Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

No animals this year at Chellberg Farm; Lugar brokers meeting between Dillon and farm supporters

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The National Park Service (NPS) has no plans to return animals this year to the Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

And NPS will not return animals to Chellberg at all unless a new Long-Range Interpretive Plan—slated for completion in 2011—recommends their return and the determination is made that funds are available for their upkeep.

That news from Save the Dunes, which on Jan. 11 met with National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon.

Also attending that meeting: representatives of the Chellberg Farm Task Force, the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, the Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League, and the Hoosier Environmental Council.

The meeting was called, according to a statement released on Thursday by Save the Dunes, “to explore a constructive dialogue on the future of Chellberg Farm as a ‘living history’ farm.” It was facilitated by Celina Weatherwax, Northwest Indiana regional director for Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

“I am pleased to facilitate the discussions between the National Park Service and various environmental community leaders in Northwest Indiana,” Lugar said. “The preservation and growth of Chellberg Farm is crucial to educating young Hoosiers on the rich farm history Indiana shares. It is through the efforts of these leaders that progress can be made. I am confident that through these discussions advancements will be made to supplement the efforts of Chellberg Farm.”

As Save the Dunes noted, NPS removed the remaining animals at Chellberg early in 2009, after opting for financial reasons not to hire a new farmer to replace the recently retired one. “The lack of a full-time, trained staff to maintain livestock would have jeopardized the health and welfare of animals as well as the visiting public.”

At the Jan. 11 meeting, “representatives of the various organizations discussed the future of Chellberg Farm and of their constituents’ commitment to its future,” Save the Dunes said. “The Task Force also expressed its concern over the maintenance of the historic farm buildings as well as agricultural artifacts.”

“Discussion at the meeting highlighted the vast array of responsibilities and issues facing the National Lakeshore, including invasive species control, visitor safety, boundary encroachment, pollution management, facilities repair and maintenance, and endangered species protection,” Save the Dunes said. “The NPS acknowledged that the Chellberg Farm is an important part of the National Lakeshore and that operations and maintenance of the farm is on the list of park priorities.”

But whether NPS returns animals to Chellberg is contingent on the recommendations of a new Long-Range Interpretive Plan for the National Lakeshore, Save the Dunes said. “The Chellberg Farm Task Force intends to participate in the entire planning process. The Task Force also voiced its position that the story of farming at Chellberg Farm is best told through a living history with live animals. The park has no plans to return the animals in 2010. The decision to return the animals will only be made if (the new Long-Range Interpretive Plan), to be completed in 2011, recommends this action and the superintendent agrees with the recommendation and believes he has the financial means to do so without harming other aspects of the park.”

“Various ways of operating a living history farm with minimal park funding were discussed” at the meeting, Save the Dunes said. “Some ideas presented were operating the farm with all volunteers, charging an admission fee, selling farm products to raise moneys, or a non-profit organization could be formed to operate the farm. The public was encouraged to present other ideas.”

Public meetings on the new Long-Range Interpretive Plan are expected to begin in March. NPS will keep citizens advised of the process at www.nps.gov/indu

“Each of the representatives acknowledges the national significance of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and promised to continue to help protect, restore, and educate the public about this gem in Northwest Indiana,” Save the Dunes said. “All of the coalition members support Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and are actively working to raise support and interest in the conservation programs currently underway to protect the integrity of the park. During the interpretive planning process, the Chellberg Farm Coalition will continue to support a ‘living history’ farm as the best possible educational tool for future generations to demonstrate the historic significance of farming in Northwest Indiana.”

At the meeting Dillon was presented with petitions, signed by some 6,000 people, advocating the return of livestock to the farm.

 

Posted 1/15/2010

 

 

 

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