Park Service looks at extending South Manitou Island dock
The National Park Service is considering extending its dock on South Manitou Island to reduce maintenance costs.
A revised South Manitou Island Boat Dock Extension Environmental Assessment has been released and is available for public review and comment.
First released in 2011, the Environmental Assessment describes and analyzes alternative approaches for providing boat dock access to South Manitou Island. While the new document does not analyze new impact topics or additional alternatives in depth, it does clarify some information found in the original document and describes alternatives considered but dismissed early in the planning process.
Lee Jameson, facility manager for the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, said the first assessment received little response, but the new one provides more information. The National Park Service must provide for public comment before plans can be carried out.
“It’s the public’s National Lakeshore and they have an interest and a stake in what happens there,” Jameson said. “We’re just letting them know what our plans are.”
The South Manitou Island boat dock lies in shallow water and requires annual dredging to remove sediment. Eventually, the buildup of sediment forms a sandbar beneath the dock that extends out into open water and blocks access.
Located on the southeast shore of South Manitou Island bay, the dock is the only reliable access point to the island for public visitors and National Park Service staff. From the dock, visitors walk to the lighthouse, a U.S. Life- Saving Service, a ranger station and several historically preserved 19th century farm buildings. Several trails begin from the dock landing and allow visitors a scenic hike to dunes overlooking the island’s western shore, a natural inland lake, Florence Lake, three campgrounds, and several other natural features.
Under the “no action” alternative, the proposed dock extension would not be constructed and the existing dock facility would continue to operate. There would be a continued need for ongoing dredging to support ferry operations. Dredging would be conducted as needed, moving sediment from the dock area to a nearby place along the shoreline.
Dredging costs about $35,000 to remove about 3,000 cubic yards of sand, and up to $200,000 for bigger dredgings that are required in some years, Jameson said.
Under the preferred alternative, the existing dock would be extended farther into Lake Michigan. The extension would allow boat access in deeper waters and would minimize or eliminate the need for future maintenance dredging. The structure would be built of wood and steel connectors, with wood pilings driven into the lake bottom to form the basis of the structure, similar to the existing dock.
A new dock would cost about $200,000 and would take about three to four weeks to build. Work is slated to begin in September.
“This allows us to continue to provide access to the park,” Jameson said.
People can make comments on the assessment until the public comment period closes July 16. The document can be reviewed online at www.nps. gov/slbe by clicking on the “South Manitou Island Boat Dock Extension EA” icon. Paper copies are available for review at the Visitor Center in Empire, and at the Glen Lake, Leelanau Township, Leland Township, and Suttons Bay-Bingham libraries.
Comments can be submitted electronically via a link on the National Lakeshore’s website. Comments can also be mailed to: Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630.
For more information, please contact facility manager Lee Jameson at 326- 5134, ext. 500, or visit the National Lakeshore website at www.nps.gov/ slbe/.