Chesterton Tribune



Save the Dunes, NPS, NICTD, NIPSCO partnering to save rare plant species

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Save the Dunes, the National Park Service (NPS), the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD), and the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) are partnering to save sensitive habitat in the Great Marsh along both NICTD’s and NIPSCO’s right-of-way corridors.

According to a statement released by Save the Dunes, as part of its Double Track Northwest Indiana Project, NICTD plans to expand the existing single track between Gary and Michigan City to a double track system that will allow for more efficient and frequent travel between Northwest Indiana and Chicago.

Along the same corridor, NIPSCO is performing maintenance and improvements to existing gas and electric facilities.

In preparation for these infrastructure upgrade projects--on property adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Park and Indiana Dunes State Park--NICTD, NIPSCO, NPS, and Save the Dunes are partnering to plan a project intended to protect plant species potentially impacted by construction activities as well as to support the NPS’ ongoing efforts to restore the Great Marsh.

This work is part of NICTD’s mitigation commitments for the Double Track Project under the National Environmental Policy Act. NIPSCO is also working with conservation partners to enhance the quality of the wetlands and wildlife habitat on the adjacent Calumet Trail rights-of-way.

“We have worked hard to minimize impacts to environmental resources along this corridor,” said Nicole Barker, Double Track Project manager for NICTD. “We are so proud to work with the National Park Service, nonprofits like Save the Dunes and NPCA, and NIPSCO to offset impacts in such a special area of the National Park. It’s partnerships like these--government, private sector and nonprofits working together--that are what our region is all about.”

Guided by the recently completed Environmental Assessment for NICTD’s Double Track project, several state rare plant species were chosen for rescue; seeds were collected, grown in greenhouses, and will be planted in restoration areas within the Indiana Dunes National Park’s Great Marsh sites to enhance plant diversity.

“The Great Marsh is the largest interdunal wetland on the Lake Michigan shoreline, supporting waterfowl and diverse plant communities,” said Cathy Martin, program manager for Save the Dunes. “The National Park Service has been working to restore hydrology, native plant species, and wildlife habitat of the Great Marsh following impacts of ditching, development, and agricultural activities of the last century. We’re glad to see the South Shore Line’s mitigation efforts aligning with restoration priorities of the Indiana Dunes National Park.”



Posted 5/20/2019




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