Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, located about 35 miles from Chicago, traces its roots back to 1899 when Henry Chandler Cowles did pioneering plant ecology work along the shores of Lake Michigan. However it wasn’t until 1966 when a small group of citizens was able to urge Congress to pass legislation to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as part of the National Park Service. The park was created within a “park-port” compromise bill that ensured the Port of Indiana, along with two large steel mills, could not be developed unless a section of the lakeshore was set aside for preservation.
Originally only 8,330 acres of land and water the park now includes more than 15,000 acres of sensitive dune lands, bird-filled marshes, oak and maple forests and remnants of once-vast prairies. More than 350 species of birds have been observed at the park and more than 90 endangered plant species are found within the park’s boundaries.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore provides park visitors a wonderful opportunity to hike along the dunes, swim in beautiful Lake Michigan beaches, climb the height of Mt. Baldy or explore the wonders of Pinhook Bog with a park ranger.
Still, after 40 years it is clear that the park is under constant threats. Indiana Dunes suffers from degradation of resources, boundary encroachment, visitor safety issues from the many highway and rail crossings in the park, and an “identity crisis” which leaves visitors confused as to when they are in the park.
NPCA’s Midwest Regional Office works with many park partners to address these challenges and shine the spotlight on this great national park site.
NPCA and its partners have established the project "National Park, Regional Treasure," to open a meaningful dialog about the challenges and opportunities at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Read more >