Chesterton Tribune

 

 

National Lakeshore and State Park to restore 1000 acres of black oak savanna

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More than 1,000 acres of rare native black oak savanna habitat in Duneland is going to be restored, beginning this summer, Save the Dunes has announced.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Indiana Dunes State Park, and Save the Dunes have received funding to restore 1,077 acres of black oak savanna.

The National Lakeshore will restore the bulk of it, 1,045 acres of black oak savanna in its Miller Woods and Tolleston Dunes units, while the State Park will restore 32 acres of it near trails 9 and 10 in a cooperative effort with the DNR’s Division of Nature Preserves.

“Black oak savanna is a disappearing ecosystem that is nearly lost from our planet,” Save the Dunes said. “It is estimated that less than 0.02 percent of high quality oak savanna remains in the Midwest, a region that used to have a great abundance of this ecosystem.”

“We are incredibly fortunate to have several locations within the Indiana dunes that contain this rare oak savanna habitat,” said Nicole Barker, executive director of Save the Dunes. “Oak savannas are wonderfully unique and diverse habitats that support a range of important native plant and animal species such as the federally-endangered Karner blue butterfly. We are proud to work with the exceptional staff at the National Park Service and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to collaboratively restore an ecologically significant Indiana dunes resource back to health.”

The remnant black oak savanna habitat in the Dunes is threatened by the overgrowth of invasive species which limit the growth of native wildflowers and grasses. A savanna habitat is unique because its sparsely distributed tree population allows for the presence of native wildflowers and grasses that require an abundance of sunlight, Save the Dunes said.

“The project is expected to benefit both native wildlife and plants,” Save the Dunes added. “In particular, the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly that relies exclusively on oak savanna plant species for its survival. In recent years, numbers of Karner blue butterflies have declined drastically. Researchers are trying to isolate the cause of these declines. Until the cause of the declines is found, the National Lakeshore is completing this to ensure the best possible conditions for this species as well as other species that rely on the oak savanna.”

The 1,077-acre restoration project will begin this summer and continue through summer of 2015.Ę Visitors to the parks may notice equipment, woody debris piles, and periodic noise during the project. It may become necessary to close trails for a day or more to ensure visitor safety as workers carry out the restoration activities. Any temporary closures in the National Lakeshore will be posted on the park website at www.nps.gov/indu

 

Posted 6/11/2014