Park Service to manage surge in Pictured Rocks visitors

The Mining Journal
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Munising, Mich. – The National Park Service is seeking public input on how to manage a dramatic increase in visitors to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

The lakeshore’s superintendent, Dave Horne, said the number of visitors has doubled over the last five years. Nearly 800,000 people visited the lakeshore during its peak seasons in 2017, according to a report from the National Park Service.

Visitors spent roughly $33 million in local gateway regions last year, the report found, but crowding and overuse can risk visitors’ safety and degrade the quality of the local shoreline, trails and roads.

Park Service officials are gathering feedback on a proposed lakeshore’s visitor use management project.

“We’ve been soliciting public input through open houses and trying to develop ideas because we don’t want the beaches and other areas overcrowded,” Horne told the Mining Journal of Marquette .

Greg Scott is the general manager of Uncle Ducky Outdoors/Paddling Michigan, a Munising-area company that provides guided kayak tours and outdoor adventure services. Scott said his company has been working with the federal agency on its management plan.

He suggested adding a designated area for commercial use.

The federal agency’s visitor use management project aims to improve visitor’s experience and preserve the lakeshore’s resources, said Scott Babcock, a National Park Service official.

He said potential changes under consideration are designating areas for commercial and public use, providing changing stations, adding parking, creating a visitor center and establishing a possible bus route.

Babcock said the agency hopes to develop a management plan by next year.

“We’ve been doing surveys, listening to people’s perceptions to find solutions and additional strategies to address the issue,” he said. “We’re collecting comments on our website to help us develop a management plan.”

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