Indiana Dunes Tourism, the official marketing, planning and development organization for the Indiana Dunes area voted Thursday to take a formal position in support of Senate Bill 599 and House Bill 1488. The bills propose renaming the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park.
Indiana Dunes Tourism’s decision for advocacy was made in light of the Trump administration’s opposition to the Lakeshore becoming the Hoosier State’s first and America’s 61st national park on Wednesday during a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing. National Park Service Acting Director P. Daniel Smith told the subcommittee that, “the National Park Service believes that the current designation is appropriate for the unit [Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore] and in keeping with our efforts to provide consistency in the naming of park units.” The testimonial was made in reference to the Lakeshore’s size and amenities.
This week, while the Indiana Dunes was on the political stage, Indiana Dunes Tourism released its new Dunes 101 Video Series to help visitors better understand and appreciate all the Indiana Dunes area has to offer. The video series consists of five videos following a park ranger actor on an adventure through the area. The videos are posted on Indiana Dunes Tourism’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVvhm1mTDq_EU4OH6yXJkng?sub_confirmation=1), Facebook channel (https://www.facebook.com/IndianaDunesTourism/) and blog (http://www.indianadunes.com/travel-blog/), and each explores a different aspect of the Indiana Dunes, such as beaching, camping and hiking as well as other interesting facts:
- What are the Indiana Dunes — Dunes 101: Orientation | Indiana Dunes: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74o9JzOlL7U)
- Where are Indiana Dunes beaches — Dunes 101: Beach Experience | Indiana Dunes: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H16BnHd3Qe0)
- Where to camp in Indiana Dunes — Dunes 101: Camping | Indiana Dunes: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XqJ99Dg9xg)
- Where to hike in Indiana Dunes — Dunes 101: Hiking | Indiana Dunes: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOaLLCEopDE)
Interesting things about Indiana Dunes: Dunes 101: Did you know? | Indiana Dunes: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zevpc4HaW0A)
“We started the Dunes 101 Series as a marketing campaign to help visitors navigate the vast national treasure that is the Indiana Dunes,” said Dustin Ritchea, the promotions director for Indiana Dunes Tourism, “but we also see it as a vehicle to shed light on this overlooked resource. Indiana Dunes advocates have been trying to get national park status for the Lakeshore since 1916, and we hope the Dunes 101 Videos Series will help people understand why.”
Local leaders have already begun rallying in support of the National Park designation. Lorelei Weimer, the executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism, gave a public statement saying:
“The Indiana Dunes attracts 3.6 million visitors annually, which puts the Indiana Dunes as the seventh most popular national park out of the top 11 national parks in the nation. Indiana Dunes is just under Yellowstone National Park in terms of visitation.
Daniel Smith’s testimony that ‘…the term national park be reserved for units that contain a variety of resources and encompass large land or water areas…’ is contradictory in that the Gateway Arch of St. Louis was just granted the status of becoming the 60th National Park with only 193 acres. [Natalie Johnson, the executive director of Save the Dunes also went on record saying, ‘The Indiana Dunes is nearly three times the size of Hot Springs National Park and twice as large as the National Park of American Samoa’].
The Indiana Dunes has over 15,000 acres of woodlands, prairies, savannas, bogs, wetlands, beaches and shoreline, and it is the birthplace of ecology. The deciding factor on whether or not a park gets the National Park status should be based on the diversity of the park and its visitation. The Indiana Dunes has a greater variety of plant and animal species than Hawaii, and its visitation numbers speak for themselves.”
Indiana Dunes Tourism’s board president, Mitch Peters further elaborated, saying:
“The Board of Directors of Indiana Dunes Tourism strongly supports the proposed legislation to grant the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore status as a National Park. We believe this designation is long overdue and would be of significant benefit not only to Northwest Indiana but also to the entire Midwest Region.
We have long maintained that this natural resource is an environmental treasure, not only for our residents but for the entire country as well as foreign tourists. The number of annual visitors to the park clearly supports our position. We believe that such a resource, utilized by a diverse cross-section of individuals from all over the world, clearly deserves such a designation.
We sincerely hope that the United States Senate will be given the opportunity to consider such an important matter.”
Other leaders, including U.S. Representative Pete Visclosky, “remain[s] optimistic that (House Bill) 1488, which is co-sponsored by every Indiana member of Congress and unanimously approved by the House will become law and our Lakeshore will get the long overdue recognition it deserves and further drive economic activity in our region.”
Senate Bill 599 was co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and U.S. Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind. “I remain hopeful that this legislation, which passed the House of Representatives on a unanimous vote, will be taken up by the Senate,” said U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly. “The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a cherished natural resource in our state, and I believe it deserves the recognition of National Park status.”
Indiana Dunes Tourism’s staff and board believe that, “Not only is the Indiana Dunes deserving of national park status, but without question, it should have been given the status years ago. Now is the time to correct this oversight. Join us in elevating the dunes to even greater heights.”
The Indiana Dunes is the birthplace of ecology and occupies 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, creating white, sandy beaches in Northwest Indiana. The dunes were formed when glaciers receded 14,000 years ago, leaving sands that actually sing when you walk on them. Its beaches are placed among the best in the U.S., and the dunes are the top attraction in the state of Indiana, encompassing 15,000 acres of woodlands, prairies, savannas, bogs, wetlands and, of course, sand dunes, which reach heights up to 192 feet. In 2017, a record-breaking 3.6 million people visited the Indiana Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore, ranking the Indiana Dunes amongst Yellowstone in terms of park attendance.
Indiana Dunes Tourism is the official destination marketing, planning and development organization for Indiana Dunes Country/Porter County, Ind. Organizations interested in learning more about Indiana Dunes Tourism and its many opportunities should visit www.indianadunes.com or call 219-926-2255.