Congressman Pete Visclosky

Representing the 1st District of Indiana

Visclosky Introduces Legislation to Designate Northwest Indiana Lakeshore as a National Park

Sep 29, 2016
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Visclosky announced that he has introduced legislation to designate the Northwest Indiana 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.  The intent of this legislation is to allow the dunes lakeshore to receive the full tourism benefits and recognition of being designated a National Park.

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.

Congressman Visclosky has long supported the preservation of and improved access to the Northwest Indiana lakeshore through the Marquette Plan.  The three principles of the Marquette Plan are first, that 75 percent of the lakeshore should be available for free, open, and public use, second, that development should be set back by a minimum of 200 feet from the water, and third, that there should be a continuous biking and walking trail parallel to the shoreline for all Northwest Indiana residents to enjoy.

Additionally, in 1986 and 1992, Congressman Visclosky introduced measures that were both signed into law and expanded the boundaries of the current Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. 

The measure has been introduced with the support of the entire Indiana House delegation as original cosponsors, and it is currently pending consideration in the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Congressman Pete Visclosky stated, “The recognition of being a National Park is the final step of 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 lakeshore dunes in Northwest Indiana.  I thank my Indiana House colleagues and all the Northwest Indiana community leaders and officials for supporting this initiative that will ultimately attract more visitors and further stimulate our regional economy.”

“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.”

Tom Conway, President of Save the Dunes, stated, “One hundred years ago, the first public meeting took place to explore the possibility of a Sand Dunes National Park along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. The Indiana Dunes are a treasure of beauty and ecology.  We feel the title of Indiana Dunes National Park will bring increased attention and appreciation to this amazing place, and we commend Congressman Visclosky for always being a champion of the Dunes.”

Speros Batistatos, President and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, stated, “Millions of visitors are drawn to the Indiana dunes because of its diverse landscapes and recreational opportunities.  Residents of the South Shore know what a treasure the park is and the distinction of a National Park will give it the national recognition it deserves.”

Jack Arnett, Executive Director of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau, stated, “The retitling of IDNL and properly designating the property as the first and only National Park in Indiana is a huge plus for the region.  I thank Congressman Visclosky for once again continuing his leadership role when it comes to understanding the economic impact that tourism has within our region.”

Lorelei Weimer, Executive Director for Indiana Dunes Tourism, stated, “We are excited to learn that Congressman Pete Visclosky has introduced this bill.  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.”