Indiana Dunes
Administrative History
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The Dunes National Park, I think, is going to be one of the finest parks in the System for one very basic reason, and that is that this wasn't a park that a President of the United States decided to start because he had gone camping there when he was a little boy or that somebody started because of pressure from a certain area or political group or ecological group. The Dunes National Park actually was created by citizen pressure, and it has actually been planned by citizen pressure. So while it may not be the biggest park and it may not be the first urban park, as we sometimes refer to them, it is the first citizens' park....

Statement by Greg Reising of the Miller Citizens' Corporation, speaking before a public meeting on the General Management Plan, Gary, Indiana, January 16, 1980. [1]

Operations, 1980

The year saw a complete administrative reorganization of the national lakeshore staff. New organization charts were composed to reflect staffing levels and programs. Visitation continued to increase, up 5.7 percent at 1,222,874 visitors. Attendance rose dramatically at public and interpretive programs with environmental education experiencing a fifty—seven percent increase and ranger—conducted public activity programs up sixty-nine percent. The visitor information center at the Bailly—Chellberg area opened during the year and became a popular attraction. Attendance also rose significantly at the Fourth Annual Duneland Folk Festival (seventy—five percent), Maple Sugar Time (187 people in 1979 to 1,050 people in 1980), and Autumn Harvest (expanded to two days with 3,000 visitors).

Assisting during these events and other park operations was the growing Volunteer in Parks (VIP) program which logged more than 3,000 hours coordinating school groups, participating in living history programs, and operating information desks. VIPs not only made significant contribution to park operations, they generated vigorous community involvement at the national lakeshore.

In the Maintenance Division, Buildings and Utilities workers maintained eleven quarters, fourteen historic structures, and forty—four other park buildings. Roads and Trails crews maintained twenty miles of trails and paved and graveled lots and roads. Under the first road rehabilitation contract using a new Congressional authority and appropriation for maintenance of non—Federally owned roads,* Oak Hill Road, Mineral Springs Road, Central Avenue, Beverly Drive, East State Park Road, and the service road at West Beach were rehabilitated. In addition to its mowing duties, the Grounds crew maintained seven picnic areas, including the new picnic grounds at West Beach.

*Superintendent Whitehouse and Midwest Region Deputy Director Randall R. Pope worked diligently for several years to secure funding for the lakeshore's miles of deteriorating, potholed roads. Each proposal brought a firm rejection from the Solicitor's Office. Finally, Whitehouse met with Senator Bayh's staff and thereafter a stipulation for a half—million dollars was inserted annually in the Service's budget. A "first" in the National Park System, Federal money can now be spent on State and county roads used by park visitors. See Whitehouse interview, 11 March 1987.

Budgetary constraints from 1979 on the Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) continued into 1980 with dramatic cutbacks to avoid overspending. The already low enrollment was curtailed altogether at mid—year, vacant staff positions remained unfilled, and more expensive projects were canceled. The YACC program remained a success story as YACC staff augmented lakeshore maintenance operations through building demolition and site restoration, fence construction and maintenance, and installing ORV barricades. The appraised value of YACC projects at the end of Fiscal Year 1980 stood at an impressive $800,000.

The Science Office in partnership with the lakeshore's management staff continued its intensive monitoring activities related to the Bailly I construction. By 1980, the lakeshore had contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Water Resources Division in Indianapolis for three reports to determine the effects of dewatering and fly ash pond seepage on the Cowles Unit. When the 1980 USGS report determined that dewatering as a result of construction was likely, from October 10 to 12, 1980, a panel of four ecologists convened at Indiana Dunes to study the effects of dewatering on the Cowles Bog National Natural Landmark. The ecologists concentrated on wetland ecology, limnology, and water quality. The panel's report stated that while dewatering and rewatering would have an impact on the ecology, it was impossible to list specific impacts. The ecologists recommended further studies and a continuation of the moratorium on Bailly I construction until the impacts could be identified and a plan to mitigate the impacts was in place. In the meantime, the Park Service let a new contract with USGS to evaluate the water quality and surface water hydrology in the Cowles Bog area. With the new position of plant ecologist, the lakeshore itself could conduct its own plant ecology studies simultaneously.

Park management and science staffs worked closely together for several years to eliminate the salt intrusion problem at Pinhook Bog. A salt storage area owned by the Indiana Toll Road Commission was leaching salt into the adjacent bog. The best solution appeared to be the purchase of the storage area, but some disagreement emerged. Some believed the Park Service did not have the authority to acquire the property because it was believed to be public land and, therefore, had to be donated. Park management finally ruled, however, that since the Indiana Toll Road Commission was an independent state agency not supported by tax funds, the lands it administered did not constitute public property. The lakeshore purchased the tract in 1930 in order to eliminate the salt intrusion hazard expeditiously. Lakeshore workers removed all vestiges of salt from the property.* The Toll Road Commission agreed to modify the drainage patterns for the Indiana Toll Road in the area to reduce the hazard even further. [2]

*Monitoring and research continued in the area. In 1987, the lakeshore began a program of removing exotics and restoration of natural species.

Based on the new ecological information, Secretary of the Interior Cecil Andrus requested the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay renewal of the Bailly I construction permit pending NIPSCO's preparation and Departmental review of a new environmental impact statement. Andrus charged NIPSCO's original dewatering plan did not include the deeper level of pumping which subsequent construction required. [3]

On September 28, 1980, Secretary Andrus promised to provide monthly status reports regarding all issues related to Bailly I to Congressman Sidney Yates. Assistant Superintendent Dale Engquist and the Science Office devoted a considerable effort over the following year gathering the necessary data and transmitting it to Associate Director for Science and Technology Richard Briceland in the Washington Office. Briceland maintained close contact with the lakeshore and prepared the final reports for Director Russell Dickenson's signature. [4]

Indiana Dunes continued to meet Federal air quality standards for total suspended particulates (TSP) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), but not ozone. To monitor acid rain, the lakeshore's wet and dry monitor became a part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program. Scientists also continued to monitor the NIPSCO fly ash agreement. The dry system of handling fly ash went on—line April 30 and the waste water treatment plant began operations at the end of the year. During the summer, two of the four fly ash ponds were sealed with the remaining two scheduled for completion the following year.

During the summer of 1980, a park shuttle program operated on weekends from the South Shore Railroad stops and recorded a creditable ridership. The program was a part of the Congressionally—authorized Visitor Access Transportation System (VATS). The Gary and Michigan City bus systems extension to the lakeshore were not funded during the year.

National Park Service Director Russell Dickenson appeared as guest of honor and keynote speaker at the annual dinner of the Save the Dunes Council on September 14. Accompanied by Midwest Regional Director Jimmie Dunning, Dickenson extended his support to the effort to enlarge the national lakeshore, but not the homeowner's terms in the proposed legislation. During the visit the two Park Service officials met with Gary Mayor Richard Hatcher to discuss the proposed marina. At that time, the Service endorsed in principle the concept of a marina. Dunning extended his stay to attend the fiftieth meeting of the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission. [5]

Tom Coleman, Office of Special Populations and the Handicapped, from the Washington Office toured the national lakeshore with Superintendent Whitehouse and Assistant Superintendent Engquist on April 16. The group worked on identifying problem areas for handicapped access to visitor use facilities. Giving policy guidance to Superintendent Whitehouse on an application for a nude sunbathing area, the Midwest Regional Office responded that Federal regulations did not permit the designation of any segment of a park for the continuing exclusive use of any person or group. Park officials had to ensure that no harm to natural resources occurred from spectator activity whether it related to hang gliding or nude sunbathing. [6]

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Last Updated: 07-Oct-2003