Conservation Trust (PCT)--the freshly minted not-for-profit which on April 8
took ownership of the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary--has added a new
holding to its portfolio: 10 acres in the Coffee Creek watershed.
On Wednesday, the
PCT announced that Holladay Properties, which is associated with the
development of the Ameriplex in Portage and other projects in the region,
officially gifted that acreage to the trust on April 20.
The parcel is
located in the Town of Chesterton, south of Indian Boundary Road, north of
the Norfolk-Southern right-of-way, immediately east of the River Ave.,
Lindall Street, and East Michigan Ave. dead-ends, PCT Board Member Dick
Maxey told the Chesterton Tribune.
PCT’s holdings now
total nearly 60 acres: the 39 acres of the Westchester Migratory Bird
Sanctuary, west of South 11th Street and directly opposite Westchester
Intermediate School’s rear entrance; the 10 acres of the Emma Redding
Wildlife Preserve on South Babcock Road; and these 10 acres, which PCT is
calling the Coffee Creek Corridor.
Larry Mudd, a
Chesterton resident and a Holladay Properties principal, originally
approached the Porter County Parks Foundation (PCPF) early in 2016, to see
whether that organization would be interested, as a 501(c)(3), in acquiring
the property, Maxey said. The PCPF mulled the proposal, only to decline the
gift, and there the matter stood until April 8, when the PCT was formally
spun off as a separate not-for-profit to take ownership of the Sanctuary and
assume responsibility for developing it.
Twelve days later,
Holladay Properties--still interested in donating the 10 acres to a
501(c)(3)--duly transferred ownership of the Coffee Creek Corridor to the
At present, Maxey
noted, there’s no easy way to access the property, but it will be open to
the public as fish and wildlife habitat, once it’s been “cleaned up a little
and made more accessible.” Among other possible passive uses for the Coffee
Creek Corridor, he added: as a nature trail; as a U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers certified wetland mitigation site; and--with its direct access to
the Little Calumet River--as a paddling site.
For PCT Board
Member Tim Cole, on the other hand, the 10 acres of the Coffee Creek
Corridor could be just the beginning: the first piece of a jigsaw puzzle
which, when completed, could provide an “unbroken water and walking trail”
along Coffee Creek from East Morgan Ave. to Indian Boundary Road. Still
needed: three additional parcels to make the puzzle complete.
Yet Cole is
thinking even bigger than that: just look at a map and follow Coffee Creek
as it flows from the east and south. “With some investment and volunteer
work, Chesterton and all the public could have their own riverwalk--and with
the generosity of some private owners--a full trail could be established
from the Toll Road to Indian Boundary Road,” Cole said.
The vision is
altogether feasible, inasmuch as much of the land adjacent to Coffee Creek
is “already owned and managed by environmental groups,” Cole noted, while
the owners of private property bordering Coffee Creek “could be approachable
with the action of an acceptable conservation easement.”
imagination this could be extended further north and along the Little
Calumet River as far as U.S. Highway 20 and be beneficial to both towns,
Porter and Chesterton,” Cole added.
All donations made
on behalf of the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the Emma Redding
Wildlife Preserve, or the Coffee Creek Corridor should now be made to
PorterCo Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 797, Chesterton, IN 46304.