Indiana Dunes
Administrative History
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Pleased be assured that, reports to the contrary notwithstanding, the Department of the Interior has no plans to deauthorize Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, or otherwise eliminate it from the National Park System.

June 8, 1981, letter from Secretary of the Interior James Watt to Senator Charles H. Percy (Republican—Illinois). [1]

Operations, 1981—1983


Recreational visits registered a slight decrease in 1981, the first such drop in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's ten—year operational history. Although interpretive and environmental education visitation continued to rise, recreational visitation fell 16.3 percent to stand at an overall annual total of 1,023,436. Justification for the depressed figures rested heavily on the record—setting rainfall which fell during the summer months thereby discouraging beach use. The summer deluges caused water quality problems as the overabundance of rainwater runoff and inadequate municipal sewage treatment facilities combined to force the periodic closing of beaches.

New exhibits were designed by the Harpers Ferry Center and installed at the Bailly and Chellberg visitor center. Rehabilitation activities continued on several of the Chellberg Farm structures. Complying with the 1980 act to commemorate former Senator Paul H. Douglas, a wayside exhibit at West Beach and a new brochure were designed in 1981.

The lakeshore's resource management component underwent reorganization as a Resource Management Specialist was added to the Resource Management and Visitor Protection Division thereby assuming some of the responsibilities formerly performed by the Science Office. During the year, the park completed the first draft of its Resources Management Plan.

The lakeshore limited boat access in West Beach in an effort to further protect visitors by buoying the shoreline westward to the boundary at County Line Road. Under the Code of Federal Regulations 36 Part 3, no craft can operate within 500 feet of any designated swimming areas. New West Beach facilities opened during the year including the visitor contact station, the entrance/fee collection kiosk, and the maintenance facility.

In Interpretation, more than 60,000 visitors attended nearly 2,000 environmental education programs. Because of a lack of staff, however, nearly 12,000 persons could not be accommodated. Twenty—one thousand people attended the Fifth Annual Duneland Folk Festival and six thousand others participated in division—sponsored hikes, walks, and talks. The Volunteers In Parks (VIPs) program continued to flourish with four thousand hours donated.

The Maintenance Division remained responsive to the park's daily needs with seven permanent staff members and an overall Full—Time Equivalency (FTE) ceiling of 35.8. Under special authority from Congress, the second major road rehabilitation contract resulted in completion of work on East State Park Road (or Kemil Road), Howe Road, and Waverly Road. Fiscal Year 1981 signalled the "beginning of the end" for the YACC program. Because of budget reductions, the phase—out of YACC at Indiana Dunes saw the elimination of the camp administrative officer and one crew leader, the halting of recruitment activities at mid—year, and the return of all GSA vehicles.

Beach nourishment activities by the Corps of Engineers ended a five—year, $1.5 million erosion control program. In December 1981 alone, workers deposited 80,000 cubic yards of sand at Mount Baldy.

In October, separate fires destroyed five homes. The suspicious evening blazes were investigated by lakeshore rangers as well as officers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. When the inquiry yielded a determination of arson, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was alerted. The National Park Service posted a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit(s). [2] No one was arrested, but the increased law enforcement activity curtailed the problem.


One of the most significant events of the year involved a change of leadership in the office of the Superintendent. After thirty years in the National Park Service and twelve years at Indiana Dunes, Superintendent James R. Whitehouse retired. His retirement became effective in December, although his last day was October 31. Whitehouse's apparent successor was Assistant Superintendent Dale Engquist. Engquist's familiarity with park operations thereby assured a smooth transition in park management. (See following section, "1983.")

Visitation rebounded in 1982 after the previous year's slight drop to register a 4.22 percent increase. Interpretation and environmental education programs suffered a twenty percent cut because of hiring ceiling restrictions and the resulting decrease in seasonal staff. Program attendance registered a mere decline of 500 people.

As in other Midwest Region areas, computer technology first came to Indiana Dunes during the year. Introduction of computers, especially in the area of word processing, greatly facilitated park operations. Many mistakes were made in the early stages as no specialists were on staff to coordinate the new technology. Within a very short time, however, computer usage permeated nearly every division.

Initiated in 1981, the Resource Management and Visitor Protection (RM and VP) Division underwent reorganization in 1982. The two subunits of Visitor Protection and Resource Management were formed. New resource management positions were added and positions and functions of science more directly related to monitoring and implementation were transferred from Science to Resource Management (e.g., fire management and air and water quality monitoring). The Science Office remained as a separate division. The administrative shift improved the park's ability to identify and react to natural and cultural resource threats. Superintendent Whitehouse envisioned that the reorganization would facilitate implementation of recommended actions in the Resources Management Plan as well as help face the multiple environmental problems identified in the park's numerous scientific studies.

A Resource Management monitoring project came to a successful conclusion in 1982 with NIPSCO fulfilling all requirements of the February 1978 agreement with the Department of the Interior. The NIPSCO fly ash ponds were effectively sealed and the danger of seepage onto lakeshore lands abated.

In May, Denver Service Center-led planning activities for developments under phase one of the General Management Plan began, including the East and West Unit Transit Centers, West Unit Access Road, Paul H. Douglas Environmental Education Center, Gary/Marquette Park Marina, and the Transportation Plan. Planning also began for exhibits for the West Beach visitor contact facility. The Gary marina feasibility/suitability study served as the basis for a November 22 meeting between Midwest Regional Director Jimmie Dunning and Mayor Richard Hatcher of Gary. The study recommended any of three proposed locations for the facility. The men agreed to proceed with the environmental impact statement (EIS).

Both a feasibility study and an EIS were prepared by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in regard to Indiana's shoreline erosion problems. The Corps recommended continued beach nourishment to offset the erosion in the national lakeshore's East Unit caused by Michigan City's harbor facilities.

Major road rehabilitation projects again were Congressionally authorized at Indiana Dunes. The lakeshore received permission to use road rehabilitation funds from its Operation of the National Park System (ONPS) base for road maintenance activities regardless of road ownership.

Phase—out of the YACC program occurred during the year to mark the end of YACC at Indiana Dunes. All enrollees were terminated on March 31 and the last YACC camp staff member departed on April 30. The benefits of utilizing a non—Park Service, low—cost labor force did not cease as a three—month Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program began on June 14. Former YACC Camp Director Jon Evans was reappointed to serve as YCC director. The non—residential YCC program employed forty—four people, more than half of whom lived in Gary or Michigan City.

The young workers, augmented with Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) workers, were distributed throughout the lakeshore's divisions to assist in daily operations. In Maintenance, the workers joined division employees at Mount Baldy for dune restoration activities and construction of a trail and small picnic area. Other maintenance activities included installation of Blue Heron Rookery boundary markers and a trail along the Little Calumet River complete with interpretive signs and fishing access points.

In April 1982, the Land Acquisition Office moved from Marquette Mall in Michigan City to the Bailly Administrative Area. The office occupied the north end of a building which formerly served as YACC camp headquarters.

Parking lot fee collection at West Beach increased from one to two dollars during the peak Memorial Day to Labor Day season.

Superintendent Whitehouse became the Midwest Region's coordinator for the State of Indiana in early 1982. The responsibilities of State Coordinator included consulting with other Park Service superintendents in Indiana (George Rogers Clark National Historical Park and Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial) and keeping the Midwest Regional Office informed of pertinent developments which might affect Service programs and operations in Indiana.

In legislative developments, the proposed land exchange between the National Park Service and the State of Indiana succeeded with President Ronald Reagan signing the measure into law on October 20. Congressional action was necessary because the lands to be exchanged were not of equal value. The legislation permitted the Service to execute an agreement with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for each agency to control lands within the Blue Heron Rookery and Hoosier Prairie respectively.

Some disappointing actions regarding the park's popular bimonthly publication, Singing Sands Almanac, took place in 1982. As late as the fall of 1981, the Superintendent of Documents at the U.S. Government Printing Office began purchasing 1,468 copies of each issue to distribute to Federal Publications Depositories throughout the country. On May 20, 1982, however, government—financed publication of the Singing Sands Almanac terminated under a circular from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The order resulted in the halting of distribution plans for the May—June 1982 edition. Superintendent Whitehouse explained to the press that termination of government publication of the Almanac came about from a moratorium on the printing of government periodicals. Whitehouse revealed the lakeshore was exploring alternatives to permit publishing through private funding sources, in which case the former mailing list entries (11,000) would be offered an opportunity to resubscribe. In the meantime, Whitehouse announced the Almanac would be replaced by a free schedule of activities available for distribution to park visitors upon request. Concerned about the Almanac's demise, the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission recommended that Secretary James Watt request an exemption from OMB. Watt declined, but added his support for obtaining private funding to publish Singing Sands Almanac.

A revised Statement for Management reflecting the 1980 GMP was approved on October 6. Interpretive prospectuses for the Bailly and Chellberg Farm areas were approved two months later.

The local political environment shifted during the year upon the Congressional redistricting of Indiana. The national lakeshore, once included in three different districts, now found itself within the new First Congressional District. Because of the redistricting, Rep. Floyd Fithian lost his seat. To compound the turmoil, on September 4, First District Congressman Adam Benjamin, Jr. died. Benjamin's replacement, Mrs. Katie Hall, was elected to fill the First District seat in the November election. In appreciation of Benjamin's great friendship toward the lakeshore, the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission joined other local groups in urging that the proposed Gary marina be named after the late Congressman. [3]


Visitation continued to climb, hitting a record annual high of 1,510,630—a 41.6 percent increase over 1982 levels. With extreme heat experienced during the summer, people went to the beaches in droves causing the closing of the national lakeshore's four beach parking lots 148 times for a total of 538 hours.

Backed by the enthusiastic support of a united Indiana Congressional Delegation, the National Park Service approved the elevation of Assistant Superintendent Dale B. Engquist to fill the Superintendent's position. [4] Even though it conflicted with policy, J. R. Whitehouse enthusiastically advocated Dale Engquist's selection. The Advisory Commission initiated an intensive letter—writing campaign to get Engquist into the position. Not until a letter endorsing Engquist was signed by all twelve Indiana Representatives, two Senators, and Governor did the Service relent and change its mind—but not before a fast phone call from the Department to HOPE (Homeowners Opposed to Park Expansion)/Indiana Dunes Nature Conservancy was made to gain that organization's approval. As a result, Engquist had to meet with HOPE representatives before they reported they did not oppose his becoming superintendent. Engquist's unorthodox succession to the superintendency was yet another reminder of the lakeshore's close link to the political pulse. [5]

Six rangers in the West Beach Unit received the Department of the Interior Unit Award for Excellence from Secretary James Watt. Recognized for their efforts to reverse adverse usage at West Beach in favor of a family—oriented environment were Dave Montalbano, John Cannon, Sue Kylander, Phillip Lawson, Paul Crawford, and Fred Grish.

The Interpretation Division became more efficient in November 1983 with an internal reorganization. The separate Visitor Services (Public Activities) and Environmental Education subdivisions were merged to form the Visitor Services Subdivision which handled all programs and attended station operations. Festivals and interpretive planning were managed by the Interpretive Planning and Support Subdivision. The changes reduced lead positions from four to two, elevated productivity, and improved the lakeshore's planning capabilities.

Denver Service Center planners completed preliminary planning documents for the Douglas Environmental Education Center and construction funds were appropriated for the Service's Fiscal Year 1984 budget.

When President Reagan signed the Emergency Jobs Act of 1983 (P.L. 98—8) on March 24, the Park Service received $25 million, $211,000 of which went to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The emergency employment funding permitted the lakeshore to hire thirty—one people to engage in a number of maintenance and construction projects listed as follows:

1. Completed installation of the fire and security alarm systems at Bailly Homestead, Chellberg Farm, Rostone House, and 3,300—unit park museum collection at the temporary environmental education center. ($28,000 value.)

2. Conducted parkwide site restoration and cleanup activities, including dump sites in the Miller Woods area. Installed and repaired cables and other barricades to prevent use by off—road vehicles and illegal dumping. A total of 1,380 yards of debris were removed. ($76,100 value.)

3. Rehabilitated and improved safety on horse and ski trails, including trail stabilization, repair of bridge and drainage systems, and installation of boardwalks and signs. ($50,100 value.)

4. Rehabilitated and improved safety on the Little Calumet Trail, including a half—mile route revision, resurfacing, and boardwalk repairs. ($10,000 value.)

5. Rehabilitated and improved safety on the West Beach Trail, including adding woodchips and construction and repair of steps and boardwalks. ($27,400 value.)

6. Completed improvements at the West Beach Picnic Area, including installation of a fire hydrant, eight wooden picnic shelters, and a wood—frame railroad stop station. ($5,000 value.)

7. Replaced six water system shut—off valves in the Bailly Administrative Area. ($12,000 value.)

8. Installed safety handrailing at visitor center. ($3,000 value.)

YCC enrollees also continued to be intermixed in park operations with thirty—five in Maintenance, twelve in Resource Management and Visitor Protection, three in Science, one in Interpretation, and one in Administration. In addition to providing assistance in park maintenance programs and scientific monitoring projects, the YCC workers assisted with the self—guided Dune Succession Trail at West Beach, completed work on the Mount Baldy Trail, and helped with boundary survey and posting activities.

Once again the lakeshore received ONPS base funding for rehabilitating non—Federal roads within its boundaries. Additional parking areas were added at Inland Marsh, Pinhook Bog, and the Blue Heron Rookery. Service maintenance workers also realigned the West Beach visitor contact station and entrance road.

Volunteers In Parks (VIPs) donated more than 8,400 work hours to save the park an estimated $57,200. The 135 VIPs, combined with various local community groups, helped to augment the Park Service workforce.

Manpower worries became more common as work year personnel ceilings continued to drop. In Fiscal Year 1981, the lakeshore's ceiling stood at 110, but dropped to 101 in 1982, and then to 100.4 in 1983. In 1983, lifeguard services were provided for the first time by contract at the Kemil Road and Central Avenue beaches. Faced with contracting out all lifeguard services, park management studied the possibility late in the year of contracting out custodial services as well. The move came as a result of the Office of Management and Budget's Circular A—76 which evaluated Federal performance of activities which might be better handled by private commercial interests. The Maintenance Division began an evaluation of all of its in—house operations with an eye toward identifying all potential commercial activities including motor vehicle maintenance, snow removal, and roads, trails, and buildings maintenance. Superintendent Engquist noted, "It is anticipated that OMB Circular A—76 policy potentially will have a tremendous affect on Maintenance Division operations and personnel in F.Y. 1984 and subsequent years." [6]

Several studies were either underway or completed during the year. First, the Transportation Study, authorized by the 1980 bill, was completed in September and forwarded to Congress. The study recommended acquisition and restoration of ten historic South Shore Railroad cars. The Service's Fiscal Year 1984 budget included a $200,000 appropriation for acquisition, storage, and restoration of the vintage railcars, and $75,000 in planning funds for new South Shore Railroad stops in the lakeshore. The study also called for the redesignation of U.S. Highway 12 from Pines east to within 500 feet of the U.S. Steel Plant's east gate as a scenic road. The report advised that the speed limit be reduced from fifty—five to forty—five miles per hour and trucks be prohibited. Second, Denver Service Center began advanced planning for a campground study with a $200,000 Fiscal Year 1984 appropriation. The proposed facility was targeted for the former Beverly Shores golf course area. Third, administrative staff spent considerable time compiling a Land Protection Plan according to new Departmental guidelines. The report enumerated the lakeshore's land acquisition priorities and served as a guideline for the Land Acquisition Office.

A sizeable sewer connection project commenced later in the year with a $419,000 appropriation. The project involved connecting the lakeshore's Bailly Unit facilities to the city of Porter's sewer system. In addition, a separate $130,000 appropriation provided for a sewer extension to serve the GMP—mandated Goodfellow Environmental Education Camp.

The Science Office worked closely with the U.S. Geological Survey to gather data on the effects of dredging. When a local community proposed large scale dredging of Brown Ditch to alleviate homeowners' complaints of basement flooding, scientists proved that dredging within the national lakeshore would not produce the desired result of lowering the water table. Their efforts succeeded in halting the Brown Ditch dredging proposal within the lakeshore and thereby the potential adverse effects on the lakeshore ecosystem.

Preparation of the park's "Gifts Catalog" by Chief Interpreter Larry Waldron and his staff provided an ideal opportunity for the national lakeshore's supporters to donate money, items, and services. The catalog, entitled "Your Gift of Forever," focused on needs of the environmental education, science, resource preservation, and interpretive programs, and was published by Inland Steel the following year. Unlike other park gifts catalogs, the national lakeshore chose not to list mundane items (hammers, tires, shovels, etc.) because it recognized that in a depressed economy with many steelworkers unemployed, there would be few people willing to donate their own limited resources to the Federal Government. Instead, the catalog enumerated the lakeshore's programmatic needs and could be used in making contact with business corporations. Concurrent with this event was the formulation of the "Friends of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore" which provided financial and personnel support. Granted non—profit corporation status, the "Friends" were primarily charged with putting the various festivals on a self—sustaining basis. The Friends grew out of the large cadre of loyal volunteers who were involved in the interpretive programs at the Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm. The volunteers recognized that the lakeshore required assistance to maintain programs during an era of budget restrictions. [7]

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Last Updated: 07-Oct-2003