Sleeping Bear Dunes wilderness bill advances

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EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) - A bill that would designate 32,000 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as wilderness is moving closer to congressional approval.

The measure won unanimous backing this week from the House Committee on Natural Resources. A floor vote has not been scheduled.

A similar version cleared the Senate last year.

The lakeshore is headquartered in Empire in the northwestern Lower Peninsula in and is in the district of Rep. Dan Benishek, who is sponsoring the bill. He says it would preserve the park’s natural features while protecting county roads, historical structures and access to recreation and enjoyment of the lake.

Hunting and fishing would be permitted in the wilderness areas.

More than 1.4 million people visited Sleeping Bear Dunes in 2011, pumping about $120 million into the local economy.

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