The National Park
Service Wednesday announced that it has acquired a new Marsh Master
amphibious vehicle to hasten the work of removing invasive species from the
Dunes National Lakeshore.
Paul Labovitz praised the collaboration that brought about the purchase of
the MM-2LX Marsh Master. Save the Dunes provided $80,000, NIPSCO provided
$76,144, and the Great Lakes Restoration initiative threw in $7,121 to
acquire the vehicle at a cost of $163,265. Labovitz noted cobbling together
over $160,000 is “a tough thing to do in the world of government finance.”
Labovitz, the fight against invasive species to restore native wetlands is
grave. “We are at war here. This is a war machine.”
representing NIPSCO, said “We’re proud to have a small part in this and all
that’s been accomplished.”
The purchase of the
Marsh Master marks the start of a six-year program to restore 1,000 acres of
wetland in the Great Marsh.
Labovitz also noted
the National Park Service is working on the details of how the Marsh Master
can be shared with other groups for wetland restoration at sites farther
Those in attendance
for the announcement were treated to a demonstration of the Marsh Master’s
power at the Great Marsh in Beverly Shores. It can go from floating in deep
water to trudging through peat and gingerly rolling over logs. It does the
work of 42 people operating backpack sprayers, and with a ground pressure
footprint smaller than one person, according to Dan Mason, botanist for the
Due to its
lightweight aluminum construction and calculated weight distribution, the
Marsh Master has a ground pressure rating of 1.2 pounds per square inch.
Mason said the average person creates 3 pounds per square inch of ground
pressure when standing.
According to Mason,
restoration of the Great Marsh began in 1999, after it had been reduced by
over 50 percent. Normal hydrology was restored in three to four years, but
invasive species had moved in. Work started with people operating backpack
sprayers. Later, the National Park Service began renting a Marsh Master for
nearly $13,000 a month. Owning one would have been more cost effective, but
the funds didn’t come together until now.
Mason said the
choice to buy a Marsh Master was the result of detailed market research,
which took two to three weeks to compile. He said, “This was not a
The Marsh Master
has an overhead cargo rack, no-slip deck, and safety rails on the back. The
hydraulic spray rig has a 100-gallon capacity, which minimizes trips in and
out of a work area to refill. It also has a hydraulic attachment for an
adjustable roller cutter, backhoe, and winch.
Save the Dunes
Executive Director Natalie Johnson also praised the collaboration and
extended thanks to the organizations for the effort required. “It takes the
community as a whole to come together and say ‘we want this, we want to
better these lands.’”
“This is truly a
game changer,” Johnson added.