By JEFF SCHULTZ
Out with the new and in
with the old.
About 40 acres of prairie
and pond will be restored to its original environment at Sunset Hill Farm
County Park in Liberty Twp. as crews have begun work.
The restoration will be
funded through a combination of grants from the Lake Michigan Coastal
Program of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Enbridge Inc. and
ArcelorMittal for an approximate total of $58,000.
No local tax money is being
The largess from Enbridge
and ArcelorMittal combined acted as the local match for the LMCP grant,
Parks Planner Ray Joseph said.
A groundbreaking ceremony
took place Thursday morning at the park.
Longtime County Park Board
member and president Richard Hudson said the acquisition Sunset Hill Farm
helped form the Porter County Parks System 30 years ago and has remained its
“jewel” with “over 235 beautiful acres of land.”
He said the restoration
will be part of the parks’ commitment to preservation and education. “We are
going to be going back to our roots,” Hudson said.
It will also improve water
quality for neighboring residents in the Damon Run Watershed, he added.
Parks Superintendent Walter
Lenckos said the grasses around the pond will be mowed over the next few
days. Burning will the underbrush will follow and the invasive species will
be extricated through the summer.
Joseph said new seeds of
native species will be planted near the fall season. Parks maintenance crews
will keep the area preserved in the future years, he said.
The work will be performed
by Earth Source & Heartland Restoration Services of Fort Wayne.
Enbridge spokesperson Jason
Mansion said his company has over the past six years has participated in
environmental programs to improve the quality of life of communities that
have allowed them to build its pipeline, such as its “Tree for a Tree
The prairie and pond
restoration was one such project where Enbridge felt it could help out,
Mansion said once it was brought to them by the parks department.
this opportunity presented itself to us, we were thrilled,” Mansion said. “I
think this is going to benefit future generations to come.”
Soil and Water
Conservation Engineering Technician Harvey Nix and DNR Regional Ecologist
Derek Nimetz shared their excitement of how the restoration will benefit the
citizens who use the parks and to the wildlife that live around the pond
such as species of turtles and butterflies
can enjoy this. It has great possibilities,” said Nix
Hudson thanked the groups
involved for their commitments and commended Lenckos for his talents in
we build relationships, the pond and prairie restoration and other projects
are going to happen,” Hudson said.