D.C.-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the
Izaak Walton League of America have joined Dunes Action in demanding a stop
to construction at the Indiana Dunes State Park pending a National
Environmental Policy Act review.
recently sent letters to the National Park Service, stating the project
violates the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act of 1965’s
prohibition of converting the property to non-public outdoor recreational
use. PEER also corresponded with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
on this topic.
reason of waiting until building plans are finalized before seeking NPS
approval cannot be reconciled with the fact that construction has already
begun on the pavilion,” PEER Senior Counsel Paula Dinerstein wrote to
Cameron Sholly, National Park Service Midwest Regional Director.
Pending its review,
“NPS must notify the state and preclude further conversion, use, and
occupancy of the area.”
Saying that there
has been no formal NPS approval of the conversion activity, she added, “If
this is not the case, please provide documentation showing otherwise.”
Executive Director of the Izaak Walton League of America, also asked NPS
Director Jon Jarvis to immediately halt construction and further urged the
park service “not to approve conversion of the Indiana Dunes State Park
Pavilion and nearby public lands from public outdoor recreation use to a
private banquet and conference facility.”
“We are very
thankful to have assistance from both of these prestigious organizations in
calling for a stop to this project while a proper review is done,” said
Dunes Action Co-founder Desi Robertson.
President of the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, first
reported the apparent federal violation to the NPS in May.
Sweeney said the
League has been actively working on public conservation issues since 1922.
“And PEER doesn’t mess around Đ they have been very successful at litigating
violations of public land policies. We feel this case at the Dunes State
Park can be precedent setting.”
The LWCF was
enacted to support the acquisition of public lands and conservation
easements for outdoor recreation and to provide grant funds for the
acquisition and development of state and local parks and other outdoor
recreational facilities. Indiana Dunes State Park has received a number of
these grants over the years.
Parks that have
used the funds are intended to be reserved in perpetuity for public outdoor
Dunes ACTION! is a
non-partisan coalition opposed to the plan by the DNR to allow a private
development company to build and operate a conference/banquet center on the
lakefront at the Indiana Dunes State Park.