Chesterton Tribune



Elevated structure to replace Trail 2 boardwalk at State Park

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The half-mile boardwalk on Indiana Dunes State Park’s Trail 2‑‑closed to the public for more than two years ago, after high water washed much of it away‑‑is going to be replaced with an elevated structure.

IDSP Property Manager Brandt Baughman told the Chesterton Tribune on Thursday that $400,000 has been appropriated to the Department of Natural Resources for the project.

The new boardwalk will not only be elevated‑‑some two to three feet above the wetland which it traverses‑‑it will also be wider and ADA compliant, Baughman noted.

“We’re really excited and extremely grateful to get that funding,” Baughman said. “Replacing the boardwalk has been our No. 1 priority for years but the cost of it just made it impossible to work within our regular budget avenues.”

The high-water problem which has played havoc with the boardwalk is of relatively recent vintage, Baughman explained. When the boardwalk was originally constructed, in the early 1980s, it was built “directly on the ground” because in those days the ground was “predominantly dry.” Over time, however, the area’s hydrology has changed significantly, such that “the ground is now always wet and we’ve had issues with sections of the boardwalk just floating away. The boardwalk was officially closed two and a half years ago but it was in a state of near impassability for several years before that.”

It’s not just the hydrology that’s changed, though. Beavers have moved into the park and the dams they’ve built in the wetlands to the west of the boardwalk have dramatically impeded the natural east to west flow of water to Dunes Creek, Baughman added.

“The boardwalk has been an issue during my entire tenure at Dunes State Park and I’ve been here 11 and a half years,” Baughman said. “It used to be a periodic issue. Now it’s a static one. Elevating the new boardwalk will allow for the natural flow of water beneath it.”

Baughman did express his gratitude to the Friends of the Indiana Dunes for providing the funding in 2015‑‑$1,600‑‑to pay for a preliminary design of a new boardwalk and cost-scoping estimates. “Without a design or scope, we wouldn’t have even known how much to ask for,” he said. “So we’re really very grateful to the Friends for the assistance they’ve provided.”

Baughman expects work to begin sometime next winter, although he did say that the boardwalk’s remoteness‑‑it’s located well into the woods and about a mile at either end from the nearest parking lot or staging area‑‑will somewhat complicate the build.

When completed, the new boardwalk will re-open the popular Trail 2/Trail 10 loop which begins and ends at Wilson Shelter. “But there’s another good thing,” Baughman said. “It will bring back a critical component of our cross country skiing trail. When we closed the boardwalk, we essentially removed one half of our cross country skiing opportunities.”


Posted 6/16/2017





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