Indiana Dunes
Administrative History
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To my mind, this is a very important gain for conservation because it was won in spite of tremendous pressure from industrial groups and local interests. The loss of this proposal would have had its influence on many areas now under consideration and conservation would have suffered a severe setback.

Indiana Dunes Project Keyman Allen T. Edmunds, November 9, 1966, following President Johnson's signing of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore bill. [1]

Lyndon Johnson's Program

By the end of 1964, the Roush bill effectively died, bottled up in the House Interior committee. With the convening of the 89th Congress, Roush reintroduced the bill in early 1965 and it received the designation H.R. 51. Senator Paul Douglas and Representative Charles Halleck continued their port versus park political machinations. For his part, Douglas worked for the Senate to approve the Public Works Omnibus Bill of 1965 which included a stipulation providing that no funds be appropriated for Burns Ditch Harbor until Congress designated the Indiana Dunes a national lakeshore. When the bill reached the House, Halleck not only saw that the measure was deleted, but he inserted a clause forbidding any linkage between port and park. In conference committee, Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana worked for a compromise. In the final bill, Douglas prevailed when Congress approved the Burns Waterway Harbor (Port of Indiana), but appropriations could only come with the authorization of an Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore by the adjournment of the 89th Congress in late 1966. [2]

From his years of experience in Congress, President Lyndon B. Johnson knew the history of the port versus park battle well. He adopted his predecessor's stand on the dunes, the so—called "Kennedy Compromise," without pause. In his February 8, 1965, State of the Union speech, President Johnson declared that the number of parks, seashores, and recreational areas did not satisfy the needs of an expanding population. Johnson proposed that maximum appropriations from the newly implemented Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) be utilized to make the 1960s a "Parks—for—America" decade. He listed twelve proposed national park areas he intended to target LWCF monies to acquire. Two Great Lakes units were on the list: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan, and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. [3]

Several factors combined to facilitate a more advantageous outlook for the park bill. In concert with the President's Great Society program was the growing acceptance of urban parks and the success of the outdoor recreation movement. President Johnson established the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation within the Department of the Interior and two presidential recreation commissions. Also critical to the dunes park movement was the growing concern to protect scarce coastal areas for public use. [4]

In the Senate, hearings on S. 360 resulted in a favorable report by the Interior and Insular Affairs Committee. Debate centered on the inclusion of noncontiguous marshy areas which the minority view saw as unrelated geographically and better suited to development. The dissenters added:

Our further concern is that the patchwork taking authorized by this bill may later be used as a precedent to take the best part of a landowner's holdings and leave him with only the scraps. It is our belief that the many problems of administration that are present without the inclusion of these noncontiguous tracts are simply compounded by their inclusion, and this is amplified by the fact that they are located many miles from the main body of the national lakeshore. The map of this proposed national lakeshore has the appearance of a crazy quilt. [5]

In accordance with the majority view, the Senate subsequently approved on S. 360 on June 21, 1965.

Charles A. Halleck, leader of the opposition, testified during the October 2 hearings at Valparaiso University in Indiana. He criticized the number of dunes park bills, declaring it was difficult to remember from bill to bill what was included and what was excluded from the lakeshore.* Chairman Ralph J. Rivers limited discussion to consideration of H.R. 51 and S. 360. [6] Congressman J. Edward Roush, sponsor of H.R. 51, reiterated the critical need for recreational areas by saying while there may never be a local consensus, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was certainly in the national interest. Roush lauded Lyndon Johnson's recent signing of the Assateague Island National Seashore bill and adopted the President's own words as applicable to the dunes: "If future generations are to remember us more with gratitude than with sorrow, we must achieve more than just the miracles of technology. We must also leave them with a glimpse of the world as God really made it, not just as it looked when we got through with it." [7]

*The list of bills follow: H.R. 51 introduced by J. Edward Roush of Indiana; H.R. 4412 introduced by Roman C. Pucinski of Illinois; H.R. 4789 introduced by Barratt O'Hara of Illinois; H.R. 3833 introduced by Morris K. Udall of Arizona; and H.R. 6985 introduced by John P. Saylor of Pennsylvania. (H.R. 51, 3833, and 4789 were effectively the same). In addition the committee considered S. 360 as passed by the Senate in June.

Department of the Interior's Proposal

In early 1966, the Department of the Interior produced an updated feasibility proposal to Congress on Indiana Dunes. Ten thousand copies were printed for the Department, made possible through the use of private funds. The Izaak Walton League ordered 7,000 copies direct from the printer for its own distribution. [8] Needless to say, Indiana, Washington, D.C., and other areas were saturated with the positive report.

The Department saw a real need for the lakeshore with six and a half million people within a fifty—mile radius and nine and a half million people with a one hundred—mile radius. Within fifteen years, the dunes region population would approach nearly twelve million people. The report stated:

Located adjacent to Gary, Indiana, and only 35 miles from Chicago on the south shore of Lake Michigan, the proposed lakeshore presents a rare opportunity to improve the environment of millions of crowded city dwellers and to insure the enjoyment of this unusual lakeshore for future generations... Nowhere on the Great Lakes is the need for additinal shoreline recreation greater. It is expected that these people with increased population, higher income and more leisure—will demand more in the future in the way of recreation opportunities. [9]

The proposal predicted an annual visitation of 1.2 million visitors to a developed park. By 1980, visitation could surpass two million. There was no time to waste in the effort to preserve the remaining dunes. The report continued:

Few other places on the Great Lakes exhibit a greater need for additional recreation sites than the vast Chicago metropolitan area. This remaining portion (Indiana Dunes) of Lake Michigan shoreline represents a potential major contribution towards the fulfillment of these recreational needs. Its early acquisition for park use would be in the best interest of public recreation.

Few spots on the Great Lakes have factors more favorably aligned for combined recreational use of the water, the lakeshore and the hinterland than the area of the proposed National Lakeshore.

Because of the low latitude and shallow depth, the waters along the Indiana shoreline are the warmest in Lake Michigan, rising above 60 degrees during the latter part of June and staying above that point until late September. Wide, gently sloping beaches of clean, light colored and fine grained sand are free of debris. This combination provides ideal conditions for pleasant swimming, strolling barefoot along the waterline, sunbathing, beachcombing or just relaxation in the refreshing breezes.

The Indiana Dunes region is an unusual complex of exceptional sand dunes, numerous marshes, swamps and bogs, white sand beaches, and widely diversified flora and fauna—a natural, scientific and scenic asset so diverse that it is difficult to equal anywhere in the country. [10]

The proposal divided the dunes into three zones—shoreline, inland, and wetland—and comprised twelve units totaling 8,894 acres. Within the zones were 950 improved properties (590 were permanent residences, 240 summer homes, 63 commercial installations, and 100 other residences built since 1961). The State of Indiana owned one—quarter of the land; the remainder was in private hands, including Inland, Bethlehem, and National Steel. The estimated acquisition price tag was set at $23 million, with boundaries carefully drawn in order not to hinder other developments. [11]

The 1966 report clearly defined the home ownership policy for the proposed park. Owners of a single—family home could retain ownership and as much as three acres of land indefinitely provided they satisfied two criteria: the home must have been built before October 21, 1963, and homeowners must adhere to local zoning laws approved by the Secretary of the Interior within one year of the lakeshore's enactment. All homeowners willing to sell could receive an independent appraisal and a fair market price. The property owner could then reserve a right of non—commercial use and occupancy for periods of up to twenty—five years. The Secretary of the Interior would be empowered to secure easements to allow public access to beaches. Even outside the lakeshore boundaries, the Secretary could obtain (but not through condemnation) easements to ensure visitor access to the Little Calumet River. [12]

The report included the following six recommendations for development and land use:

The Lakeshore Dunes Unit in its entirety be considered an inviolate natural area to be left free of any intrusions other than trails and such ungraded and unpaved maintenance roads as may be needed.

The West Beach Unit be used for intensive recreation pursuits such as swimming, sunbathing, picnicking and camping.

Camping, picnicking, and minor swimming areas be provided at the east end of Beverly Shores near Michigan City in the East Beach Unit.

The appropriate portions of the Bailly Homestead Unit, the Burns Bog Unit and the Inland Dunes Unit be devoted to hiking, picnicking, camping, horseback riding, nature study and any other uses that appear compatible with wise use of the Unit.

...wetland areas (Billington Lake, Mud Lake, Little Calumet River, Blue Heron, and the Pinhook Bog Units) be used for hiking, nature study, and wildlife sanctuaries.

To achieve consistency in overall planning, development, operation and conservation of the National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park, the National Park Service work in close cooperation with the State of Indiana, and that, with the concurrence of the State of Indiana, the Indiana Dunes State Park be included as part of the National Lakeshore. [13]

In conclusion, the Department's 1966 report acknowledged that the proposed National Lakeshore met the criteria for a "National Recreation Area" as defined by the President's Recreation Advisory Council.* [14] The report left no doubt about the Department of the Interior's enthusiastic endorsement of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

*The definition of a national recreation area is "a spacious area, developed for high carrying capacity, offering significant recreation opportunities in answer to high priority needs, and conveniently located to urban areas in an area requiring Federal involvement."

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Last Updated: 07-Oct-2003