Chesterton Tribune



Save the Dunes acquires 100 acres acreage to donate to Dunes Lakeshore

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One of the last remaining missing pieces of the jigsaw puzzle which is Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has been acquired by Save the Dunes, the organization has announced.

The piece totals nearly 100 acres, is located in Hobart, and includes 35 landlocked acres which lie inside the National Lakeshore’s Hobart Prairie Grove Unit but, for one reason or another, have eluded the National Park Service’s ability to acquire, Save the Dunes said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“The property is considered the last remaining acreage of significant size with high natural resource value left inside the park boundary,” the statement said. “The picturesque property includes a portion of Deep River and Lake George, including a dramatic overlook over the lake that future visitors will enjoy. Approximately 20 acres are upland and the remainder is lake, floodplain, wetlands, and beautiful undulating forested ravines. The property is excellent habitat for waterfowl and migratory birds such as Great Blue Heron and will be a significant draw for passive recreation such as hiking and birding.”

“Save the Dunes is thrilled to secure this property at long last,” said its parks program coordinator, Cathy Martin. “Our organization remains committed to securing the last pieces inside the boundary of our National Lakeshore and strategically expanding and buffering the park to protect biodiversity hotspots.”

Martin emphasized that Save the Dunes will only work with willing landowners for such expansions.

“The acquisition comes at an opportune moment because an exciting effort is underway with the City of Hobart, residents, conservation organizations, and natural resource management agencies to collaborate to implement the Hobart Marsh Plan,” the statement said. “Together they plan to set priorities for conservation, collaborate for more effective land management, and unified branding and wayfinding.”

“We hope this acquisition will help catalyze that effort,” Save the Dunes Executive Director Nicole Barker said.

Save the Dunes plans to apply for grant funding to undertake ecological restoration, add site amenities, and then donate the property to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The National Park Service, for its part, plans to expand the National Lakeshore’s boundary to encompass this land in coming months.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was authorized by Congress in 1966 and expanded through four successive bills in following years but it never received funding to acquire all of the land within its authorized boundary. For that reason, the National Park Service (NPS) owns only 90 percent or so of the land within the park’s boundaries. “NPS has been working to secure the parcel for over a decade, but due to staff limitations and timing complications, saw no success,” the statement said. “Thanks to the stalwart efforts of Save the Dunes, the land is finally acquired and will be donated to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the future.”

“Most people aren’t aware that the National Park Service has not been able to secure the last 10 percent of the lands within its 15,000-acre boundary,” Barker noted. “We still have roughly 10 percent of the property left to acquire, and Save the Dunes is working hard to get the best of what’s left.”


Posted 12/17/2015




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