Chesterton Tribune



Work begins on pond and prairie restoration at Sunset Hill Farm

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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 used.

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 Program.”

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.

When 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

Everybody can enjoy this. It has great possibilities,” said Nix

Hudson thanked the groups involved for their commitments and commended Lenckos for his talents in bridging partnerships.

When we build relationships, the pond and prairie restoration and other projects are going to happen,” Hudson said.




Posted 6/9/2014