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Huizenga Testifies In Support Of New Management Plan For Sleeping Bear Dunes

Yesterday, Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation in support of a new General Management Plan for the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore that promotes open access, preserves historic landmarks and maintains hunting and fishing rights:

 (Click the picture above to view Congressman Huizenga's testimony)

Below are Congressman Huizenga's remarks as prepared:

My statement today is in support of legislation introduced by Reps. Dan Benishek, Dave Camp, Mike Rogers, Fred Upton, Tim Walberg, and myself that will implement a new General Management Plan for the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. The legislation, which would designate approximately 32,000 acres as wilderness, sets reasonable boundaries while preserving historic landmarks, protecting private property, and maintaining hunting and fishing rights exercised for generations.

H.R. 163 enjoys broad public support in Michigan, and bipartisan, bicameral sponsorship in Congress. A companion measure, introduced by Senators Levin and Stabenow, passed the Senate by Unanimous Consent on June 19th.

More importantly, H.R. 163 protects an immensely popular component of the National Park System. In fact, in 2011, The Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore garnered national attention when it was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America” by ABC’s Good Morning America. The latest National Park Service report shows that in 2011, 1.3 million visitors came to Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore and spent almost $133 million in the Park's surrounding communities, supporting an estimated 2,347 jobs. Anyone who has a rural area knows those are much needed and hardworking jobs that are extremely important to the local economy.

The road to introduction for this legislation was not easy. In 2002, the National Park Service ignored public input and developed a management plan that would have brought the park back to a pre-Columbian era, tearing up all roads to the beaches, destroying many historic landmarks and making much of the park virtually inaccessible to the public. Almost the exact opposite of what the goal is here. This quickly resulted in a public outcry from Northern Michigan.

An important responsibility of Congress is to hold the Executive Branch accountable for their actions, particularly when they do not consult with the public or Congress. Congress should also recognize and act on those policies and recommendations when the public is fully engaged and supportive. H.R. 163 is an example of how this process can, and should, work. Local citizens and stakeholders have invested significant time and effort, working with us and the National Park Service, to develop the appropriate policies for the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.

Again, I would like to thank the Committee for recognizing the high level of local involvement by scheduling H.R. 163 for action, and it is my hope that the full Committee will soon send this bill before the full House for consideration and passage.
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