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.
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
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.
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.
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.”
information about the annual Douglas Award, go to