As chair of the Friends of the Grand Traverse Islands (FOGTI), it may seem strange for me to be asking you to financially support the Friends of Plum & Pilot Islands (FOPPI) when we have our own financial needs, but that is exactly what I am going to do.
I’m a Door County native with a passion for sea kayaking and a great interest in local history who spends a lot of time thinking about the future of the island chain stretching from northern Door County to Upper Michigan’s Garden Peninsula – especially the area’s crumbling maritime structures. Our group’s approach to protecting those islands – and that history – has been to encourage the creation of a national park, managed by the National Park Service (NPS) in partnership with other agencies. Despite a perennially insufficient budget, the NPS’ primary mission includes not just environmental protection but historic preservation and interpretation – whereas the primary mission of other federal agencies does not. Furthermore, national parks provide other significant benefits, such as greater public access and marketability, which boost local revenues and the economy.
But our efforts require us to persuade Congress to act, which is neither easy nor quick. In the meantime, structures like the US Life-saving Service (USLSS) Station on Plum Island and the Fog Signal Building on Pilot Island are falling apart. They need to be stabilized and fixed up soon, before it’s too late.
That is precisely what the amazing people involved with FOPPI are working to do, and they need our help!
Among the many important and greatly needed restoration projects that FOPPI is working on is the Plum Island dock, part of the old USLSS complex. As soon as this dock is repaired, boaters will be able to access the island without anchoring offshore, allowing more people to hike the trails, see wildlife, and explore all the historic buildings found there.
So I’m asking you to please support their efforts in whatever amount you can. If you’re available, consider joining them for their Sunset Cruise aboard the Island Clipper on Saturday, July 16 too!
Ensuring the future of the islands is up to all of us.
For more information about FOPPI and to sign up for their cruise, visit plumandpilot.org.
For more information about FOGTI and our national park proposal, visit grandtraverseislands.org.
John Bacon, chair, Friends of the Grand Traverse Islands
Sturgeon Bay, Wis.