This week, Save the Dunes and the South Shore Line partnered with NIPSCO, National Park Service, National Parks Conservation Association, and Shirley Heinze Land Trust to plant 400 plugs of rare or ecologically significant plant species within Cowles Bog.

This project was part of a plant rescue initiated by Save the Dunes and conservation partners to help protect plants potentially impacted by the South Shore Line's proposed Double Track project, which will expand the existing single track between Gary and Michigan City to a double track system that will allow for more efficient and frequent travel between Northwest Indiana and Chicago. Along the same corridor, NIPSCO is performing maintenance and improvements to existing gas and electric facilities, while working with conservation partners to enhance the quality of the wetlands and wildlife habitat on the adjacent Calumet Trail rights-of-way.

In preparation for infrastructure upgrade projects occurring adjacent to the Indiana Dunes National Park and State Park, NICTD, NIPSCO, Save the Dunes, and the National Park Service partnered to plan a project that would protect plant species potentially impacted by construction activities and support the National Park Service’s ongoing efforts to restore the Great Marsh and enhance plant diversity.

The Great Marsh is the largest interdunal wetland on the Lake Michigan shoreline, supporting waterfowl and diverse plant communities. The National Park Service has been working to restore hydrology, native plant species, and wildlife habitat of the Great Marsh following impacts of ditching, development, and agricultural activities of the last century. Save the Dunes is glad to see the South Shore Line’s mitigation efforts aligning with restoration priorities of the Indiana Dunes National Park and celebrates partnerships like these that work to protect natural resources while advancing quality of life in Northwest Indiana.