How's your national park being managed?
It's a good question, one that at times can be hard to find answers to. At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, though, managers have distributed a 20-page publication for those interested in what was accomplished during 2009 and what continuing issues are being confronted.
While the full-color report can't go into too much depth on every issue, it does provide an overview of some of the projects the lakeshore's staff has been working on. For instance:
* More than 600 acres of the Great Marsh, which once stretched from Michigan City to the Illinois border, is in varying stages of restoration. "Wildlife, including beavers and a variety of birds, has returned to the area, creating a watchable wildlife site for visitors. In 2009, invasive plants like reed canary grass, hybrid cattail, common reed and purple loosestrife were removed and 3400 native plants representing 14 species were planted."
* In 2009 the National Park Service embarked on a multi-year plan to restore the Cowles Bog Wetland Complex. This year white cedar saplings are being planted in the complex, which some regard as the "birthplace of American ecology," with the help of The Nature Conservancy.
* Lakeshore staff have worked to return native plants to beach habitats and in 2009 completed "restoration work on 20 acres of Mnoke Prairie, transplanting over 5,100 native plant plugs from the park greenhouse."
* Indiana Dunes was the focus of a 24-hour BioBlitz that identified more than 1,200 species, including several not previously known to inhabit the lakeshore. More than 5,000 "citizen scientists," including 2,000 who were school students, turned out for the event.
* The lakeshore is working on an array of historic structures projects, ranging from restoration of the Bailly Homestead, which is the only National Historic Landmark in northwestern Indiana, and developing a plan for what to do with the Good Fellow Club Youth Camp to completing work on the Century of Progress Homes and the Oscar and Irene Nelson Site.
The report also has sections on visitor use and recreation (among the information here is how the lakeshore took a more proactive approach in 2009 to educate beach-goers on water safety after there were three drownings in 2008; there were no drownings in 2009); one that explains the "Park Neighbors" program instituted in 2009 to get folks who live in and around the national lakeshore to become more involved in protecting its resources; planning and management, and; 2010 projects.
You can download a pdf of the report at this site.
While this report is not all-encompassing nor deep in details, it's a good overview of how the lakeshore is being managed and a good document to read if you want to know what's going on there and how you can get involved.