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INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: The National Park Service is planning eight prescribed fires this spring at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Approximately 1,200 acres are expected to be burned. Fire is used as a tool for the park's long-term restoration and hazard fuel reduction efforts.
“During this spring fire season we have set some ambitious goals, “said Mel Whitenack, the park's Fire Management Officer. “If we get favorable weather conditions we will be able to burn over 1,200 acres of park property between Gary and Beverly Shores for habitat restoration, and to reduce fuels which also reduces the threat of wildfires to communities by limiting the amount of materials that could potentially burn in a wildfire."
In Gary, 133 acres are planned in three sections. The most western burn planned for this year is at the western edge of the park, a 59 acre strip of land north of the Indiana Toll Road, between Tennessee Street and Virginia Street. The second unit is In the Miller Community, around the Douglas Center for Environmental Education, north of 3rd Avenue and west of Lake Street. This burn will assist in the black oak savannah restoration. The third burn in Gary is east of Inland Manor between 5th Street and U.S. Highway 12, west of County Line Road and it is 67 acres
Multiple units will be burned within the park’s West Beach for a total of 114 acres from the entrance to West Beach along Beach Road and defined by the Long Lake and West Beach Trail loops.
Two units will be burned in conjunction with the Town of Ogden Dunes. One is in the park’s Tolleston Dunes unit, on the south side of the town of Ogden Dunes, a 35 acre strip of land will be burned north of U.S. Highway 12 between Long Lake and Hillcrest Rd. This will be burned to continue the effort to restore the oak savannah habitat. The other unit is on the east side of Ogden Dunes. This 151 acre burn is planned near the Portage Lakefront and River Walk unit and also includes a portion of City of Portage park property.
A 551 acre burn is planned in the Cowls Bog area, between Mineral Springs Road and Waverly Road north from the Calumet Trail to the south edge of Dune Acres. This burn is to reduce hazardous fuels and improve habitat. Sections of Dune Acres Property will also be burned in conjunction with NPS properties.
The most easterly burn this year will be 285 acres in Beverly Shores. The burn will be between East State Park Road, and Broadway, north of Beverly Drive to Lakefront Drive.
The prescribed fire program at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is conducted by trained and experienced National Park Service fire personnel. Smoke dispersal is a primary concern and park staff will do everything possible to limit smoke in the area by monitoring wind and atmospheric conditions prior to ignitions. However, smoke drifting in and around park lands and roadways is possible.
Clear management goals and objectives have been established for each burn unit. Before burning, a designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. Weather conditions will be monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure the fire is completed safely.
Residents of Porter County may sign up to receive prescribed fire notifications through Porter County's "Alert Porter County" system. As part of the program, residents can sign up to receive a text message, email or voice message when prescribed fires are happening at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Go to http://www.portercounty911.org to sign up for this free service. Additionally, the national lakeshore announces prescribed fire activity on its Facebook page, www.facebok.com/IndianaDunesNL
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of 417 units of the National Park System ranging from Yellowstone to the Statue of Liberty. Located in Northwest Indiana, the park includes 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and 15,000 acres of biodiverse beaches, woods, prairies, and marshes. Up to 2 million visitors come to the Indiana Dunes each year.