Shirley Heinze Land Trust adds 17 acres to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s Mnoke Prairie. (Photo by Alex Zaideman)

The Shirley Heinze Land Trust recently donated 17.34 acres of protected natural land to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The land consists of four parcels that lie adjacent to park boundaries. The additional acres will help buffer the park’s current holdings and reconnect fragmented, high-quality natural areas.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore (https://www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm) consists of more than 15,000 acres on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.

“Shirley Heinze Land Trust has the ability to obtain and leverage funding opportunities to protect strategically located natural lands as they become available,” says Executive Director Kristopher Krouse. “We work in partnership with other land conservation organizations such as the National Lakeshore to identify and acquire high-quality areas with the eventual goal of transferring ownership to the best suited conservation entity.”

Paul Labovitz, Superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, says: “The work of Shirley Heinze Land Trust continues to help protect critical lands supporting the National Park Service mission for the benefit of all Americans. We are fortunate in Northwest Indiana to have a land trust to respond to conservation opportunities. We look forward to continued partner successes.”

The largest property involved is 13.73 acres of prairie, originally acquired by Shirley Heinze in 1999 through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agency’s North American Wetlands Conservation Act. It The land is adjacent to the Dunes’ 300-acre Hobart Prairie Grove unit in Lake County, which contains a variety of habitats including wetlands, prairie remnants, white oak flatlands, and a rare bur oak savanna. It protects 343 types of native plants and an abundance of wildlife.

Another 1.88-acre parcel of land adjacent to the southern edge of Mnoke Prairie will now become part of the Bailly/Chellberg and Little Calumet River Trail section of the park in Porter County. The property has been managed jointly since 2007 as a tallgrass prairie restoration project.

An assortment of 16 lots totaling 1.55 acres of wooded dunes becomes part of the Miller Woods portion of the park in Lake County. Another small group of lots totaling 0.18 of an acre has been added to the Tolleston Dunes unit in Porter County.

Shirley Heinze Land Trust has been protecting and preserving natural land since 1981. The organization accomplishes its work through a partnership of volunteers, donors, and professionals. More than 2,400 acres in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties have been preserved for the public’s benefit. Shirley Heinze nature preserves feature significant scenic and ecological value, and most are open to the public for hiking and enjoying nature.  The organization protects, restores, and maintains examples of the entire spectrum of northwestern Indiana’s rich and significant natural communities, including tallgrass prairie, high dune, oak savanna, boreal flatwoods, dune-and-swale, woodlands, marshes, swamps, ponds, fens, bogs, and riparian habitat.  Five of its properties – Cressmoor Prairie, Seidner Dune & Swale, John Merle Coulter Preserve, Barker Woods, and Ambler Flatwoods – have been dedicated to the people of Indiana as state nature preserves.

For more information on the work and nature preserves of Shirley Heinze Land Trust, visit www.heinzetrust.org, call (219) 242-8558, or access its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/heinzetrust.

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