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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Officials Concerned Over Indiana's Plans for Seawall


Indiana Dunes Lakeshore officials are opposed to a plan to build a hardened stone seawall to protect the Town of Ogden Dunes, which is the sandy area surrounded by green, from shoreline erosion. NPS map.

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."


The residents of Ogden Dunes are a very self-entitled sort, it's no wonder they think they do not have to go through the necessary legislative process to get "their" shoreline "protected".
The only reason Ogden Dunes was left untouched when Indiana Dunes was created is because Dorothy Buell, one of the primary players behind getting the National Park established, lived in Ogden Dunes.
How ironic that they now feel above and beyond the concerns of preserving and protecting a National Park that belongs to all Americans.

Props to a superintendent who is standing up for their park! Go get 'em!

I was just curious, is this a new lake? Did the people who purchased their land/homes realize that their would be a lake there. Really, the lake has been their all along... hmm then maybe the concept of erosion is new... no?, not that either. Just joking I know that the lake was built by the CCC during the 1930's.

I have a problem when their is an existing problem, then a comparatively few people build in an area, and they should have known the risks when they purchased or built. Once again tax dollars are spent to protect the property they knew would wash away. I live along another CCC lake from the '30's (Lake Eire) and we have some of the same issues. In our state however, the government is trying to take the beach and the lake shore away from the private property owners, but that is another conversation.

The seawall should not be built unless it is outside of the park boundaries. Simple enough. However you know the rule, it is sometimes better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

This article is misleading. There is no plan is install a 4700 foot seawall in a national park. All that has happened is a single permit was filed to allow individual homeowners to install toe protection in front of existing seawalls at their expense. The town applied for a permit so they could insure all work was done properly. If the toe protection needs to be installed then the beach is already gone and there's nothing to protect! As the article states, this erosion is not natural but has been caused by the Port of Indiana (Steel Mills) and Burns Ditch's breakwalls. If Mr Dillon wants to protect the park my opinion is he should concentrate on the raw sewage and heavy metals being dumped into Burns Ditch so people can enjoy the little bit of beach that still exists.

Just to clarify, this is not a case of a few people building homes along a known flood plain or at the end of runway 36. Almost all the homes along the lakeshore were built long before the Park or steel mills. Some houses have been there over 100 years with no erosion issues until the breakwaters were put in by State of Indiana during the 70's and 80's. Many of the people that live in Ogden Dunes, like Dorthy, are environmentalists have been ardent supporters of the Parks. THat's why they choose to live nestled in the small patch of duneleand that the State hasn't managed to destroy. These "self entitled" people are just trying to protect thier homes from falling in the lake at no cost to the public. Perhaps there should be a tax on all ships entering the Port of Indiana, a Slip tax in Burns Harbor and a sewage tax on all the communities that allow overflow to enter Lake Michigan to maintain the beaches to thier natural state and cleanliness.

[This comment was lightly edited.]

superintendent dillon doesn't want ogden dunes to protect their homes but how much taxpayer money was spent on rock and other erosion control to protect the new pavillion at the portage lakefront park.

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