Plans by the state of Indiana to build a hardened stone seawall along a portion of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore don't sit well with lakeshore officials, who cite a number of problems, including the lack of permits from the National Park Service and requisite environmental studies.
While lakeshore Superintendent Costa Dillon noted in a letter sent to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources that no map accompanied the announcement of the project, he said it appears the entire 4,700-foot-long seawall would be located within the lakeshore's boundaries.
"Accordingly, federal laws, regulations, and policies applicable to units of the National Park System apply to this project. At a minimum, this requires compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Clean Water Act, Title 36 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Act as amended and a National Park Service permit," the superintendent pointed out. "At a meeting held between the National Park Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources on August 13, 2009, the NPS was asked what it would take to approve this work and we explained that at a minimum compliance with NEPA and a National Park Service permit would be necessary."
As such, Superintendent Dillon said, the state must provide "a description of the project impacts on the legislative directives and purposes of the national lakeshore, on recreational boating, recreational fishing, public use of the shoreline, and effects upon threatened and endangered plant and animal species landward of the project area."
In a quirk of national park boundaries, the Town of Ogden Dunes, which would benefit from the seawall, is surrounded by a portion of the lakeshore.
While lakeshore officials say they sympathize with homeowners who fear beach erosion along the Lake Michigan shoreline will impact them, they add that they'd like to see that erosion combated through the "restoration of natural conditions and the mitigation of the interruption of shoreline sand transport caused by the human-made jetties and breakwaters along the shore."
"Restoring and maintaining a natural sandy shoreline protects homes, provides for recreational use, and preserves national park resources," noted Superintendent Dillon. "Constructing and maintaining hardened shoreline structures is not an appropriate technique for the shoreline within Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore."