited Sleeping Bear Dunes, accounting for about $120 million in local spending and supporting 2,000 jobs.