By Veronica Carter
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore hugs 15 miles of the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is the state's biggest tourist attraction, with an estimated 3 million visitors a year.
Nicole Barker, executive director of the group Save the Dunes, says most people aren't aware the National Park Service has not been able to secure the last of the lands within its 15,000-acre boundary.
Late last year, after ten years of negotiations, a deal was reached to acquire a 100-acre piece of property around Lake George in Hobart.
"There are other pieces that we need to pick up; I would ballpark maybe eight percent left of the total acreage," she says. "A lot of those are scattered pieces here and there or small remnants that aren't necessarily of substantial natural resource value."
Barker says the property is excellent habitat for waterfowl and migratory birds such as the great blue heron and adds it will be a significant draw for hiking and birding.
Barker says the Dunes are treasured by people all over the state, and draw in visitors from across the globe.
"The uniqueness of the ecosystem, the rarity of the species that we have here and the rich, rich biodiversity," she says. "And then on a basic level to just enjoy the primal and simple relaxation and serenity that you can have spending time in the Dunes."
Barker's group works with the Park Service to restore habitat in the Dunes and she says there are projects slated for the Lake George property this spring.