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Areas of Door County could become part of a national park

(WBAY)
Published: Oct. 30, 2018 at 10:18 PM CDT
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Parts of Door County may be designated as a national park in the future. The proposal for The Grand Traverse Islands National Park includes 17 islands, extending from Wisconsin's Door County to Upper Michigan's Garden Peninsula.

The Friends of the Grand Traverse Islands group says the proposed area offers everything a national park would.

"Sea kayaking, hiking, birding, anything you could do at any of the national parks, it's all right here. It's an incredible opportunity," said John Bacon, chairman of the Friends of Grand Traverse Islands.

"What makes this a great proposal is that there's not only incredible recreational opportunities, there's historic resources that you can recreate to, as well as just being part of a natural environment," said David Hayes, Director of Legislative Affairs for the Friends of Grand Traverse Islands.

The Grand Traverse Islands would house Native American archaeological sites, more than 40 shipwrecks and five 19th century lighthouses.

"The islands that are included would be Plum Island, Pilot Island, Rock Island, St. Martin Island, Poverty Island, a small section of Washington Island, and parts of the mainland in Door County including Newport State Park, the Mink River Estuary and Door Bluff Headlands County Park,” Bacon says.

Bacon says designating the proposed areas as a national park would give the islands recognition, add an extra layer of protection to historical sites and boost the economy.

"If we look at the Apostle Islands, which is the closest comparable national park to what one here would become, we're talking $30- something million of economic spending in gateway communities each and every year, and 450 local jobs supported,” said Bacon.

The proposal says hunting, commercial fishing, logging and mining would not be affected by the designation. Before the islands could have a national park designation, a study must first be approved and conducted by the National Park Service.

The public lands proposed for the national park designation has a total acreage of 7,047. Hayes says it's crucial that the study moves on because various historical structures on the islands are quickly deteriorating.

"The integrity on some of the cultural resources is very close to removing its significance, so we need to get the National Park Service involved, get the designation approved and then we can start talking about the preservation and stability of some of the resources," said Hayes.

For more information on the Grand Traverse Islands National Park proposal