PORTAGE | A Porter County group hoping to turn a wetland destroyed by years of abuse and neglect into a migratory bird sanctuary turned to regional environmental planners for support on Thursday.
Tim Cole, a Porter County Parks Foundation board member, said the Chesterton site, "looks beautiful, but it is dead and it's been that way for years and it's getting worse."
"There's not one piece of wildlife or decent flora in this 40 acres," Cole said.".... It's a wasteland. They can not survive on what's there."
Cole and other foundation members addressed the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's Environmental Management and Policy Committee meeting Thursday morning.
The group's project is tentatively dubbed the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary, a nearly 40-acre parcel in Chesterton on 11th Street between County Road 1100 North and Porter Avenue.
Foundation board member Richard Maxey said 3 to 4 acres on the site was home to the town landfill 50 to 60 years ago. Most of the waste was household, not construction and demolition debris or hazardous waste, he said.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and other agencies are helping the foundation determine whether any contaminants are at the site or in the groundwater and how best to mitigate that portion of the property, Maxey said.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers planned to meet with organizers at the site Thursday as part of the wetland delineation process, Matt Keiser of design group Abonmarche. The company is working with the foundation on the project.
Porter County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke praised the group's efforts.
"This is really a positive, a great upgrade for the community," Breitzke said.