EMPIRE, Mich. (AP) - President Barack Obama has signed a bill designating 32,557 acres of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as protected federal wilderness, the final step for a proposal that has been debated locally for more than a decade.
The measure cleared the U.S. House in March and the Senate last June. The White House says Obama signed it Thursday.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes federal park is headquartered at Empire along Lake Michigan in the northern Lower Peninsula. It's famed for towering sand dunes, some of which rise hundreds of feet above the shoreline.
The area is the first land to receive wilderness status from Congress in five years. About 1.4 million people visited the lakeshore in 2011, pumping about $120 million into the local economy.