USGS Logo Geological Survey Circular 1085
Our Changing Landscape: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore


The National Parks of the United States have been called the jewels in the crown of our Nation's public lands. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 25th anniversary of one of its premier recreational and scientific jewels—Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore—the Department of the Interior, through the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service, is pleased to present this photographic essay on some of the environmental challenges facing this park. The earth-science issues facing Indiana Dunes mirror national issues faced by other parks and public lands.

Wise use and careful stewardship of our Nation's parks and public lands depend on the assimilation of accurate and timely earth-science information. With this information in hand, resource managers and land-use planners have the necessary tools to make informed decisions and to plan for the effective use and conservation of natural resources and public lands.

When gathering this information, we develop an understanding of the physical processes that have shaped and continue to shape our land and natural resources. The processes at work today are the same ones that shaped the Earth hundreds, thousands, and millions of years ago.

Understanding the physical processes of the Earth is quite difficult. Almost 400 years ago, Francis Bacon said "Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." To be obeyed, nature must first be understood. By identifying earth-science concerns that affect our National Parks and by gathering the necessary information to address those issues, we are providing the basic understanding by which we can obey nature's dictates and yet most effectively command the fullest use and benefit of these national treasures.

In this photographic essay, we describe issues of global change, land use, wetlands, coastal erosion, and contamination, all of which are environmental concerns that are being faced daily at local, State, and national levels. Using Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as the microcosm, we have provided a national perspective as well on each area of concern. As we mark these significant anniversaries, we challenge our readers to take an interest in these issues and to seek positive action to address them at the local level. Welcome to the exciting world of the earth sciences, and welcome to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

NPS 75th anniversary logo Indiana Dunes NL 25th anniversary logo
Dallas L. Peck
Director, U.S. Geological Survey
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James M. Ridenour
Director, National Park Service
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Last Updated: 27-Apr-2009