There are few projects more near and dear to the hearts of Save the Dunes staff members than ones where they really get to save a dune! Thankfully, through a partnership with the Town of Long Beach, and funding provided in part by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake Michigan Coastal Program, they were able to do just that.
Beginning in 2019, Save the Dunes and the Town of Long Beach began this project to restore the natural dune habitat and enhance public access at “Stop 24”, one of the town’s public dune and lakeshore access sites. Stop 24 was overrun with invasive plant species, and the path to access the beach and Lake Michigan was incredibly steep and treacherous.
In 2020, the Town of Long Beach hired a contractor who completed site grading, installation of an ADA/ABA compliant path system, fencing installation, invasive species removal and native plant installation. The site was completely transformed. It is now much more accessible to the public, and the dune habitat has been cleared of invasive plant species and stabilized with marram grass.
With the site work completed, in 2021 Save the Dunes provided the Town of Long Beach with a Maintenance Plan to ensure the long-term care of the site. They met with the Town of Long Beach staff and community members to talk about the restoration process and what needs to be done to help protect this vital ecosystem.
“Strong partnerships and dedicated funders make projects like this possible,” said Katie Hobgood, the Program Director at Save the Dunes. “Watching the site completely transform was amazing. We are already talking with the Town of Long Beach about what we can do next.”
Save the Dunes was honored to be a partner on this project to preserve the dune ecosystem’s natural beauty and enhance public recreational access to the dunes and Lake Michigan. Already, the new marram grass is coming up, and the public is enjoying the direct, safe route to the beach.