FLSP Board, park staff offer match challenge
In a step to improve accessibility and further enhance a crown jewel of Michigan State Parks, Friends of Ludington State Park is raising funds to purchase and install a universal access kayak launch at the Hamlin Lake beach.
The FLSP board approved a $45,000 fund-raising goal for the project with the launch anticipated to be installed in June 2021.
“One of the top activities that visitors enjoy at the Ludington State Park is kayaking and canoeing. The FLSP is excited to be fundraising for a kayak and canoe launch,” board member Patrick O’Hare stated. “The launch will make it that much easier for people of all abilities to get on the water and enjoy the uniqueness of the Park.”
FLSP, in cooperation with Ludington State Park staff and with assistance from Michigan State Parks, will purchase the EZ Dock launch from Waters Edge Dock and Hoist, Inc. out of Howell, Michigan.
The universal access features mean people of all abilities will be able to safely launch kayaks by accessing the launch via an estimated 30-foot sloped gangway. It features a transfer area where someone in a wheelchair can get out of the chair, onto a platform and then into their craft, which they slide down into the water by using their hands.
One reverses the process to get out.
“You don’t just look at people kayaking, you can participate,” FLSP President Bob Sasin said. “This will be quite an asset for the park and for individuals with physical disabilities or, who like me because of my age, find getting in or out of a kayak difficult.”
“Improving access to recreation for all of our visitors has been very important to us. With the Friends of Ludington State Park, we have found a partner that has helped us realize some of these improvements. The Friends group and their fundraising efforts have helped us provide the accessible beach boardwalk at Lake Michigan and the new playground at Hamlin Lake. Following up with the accessible canoe and kayak launch is really going to open up another form of recreation for all visitors to Ludington State Park.” Ludington State Park Manager Jim Gallie said.
In order to get the fund raising off to a good start, FLSP board members and Ludington State Park staff have issued a challenge.
“We have already raised $10,000 in funds at past Pure Ludington Brrrewfest events. Board members of the Friends of Ludington State Park and park staff will personally donate $5,000 if an additional $15,000 can be raised by December 31, 2020," O ‘Hare said.
FLSP is the designated charity of the Ludington Area Visitors and Convention Bureau’s Pure Ludington Brrrewfests. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 Brrrewfest has been canceled.
Friends of Ludington State Park plans to raise donations and seek grants to cover any remaining costs.
The launch will replace a little used fishing pier near the park’s Hamlin boat launch. According to Ludington State Park Manager Jim Gallie, the pier is in too shallow of water to provide meaningful fishing opportunity and is little used. There is another better situated accessible fishing pier nearby.
The project fits in the park’s goals to create more accessibility, especially in the Hamlin Lake day use area.
In 2018, FLSP spearheaded construction of a highly accessible playground at the Hamlin Lake beach with support from staff, Michigan State Parks, the Community Foundation for Mason County, the Great Lakes Energy People fund and many generous donors.
The universal access kayak launch furthers that effort.
Donations can be made on-line through the FLSP website, https://friendsofludingtonstatepark.org/, or by mail to FLSP launch, PO Box 123, Ludington, MI 49431.
A third opportunity is to donate online through the FLSP donor-advised fund in the Community Foundation, https://mason-foundation.org. Go to the “Give Now” option and select Friends of Ludington State Park from the list of funds.
In all cases, please note the donation is for the launch.
If funds in excess of the goal are raised, they will be used to create a second canoe/kayak trail at the park appropriate for all abilities and/or to improve signage on the existing canoe trail that features portages that are not universally accessible. Support from park users and the community is essential to the success of the project, FLSP Treasurer Craig Rathke noted.
“We feel it will be beneficial to the park, the community and people coming to the area from all over Michigan and beyond,” Sasin said.