Government officials, coalition reach temporary agreement over Cowles Bog area

2013-01-22T14:15:00Z 2013-01-23T00:07:07Z Government officials, coalition reach temporary agreement over Cowles Bog areaBy Times Staff nwitimes.com
January 22, 2013 2:15 pm  • 

HAMMOND | The Coalition to Protect Cowles Bog Area and environmental officials have reached a temporary agreement on cutting down trees in the area, federal court records show.

The coalition -- a group of Dune Acres residents -- sued the National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Interior and other federal government defendants in December 2012, claiming the removal of trees on 25 acres of land would cause the “needless destruction” of Cowles Bog.

The natural area is located near the intersection of U.S. 12 and Mineral Springs Road in rural Porter County.

Plaintiffs Terry Grimm, Robert Evans and Cheryl Evans argue removing the trees would harm aesthetic enjoyment of Cowles Bog, harm plants and creatures and lead to higher noise and dust pollution, according to the lawsuit.

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.

Late last year, the coalition sought a preliminary injunction to prevent the National Park Service from cutting down 3,400 trees until the conclusion of their lawsuit. They claimed the defendants were accelerating their original schedule because of community opposition.

On Tuesday, environmental officials agreed to assign no more than 12 staff members per day to the tree removal process without first providing 14 days notice of any staff increase, court records state. Officials also agreed not to cut trees in the easternmost part of the project area until March 1 or further court order, whichever comes first, according to the stipulation.

In return, members of the coalition agreed to withdraw their motion for preliminary injunction, court records state.

The lawsuit itself will continue.

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