2017-06-15 / Outdoors

Park Service to close road to Shell Lake

Starting early next week, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore will be closing a .8-mile section of a National Park Service-owned dirt track near Good Harbor.

The unnamed route previously traveled south from West Lake Michigan Road to Shell Lake.

The decision to close the road came in 2009 as part of the National Lakeshore’s General Management Plan. Under this plan, it was noted that there were several roads in close proximity leading to the same area.

The path is also in a designated Wilderness area and therefore, must be decommissioned and returned to the natural condition, said Tom Ulrich, Deputy Superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

“We realized it didn’t make sense to have two roads that close to each other going to the same place,” Ulrich said. “So this area was proposed to be Wilderness instead.”

The closure of the road was offi- cially approved in 2009 as part of the Nation Lakeshore’s General Management Plan, but funds just recently became available. The National Parks Service has $9,000 budgeted this year for restoration of the disturbed route.

“We can direct more funding to the revegetation next year as needed,” Ulrich said.

Volunteers and park employees will be working to break up the surface of the route in order to allow the ground to loosen and hasten the ability for native vegetation to grow. The road will also be treated so that non-native species are kept out of the area.

Since the road is naturally flat, there will not be much of a need for contouring, which several other roads in the area have required, Ulrich said.

It is hoped that in a year or so, natural vegetation will start to make an appearance along the road. But the path is pretty sandy and will take some work to be plant friendly, he said.

“You’re going to be able to tell that something was there for a while,” Ulrich said. “It’ll be kind of subjective to tell when the road is completely restored.”

Visitor access and parking for Shell Lake will be available through Leelanau County-owned Elliott Road, where the National Lakeshore has developed a few parking spots.

For more information about the National Lakeshore, visit the National Park Service website.

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