Our vision is for the unique character of our gateway communities and regional natural resources remain undiminished for the benefit of its citizens, visitors, economy, and environment.
Our mission is to facilitate stakeholder collaboration to enhance sustainable gateway communities.
The Sleeping Bear Gateways Council (or simply the “Gateways Council”) evolved in 2018 from the Citizens Council for the Sleeping Bear Dunes Area. The predecessor Citizens’ Council was formed in the 1970’s in response to the creation of the National Lakeshore. It played an active role in issues involving park boundaries, access, and private property rights. At its 2018 annual meeting, the Citizen’s Council redefined its mission to emphasize long-range planning and collaboration among the park and the nearby communities. The Council’s name was changed to clearly communicate these updated objectives.
The Gateways Council endeavors to engage its component villages and their businesses and citizens to discuss the benefits and challenges presented by our growing National Lakeshore visitor population. These constituent stakeholders can cooperatively interact with the National Lakeshore to preserve the unique character and natural resources of the area. Our intention is to inclusively and transparently encourage and execute planning for the benefit of residents and visitors, the regional economy and the environment. Of great importance in this process is the participation of Gateway Communities which serve as the access points to the National Lakeshore.
The National Lakeshore’s annual visitor headcount is approaching 1,700,000. As it attracts more visitors to the area, Gateway Communities will need to work closely with the Park Service to assure that infrastructure needs – both within the park and around it in the local communities – develop in a way that serves the stakeholders while sustaining the beauty of the area and the quality of the experiences of either living in or visiting this extraordinary place.
The Sleeping Bear Gateways Council has initiated a program to address the needs of our area’s Gateway Communities in an inclusive way. Our small towns and villages may differ by geography and by distance from the National Lakeshore boundaries, but the impact of huge seasonal visitor numbers challenge everyone. Our objective is to identify and engage all concerned stakeholders in a planning process for the future of this region in a cooperative and transparent way. We will facilitate discussion related to the region’s future needs to ensure a positive result for all stakeholders, act as a conduit to best practices and successful strategies of other gateway communities and provide a central clearinghouse for information and data needs.