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Improved Public Access and Habitat on the East Branch of the Little Cal

Friday, November 20, 2015   (0 Comments)

Congratulations to Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association for receiving support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chi-Cal Rivers Fund to improve safe public access at several nature preserves and enhance over 189 acres of riparian habitat along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.

“This portion of the River is currently a focus area for restoration and improvement activities in northwest Indiana,” said Kristopher Krouse, Executive Director of Shirley Heinze Land Trust. “It has been a priority area for our conservation efforts for the past three years. This funding furthers our goals of preserving the Little Calumet River corridor and providing safe, high quality public access to the river.”

Improved public access amenities will be installed on three Shirley Heinze Land Trust properties; Little Calumet Wetlands and Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserves in Chesterton, and John Merle Coulter Preserve in Portage. The Portage location will also receive 9-acres of habitat enhancement.

A 180-acre portion of the river’s corridor through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will receive habitat enhancement, including the removal of exotic/invasive species to help re-establish native species that aid in pollutant filtration of stormwater runoff. Trees that have been killed by the emerald ash borer will be felled along the river’s edge. This will improve safety for anglers and others currently accessing the river. “Save the Dunes is proud to help the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore fight the ongoing threat of invasive species and help reestablish native species in areas hit hard by the emerald ash borer,” said Nicole Barker, Executive Director of Save the Dunes.

“The East Branch of the Little Calumet River is one of northwest Indiana’s gems in terms of beauty and recreational potential,” said Dan Plath, President of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association. “These public access improvements and habitat enhancement projects will provide lasting benefits to our communities and natural resources.”

Christopher B. Burke Engineering will generously provide engineering and consulting services to the project as in-kind match. Work will begin this winter and will continue for two years.