Indiana Dunes
Administrative History
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GROWING PAINS, 1973-1976

Some of the proponents of the bill tell us that no President has ever vetoed a park bill. It is [our] sincere belief that this bill, in its present form, is a likely candidate for that dubious honor! Congressman Gerald Ford voted against the bill (H.R. 51) in 1966. What is there about this bill that would lead one to believe that he would change his mind?

Representatives Joe Skubitz and Steve Symms, presenting dissenting views on H.R. 11455, a bill to expand Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (February 10, 1976). [1]

Operations, 1973—1976


Natural disaster struck in mid—March 1973 when a fierce storm packing winds up to sixty miles per hour swept Lake Michigan and brought ten— to twelve—foot waves crashing down on the national lakeshore. The severe beach erosion threatened to undermine nearly forty homes and sweep them into churning Lake Michigan, which had risen in recent years to record high levels. At one point, the lake advanced inland and sixty—five feet of beach was lost. As the three—day storm grew steadily worse, area residents appealed to President Nixon for Federal intervention. Superintendent J. R. Whitehouse and Representative Earl Landgrebe requested an urgent meeting with Indiana Governor Edgar Whitcomb. Whitehouse agreed to permit the erection of a temporary retaining wall through the use of riprap (sections of concrete and rock). The debate on the revetment split the Advisory Commission down the middle. John Hillenbrand, a Commission member who also served as Chairman of Indiana's Natural Resources Commission, adamantly opposed the revetment. In retrospect, Whitehouse grew to conclude that although his decision to permit the revetment was mandated by public pressure, it ultimately was a mistake because it perpetuated the status quo: With Beverly Shores Island thus protected, the impetus to add it to the lakeshore diminished and the "temporary" revetment had the potential of becoming permanent. Whitehouse ultimately decided, however, that corrective measures to control the erosion and rebuild the beaches could begin later.

Governor Whitcomb mobilized the National Guard to render assistance, particularly in the area of Beverly Shores where a 3,800—foot section of Lake Front Drive partially washed out. National guardsmen began erecting a three—mile retaining wall along the devastated beachfront by using an abandoned house and roadway as building materials. Workers issued an appeal for more broken concrete or any other debris (including wrecked cars) for the massive revetment.

The Northeast Regional Office allocated $5,000 in emergency funds to assist Beverly Shores' efforts to combat the erosion. The combined labors helped to mitigate the erosion damage. No homes were lost, but seven residential septic systems were damaged and failed to meet State sanitary codes. The Park Service worked with county health authorities to ensure the repaired systems complied with code requirements. [2] Four houses, however, were beyond repair and the residents sought to sell them outright to the lakeshore. Assistant Secretary Nat Reed made the decision to buy them back and set a fair price for the hopelessly wrecked structures. [3]

Causes for the erosion included the rising lake level and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers harbor facility near Michigan City which altered the littoral drift. In a joint effort, the Service and Corps were engaged in studies to identify interim solutions. From fiscal 1973 funds, the Northeast Region allotted $91,000 to the Corps for engineering and design work for shoreline improvements. As an interim protection plan, the Corps called for a five—year replenishment and monitoring program estimated at $3.1 million. Preliminary estimates reached $13.5 million for the completion of shoreline protection and sand fill to restore the beaches between Michigan City and Beverly Shores. [4]

The land acquisition program, forecast to be phased—out by 1973, still operated with a skeleton staff of Land Acquisition Officer Frank Ucman, Realty Specialist Chandler Simpson, and Clerk Stenographer Irene Clayton. A Department of the Interior audit team conducted a three—month investigation in 1973 as part of a Departmentwide review of compliance with P.L. 91—646. The bill, passed in 1971, provided for relocation services to homeowners affected by Federal projects. Unfortunately, P.L. 91—646 did not authorize additional funds for compliance. This, plus the move to expand the lakeshore and raise the ceiling on land acquisition, stalled in Congress awaiting scheduling of hearings. On March 21, 1973, the Department ordered a curtailment of all payment of claims under P.L. 91—646 until funds became available for appraisals, surveys, and title work for all pending condemnation cases. The Indiana Dunes land acquisition program continued at a snail's pace. [5]

Another piece of legislation enacted in October 1972 impacted the Advisory Commission's operations. P.L. 92—436 provided for governmental meetings to be opened to the public. The Commission, which previously held private sessions because it viewed its function as solely advisory to the Secretary, began to hold open meetings in accordance with the so—called "Sunshine" law. Following each meeting the public attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions.

The close relationship between Whitehouse and the Commission continued to develop. Whitehouse made it a practice to call together as many Commission members as possible for lunch every two weeks and to discuss on an informal basis—so as not to violate the Sunshine law—happenings in their lives, communities, businesses, and park areas. This friendly cooperation helped Whitehouse develop additional contacts to help resolve lakeshore—related problems. Commission members Bill Lieber and John Hillenbrand used their connections "down—state" to help Whitehouse. Whitehouse soon entered on a first—name basis with the Director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). In cultivating close relations with Indiana officials, Whitehouse soon began attending meetings in Indianapolis every four to six weeks at DNR or the Governor's Office. [6]

Nineteen—seventy—three was the "first extensive interpretive year for the Lakeshore." [7] Although Seasonal Interpreter Darryl Blink began giving programs in connection with the Dunes State Park, Goodfellow Camp, and other organized groups in 1971, for the first time an interpretive schedule for the daily visitor was in place. Visitation from the Blink tours was 612 in 1971 and 531 in 1972. With five seasonal interpreters presenting evening programs three days a week over a two—month period, interpretive visitation rose to 2,571 in 1973. The Bailly Homestead also became accessible to visitors, but because of security reasons, only through ranger—guided tours.

The Ranger Division, led by Chief Ranger Rodney Royce, split into two subdivisions: Resource Management and Visitor Protection and Visitor Services. Seasonal workers included nine for the former and seven for the latter. Royce also renegotiated area fire contracts with Porter, Ogden Dunes, and Beverly Shores. Services provided to the lakeshore came to $150 for the first hour and $100 each hour thereafter.

In Maintenance, Howard Culp oversaw a staff of two permanent, one career conditional, and twenty—three seasonal employees. It was likewise subdivided into Roads and Trails and Buildings and Utilities and an interim maintenance area at Furnessville Road composed of three buildings served as a central headquarters. The Roads and Trails subdivision, composed of two five—man crews, thoroughly cleaned five miles of beach each day and provided roadside cleanup and trimming in accord with lakeshore communities. The crews also constructed an interim use picnic area on Highway 12 near Tremont Road and three interim parking areas: two at Beverly Shores (Central Avenue and East State Park Road) and one at Mount Baldy. The Buildings and Utilities crew maintained five government quarters, the Tremont visitor center, and the interim maintenance area. Howard Culp, who served as project supervisor on the on—going building demolition contract, also began planning the course of a horse trail in Tremont.

Maintenance crews also made progress on the lakeshore's trail system in 1973. Trails in the Bailly—Chellberg area were flagged in late spring and cleared by girl scout groups in early summer. The Ranger and Maintenance divisions completed the work by installing steps on hillsides and "log wheels" over stream crossings. At the visitor center, workers flagged the Black Oak Trail (now called the Calumet Dune Trail) with only slight clearing necessary. Some trail—blazing took place in the Cowles Bog and Mount Baldy areas.

Implementation of the sign plan began in 1973 with Maintenance Division—produced signs which related only to interim park installations. Restricted access signs went up at the Bailly Homestead and beach access parking signs were placed at Mount Baldy and Central and State Park Roads in the Beverly Shores area. Boundary, traffic control, and park informational signs received from the Northeast Regional and Washington offices were also installed.

Ralph Iorio entered on duty as the Administrative Officer bringing the total staff to fifty—three (excluding the three in land acquisition): seven permanents, three career—conditionals, and forty—three seasonals.

Two studies, a Baseline Water Resource Study by the U.S. Geological Survey, and a Natural Resource Study by the University of Indiana Foundation, also began in 1973.

Two significant visits occurred in 1973. On September 25, former Senator Paul Douglas made his first visit to the national lakeshore since its authorization. On May 16, new National Park Service Director Ronald Walker* and his staff arrived for a brief visit. [8]

*Ron Walker formerly worked at the White House where he scheduled President Nixon's travels to such places as the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China. Whitehouse recalled that Walker was nonplused by Indiana Dunes: "Ron Walker just sort of walked into the park and took a cold look around with his two boys that carried his bags. He got out of his car and looked over the Lake and said, 'Uh huh,' and got back in and left." See Whitehouse interview, 11 March 1987.


Effective in March 1974, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore came under the direction of the Midwest Regional Office, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, and led by Regional Director J. Leonard Volz. The new Regional alignment of the National Park Service resulted in the Midwest Region shifting its focus away from the Rocky Mountains to envelop the nation's heartland, including the Great Lakes States of Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The old Northeast Region subsequently became the Mid—Atlantic Region. Its northern tier shifted into the newly-established North Atlantic Region with headquarters in Boston. [9]

The administrative juggling met with no opposition. The Save the Dunes Council expressed optimism at the move. President Sylvia Troy informed the House Appropriations Committee, "Our initial contacts with the Regional staff have already revealed an increased interest in the dunes at the Regional level. We trust that with increased interest will also come increased sensitivity to the problems and potential of this valuable park." [10] Except for the de facto loss of George Palmer, the change pleased J. R. Whitehouse who commented:

I've always felt that Omaha has been much better for us than Philadelphia because we were closer and, toward the last few years, we ended up being one of the big parks within the Region and that helped. We had more support in Omaha. I look back on Omaha, and there were times when I'm sure some of the Associate Directors wished that Indiana Dunes would go away, but all in all, I have nothing but good memories about Omaha and the Regional Office. [11]

Area politicians* were also pleased, commenting that now a more amenable and geographically compatible regional center oversaw the dunes. [12]

*Headquarters for the Midwest Region would have been moved to Chicago had Representative Sidney Yates of Illinois had his way. The Nebraska Congressional Delegation, however, launched a successful campaign to keep the office in Omaha. See Whitehouse interview, 11 March 1987.

Before the Northeast Regional Advisory Committee (NRAC) underwent its own reorganization, the group met in Philadelphia on February 27 to tie—up loose ends. Representing the Midwest Region, Deputy Regional Director Merrill D. "Dave" Beal agreed to the transfer of four Northeast Regional Advisory Committee members to a similar Midwest Region committee. One of the transferees was William Lieber, the Chairman of the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission (an NRAC member since June 1972). Dave Beal and Bill Dean, Associate Regional Director for Cooperative Activities, told Lieber that Indiana Dunes ranked at the top of the Midwest Region's agenda. The meeting resulted in the appointment of George Palmer. Palmer, who had retired on June 30, 1973, but continued to serve in Philadelphia as a rehired annuitant, was appointed to serve as an advisor on dunes—related issues in order to ease disruptions during the transition. In a final resolution, the Northeast Regional Advisory Committee recommended that Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the two new Gateway parks in San Francisco and New York be developed before progressing with other urban recreational parks. [13]

Administration of the Chicago Field Office, headed by Assistant to the Regional Director Robert S. Chandler, also shifted to Omaha's supervision.* To reassure the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission on the smooth transition and to introduce themselves, Beal, Dean, Chandler, and John Kawamoto, Associate Regional Director for Professional Services, attended the August 21 meeting. Introduced at the same session was the national lakeshore's new Assistant Superintendent, Don H. Castleberry (former Superintendent of Timpanogos Cave National Monument). Castleberry's appointment became effective on August 21 after the transfer of Stan Lock to the Washington Office; Lock's vacant position permitted Castleberry's coming on board. [14] Bringing Don Castleberry to Indiana Dunes as Assistant Superintendent indicated Midwest Region's commitment to the new area as well as a recognition that the national lakeshore had progressed beyond the "project" stage. [15]

*The four—member Chicago Field Office in Des Plaines, Illinois, operated from May 30, 1971, to December 31, 1977. During the early years of Whitehouse's superintendency Bob Chandler (who did not possess line authority) attended all of the meetings of the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission and provided valuable assistance in networking with Chicago—area conservation groups and government agencies on Dunes—related matters. Following Chandler's departure in March 1975, however, the office became irrelevant to Indiana Dunes affairs. See Whitehouse interview, 11 March 1987; and Historical Listing of National Park Service Officials, May 1, 1986 (National Park Service, 1986), p. 42.

The curtailment of the land acquisition program because of payment of relocation claims under P.L. 91—646 continued in 1974. A move to complete the Indiana Dunes land acquisition program came under a Servicewide omnibus acquisition bill which cleared Congress in the fall. President Gerald R. Ford signed the measure raising the lakeshore's acquisition ceiling an additional $7,625,500 on October 26. Unfortunately, the bill did not include authorization for appropriations, a separate process to undertake.

While the program remained on hold, the incumbent land acquisition officer changed. Frank Ucman transferred to the Washington Office at mid—year and Fred Meyer, from the Land Acquisition Office at Cape Cod National Seashore, took Ucman's place. Other position changes included the administrative officer (T. B. Taylor filled Ralph Iorio's position) and Rae Gilbert became the new administrative assistant. The shifting prompted the Advisory Commission to caution against frequent staff turnover, fearing that the loss of too many professionals experienced in urban park development would prove detrimental.

The interpretive program continued to expand during its second extensive year of activities. A new emphasis during the off—season saw interpreters focusing on school and other organized groups, stressing environmental education and helping to make the national lakeshore and the National Park Service better known in the community. The number of evening programs increased and the weekly five—hour hike through Cowles Bog was rescheduled to Saturday mornings in order to permit more participation. Instead of limiting visitor programs and activities to the summer months, the interpretive schedule spanned all twelve months.

The American Youth Hostel Center relocated to the Coronado Lodge in May 1974.

In maintenance, two additional government quarters were authorized bringing the total to seven. Increasing growth resulted in each maintenance subdivision establishing its own maintenance area. The laborers completed a four-mile interim horse trail in the Tremont area before the May 25 opening. The trail also featured a thirty—car capacity parking lot adjacent to U.S. 20. Another trail at the Bailly Homestead connected the landmark to the cemetery with a one—mile loop.

At mid—year, the U.S. Army announced plans to deactivate its NIKE missile base in the Bailly Unit. The Midwest Regional Office immediately began negotiations with the General Services Administration to arrange the transfer of the buildings and land to the National Park Service. The park staff began preparing plans justifying the use of the complex. [16] Assistant Superintendent Castleberry proposed that the facility be adapted to serve as the new administrative headquarters for the National Lakeshore. As the staff continued to grow, the Tremont visitor center became increasingly cramped and the large Army facility on Mineral Springs Road would be an ideal, centrally located, focal point from which to conduct Lakeshore operations. [17]

From November 4 to 8, an operations evaluation team visited the Lakeshore. The Midwest Region team was composed of Maintenance Generalist Thomas L. Weeks and Personnel Management Specialist Kenneth G. Schaefer from the Midwest Regional Office; Administrative Officer Charles D. Goode from Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Missouri; and Superintendent Hugh P. Beattie of Isle Royale National Park, Michigan. The team's report identified a number of problem areas, most of which concerned a staff preoccupied with land acquisition and site restoration problems, public relations pressures, and a paucity of facilities. Of primary concern was the lack of implementation of the Service's Management System, especially in regard to staff organization and supervision. The team recommended that Assistant Superintendent Castleberry assume full control of park operations as soon as possible in order to allow Superintendent Whitehouse to dedicate attention to external affairs as well as over-all direction of lakeshore development and operations. The operations evaluation report criticized the short—circuiting of the communications process by the many direct contacts with citizens, advisory groups, and the Washington and Secretary's offices without input from the park or Region. The report stated, "It is incumbent on all to establish effective lines of communications which preclude the possibility of making erroneous assumptions or of making commitments or decisions without adequate communications with local park management, which may leave park management in a difficult position." In brief, the team recommended the following ten points be implemented:

1. Improve inter—park communications.

2. Prepare a new staff organization chart for Regional approval.

3. Prepare performance standards for all positions.

4. Redescribe and update the Supervisory Park Ranger (Chief Park Ranger) position to GS—025—11.

5. Rewrite and update position description for the Clerk—Stenographer GS—312—04.

6. Require aircraft pilot certification for employees using aircraft for official duty; maintain tighter controls on purchasing.

7. Regularly inventory government property.

8. Each division should develop comprehensive programs with chiefs involved in setting priorities and objectives.

9. The Maintenance Supervisor should program more time for field supervision.

10. A Lakeshore sign program should be prepared and approved. [18]

J. R. Whitehouse concurred with the operations evaluation report and initiated steps to correct the deficiencies. He responded:

We agree, in principle, regarding the need to review workload priorities. It should be recognized, however, that this area, perhaps much more than most others, is subject to intense overview by local interests, including conservation groups, Congressional delegations, etc. Frequently our activities are influenced by interests beyond our control. With the exception of some "reservations in use" matters, we have not been able to identify functions which can be relegated to lower priority. [19]

Whitehouse concluded by stating it was his decision to indoctrinate Assistant Superintendent Don Castleberry with operations from the superintendent's vantage point for three to four months and then gradually ease him into the "Chief of Operations" position. With this accomplished, Whitehouse believed his assistant superintendent would exercise a tighter management grip on lakeshore operations and thereby alleviate many of the problem areas. [20]

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Last Updated: 07-Oct-2003