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Mount Baldy At Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore To Remain Off-Limits Indefinitely

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Scientists continue to search for the reason that holes open in the Mount Baldy sand dune at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore/NPS.

Mount Baldy, a massive sand dune that is a popular attraction at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Indiana, will remain closed indefinitely due to safety hazards.

Last July a 6-year-old boy was swallowed by a sink hole in Mount Baldy. The youth was rescued after being trapped for three-and-a-half hours.

Now lakeshore officials say that "despite the use of ground penetrating radar, and data gathering at two additional holes that have appeared since last July, scientists still don'™t know the cause of the holes at Mount Baldy."

Additional studies will be conducted this summer and might run on into the fall, a park release said, adding that, "to ensure the public'™s safety, Mount Baldy, its parking lot, trail, and beach in front of the dune will remain closed to all vehicular and pedestrian access while the investigation continues."

'œMount. Baldy is one of the most visited sites in the national lakeshore, attracting thousands of visitors each year,' said acting-Superintendent Garry Traynham, 'œbut the continued development of these holes in the dune surface poses a serious risk to the public. Our first obligation must be to the welfare of our visitors who are here for an enjoyable outing.'

Ground penetrating radar studies by the Environmental Protection Agency identified a large number of anomalies below the dune'™s surface, the park release said, but analysis by scientists from the National Park Service, Indiana University and the Indiana Geological Survey have not yielded answers on how these holes form. 

Additional holes and a number of depressions have been found during the ongoing investigation and continued monitoring of the dune. Scientists report that the holes are short-lived, remaining open for less than 24 hours before collapsing and filling in naturally with surrounding sand.

This summer scientists intend to map openings, depressions, and anomalous features, use multispectral Ground-Penetrating Radar and coring to develop a better understanding of the overall internal architecture of the dune, and perform detailed GPR and coring on some of the anomalies identified in the EPA report.

During the research work, the park'™s resource managers will continue planting marram grass on portions of Mt. Baldy where the native dune grass used to grow. The extensive root system of the grass holds sand in place and may also help prevent holes from opening up on the dune'™s surface.

All other beach access areas within the national lakeshore are currently open and visitors are asked to stay on the established trails to prevent erosion and subsequent resource damage.


The fact that Mt. Baldy has been closed nearly three years now is an outrage. Most visitors want to park and go to the beach, not climb on the dune anyway. The dune could be fenced off for safety and still allow visitors access to the rest of the place. And now, the adjoining beach to the west, Central Beach, has also been "temporarily" closed due to erosion. With access to these two major attractions gone, hikers and bicyclists have nowhere to park in the east unit of the Lakeshore. This situation also makes the other beach areas to the west overcrowded during the tourist season. The NPS needs to rectify this situation and soon.

Well, now it's FOUR years Baldy has been closed. And on top of that, narby Central Beach (and it's parking lot) have been closed also, due to "hazardous conditions".

Why doesn't the National Lakeshore at least close off direct access to the Baldy Dune and Central beach walk-in access and LEAVE THE LOTS OPEN for us hikers and bike riders to park? The nearest parking access to the East Unit is miles away. No wonder people think the East unit of the park is always getting the short-shrift from D.N.L.

Update:NPS finally opened Central Beach and parking lot HOORAY! Beach erosion still present but they fashioned a "sideways" ramp down to the now-ample beach; access has been good all Summer and they even kept it open through the colored leaf Fall season.  I commend them for this. Hopefully 2017 will be smooth sailing!

Mt. Baldy update: Unfortunately Mt. Baldy is still closed to general visitors (save some special ranger-led hikes). The mighty dune has now moved southward almost up to the north side of the parking lot so it's looking like time has run out for visiting here (if it's eventually deemed safe again) unless new parking/access is constructed.

Well it looks like we finally will get access to Mt. Baldy Beach (But not the dune) as of Friday July 14th. This is a long time coming, and one wonders why if it can be opened now, why this couldn't have happened a few years ago. Also nearby Central Beach is again open after being closed much of the Spring due to access road flooding. Happy beachgoing and take advantage while you can.

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