U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly and U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, both Hoosier Democrats, have revived legislation to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a national park.
Donnelly and Visclosky said they have the support of the entire Indiana congressional delegation.
The legislation introduced Wednesday would rename the park as the Indiana Dunes National Park and create the first national park in Indiana and the 60th national park in the United States, which Donnelly and Visclosky say would give greater recognition to the natural beauty of the dunes and potentially draw more visitors and boost the local economy.
Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, proposed designating the southern shore of Lake Michigan as the Sand Dunes National Park in 1916 because of the vast biological diversity and geological features of the Northwest Indiana lakeshore. The proposal, however, was abandoned at the onset of World War I.
"The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of Indiana’s and the Great Lakes Region’s most beautiful natural resources. Designating the dunes as a National Park would give the area the recognition it deserves and help preserve the natural beauty of the dunes. And by placing it in the same category as the other jewels of the National Park System, we hope it will attract more visitors to explore and enjoy all of the recreational activities the dunes offer, further stimulating the economy in Northwest Indiana," said Donnelly.
"The recognition of being a national park would complete an effort that began a century ago. It is past time that the rest of the nation recognizes the environmental wonder and significance of the Indiana Dunes," said Visclosky.