A grant of more than $200,000 to several local conservation groups will help restore and improve access to the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.
Save the Dunes, Shirley Heinze Land Trust, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Northwest Indiana Paddling Association have received $205,959 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Chi-Cal Rivers Fund.
The four organizations will use the money to improve safe public access at several nature preserves and enhance more than 189 acres of habitat along the river.
“This portion of the river is currently a focus area for restoration and improvement activities in Northwest Indiana,” Kristopher Krouse, Shirley Heinze Land Trust executive director, said in a news release. “It has been a priority area for our conservation efforts for the past three years. This funding furthers our goals of preserving the Little Calumet River corridor and providing safe, high quality public access to the river.”
Improved public access amenities will be installed on three Shirley Heinze Land Trust properties; Little Calumet Wetlands and Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserves in Chesterton, and John Merle Coulter Preserve in Portage. The Portage location also will receive 9 acres of habitat enhancement.
A 180-acre portion of the river’s corridor through the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will receive habitat enhancement, including removing exotic/invasive species to help re-establish native species that aid in pollutant filtration of stormwater runoff.
Ash trees along the river that have been killed by the emerald ash borer will be removed. This will improve safety for anglers and others currently accessing the river.
“Save the Dunes is proud to help the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore fight the ongoing threat of invasive species and help reestablish native species in areas hit hard by the emerald ash borer,” said Nicole Barker, executive director of Save the Dunes.
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