Chesterton Tribune



Dunes National Lakeshore expands; 32 acres bought with NIPSCO funds

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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is about to grow by 32 acres.

The land in question, adjacent to the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, has been purchased on behalf of the National Park Service (NPS) by the National Park Trust (NPT), with funds made available for that purpose by the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO).

At a dedication ceremony on Thursday, NPT Executive Director Grace Lee announced that the land--recorded as a “permanent conservation covenant”--will be transferred to NPS “very soon this summer.”

“It’s fun thinking about saving land forever,” National Lakeshore Superintendent Paul Labovitz said. “That’s a long time.”

The land is a combination of high-quality wetlands, upland forest, and former agricultural fields, and Labovitz indicated that, pending an environmental assessment, NPS hopes to develop a hiking trail through it so travelers after a long car trip “can stretch their legs a little.”

Also planned for the land, Labovitz said: a Nature Play Zone, along the lines of the one at the Douglas Center in Miller, where kids can “pile rocks, climb trees, and build forts.”

Funding for the land acquisition was provided to NPT by NIPSCO, as part of a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, NIPSCO spokesman Nick Meyer told the Chesterton Tribune. “Company funds, not customer dollars,” were used, he said.

NPT purchased the acreage itself from the Lake Erie Land Company--like NIPSCO, a subsidiary of NiSource Inc.--which at one time was developing the property as the Munson Place commercial park. Its first and now only tenant: the Visitor Center.

Meyer added that the selection of the land to be acquired was based on stakeholders’ recommendations. “We asked stakeholders to prioritize,” he said.

Following the dedication, the members of a fourth-grade class from the Discovery Charter School attending the ceremony were presented with their Every Kid in a Park family pass, which entitles them--along with their parents and siblings--to free entry to any national park or other NPS property in the country through Aug. 31.


Posted 5/27/2016





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