The Times from Munster, Indiana on March 20, 2016 · K2
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The Times from Munster, Indiana · K2

Munster, Indiana
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 20, 2016
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RO 01 K2 | SUNDAY, MARCH 20, 2016 THE TIMES MEDIA COMPANY W hen you think about the state of Indiana, the fi rst thing that comes to mind probably is not beaches. In fact, most non-Hoosiers are surprised to learn that Northwest Indiana is home to over 15,000 acres of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and 15 miles of beautiful beaches. As we celebrate Indiana’s bicentennial this year, it is clear that Lake Michigan and its shoreline are and will continue to be an integral part of Indiana’s culture and economy. The shore along Lake Michigan is one of my favorite locations in our state. Just a few hours’ drive for most Hoosiers, the lakeshore is a great place to spend a day with family and friends. Northwest Indiana is well aware of the important role Lake Michigan and its shoreline play in the history and economy of the Region. Today, the Indiana Dunes attract millions of visitors each year. There was a time when such numbers seemed unimaginable. At the beginning of the 20th century, manufacturing and commercial interests began expanding along the shore, and portions of the dunes’ natural landscape began to change. One example: A huge 200-foot-tall sand dune on the lakeshore known as “Hoosier Slide” was slowly mined away, shipped out and ultimately used to manufacture fruit jars and glass plates. By the 1920s, this famous dune had been leveled. Citizens and community leaders in Northwest Indiana responded and called for serious conservation e orts. In 1925, the state of Indiana purchased 107 acres along the lakeshore, and Indiana’s fourth state park — the Indiana Dunes State Park — opened to the public the next year. Today, this state park includes 2,182 acres. In 1966, Congress authorized the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and subsequent acts of Congress have increased park’s size to more than 15,000 acres. Managed by the National Park Service, this national park is home to 1,100 native plants, which ranks fourth in plant diversity among all national park sites. Since their creation, these protected park areas, which span from Gary to Michigan City, have been an economic boon for the Region. Visitors to the National Lakeshore contribute over $350 million to Porter County’s economy alone, every year. Tourists can enjoy a variety of recreational activities including camping, fi shing, hiking, bird watching and swimming. Scientists come from all over the world to observe the biodiversity of the parks. The National Lakeshore protects popular historic landmarks like the Bailly Homestead and fi ve houses from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Tourism is one of the few industries in Northwest Indiana that continued to grow during the recent recession, providing vital economic security to the Region. The tourism industry also has given many Region businesses the ability to respond to problems in their own industries. When invasive species began to plague commercial fi shing, the industry responded by promoting sport fi shing to visitors. This gave commercial fi shers an opportunity to control fi shing populations and maintain the lake’s ecological balance. In a region of Indiana that most Hoosiers view as a concentrated number of cities and towns located among massive industrial facilities, the dunes and shoreline are Mother Nature’s unique imprint on the Region’s landscape. All Hoosiers can take pride in having these geographic marvels in our state’s backyard. U.S. Sen. Dan Coats is Indiana’s senior senator. He is retiring at the end of the year. The opinions are the writer’s. NWI is a shore thing Sand miners work at the site of the Hoosier Slide mining operation in Michigan City. THINKSTOCK The distinctive blue in this antique canning jar was created by the mineral imperfections endemic to the Hoosier Slide’s sands. COURTESY OF EMICHIGANCITY.COM Visitors slide down the sand dune known as the Hoosier Slide on the current site of the NIPSCO generating station. Industrial mining had obliterated the dune by the 1920s, when NIPSCO purchased the land. TONY V. MARTIN | THE TIMES The pink facade of the Florida Tropical house makes it the most recognizable of fi ve 1933 World’s Fair homes that were relocated from Chicago to Beverly Shores. TONY V. MARTIN | THE TIMES This strange structure, known as the House of Tomorrow, is one of fi ve homes that were moved to Northwest Indiana after being on display during the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. The other four have been leased to occupants who agreed to rehab the buildings. U.S. SEN. DAN COATS Since their creation, these protected park areas ... have been an economic boon for the Region. Visitors to the National Lakeshore contribute over $350 million to Porter County’s economy alone, every year.

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