Chesterton Tribune



Steve Sass honored with Paul H. Douglas Award

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Save the Dunes has announced that Steve Sass is the recipient of this year’s Paul H. Douglas Award, the organization’s highest honor.

The Douglas Award is named for Illinois Senator Paul Douglas who worked to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore despite bitter opposition from the steel industry, the Indiana businesses and elected officials.

The organization bestows this honor on individuals who it says demonstrate outstanding service to the cause of preserving and protecting the Indiana Dunes.

Steve Sass is a lifelong resident of northern Indiana, growing up in Michigan City overlooking the lake.

He has been an advocate for the area’s ecosystem since writing Congressman Pete Visclosky in the late 1980’s in support of the Save the Dunes Council successful campaign to save Crescent Dune from commercialization by NIPSCO and Michigan City politicians.

He helped lead the fight to save Elbel Park/Mud Lake, and worked for the permanent protection of Lydick Bog, one of Indiana’s newest nature preserves and one of the last remaining bogs in Northern Indiana.

His work with these properties has developed into a greater initiative to protect more habitat in the area and he is now one of the organizers of partnerships with government agencies and landowners to identify and create several conservation corridors in the western half of St. Joseph County.

Sass was also a co-founder of the North Chapter of INPAWS in 2012 and served as its president until 2017. He currently serves on the board of directors of the South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society, an Advisory Council member for Shirley Heinze Land Trust, is a Green Ribbon Commissioner for the City of South Bend, and serves on the City of South Bend Venues, Parks and Art’s Ecological Advisory Committee. Sass also enjoys participating in numerous citizen science projects, and in 2016 he co-founded the popular IN Nature social network group.

Sass speaks regularly to various gardening groups and land managers about the importance of native plants, to bird-watchers about the insects in their backyard, and inspires elementary students about how to save the world.

“Senator Paul Douglas was such a hero to me that it’s an honor to be mentioned in the same sentence as he, let alone receive an award with his name on it,” Sass said.

“We are so grateful for individuals like Steve who have such passion and dedication for protecting our natural areas,” said Natalie Johnson, Save the Dunes Executive Director. “He is a great example of what it means to be a champion for our Indiana dunes.”

For more information about the annual Douglas Award, go to



Posted 12/13/2017




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