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Environment & Climate Change

Sleeping Bear Dunes could gain special protection

EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) - Nearly half of Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore would be preserved as wilderness under legislation awaiting a possible vote in the U.S. House in the last days of the 112th Congress.

The wilderness tag would be given to more than 32,000 undeveloped acres in the scenic lakeshore in northwestern lower Michigan. It's the highest level of conservation protection for federal lands.

Developed roads, boat launches and historical structures wouldn't receive the wilderness designation - so people could still hunt, fish, hike and camp there.

A bill sponsored by Michigan Sen. Carl Levin won approval Sunday. The House could consider a similar bill early this week.

Levin says the Senate vote came after 13 years of work to update the 71,000-acre lakeshore's management plan. The park is headquartered in Empire.

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