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