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Contact: Bruce Rowe, 219-395-1609
INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: The National Park Service has released the draft Environmental Assessment for "Restoration of Cowles Bog Wetland Complex's Lake Plain Wet-Mesic Prairie for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore", and is seeking public comment. Each unit of the national park system is driven by federal enabling legislation and this assessment is needed to ensure the Cowles Bog Wetland Complex restoration is in harmony with the legislative intent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Environmental Assessment evaluates three possible alternatives in depth. The alternatives addressed include restoring wetland hydrology, grading to fill ditches, removal of the tree canopy, and planting native prairie plants now absent from the area. The alternatives meet park purposes and objectives while protecting park resources and minimizing impacts. All alternatives are consistent with applicable NPS laws, policies, and regulations.
Beginning Friday, March 9, a copy of the Environmental Assessment for the Restoration of Cowles Bog Wetland Complex's Lake Plain Wet-Mesic Prairie is available in three different formats. It can be found online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/indu. A CD of the document can be requested by contacting Dan Mason at the address below. Finally, hardcopies of the document will be available for review at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center at 1215 North State Road 49 in Porter, Indiana and at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Headquarters located at 1100 North Mineral Springs Road in Porter, Indiana.
The best way to comment on the Environmental Assessment is to use the electronic form located at: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/indu. The comment period closes on 04/09/2012. Comments must be postmarked no later than 04/09/2012. If you cannot use the electronic form you may mail or drop off a hard copy comment form and/or letter to:
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
Attention: Dan Mason, Botanist
1100 North Mineral Springs Road
Porter, Indiana 46304-1299
The Environmental Assessment has three alternatives under consideration. The alternatives are:
Alternative 1: No Action
Alternative 2: Retention of Selected Trees
Alternative 3: Retention of Trees by Historic Foundation
Each alternative addresses the potential environmental impacts to the park's: historic structures; cultural landscapes; archeological resources; soils, air, and water quality; vegetation; wildlife and wildlife habitat; sensitive and rare species; recreation resources; visitor use and experience; park operations; and socioeconomic conditions.
The preferred alternative, Alternative 2, would involve a reduction in the tree cover and removal of understory vegetation. The trees to remain would be chosen specifically based upon species and location. Trees within and surrounding the historic home site would be undisturbed. A number of trees would be maintained adjacent to Mineral Springs Road, including the "witness" trees from the 1830's land survey. Alternative B is the preferred because it would be consistent with the project goals and would reduce the tree canopy to allow for the development of desired native prairie species, would be consistent with historical conditions, and would provide a visual buffer along Mineral Springs Road.