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As Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore moves forward in planning for another century of stewardship, it will do so with a new partner. NIPSCO and the Park have teamed up as major partners in a new Good Fellow Club Youth Camp Landscape Restoration Project.
The site of a former summer outdoor recreation camp operated by U.S. Steel Gary Works’ Good Fellow Club, Good Fellow Club Youth Camp was purchased in 1977 by The National Park Service. The property’s association with regional industrial history has placed it on the National Register of Historic Places. Bounded on the North and West by more than 100 acres of NIPSCO property, the 63 acres were not widely used until 1998, when National Park Service education partner, Dunes Learning Center was established.
A visit to Dunes Learning Center represents, for many, their first National Park experience and an introduction to the Indiana Dunes. Immersed in nature, students learn about ecology, stewardship, and the environment. More than 14,000 individuals participated in a Dunes Learning Center program in 2016, adding to a total of more than 100,000 since 1998.
Seeking to better serve these young visitors and restore the historic natural landscape, the park has developed a Restoration Plan and reached out to NIPSCO through the Wildlife Habitat Council—an organization that specializes in building conservation collaborations—to craft a mutually sustainable plan to address both sites. Once completed, the Good Fellow Club Youth Camp Landscape Restoration Project will increase the size of Dunes Learning Center’s outdoor classroom, as well as its ecological and educational value. In addition to a generous $50,000 donation on behalf of their parent company’s philanthropic NiSource Foundation, NIPSCO will provide in-kind activities and coordination to assist in the restoration.
The National Lakeshore and NIPSCO believe that by partnering through this resource stewardship project, they will continue to build a long-term relationship. The park looks forward to utilizing this framework with additional resource stewardship partners to help create generations of conservation stewards in the region.