Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear Non-Profit Helps Restore National Lakeshore Sites

The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore draws in thousands of visitors every year.

And a non-profit group that helps preserve the park’s historic landscapes and buildings needs more volunteers.

Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear is a group of volunteers that helps keep up more than 350 historic sites in Northern Michigan’s most famous national park.

And they’re looking for more help.

“Condos, if it was all developed… We would lose everything that this place used to be,” said National Park Service Intern Adam Bergin.

The natural beauty is one draw of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, but the history is another.

That’s why Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear works with the National Park Service to keep things as they used to be.

“About 100 years ago, 30%, roughly 38% of the population lived and worked on farms,” Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear Volunteer Jean Jenkins. “Today it’s 2% at best.”

The park service is teaching preserve volunteers to fix up old farmsteads, barns and houses that give the area its character.

“We had a major hail storm about a week and a half ago. We replaced over 20 windows in 20 different structures just from hail damage,” NPS Carpenter Bill Love said.

It’s important for both tourists and locals.

“I just feel this is my backyard. To see any of these structures go would be a real shame.”

It’s an opportunity to preserve the past for the future –a rewarding exercise in preservation that gives back to the people passionate about the work.

“There’s nothing like being able to see something physical and know that you were able to preserve a story and someone’s life,” Bergin said.

The next stone preservation workshop is Friday, July 22nd from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you’re interested in helping out with projects, call Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear at 231-334-6103 for more information. 

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