Congressman Pete Visclosky

Representing the 1st District of Indiana

Donnelly, Visclosky Introduce Legislation to Designate Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park

Mar 9, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and Congressman Pete Visclosky, along with the support of the entire Indiana Congressional delegation, have introduced respective legislation in the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives to designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a National Park. 

Specifically, the legislation would retitle the “Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore” as the “Indiana Dunes National Park”.  The designation would create the first National Park in Indiana and the 60th National Park in the United States, which would give greater recognition to the natural beauty of the dunes and potentially draw more visitors and boost the local economy. 

Due to the vast biological diversity and geological features of the Northwest Indiana lakeshore, the first Director of the National Park Service, Mr. Stephen Mather, proposed designating the southern shore of Lake Michigan as the “Sand Dunes National Park” in 1916.  Unfortunately, this proposal was abandoned at the onset of World War I, but the Indiana Congressional delegation is again pushing for that designation.

Senator Joe Donnelly stated, “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.”

Senator Todd Young stated, “Many Hoosier families have fond memories of times spent together at the Indiana Dunes.  Changing its designation to a National Park will give families who live outside our great state the opportunity to know about, and enjoy, one of Indiana's most beautiful places.”

Congressman Pete Visclosky stated, “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.  I thank Senator Donnelly and Senator Young for supporting companion legislation in the U.S. Senate, and I also thank my Indiana House colleagues and all the Northwest Indiana community leaders and officials for their steadfast support for this initiative that will ultimately attract more visitors and create more economic opportunities in our region.”

 “The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a treasured source of beauty and recreation for Hoosier families,” Congresswoman Jackie Walorski said. “Making it our state’s first National Park will boost the Indiana economy by drawing more tourists from across the country who want to explore the dunes.”

Natalie Johnson, Executive Director of Save the Dunes, stated, “The Indiana Dunes clearly deserve top recognition as a National Park because of its unparalleled biodiversity and cultural heritage.  By retitling the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to the Indiana Dunes National Park, we hope to see increased awareness and appreciation of this beautiful landscape.”

Speros Batistatos, President and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, stated, “Millions of visitors are drawn to the Indiana Dunes each year, and a national park designation has the potential bring in additional visitors and increase the economic impact of the dunes for our region.”

Jack Arnett, Executive Director of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, stated, “This designation will allow us to greatly increase the economic impact of tourism in our state and build upon marketing the Indiana Dunes National Park as a national destination.”

Lorelei Weimer, Executive Director for Indiana Dunes Tourism, stated, “People love to visit our national parks and many travelers include visiting all of the national parks on their bucket lists. Many potential new visitors will add the Indiana Dunes National Park to their travel to do list because they will now know we are one of the national parks.”