The American Society of Landscape Architects: Indiana Chapter, awarded Hitchcock Design Group in association with Save the Dunes Conservation Fund, Phenix7 Mktg, and Orbis Environmental Consulting the prestigious Award of Excellence in the Communication category for the creation and publication of Living in the Dunes: A Homeowner’s Guide to Landscaping in Indiana’s Dunes Communities

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The Living in the Dunes publication was a project developed by Save the Dunes aimed to provide tools to nearshore dune communities in creating responsible landscapes with native plants. The booklet beautifully lays out resources that equip home and business owners with responsible landscape ideas including the identification of ten problematic invasive plant species found in the region followed by twenty native plants that could be planted instead. An invasive species is a plant that is non-native and infests natural areas and causes environmental or economic harm, or harm to human health. Removing invasive plants would not only alleviate pressure from land managers who keep natural areas healthy but also add a necessary habitat for pollinators.

“It was an honor to accept this award drawing attention to the incredible landscape and diversity of Northwest Indiana,” Save the Dunes Project Coordinator, Nathanael Pilla said.

An advisory committee of thirteen members representing private, non-profit, and government entities was put together to help with recommendations in the production of the guide. In a little over a year since its release, the booklet has garnered praise from local advocates, professionals, homeowners, and now the society of landscape architects.

In working on this booklet, Gina Altieri, President of Phenix7 Mktg, commented, “As a long-time Northwest Indiana resident, the Indiana Dunes is my hiking playground, therefore, I have a personal goal to preserve the Dunes. Last year, my Phenix7 team and I embraced the opportunity to work closely with the Hitchcock Design Group, the Save the Dunes and Orbis Environmental Consulting in designing and printing the “Living In the Dunes” booklet.”

Environmental consulting for the guide was provided by Orbis Environmental Consulting. Scott Namestnik, Orbis Senior Botanist said, “There are so many wonderful native plants in the dunes region that can be used for landscaping that it was a difficult task to limit the number in the guide. Through input from various organizations, our team chose 20 plants that are available in the nursery trade, that are native to the dunes
ecosystem, and that provide color throughout the year and habitat for native insects and other wildlife.”

“Offering homeowners the ability and power to help transform Northwest Indiana into a sustainable, biodiverse gem is exciting,” Pilla said.

A digital copy of the Living in the Dunes booklet can be freely downloaded at

Publication for the Living in the Dunes booklet was made possible by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Lake Michigan Coastal Program.  Generous supporting funds for this project also include ArcelorMittal, the Lake County Community Fund at Legacy Foundation, and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.

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