NIPSCO, in a joint effort with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) will work together to preserve nearly 1,630 acres of land. This plan hopes to focus on restoring public enjoyment and education as well as improving both biodiversity and habitats for many of the region’s plant and animal life.
“In the beginning there were two things I knew about this region,” said Vice President of Environmental Safety and Sustainability for NIPSCO and NiSource Kelly Carmichael. “I knew there was a way we could effectively and efficiently apply funds to very generational conservation projects. Secondly and most importantly, I knew the leadership was here to make this happen. We have leadership and sponsorship to make sure the funds would be put to the best use and now you can see the results in front of you.”
NIPSCO has provided nearly $2 million in funding the acquisition and restoration of several different local areas. In total, 183.5 acres of land will be protected with another 1,444.6 acres of land going to a variety of restoration efforts.
“Through the work of the partners here and the citizens of the community, we have all chosen to make it better,” said Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore superintendent Paul Labovitz. “It’s humbling for the national parks service to be a partner here, I’m awed by the work with the amazing people and the amazing partners.”
These sites were selected by an advisory stakeholder group made up of NIPSCO, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Save the Dunes and The Nature Conservancy. The project funding will go towards larger scale environmental restoration work within and around the Indiana Dunes area as an effort to combat invasive species and protect the existing environmental biodiversity that is currently present. The project is also anticipated to improve the current existing habitats for migratory birds and other flora and fauna living in these environments.
“We were able to double our Meadowbrook Nature Preserve and it was a fantastic acquisition project and were excited to do more in the future,” said Executive Director for Shirley Heinze Land Trust Kris Krouse. “This has been one of the biggest projects in terms of funding that was made available in a relatively short time frame and we’re grateful to NIPSCO for that.”
“The collaboration project was unbelievable,” said Carmichael. “That collaboration got us so much further and so much done that NIPSCO could not have done on their own.”
The planned projects through this restoration and protection effort include:
• Canonie ‘Discovery School Property’ and Munson Place, Porter County, Indiana (National Park Service)
• Don and Mary Frame Little Calumet Conservation Area, Porter County, Indiana (The Izaak Walton League)
• Little Calumet Wetlands at the Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve, Chesterton, Indiana (Shirley Heinze Land Trust)
• Liverpool Nature Preserve, Lake Station, Indiana (Indiana Department of Natural Resources)
•McCloskey Burr Oak Savanna Nature Preserve, Hobart, Indiana (Indiana Department of Natural Resources)