People all over the country care about Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: more than 400 people from 20 states responded to our park survey, launched earlier this year. The survey explored visitor’s connections to the park, asking about their experiences, the challenges at the National Lakeshore, and what kinds of solutions they would propose.
Here’s a snapshot of the results:
- People all over the country care about Indiana Dunes: over 400 people from 20 states responded by the close of the survey in March 2010.
- About a third of Indiana Dunes lovers were from Indiana with the rest coming from Illinois, Michigan, and even California!
- Survey takers were well acquainted with Indiana Dunes: a majority (77%) had visited the park during the last six months, with more than 40% visiting six or more times per year.
- Park funding, invasive species, and protecting the park, the lakes and rivers from nearby pollution were described as top challenges for the National Lakeshore.
- Hiking and going to the beach were far and away the most popular things to do in the park with more than 250 respondents reporting they had done one or both of those activities.
- It can be tough getting to the park: nearly 90% drove to the park, but some expressed frustration with the nearby South Shore train, which stops in the park but does not allow bikes aboard.
- All those cars need a place to go: lack of parking, mostly on busy summer days, discourages some visitors from the National Lakeshore. Survey takers suggested shuttles, improving train accessibility, and more parking lots as possible solutions.
- Park visitors can’t find their way around easily! Unclear road signs, not knowing exactly when they were in the park, and confusion with the Indiana Dunes State Park were common complaints.
- We’re in this together: a common theme was the need for more clarity, communication, and community. There are lots of resources, groups, and dedicated people around the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the country, but the key is working together.
As background for our report, the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University read, categorized and analyzed nearly 50 reports and studies that included the park. They performed a gap analysis to identify additional research that would benefit park planners and resource managers, and scientists, local government, and planners in the Calumet region.
Here is a brief look at the results:
- Some National Park Service plans at the park are outdated and need updating: most importantly the General Management Plan and Land Protection Plan.
- Formalized collaboration between the national and state park would help in development of well-designed regional planning efforts.
- NIRPC's "2040 Land Use Plan" may help to address the lack of coordinated implementation between land use plans in the Calumet region.
- Renew an emphasis on ecological research and study, which the park was established to foster.
- Use existing plans in order to develop a climate change strategy and action plan for the park and the region.
- The region lacks a large-scale remediation and pollution clean up plan. It is important to address this gap.