Partnering to protect
acres through action
How we got here
The history of Save the Dunes
In 1952, Save the Dunes was founded to protect the remaining untouched dunes of Northwest Indiana.
In the early 1900’s, a group of walkers based out of Chicago began making regular trips to the Indiana dunes to experience the breathtaking beauty of the southern shores of Lake Michigan. These “Saturday Afternoon Walking Trips” were organized by The Prairie Club who termed the phrase “Save the Dunes” in an effort to preserve the dunes within the protective boundaries of a National Park. Although their efforts were sidelined by WW1, the desire to “Save the Dunes” never died.
In June of 1952, Dorothy Buell and a group of local women came together at Dorothy’s home in Ogden Dunes. Together, they formed the Save the Dunes Council in order to protect the remaining untouched dunes along the southern tip of Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana from disappearing beneath harbors, steel mills, and unchecked development. Largely credited for establishing the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore–now recognized as a National Park–and increasing its size to over 15,000 acres over the decades through multiple expansion bills, Save the Dunes is one of Indiana’s oldest environmental groups. Today, Save the Dunes continues to protect and advocate for the Indiana dunes, Lake Michigan, and the surrounding natural areas for the health and vitality of the environment and the people who live, work and recreate in Northwest Indiana.
The Indiana dunes region is renowned as the birthplace of ecology, boasting unique ecosystems and over 1,100 plant species. This means that the Indiana Dunes National Park has the highest density of plant biodiversity (most species per acre) of any national park! This treasured resource, tucked within a highly urban and industrial landscape, is in constant flux and new threats continue to endanger these beloved lands and waters. Invasive species, water pollution, degraded habitats, development pressures, and more threaten the protection of both the dunes and Lake Michigan for current and future generations.
While saving the dunes looks different than it did 70 years ago, we continue the important work of protecting and restoring our local lands and waters to ensure that the people of our region have access to these special places in perpetuity.
Throughout the years
A history in pictures
Where we're going
Looking to the future