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Calendar No. 266
112th Congress Report
2d Session 112-104
SLEEPING BEAR DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE CONSERVATION AND RECREATION ACT
January 13, 2012.--Ordered to be printed
Filed, under authority of the order of the Senate of December 17, 2011.
Mr. Bingaman, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany S. 140]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the bill (S. 140) to designate as wilderness certain
land and inland water within the Sleeping Bear Dunes National
Lakeshore in the State of Michigan, and for other purposes,
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon without
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.
The purpose of S. 140 is to designate approximately 32,557
acres of land and inland water within Sleeping Bear Dunes
National Lakeshore in Michigan as wilderness.
BACKGROUND AND NEED
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was established in
1970 and includes over 70,000 acres of forests, lakes, beaches,
and large sand dunes along the shores of Lake Michigan in
northwestern Michigan. The lakeshore extends nearly 30 miles
along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, and includes two
large Lake Michigan islands with an additional 35 miles of
shoreline. The park protects and preserves scenic and
recreational resources, including perched sand dunes, miles of
beaches, inland lakes and streams, wetlands, and an upland
beech-maple northern hardwood forest.
In 1981 the park's general management plan recommended over
30,000 acres of the park as wilderness, and those lands have
been managed as wilderness since that time. Following
completion of the park's general management plan, the National
Park Service prepared a formal wilderness study. The
alternative mapped 32,557 acres for designation and that is the
same as the proposed wilderness designation in S. 140.
S. 140 was introduced by Senators Levin and Stabenow on
January 25, 2011. The Subcommittee on National Parks held a
hearing on S. 140 on May 11, 2011 (S. Hrg. 112-124). At its
business meeting on November 10, 2011, the Committee on Energy
and Natural Resources ordered S. 140 favorably reported.
During the 111th Congress, the Committee considered similar
legislation, S. 2976, also sponsored by Senators Levin and
Stabenow. The Subcommittee on National Parks held a hearing on
the bill on May 19, 2010 (S. Hrg. 111-645) but no further
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on November 10, 2011, by voice vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 140.
Senators Lee and Paul asked to be recorded as opposing the
Section 1 provides the short title, the ``Sleeping Bear
Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and Recreation Act.''
Section 2 defines key terms used in the bill.
Section 3(a) designates approximately 32,557 acres of land
and inland water within Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore,
to be known as ``Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness,'' as a
component of the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Subsection (b) directs that the map describing the
wilderness area be available for public inspection in the
appropriate offices of the National Park Service and allows the
Secretary of the Interior to correct any clerical or
typographical errors in the map. The Secretary is directed to
provide a corrected map and legal description of the wilderness
area to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the
Senate and the Committee on Natural Resources of the House of
Representatives as soon as practicable after date of enactment.
Subsection (c) establishes road setbacks of 100 feet from
centerline and 300 feet from centerline for adjacent county
roads and State highways, respectively.
Section 4(a) directs the Secretary to manage the designated
wilderness area in accordance with the Wilderness Act (16
U.S.C. 1131 et seq.), except the date of enactment is
considered the date of enactment of this Act and reference to
the Secretary of Agriculture is considered to reference instead
the Secretary of the Interior.
Subsection (b) provides for continued maintenance of roads
outside of the wilderness boundary.
Subsection (c) prohibits any provision of the Act from
affecting the jurisdiction of the State of Michigan as so far
as management of hunting and fishing within the lakeshore in
accordance with section 5 of Public Law 91-479 (16 U.S.C. 460x-
Subsection (d) prohibits any provision of the Act from
altering, modifying or affecting any treaty rights or valid
private property rights in existence on the date of enactment.
COST AND BUDGETARY CONSIDERATIONS
The following estimate of costs of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
S. 140--Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Conservation and
S. 140 would designate as wilderness about 32,500 acres of
the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in the state of
Michigan. The newly designated lands and inland waterways would
comprise the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness, a new component of
the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Based on information from the National Park Service, CBO
estimates that the bill would have an insignificant impact on
the federal budget. More than 30,000 of the affected acres have
been managed as wilderness since 1981, and CBO estimates that
the potential impact of the designation on public use would be
minor. Enacting S. 140 would not affect direct spending or
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
S. 140 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Martin von
Gnechten. The estimate was approved by Theresa Gullo, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
REGULATORY IMPACT EVALUATION
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out S. 140.
The bill is not a regulatory measure in the sense of
imposing Government-established standards or significant
economic responsibilities on private individuals and
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of S. 140, as ordered reported.
CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED SPENDING
S. 140, as ordered reported, does not contain any
congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits,
or limited tariff benefits as defined in rule XLIV of the
Standing Rules of the Senate.
The testimony provided by the National Park Service at the
May 11, 2011, Subcommittee on National Parks hearing on S. 140
Statement of Stephen E. Whitesell, Associate Director, Park Planning,
Facilities and Lands, National Park Service, Department of the Interior
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, thank you for
the opportunity to appear before you today to present the
Department of the Interior's views on S. 140, a bill to
designate the Sleeping Bear Dunes Wilderness at Sleeping Bear
Dunes National Lakeshore in the State of Michigan.
The Department strongly supports enactment of S. 140. This
legislation would designate 32,557 acres, or 46 percent, of
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan's Lower
Peninsula as federally protected wilderness. Management of the
wilderness area would be in accordance with the 1964 Wilderness
Act (16 U.S.C. 1131 et seq.).
P.L. 91-479 established Sleeping Bear Dunes National
Lakeshore on October 21, 1970, in order ``. . . that certain
outstanding natural features including forests, beaches, dune
formations, and ancient (glacial) phenomena . . . be preserved
in their natural setting and protected from developments and
uses which would destroy the scenic beauty and natural
character of the area . . . for the benefit, inspiration,
education, recreation, and enjoyment of the public.'' This bill
clearly supports the intent of that law.
The park extends nearly 30 miles along the eastern shore of
Lake Michigan. It also includes two large Lake Michigan islands
with an additional 35 miles of shoreline. The park protects and
preserves superlative scenic and recreational resources
including towering perched sand dunes that rise as high as 450
feet above Lake Michigan. The park contains several federally
threatened and endangered species, including the Piping Plover,
Pitcher's Thistle and Michigan Monkeyflower. The park also
includes many historic features, including a lighthouse and
three U.S. life-saving service stations, coastal villages, and
picturesque farmsteads. Permanent wilderness designation will
ensure protection of these significant natural, cultural and
The park receives nearly 1.2 million visitors each year who
enjoy the beaches, over 100 miles of backcountry trails and
eight campgrounds. The region surrounding the park is a popular
vacation and summer home destination as visitors and residents
take advantage of a variety of recreational opportunities,
including hiking, camping, backpacking, hunting, fishing, bird
watching, boating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The
National Park Service estimates that the presence of the
National Lakeshore brings nearly $78 million of economic
benefit to the local community each year.* Designation of the
wilderness area will not limit public access or change the way
the area is currently being managed for public use and
*Stynes, Daniel J. ``National Park Visitor Spending and Payroll
Impacts: 2009.'' National Park Service, 2011.
Native American use of the area extends some 3,000 years
into the past and is represented today primarily by the Grand
Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians. Nothing in S. 140
would modify, alter, or affect any treaty rights.
The park encompasses a total of 71,291 acres; about 58,571
acres of land and 12,720 acres of water. Over 30,000 acres of
the proposed 32,557-acre wilderness area have been managed as
wilderness since 1981, when a wilderness proposal produced
under the park's first comprehensive General Management Plan
(GMP) was published. Since that time, the five areas of the
park proposed as wilderness have provided outstanding
recreational opportunities for hikers, backpackers, anglers,
paddlers, and hunters with hunting being allowed in accordance
with State regulations. A network of hiking trails and numerous
camping opportunities will continue to be maintained in this
portion of the park, even with the wilderness designation. The
additional acres in the current proposal arise from the
inclusion of the Sleeping Bear Plateau, an area only suitable
for foot travel that continues to offer outstanding
opportunities for solitude. Since formal wilderness designation
would not change the way in which visitor use is currently
managed in the area proposed as wilderness, there is no reason
to believe it would have any detrimental impact on visitation
or the local economy, and formal designation may actually have
a beneficial impact.
The proposed wilderness area does not include any existing
county roads or areas managed primarily for historic resources.
This is to ensure the continued availability of the county
roads for visitors accessing remote trailheads, beaches,
backcountry areas and historic areas. Although the park's
boundary extends one-quarter mile out into Lake Michigan, none
of the waters of Lake Michigan are proposed as wilderness. S.
140 would authorize the use of boat motors on the surface water
of Lake Michigan adjacent to the wilderness and beaching of
those boats, subject to applicable laws. This is to ensure
continued access by boaters to the shoreline beach adjacent to
the wilderness area. These have been areas of significant
Between 2006 and 2009, the NPS developed an updated GMP for
the park. Because of public concern over the 1981 wilderness
proposal, and its inclusion of county roads and historic sites,
a formal Wilderness Study was conducted as part of this
comprehensive planning effort. After extensive public
involvement, review, and comment, including overwhelming public
support for wilderness designation, the preferred alternative
in the final GMP/Wilderness Study was approved by the Midwest
Regional Director on January 6, 2009. The area of proposed
wilderness was mapped at 32,557 acres, with a portion in all
five eligible areas, and is the same as the proposed wilderness
designation in S. 140. The final GMP/Wilderness Study does not
propose wilderness in several eligible areas, including those
areas fragmented by the road corridors near the Otter Creek
area of the Lakeshore; the land within the Port Oneida Rural
Historic District; the lands in the historic ``Cottage Row'' on
North Manitou Island; the area in the South Manitou Island
historic farm loop; an area near the historic Bufka Farm
identified for a bicycle trail; and the congested area at the
top of the Dune Climb.
Passage of S. 140 would support the vision in the new GMP.
The bill has very strong, broad-based public support. The
overwhelming majority of local officials, the conservation
community, and the Michigan delegation are united in their
support for this bill as a winning resolution to an issue that
has been debated since the park's establishment in 1970.
Parties that had been bitterly polarized over earlier proposals
have reached consensus that this bill strikes an appropriate
balance between preserving access and guaranteeing outstanding
primitive recreational opportunities.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to comment.
This concludes my prepared remarks and I will be happy to
answer any questions you or other committee members might have.
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no
changes in existing law are made by the bill S. 140 as ordered