In 2015, Save the Dunes formed a new action-based coalition called the Indiana Dunes Ecosystem Alliance (IDEA). The goal of IDEA is to gather scientists and natural resource land managers to jointly identify and prioritize the sites in most need of protection in the Indiana dunes. To do this work, the group must blur the lines of ownership and think of the system as a whole. Together, the IDEA team is analyzing threats to the hotspots of biodiversity in the dunes, and clearly outlining strategies to address them. The IDEA team also works to streamline cooperative land management efforts – including equipment sharing and prescribed burn planning – with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana Dunes State Park, and other dunes-area property owners such as Save the Dunes and Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
The IDEA team includes staff from Save the Dunes, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, U.S. Geological Survey, Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program, The Nature Conservancy, National Parks Conservation Association, and Shirley Heinze Land Trust.
To date, the team has determined the three geographies with the highest biodiversity in the Indiana dunes:
- Cowles Bog
- Miller Woods
- Indiana Dunes State Park (state-dedicated nature preserve sections only)
In 2016, the IDEA team will release a set of strategies to protect these critical natural resources.
This work is possible thanks to a grant from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program with matching funds from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.