Blog

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Dunes Near Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Dunes Near Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a beautiful section of Lake Michigan.  There are tall dunes with interesting lines and vegetation.  I had driven to the eastern end of the park, to hike Mount Baldy.  After I parked, I discovered the trail was closed due to excessive erosion.  Instead, I walked down this road that emerged with these dunes in one direction and the Nipsco Power Generating Station in the other.   After seeing the beautiful dunes with their undisturbed sand patterns, I was shocked to see plumes of pollution rise so close by.

NIPSCO Power Generating Station

NIPSCO Power Generating Station

The power plant was located on land directly abutting the dunes.  Power Generating Stations not only pollute the air, their coal ash pits leach mercury, arsenic, lead, and other toxic metals. Last November, NIPSCO requested $399 million in environmental protection projects and wanted a bill surcharge to pay for them, so they would be in compliance for coal ash rules.  

Interdunal Pond, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Interdunal Pond, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

In addition to the section of the park along the lakeshore, there are inland marshes, swamps, bogs, peatlands, and ponds.  According to the Park Service, the park could just as easily have been named the "Indiana Wetlands National Lakeshore."   When I drove through this area, the sun illuminated the cattails and other vegetation making them glow.  It concerned me that there was a power generating station with coal ash ponds so close to this wetland, which is no doubt very important to birds and other creatures.  Possibly as a result of human influence, cattails and duckweed now dominant.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Wetland

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Wetland

The duckweed is so prolific in this boggy area that it has likely crowded out a lot of other types of native vegetation that used to exist here.  A third of all plant and animal species that are currently endangered spend time in wetland habitats for at least part of their lives.  The species here have had to adapt to low mineral content, high acidity and low oxygen levels.  Clearly there were important natural areas here that run the risk of being disturbed if they aren't being hampered already, and human influence can be the deciding factor in whether an endangered species survives or not..

Bailey Homestead, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Bailey Homestead, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The Bailey Homestead is a US National Historic Landmark preserved by the National Park Service in Porter, Indiana.  This home as owned by a fur trader named Joseph Aubert de Gaspe Bailly de Messein.  He acquired this home when the Calumet River was opened for white settlement in the 1830s.  The Little Calumet River passes right near the homestead.

Little Calumet River

Little Calumet River

The banks of the river were mostly wild, except for a narrow footpath that ran through the trees.  Calumet is the name for a type of Native American Cermonial Pipe that is used as a peace pipe.  I wondered if it was the same one that I smoked at Standing Rock when I went to the drill site near where the graves had been desecrated.  The Calumet and Little Calumet Rivers were no doubt sacred to the Miami and Potawatomi Indians that once lived near here.  Sadly, pollution by steal mills, foundaries, a meat packing plant. and other industries was unrestricted for decades and the river remains high in contaminants.

Lake View, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Lake View, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Takoda and I spent explored the area every moment until the sun went down.  We were able to view a beautiful sunset fro the beach at Lake View.  The area had so much natural beauty but under the surface there were so many issues facing the river, wetlands, and lakeshore, since the surrounding area was so heavily industrialized.  It frightens me to think what will happen to the environment if we allow parklands to be sold or used by corporations.  They are the last frontier of wilderness and are already frequently harmed by what goes on around them even when we don't allow them to be polluted from within.