Conservation at

Save the Dunes



Protecting and restoring the lands and waters that make up the dune ecosystems is at the core of our work. Our conservation initiatives are focused within the three counties of Northwest Indiana and prioritize the areas nearest to the Lake Michigan watershed. This often includes area within the Indiana Dunes National and State Park, who are both key partners in these efforts. Invasive plant species are one of the greatest threats to our natural ecosystems, so reducing their presence is an imperative, yet monumental task. This, along with pressures from surrounding and new development, climate change, shoreline erosion, and public access, are large and complex challenges we work to address. Landscape-level challenges like this require a united and comprehensive approach amongst many partners. For decades, Save the Dunes has long been a leader in bringing together different environmental organizations, government agencies, businesses, and individuals to develop conservation plans and take collective action. We take pride in our role of bringing these groups together and identifying science-based, practical solutions to protect and save our local environment.

Public Access on the Little Cal

Save the Dunes has been collaborating with partners for many years to improve habitat quality and public access on the East Branch of the Little Calumet River. We often play the key role of securing funding and project management to enable kayak launch installations, logjam removal, invasive species management, and bank stabilization along the river corridor. 
In 2021, Save the Dunes crafted a proposal with strong support from project partners - the National Park Service, the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, Porter County Stormwater, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and NIPSCO - and were awarded funding in part to clear the East Branch of the Little Calumet River Trail from the Heron Rookery, all the way to Burns Ditch which empties into Lake Michigan. This project will result in a 12.7 mile long river trail, and should be wrapped up by the end of 2023.

Invasive Species Management

As Northwest Indiana has developed over time, there has been an introduction of invasive species, which are species of plants and animals that would not be normally found in this part of the world. Invasive exotic plants, brought here either intentionally or accidentally, can out-compete native plants, making it difficult for the native plants and animals who depend on native resources to survive. Save the Dunes, in partnership with many, works to reduce the number of invasive plants including phragmites, purple loosestrife, garlic mustard, and hybrid cattail to name a few, to protect and restore our natural landscape within the Indiana Dunes National Park, Save the Dunes properties, and other surrounding natural areas.