Chesterton Tribune



Dale Engquist, former chief of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, dies

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Dale Engquist, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s former--and longest serving--superintendent, is being remembered today as a champion of preservation and conservation in the Dunes, as a consummate resource manager, and an innovative environmental educator.

Engquist, a resident of Michigan City, died on Sunday.

Engquist began his career with the National Park Service in 1964, as a seasonal at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota. His first full-time posting was as park naturalist at National Capital Parks in Washington, D.C., followed by tours at Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, Everglades National Park and then Biscayne National Monument in Florida, and the Sandy Hook Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey.

Engquist came to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 1978 as assistant superintendent under James Whitehouse, whom he succeeded on Whitehouse’s retirement in 1983. Engquist served as superintendent for nearly 24 years, until his own retirement early in 2007. Under Engquist’s leadership, the National Lakeshore grew in size by 15 percent and became a destination for 2 million visitors every year.

Engquist was by education and avocation a naturalist--his bachelor’s and master’s degrees were in biology and zoology--and he was following that passion when he oversaw the development of the Camp Goodfellow program for the region’s youth, to teach children the natural history of the Indiana Dunes.

But Engquist was also an able administrator, under whose guidance the National Park Service partnered with Porter County government to build and jointly operate the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, which celebrated its ten anniversary last year.

And Engquist developed a “sister park” agreement with Kampinos National Park in Poland, under which staffers from both parks would regularly meet and exchange ideas and information about resource management and education.

Kristopher Krouse, executive director the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, had this to say about Engquist in an e-mail to Shirley Heinze staffers, Advisory Council members, and partners, on learning of Engquist’s passing on Sunday: “We lost a titan today, but the causes important to that titan will live on if each of us serves the environmental community with the leadership, trustworthiness, professionalism, and one-of-a-kind leadership style that characterized his work. The next time you see a kid enjoying the outdoors, drive by the shoreline of Lake Michigan, take a hike in the woods, visit Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore or the Dunes Learning Center, read about Save the Dunes advocating for environmental protection, or Shirley Heinze Land Trust acquiring and restoring another piece of land, think of Dale. He played an important part in preserving what is here for all of us today and what will be here for the generations to come.”

“Dale spent a great portion of his life dedicated to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and I’m reminded how that dedication is returned each time I see a visitor enjoying their National Park, a place that exists because of people like Dale,” National Lakeshore Superintendent Paul Labovitz told the Chesterton Tribune on Monday. “I will miss his friendship and guidance.”

Engquist was much honored over his long career at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Among those honors: the Richard G. Lugar Award for Outstanding Federal Employee (1987); the Sagamore of the Wabash (1992); the U.S. Department of Interior’s Superintendent of the Year & Resource Stewardship Award (1991); and Interior’s Meritorious Service Award (1995).

In 2006 Engquist was presented with the Excellence in Conservation Award by Chicago Wilderness, for his contributions to land preservation and collaborative conservation in Chicagoland.

In 2008 he was the recipient of Interior’s Distinguished Service Award, specifically for his work with the Chicago Wilderness to increase awareness within the region of the National Lakeshore’s great--and delicate--biological diversity, for his work too in developing a network of partnerships to combat invasive plant species in the Dunes.

Engquist called Michigan City his home, where he was active in the Boys & Girls Club. He is survived by his wife, Jo Ann.


Posted 6/6/2017





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