Chesterton Tribune



Feds oppose making National Lakeshore a National Park

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The U.S. Department of the Interior does not support re-designating Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a “National Park” because doing so “would be inconsistent with the National Park Service’s naming conventions for different types of park units.”

So the acting director of the National Park Service, P. Daniel Smith, testified on Wednesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks.

That, despite the U.S. House’s unanimous approval in November 2017 of a bill, H.R. 1488, authored by U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, which would re-designate Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a “National Park.” The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks is currently considering a companion bill, S.B. 599, authored by U.S. Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Todd Young, R-Ind.

In written testimony provided the subcommittee on Wednesday, Smith specifically stated that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is neither large enough nor diverse enough to be considered a national park. “The National Park Service encourages Congress to follow a standard pattern of nomenclature for units of the National Park System,” he said. “Our preference is that the designation of ‘national park’ be reserved for units that contain a variety of resources and encompass large land or water areas to help provide adequate protection of the resources, and that in general similar types of units have consistent designations.”

Smith noted that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore “has more in common with the other Great Lakes national lakeshores--Apostle Islands, Pictured Rocks, and Sleeping Bear Dunes--and with the National Park system’s many other national seashores and national recreation areas, than with most national parks.”

Smith helpfully added that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is also the “smallest” of the national lakeshores “and the only one of the four that does not include any designated wilderness.”

“Although we understand the desire of the bills’ sponsors and proponents to bring greater recognition of the significant resources and opportunities for recreation at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the National Park Service believes that the current designation is appropriate for the unit and in keeping with our efforts to provide consistency in the naming of the park units,” Smith summarized Interior’s position.

Smith did state that Interior has no objection to re-designating the 1.6-mile Miller Woods Trail at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore the “Paul H. Douglas Trail”--as provided by H.R. 1488--in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Paul Douglas of Illinois, whose work in Congress was vital to the creation of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1966.

In a statement released this morning to the Chesterton Tribune, Donnelly expressed hope that S.B. 599 will yet make it to the Senate floor for a vote. “I remain hopeful that this legislation, which passed the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote, will be taken up by the Senate,” he said. “The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a cherished resource in our state, and I believe it deserves the recognition of National Park status.”

Proponents of the re-designation contend that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore “deserves top recognition as a National Park because of its unparalled biodiversity and cultural heritage,” as Natalie Johnson, executive director of Save the Dunes, has put it. “By retitling the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to the Indiana Dunes National Park, we hope to see increased awareness and appreciation of this beautiful landscape.”

Others, in the hospitality industry, maintain that a redesignation would increase tourist traffic to the Dunes. “People love to visit our national parks and many travelers include visiting all of the national parks on their bucket lists,” Lorelei Weimer, executive director of the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission, has said. “Many potential new visitors will add the Indiana Dunes National Park to their travel to-do list because they will now know we are one of the national parks.”



Posted 8/16/2018




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