In 2012, the National Park Service engaged the community in a discussion of their robust study of complex shoreline issues that impact park natural resources. The shoreline in Indiana has a series of structures built in it – the pier in Michigan City is an example of one of these. These structures can significantly modify the way water and sand move along our shoreline. As a result, there are places in the Indiana dunes area, including the National Lakeshore, that suffer the impacts. These impacts can include sand erosion, meaning the sand moves away to another area and in essence starves the beach area of new sand. Another impact is sand accretion, meaning sand builds up and deposits, creating dunes and beaches that become larger over time.
For years the National Park Service has worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to try to fix this issue along the shoreline; one of these areas is Mt. Baldy. Mt. Baldy is a moving dune – soon it will overtake the parking lot behind it – and it is also one of these sand starvation areas. The Corps has brought in sand from other areas and deposited it off the beach with hopes that it will build up on the beach. The quantity of sand they are moving is not sufficient to fix the problem, and this work must be repeated over and over again.
The Shoreline Environmental Impact Study – EIS for short – was meant to delve into complex issues like the sand at Mt. Baldy and make a list of suggested alternatives to address them. The community came together to provide their thoughts on the study last year, and we are awaiting the final decision from the National Park Service.
Their decision may have major ramifications for our national park. Save the Dunes, as always, looks forward to being part of the discussion. Should you want to review our comments, click here.
The National Park Service’s Shoreline EIS webpage is jam-packed with information too – find it here.