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
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.
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