Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (INDU), and NWIPA were jointly awarded Chi-Cal Rivers Funds to improve public access at three properties on the Little Calumet River and restore and enhance native habitat on 189 acres adjacent to the river. These funds will allow increased safe usage of an underutilized recreational resource, a more informed and educated public, and an increased amount of native plant communities that provide important ecosystem services (e.g. water, sediment, and nutrient retention, appropriate wildlife habitat) to the Little Calumet River in relatively close proximity to its outfall into Lake Michigan. This huge project started in January 0f 2016 and will end in December of 2017.
The really exciting part of this project is the partnership between Save the Dunes, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association. Save the Dunes has stepped into an organizing role to facilitate our partner’s expert work on the ground which would not happen otherwise. With this partnership we are able to recognize the needs for public recreation (NWIPA) and do the restoration and public access improvements needed to increase access for paddlers (SHLT and INDU)
The Little Calumet River’s East Branch (LCEB) begins in Coolspring Township in unincorporated LaPorte County and flows west through unincorporated Porter County, passing through portions of the towns of Burns Harbor, Chesterton, Porter, and the City of Portage. The River drains nearly 50,000 acres of forest, agriculture, and developed lands. Some sections of the river are impaired due to pollutants such as bacteria, sediment, and excess nutrients. Nevertheless, the LCEB River is a great asset to the quality of life in northwest Indiana.
The project includes the following public access amenity improvements:
–New ADA compliant canoe/kayak launch will be constructed at three SHLT properties including Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve, Little Calumet Wetlands.
–New pervious surface parking lots will be installed at Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve and John Merle Coulter Nature Preserve.
–New interpretive trails will be installed at Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve (1.2 miles) and John Merle Coulter Nature Preserve (0.5 miles).
–Dead standing ash trees impacted by the emerald ash borer will be felled along 20 acres of river due to safety concerns.
–Wayfinding signage will be placed along highways and major roadways for SHLT properties, allowing visitors to easily navigate to the preserves.