Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and the Dunes Learning Center have received a Chi-Cal Rivers Fund grant for $275,000 to implement restoration and species inventory projects at several Shirley Heinze Land Trust sites and a restoration project at the Dunes Learning Center in partnership with NIPSCO.

This project will advance efforts to enhance ecological health and recreational opportunities along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River (EBLC). Access opportunities will be improved at Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s Sand Creek Nature Preserve through trail improvements and the installation of signage and a parking lot. Hands-on educational opportunities at the Dunes Learning Center will increase through inviting camp-visitors to participate in the stewardship of a 200-acre restoration project that will be initiated through this project. A partnership with NIPSCO will allow Dunes Learning Center and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to maximize the impact of their restoration by managing the adjacent right-of-way for invasive species. Efforts to restore protected land along the EBLC corridor will be enhanced through vegetation surveys that will help guide long-term maintenance and management along the Little Calumet River Conservation Corridor and ensure that restoration projects are based on the best available science and information.

This project will advance efforts currently underway by Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Dunes Learning Center, National Park Service, Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, and many other partners to restore riparian habitat and improve public access along the EBLC. In 2017, this partnership opened 8 miles of the EBLC to paddlers through logjam removal and over 200 acres of habitat has been restored along the river corridor. In 2018, canoe/kayak launches will be installed at two Shirley Heinze Land Trust Properties, Wykes-Plampin Nature Preserve and Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve, and potentially additional sites along the river corridor. All of these activities have occurred thanks to the generous support of the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund Partners through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. We look forward to continuing our work to celebrate and enhance the EBLC and thank our generous funders for their support!

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