President signs Benishek’s bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, announced that President Barack Obama, on Thursday, signed his legislation designed to protect access to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore into law.

In a press release Thursday Benishek said “Today is a huge win for Sleeping Bear Dunes, our economy, and for the citizens of Northern Michigan,” Benishek said.

“For the past 12 years, local residents in Leelanau and Benzie counties have worked tirelessly to develop this plan and help get it into place. Today, their work has become reality. With the dunes contributing over $150 million to our local economy and supporting thousands of jobs, this is a great day for Northern Michigan. It has been a privilege to be able to shepherd this bill into law,” said Dr. Benishek, a lifelong resident of Upper Michigan and member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The newly-passed law will 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.

Sleeping Bear Dunes is a major component to Northern Michigan’s economy, contributing $158 million into the area’s economy and supporting 2,800 jobs.