The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is once again open to the public.
Sixteen days after the partial federal shutdown began, sites in the region's national park are again seeing visitors, national lakeshore spokesman Bruce Rowe said.
Rowe said the chief ranger reported to him this morning that the park was relatively quiet during the shutdown. Some visitors, who were unaware of the closure, were asked to leave and politely did so, he said.
Rowe said all units were open and operating Thursday except for the Dunewood Campground. This coming weekend would have been the campground's last for the year, Rowe said, and because of the cooler, rainy weather, it was decided not to reopen the campground.
Mount Baldy also remains closed as the IDNL awaits results from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on what caused a section of the dune to collapse in July, trapping an Illinois boy who was buried under the sand for four hours. He was hospitalized for several weeks after his rescue, then returned home and is now back at school.
"Everyone returned to work this morning," Rowe said, adding that they are hurrying to get the Century of Progress House Tours set up for Saturday.
While the national lakeshore may have been without visitors during the shutdown, the Indiana Dunes State Park saw an uptick in traffic during the same time, said its property manager, Brandt Baughman.
While he didn't have exact counts, Baughman said the state park was packed with visitors.
"It has been busier than we were last year, but I don't have a breakdown as to how many of those visitors were attributed to the shutdown," Baughman said, adding the pleasant weather the past couple of weeks also may have contributed to additional visitors.
Baughman said the state park did assist during the federal shutdown by hosting a few school groups that were to participate in programs at the IDNL's Dunes Learning Center and hosted a meeting originally scheduled for the national park.
"It was an opportunity to educate a lot of people who didn't know the difference between the state park and the national lakeshore," said Baughman, adding they fielded many telephone calls about the status of the parks.