Dunes Creek as it was and is: The east parking lot at
the Indiana Dunes State Park has been removed as part of the Dunes Creek
restoration project. This view is looking east from the park’s entry road.
(Tribune photo by Margaret L. Willis)
Indiana Dunes State Park officials on Friday celebrated the “uncovering” of
Dunes Creek as restored, after decades of being buried underground.
The Dunes Creek restoration project involved the removal of the parking lot
east of the main State Park lot and the installation of an observation area
that gives the public a view of the creek in a much more natural state.
State Park Assistant Manager Doug Stukey said the creek restoration is about
90 percent completed, with more than 20,000 marrram stem grass plantings
placed in the vicinity. The second phase of the project will consist of a
trail and boardwalk that will be accessible to the disabled, he said.
The creek went underground in the 1930s, Stukey said, when the Civilian
Conservation Corps directed the creek underground in a six foot culvert and
built an encampment above the creek. After the days of the CCC were over and
the CCC left the park, the site turned into what has been known as the state
park’s auxiliary parking lot.
The Dunes State Park was awarded a grant through the Lake Michigan Coastal
Program in order to uncover the section of the creek and return it more to
its original state. Officials used drawings of the area from the 1930s
before the creek went underground as their guide, Stukey said. As the years
go by, the area will become more and more natural looking, he added.
The creek still runs through a culvert under the state park’s main parking
lot before emptying into Lake Michigan.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources hosted an event on Friday that
showcased the Dunes Creek uncovering. Also at the event, a new poster titled
“Ecosystems of the Coastal Region,” created by Barb Labus, was unveiled.