The Coalition to Protect Cowles Bog is asking a federal judge to suspend all
tree-cutting at Cowles Bog, in a motion which alleges that the National Park
Service (NPS) violated a temporary accord reached earlier this year by
contracting with NIPSCO to remove trees from park land.
The Coalition filed its motion Friday.
At issue is the so-called “stipulation area,” the easternmost strip of the
project area, immediately west of Mineral Springs Road, where NPS agreed in
January to forbear from cutting any trees without providing the Coalition
and the court 14 days’ notice. In exchange for NPS’ agreement to that
stipulation, the Coalition withdrew its petition for a preliminary
In it most recent filing, however, the Coalition maintains that NPS has
contracted with NIPSCO to “remove trees and sub-canopy” from one and a half
acres of park lands, property which the Coalition says is part of the
According to the terms of contract between NPS and NIPSCO, NIPSCO was
granted permission to perform “normal and customary maintenance,” but the
Coalition is arguing that in fact that maintenance “is a back-door maneuver
on the part of (NPS) to cut additional trees.”
The Coalition also says that NPS admitted cutting two hazard trees in the
stipulated area, although the Coalition, when finally allowed to see the
places from which the two trees were removed, contends that the trees
neither were dead nor posed a hazard.
In any case, the Coalition “suspect(s) that additional trees may have been
cut in the stipulation area but (has) been denied permission to measure the
stipulation area to confirm.”
Work on what NPS has termed the “restoration” of 15 acres of Cowles Bog
began soon after NPS issued a “Finding of No Significant Impact” on Nov. 13,
2012. NPS has said that it intends to restore the bog to the condition in
which it appeared to groundbreaking Henry Cowles when he studied the site
early in the 20th century. That work includes the removal of tree cover and
understory vegetation, to which numerous Dunes Acres residents objected
during the public-comment period.
On Dec. 11, the Coalition filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the
Northern District of Indiana seeking a temporary restraining order and a
On Dec. 12, a U.S. District judge denied the motion on procedural grounds.
The Coalition amended the complaint in a filing on Dec. 28. That filing
seeks a declaration that NPS’ actions are “in excess of statutory authority,
arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise not in
accordance with law.”
Among other things, the Coalition alleges that NPS, in violation of the
National Environmental Policy Act, suppressed research, “thus depriving the
public and decision makers of critical information”; utilized “inaccurate
and misleading information within their (Environmental Assessment) which
makes that document and relating findings and decisions invalid”; and
suppressed public comments which “conflicted” with their plan.”
NPS denies those allegations.