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Energized Optimism

Protecting historic farmsteads in incomparable maritime landscape

April 1, 1998 | By Hans Voss
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

When the National Park Service held public meetings on the fate of its historic farmsteads, cabins, and cottages in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore last year, people got nervous. This year, the tone of the discussion is one of energized optimism.

The reason is that the Park Service now is taking measured steps to plan for the preservation of what historians and visitors agree is one of the most impressive collections of maritime and agricultural treasures in the Midwest.

When the question of what to do with the Park's historic buildings — many of which are well over 100 years old — first came up last year the task seemed daunting. The Park Service, with its limited staff and budget, announced that for many of the buildings the threat of demolition was imminent.

That's when concerned citizens organized to come up with a strategy. They joined with the Michigan Land Use Institute to form Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear, a grassroots group specifically designed to build support for the Park's historic preservation effort.

Park officials welcomed the support. Today, after numerous public meetings and increasing statewide recognition, the future looks bright. The planning process will be completed early next year and fundraising, which remains a formidable challenge, is gaining steadily. To find out how you can be part of this exciting project, contact Hans Voss at 231-882-4723.


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