Save the Dunes urged members of Chicago Wilderness to help celebrate the Indiana dunes in 2016 through increased support for our national and state park. Executive Director Nicole Barker spoke about dwindling financial resources to sustain the incredible biodiversity of the dunes, which is among the highest in all national parks across the country. She asked organizations to reflect on how they can help honor the greater Chicago region’s only national park for its 50th anniversary in 2016. The anniversary coincides with other critical anniversaries for the dunes, including the 90th anniversary of the Indiana Dunes State Park, the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the 100th anniversary of Indiana’s State Park System, and the 200th anniversary of the State of Indiana.
Barker said that resources are needed to bolster invasive species control efforts and ecological restoration projects before it’s too late. She mentioned that the 15,000 Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore only has 1.5 full-time invasive species control staff and 10 seasonals; this is lower than many small land trusts managing less than 500 acres.
LeAaron Foley of the National Parks Conservation Association then spoke about the proposed Pullman National Historical Park in Chicago and how it would create yet another tourism anchor for the Calumet region. Mark Bouman of Field Museum also spoke about a revived Calumet Heritage Area concept and how such a designation could help the region brand its unique and incredible mix of natural, cultural and historic resources.
All of this work would benefit the regional economy, Bouman said.