The nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and the Field
Museum of Chicago have released results from an on-line survey conducted
earlier this year that encouraged the public to share their park experiences
and help shape the future of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The survey—part of NPCA’s larger strategic planning project, "National Park,
Regional Treasure”— was developed to address challenges and opportunities at
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
“When we asked, people certainly responded,” said Lynn McClure, Midwest
regional director of NPCA. “There are many people who love this national
park and visit for a variety of reasons such as the parks’ trails, beaches
and wildlife. We need to connect a new generation of people to this park and
make sure that it is accessible for those traveling from nearby urban
centers. It’s their escape from the city.”
Park lovers across the country care about Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
and more than 400 people from 20 states responded to the informational
on-line survey, which was launched earlier this year. The survey explored
visitors’ connections to the park and asked about their experiences, the
challenges at the National Lakeshore, and solutions that they propose.
“One of the best things about the survey was that people offered solid ideas
for how to address challenges at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,” said
Laurel Ross, urban conservation director for the Field Museum of Chicago.
“It is clear that there are people ready to help this park—as well as the
entire Calumet Region—to restore and manage the rich natural resources and
to improve visitor experiences.”
The survey found that participants were well acquainted with Indiana Dunes
with a majority—77 percent—having visited the park in the last six months.
The survey also found that park funding, the threat of invasive species, and
pollution were described as top concerns for the National Lakeshore.
Accessing the park ranked as an additional challenge for visitors as there
is limited parking space available and regulations that restrict visitors
from bringing their bicycles on public trains that travel to the park.
On the Web: http://NPCA.pr-optout.com/Url.aspx?513997x6671x-222425
“There are many people who want to care for this park,” McClure said. “The
key—and an important part of the strategic process—is connecting all of
these passionate people with the monumental job of funding and protecting
NPCA has launched a new feature on its website that highlights the “Faces of
Indiana Dunes.” The new section features comments, photos and, videos from
people who care about the park.
NPCA’s “National Park, Regional Treasure: a strategic plan for Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore” will be completed in spring 2011 and presented to the
park and the public. The strategic plan will include input from the survey
and park partners on a variety of recommendations for increased partnerships
and initiatives to build support for the park. The project is funded by the
Gaylord Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, ArcelorMittal, and a generous group of
National Parks Conservation Association members and donors.
NPCA is the largest non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to
protecting and enhancing America’s National Parks. The Field Museum of
Chicago, incorporated in 1893, will provide research and counsel to the
planning efforts at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.