Ball Foundation Supports Emergency Trail Repair Efforts

Ball Foundation Supports Emergency Repair Efforts on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail
Foundation Donates $10,000.00 in Wake of Devastating August 2nd Storm

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the storm
The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the storm

TRAVERSE CITY, MI- On Sunday August 2, a storm ripped through the small town of Glen Arbor and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore that left massive destruction in its path.  As a result, the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail was completely closed down with trees, branches, and storm debris covering the pathway.  In particular, along the section of trail between Glen Arbor and Glen Haven, especially near Glen Arbor, the devastation of the forest was profound. For years to come, visitors will see trail scenery completely transformed by the storm – down trees, and once closed canopies now gaping with holes the size of football fields.

Thanks to the work of volunteers led by the Friends of Sleeping Bear and the strong partnership of the National Park Service, the community was able to quickly bring the Heritage Trail back to life. Over the past three weeks, hundreds of volunteers spent thousands of dollars and hours clearing the trail. After the heavy lifting of opening the trail and making it passable, volunteers found there is still much work to be done – the trail and signage were damaged during the storm and trees and debris continue this fall.

To support these efforts, the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation, based in Muncie, Indiana, and with long-time ties to the region has made a first of its kind grant from the Foundation, providing $10,000 to TART Trails to help support storm related clean-up efforts along the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail. The Foundation, which helped fund the development of the trail, is supporting volunteer efforts to ensure the trail’s safe and scenic recovery.

“This was important to the Foundation. We do not do emergency grants, but the size and scope of this storm was exceptional,” said Chuck Ball, associate executive director of the Edmund F. and Virginia B. Ball Foundation. “TART and its partners are an important part of the beauty and character of Leelanau. Adding extra cleanup support for the Heritage Trail to a recently approved general grant for trail planning stretched our overall grant funding, but it was for a great cause.”

Deputy Superintendent Tom Ulrich said, “The donation of the Ball Foundation to re-open the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the devastating storm epitomizes the way this community has pulled together and supported one another through this difficult time. We are grateful for their contribution toward giving this trail back to the people who love it.”

Kerry Kelly, Chairman of the Board for the Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes offered his praise commenting, “The community response to clearing the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail after the August 2 storm was amazing. The Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes organized volunteers to work with the National Park Service Tree Crew to clear the trail from down trees and to make it safe for our visitors to ride. We had over 100 volunteers working over 700 hours in the past two weeks. This generous donation from the Ball Foundation supports the efforts by our volunteers. It really was a team effort. Together we made rapid progress to get the trail open and safe!”

In total 138 volunteers (85 of them brand-new) worked 1,053 hours over the course of 6 days — running chainsaws, loppers & hand-saws and hauling brush — with no accidents/incidents.  Friends of Sleeping Bear Ambassadors continue to monitor the trail and remove weakened trees that continue to fall.

The Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail is a project of the Leelanau Scenic Heritage Route Committee (LSHR). Trail development is a partnership between the LSHR Committee, the Michigan Department of Transportation, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes, and TART Trails. Funding for trail development comes from federal and state grants, foundations, and individual donations.

Traverse Area Recreation and Transportation (TART) Trails, Inc. is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization working to enrich the region by providing a network of trails, bikeways and pedestrian ways; and encouraging their use. For more information about TART Trails, please visit

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a unit of the National Park Service established in 1970. The Lakeshore preserves the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the area so that all may experience and appreciate it. Significant resources of the Lakeshore include forests, beaches, dunes, and glacial landforms, as well as maritime, agricultural, and recreational historic features.

Find Your Park The National Park Service is beginning to plan its upcoming 2016 Centennial Celebration. The goal of the Centennial is to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. To do that, the NPS is inviting everyone to “Find Your Park”! Find Your Park is a way for all of us to share the way we enjoy our parks on social media. If you are out having fun on the Sleeping Bear Heritage Trail, you can share your photos or videos using #findyourpark, or by posting on