Save the Dunes in 2020

by Victoria Wittig, Sr. Program Specialist, Save the Dunes

The year ahead holds a lot to look forward to at Save the Dunes. As always, the Save the Dunes team is guided by a mission to preserve, protect and restore the Indiana Dunes and Lake Michigan Watershed for an enhanced quality of life. Each day we make this a reality through a multitude of grant-funded projects, collaborations and dedicated efforts to connect our work to communities across the region. Here’s a snapshot of what’s in store for us this year:

Throughout 2020, Save the Dunes will continue to protect native plants and pollinators with the creation of a Pollinator Habitat Landscaping Guide for Indiana's Coastal Communities(1) and through the restoration of 259 acres of pollinator habitat across Lake and Porter Counties(2). We hope you will soon start to notice the difference – whether in your very own back yard or a nearby nature preserve, our restored landscapes are sure to be a-flutter and a-buzz with a plethora of precious pollinators!

Save the Dunes is also continuing to collaboratively restore land along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River which traverses natural areas managed by the Dunes Learning Center, the Indiana Dunes National Park and Shirley Heinze Land Trust(3). There are several new kayak access points that provide an opportunity to get out on the river and enjoy the great work that has been achieved. Check out our project partners’ websites for access point locations and opportunities to explore their natural areas on the East Branch: Dunes Learning Center, Indiana Dunes National Park, Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, and Shirley Heinze Land Trust.

Save the Dunes will also be engaged behind the scenes on several regional planning projects. A tried-and-true “Conservation Action Planning” approach is in the works for the West Branch of the Little Calumet River(4) which will complete another piece of the puzzle for conservation planning across the Calumet region(5). The Indiana Dunes Ecosystem Alliance is also hard at work preparing for regional growth by drawing on sustainable approaches to development that will Save the Dunes from unintended consequences, particularly along the route of the Southshore Double Track project. From meetings with municipalities to mapping conservation priorities with partners, our work spans the region(6).

You can also count on Save the Dunes to remain on top of emerging issues impacting the Dunes: we remain vigilant in our fight for the public’s right to access Indiana’s beaches by defending the “Public Trust” ruling, and to demand accountability, transparency and communication when it comes to keeping our waters free from chemical pollution. We’re also a key partner in a regional project to keep E. coli bacteria out of our waters by ensuring our region’s septic systems are in good working order(7).

Whichever way you look at it, this is going to be a busy year for our small but mighty team. For the latest at Save the Dunes, be sure to follow us on Facebook. Thank you for all you do to be a part of our mission to Save the Dunes!

We also would like to say thank you to our partners and funders for the projects above:

(1) Funding for this project was provided in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program. Partners on this project include an Advisory Committee comprised of experts from across the region.

(2) Funding for this project was provided in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Partners on this project include the Indiana Dunes National Park, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Izaak Walton League Spring Lake Chapter, NIPSCO, Porter County Soil and Water Conservation District.

(3) Funding for this work was provided in part by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chi-Cal Rivers Fund. Partners on this project include the Indiana Dunes National Park, Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Dunes Learning Center and NIPSCO.

(4) Funding for this project was provided in part by the Calumet Land Conservation Partnership. Partners on this project include Audubon Great Lakes, The Nature Conservancy, Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, The Field Museum

(5) Funding for this project was provided in part by the Calumet Land Conservation Partnership. Partners on this project include The Field Museum, Audubon Great Lakes, The Nature Conservancy, Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, Shirley Heinze Land Trust.

(6) Funding for this project was provided in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program. Partners for this project include the National Park Service, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, US Geological Survey, The Nature Conservancy, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, National Parks Conservation Association, NIPSCO.

(7) Funding for this project was provided in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan CoastalProgram. Partners for this project include the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program and the Septic System Coordination Working Group.