Indiana Dunes
Administrative History
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The establishment of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will help to carry out my father's directive to bring parks to people. For many years, parks were established where wilderness was. Yellowstone, Shenandoah, the Great Smokies and Acadia are all areas of great natural beauty far from crowded cities. But since 1971 we have had a new emphasis. Through the Legacy of Parks program, initiated by my father, we are putting parks where people are.

Remarks by Mrs. Julie Nixon Eisenhower upon the dedication of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on September 7, 1972. [1]

Operations, 1972

Northeast Regional Director Chester L. Brooks approved a second operations evaluation report for Indiana Dunes on January 21, 1972. The team was composed of the following Northeast Region personnel: Chief of Operations Evaluation Benjamin J. Zerbey; Operations Evaluation Specialists Dennis E. McGinnis and Earl W. Estes; and Property and Procurement Officer Michael Koper. The evaluation took place in late September 1971 and found Indiana Dunes operated adequately with its staff of three professionals. The team did not believe that the park, although administratively small, was understaffed.

The majority of staff time involved protecting lands and buildings. Other than the desk at the Tremont visitor center, there was no visitor services program. Superintendent J. R. Whitehouse spent most of his time on public relations activities, maintaining almost daily contact with members of the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission and offices of congressmen and senators in Indiana and Illinois. The team worked with Whitehouse on reorganizing administrative services to include a management assistant position similar to the chief of operations at Assateague Island National Seashore. This incumbent would take charge of daily in—park operations thereby freeing the superintendent to concentrate on public relations and external affairs. Because the workload had not yet reached a level where the position was needed, the team recommended a reassessment within six months.

The team found a good start on the environmental education program (EEP) by Park Ranger Stan Lock. Lock held a workshop for Duneland School District teachers where planning for an Environmental Study Area trail began. Except during the summer, Lock spent half of his time on this program.

Operations evaluation recommendations included encouraging the hiring of minorities to fill vacant positions, development of training and incentive awards programs, initiation of position performance standards, and speedy removal of government—acquired structures. Finally, the team advocated an early determination on the ownership of all roads within the lakeshore boundaries in order for a sound management plan to be formulated. [2]

Gains in interpretation during 1972 included the development of four exhibits by Harpers Ferry Center. Placed in the Tremont visitor center, the panel exhibits depicted the area's geological evolution, public use, historic resources, and planned development. Harpers Ferry Center also revised the park's minifolder. Contact with visitors at the Tremont visitor center desk was seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. With the birth of a park cooperating association agency under Eastern National Park and Monument Association, visitors could also buy books and other dunes—related materials.

The previously discussed environmental education program featured the initiation of a citizen's advisory council in 1972. Composed of six local educators and conservationists, the council, which operated under the Volunteers In Parks (VIP) program, gave coordinator Stan Lock guidance on EEP development. Lock's leadership lapsed for one year, however, as he entered the Service—sponsored EEP study at George Williams College. Lock returned to Indiana Dunes in June 1973 with a Master of Arts degree in Environmental Education Management.

With the welcome assistance of the newly—established park radio communications system, seasonal rangers conducted law enforcement activities on weekends. Seasonals augmented the two law enforcement technicians for regular beach foot patrols during the busy summer months. During late December 1972, the lakeshore implemented the U.S. Magistrate System.

In maintenance, 141 vacant buildings were removed under contract during 1972. With the assistance of a small team of seasonal laborers, Maintenance Supervisor Howard Culp oversaw the maintenance requirements of five park quarters, the visitor center and its grounds, and roadside cleanup activities in these vicinities. During the summer, crews regularly combed the beaches, removing alewives and discarding debris. (In a special cooperative effort between the Department of the Interior and the State of Michigan, alewives were put in check by the introduction of coho salmon—predators—into Lake Michigan.) A special project involved the Bailly Homestead following the declaration of taking. Maintenance workers fenced in the National Historic Landmark, installed security lights, and cleaned up the Bailly Cemetery. In late 1972, removal of debris and landscaping activities began.

By year's end, a total of $2.3 million in construction and project planning funds became available. Interpretive Prospectuses and Area Development Plans for West Beach, Bailly Homestead, and Tremont Day Use Area were approved. Beyond the park level, the National Park Service, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers formed an environmental task force to establish a monitoring system in order to identify any adverse affects in and around the national lakeshore. Robert Chandler, Assistant to the Regional Director in the Chicago Field Office, represented the National Park Service. [3]

On June 1, 1972, the American Youth Hostel organization opened a facility at the Dunes Motel on Highway 12, two miles west of lakeshore headquarters, now the site of the Horse Trail parking area. Operating under a five—year Special Use Permit, the hostel represented the first of its kind in Indiana. [4]

Public relations activities continued to dominate Superintendent Whitehouse's time. In August, he launched a campaign targeted at Michigan City to secure the donation of Mount Baldy. Benefits to the city, Whitehouse reasoned, included relieving pressure on the city's own park system and the Service's commitment to combat the beach erosion problem. Whitehouse informed Mayor Randall C. Miller: "I am convinced that the Mt. Baldy developed area would be a definite plus factor to the economy and recreational needs of the Michigan City area. Once Indiana Dunes becomes an on—going, fully developed park, Michigan City would obviously become the northern gateway to the Lakeshore." [5]

Aside from voicing concerns on potential adverse affects, Whitehouse and local conservation groups were powerless to prevent the visual pollution caused by a 350—foot cooling tower added to the new NIPSCO power generating station in 1972. On the park's eastern boundary at Michigan City, the plant's design first featured pumping heated water directly into Lake Michigan, a move opposed by the State and the fishing industry. The area's need for more electrical power, however, resulted in the cooling tower, and efforts to mitigate the visual intrusion were ignored. [6]

Dedication/Establishment Day, September 8, 1972

In the presidential election year of 1972, the politically—charged bill to expand the boundaries of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore never left the House subcommittee. Secretary of the Interior Rogers C. B. Morton asked the National Park Service to study the additional lands proposed in H. R. 10209 and recommend which tracts to include and exclude. The Senate voted to raise the land acquisition ceiling by four million dollars, but it did not clear the House. [7]

Led by Chairman William Lieber, grandson of Indiana State Park System founder Col. Richard Lieber, the Advisory Commission continued to advocate dedication of the national lakeshore during 1972—the 150th anniversary of the Bailly Homestead and the 100th birthday of Yellowstone National Park. During the Commission's March 24 meeting, Associate Regional Director George A. Palmer received its unanimous opinion on the matter. The members felt that Secretary Morton's presence and show of support would garner widespread community confidence in the Nixon Administration's commitment to the national lakeshore. To demonstrate State and Federal cooperation, the Advisory Commission felt the ceremony should take place at Indiana Dunes State Park. [8]

As late as the Advisory Commission's June 23 meeting, however, no firm commitment had been made. [9] Several weeks later, as the general election approached, the situation changed dramatically. On July 31, the Department informed the Washington Office that the establishment ceremonies would occur on September 8, and Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Nathaniel P. Reed would attend for Secretary Morton. [10] The park proceeded with planning for the event, including printing the dedication program. Three weeks later, the Secretary's schedule changed so that he could attend the dedication ceremony. The Secretary's advance team arrived, scrapped everything, and began anew. [11]

The day prior to the event, the office of Congressman Earl Landgrebe and the district chairman for the Committee to Re—Elect the President (CREEP) announced the President's daughter, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, would accompany Secretary Morton as a special guest speaker. To the park's consternation, a White House team descended on the lakeshore and produced yet another new platform and program. Indiana Senator Birch Bayh's proposed "live" telephone broadcast message from his Washington office was nixed by the White House planners. [12] Quite clearly, the swift chain of events reaffirmed that politics and parks—especially at Indiana Dunes—were intimately intertwined. Only one Democrat, Representative Ray J. Madden from Gary, was on the platform as a speaker. Porter County Republicans were on hand as greeters, carrying signs and distributing campaign buttons for the reelection of the President. Save the Dunes Council, represented on the platform by Dorothy Buell (who was not on the White House—produced program to speak), charged the event was blatantly political, arranged at the last—minute as a CREEP "media extravaganza." [13]

Rogers Morton, who had initiated a deauthorization effort a year—and—a—half earlier, endeavored to strike a chord of conciliation in his speech. Morton hailed the dunes as "one of the crown jewels" of President Nixon's Legacy of Parks program, "an enclave... a peaceful respite for 10 million Americans who live and work nearby." Morton credited Richard Nixon as the first President to make environmental quality a national priority. Citing the ceremony as the culmination of a half—century of efforts both inside and outside of government to save the dunes, Morton called the national lakeshore's establishment a "lasting tribute to Senator Douglas's efforts." [14]

Following a short speech by Mrs. Eisenhower in which she highlighted her father's Parks to the People campaign, Governor Edgar Whitcomb and a host of other dignitaries delivered brief remarks. Advisory Commission Chairman William Lieber served as master of ceremonies. Following the dedication ceremony, dignitaries attended a luncheon and reception hosted by the Advisory Commission with funds donated by local industry and commercial interests. There, Chairman Lieber read telegrams from Paul Douglas (who could not attend because of illness) and Senators Vance Hartke, Birch Bayh, and Adlai Stevenson III. In an impromptu news conference, Secretary Morton said he planned to discuss the proposed expansion bill with the President and then formulate a policy statement. The Secretary warned that if the park was enlarged, development could be delayed until sufficient funding became available. Morton welcomed cooperation with the Dunes State Park, but did not express any preference on the issue of donation. [15]

Although September 8 is acknowledged as the date of ceremonial establishment, according to the authorization act, official establishment came only with a statement from the Secretary of the Interior published in the Federal Register. This came on September 20, 1972, with the following notice:

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Indiana

Notice is given pursuant to section 3 of the Act of November 5, 1966, (80 Stat. 1309; 16 USC 460u), that there has been acquired within the boundaries of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore an acreage which is efficiently administrable for the purposes of said Act and, therefore, the Lakeshore is hereby established.

September 8, 1972 Rogers C. B. Morton,
Secretary of the Interior [16]

Six years after Congressional authorization, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was an "established" reality. Formal recognition of the park by the Republican administration nonetheless proved the infant Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore continued to weather partisan politics masterfully.

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Last Updated: 07-Oct-2003