2018-06-07 / Life in Leelanau

ACCESS FOR ALL

Volunteers improve Lakeshore accessibility
By Kelsey Pease
Enterprise intern


SLEEPING BEAR Dunes park volunteers Brad Eshabugh (left) and Kerry Kelly (right) demonstrate the beach wheel chair, one of many efforts aimed at making the Lakeshore more accessible for disabled visitors. SLEEPING BEAR Dunes park volunteers Brad Eshabugh (left) and Kerry Kelly (right) demonstrate the beach wheel chair, one of many efforts aimed at making the Lakeshore more accessible for disabled visitors. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore officials are doing their best to make their park more accessible.

Last Wednesday, May 30, volunteers gathered at the Glen Haven Cannery Beach to reinstall one such improvement, a beach deck leading to the Lake Michigan shoreline bordering the historic village.

Park service volunteer Kerry Kelly was responsible for coordinating the re-installation efforts.

Kelly said the beach deck was first installed last summer.

“We pulled a portion of it out before winter, for fear of ice build-up damaging it,” Kelly said.

The estimated cost of the new deck was between $14,000 and $15,000. It was purchased by the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, a nonprofit organization chaired by Kelly.

“We’ve got a lot going on right now in terms of making the park more accessible,” Kelly said.

The National Park Service has hired an expert to assess the accessibility of trails and beach heads in the Sleeping Bear Dunes, which prompted improvements such as the beach deck project.

Kelly said volunteers are expecting approval later this summer to install another beach deck at the Maritime Museum, located just north of Glen Haven. Additional improvements to the park include a new fishing pier and trail at Bass Lake in Benzie County and a kayak launch and additional camping grounds at the Platte River.

As of right now, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is the only trail in the park that is entirely handicap accessible, designed for walkers, runners, skiers, cyclists, people in wheelchairs, and babies in strollers. Most of the trail is asphalt, but a 3-mile section that goes through the Port Oneida Rural Historic District north of Glen Arbor is crushed stone.

“Unfortunately, some of the most frequented trails are those that are most difficult to make accessible,” Kelly said.

“I think it’s great that they’re making improvements so everyone can share in the wonders of the outdoors, regardless of their physical abilities,” volunteer Brad Eshabugh said before he and 10 others began placing board walk deck sections, grading sand, and assembling benches at the Glen Haven beach.

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