HAMMOND | The Coalition to Protect Cowles Bog Area filed a motion Monday seeking to prevent the National Park Service from cutting down 3,400 trees until the conclusion of their lawsuit, federal court records show.
The coalition, which is made up of a group of region residents, sued the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Interior, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore botanist Dan Mason, National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar in December, claiming their removal of trees on 25 acres of land would cause the “needless destruction” of Cowles Bog, located near U.S. 12 and Mineral Springs Road.
Plaintiffs Terry Grimm, Robert Evans and Cheryl Evans argue removing the trees would harm aesthetic enjoyment of Cowles Bog, according to the lawsuit. The suit also claims clear-cutting the trees, bulldozing the ground cover and soil and plugging ditches on the property would harm the plants and creatures there and lead to higher noise and dust pollution.
In July 2011, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore botanist Dan Mason said reducing the tree count and underbrush would make room for growth of desired vegetation. He said a restoration plan seeks to reintroduce plant species to return the area to its native ecosystem.
In the motion for preliminary injunction filed Monday, the Evanses and Grimm claim the defendants are pushing forward with the tree removal and accelerating their original schedule because of community opposition. They requested a hearing to discuss the issue.
An earlier attempt to halt the tree removal was denied Dec. 11. Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen denied the plaintiffs request for a temporary restraining order because of “procedural flaws.”