Liberated creek improves park, reduces water pollution

Project Summary: Uncovering a creek at Indiana Dunes State Park and restoring the stream’s natural flow created new fish habitat and reduced the volume of polluted runoff entering Lake Michigan.

 

Project Name: Dunes Creek Daylighting

Location: Indiana Dunes State Park, Chesterton, Ind.

Description: Dunes Creek is a small stream that flows through

Dunes Creek was contained in a pipe for 80 years until it was unleashed in 2008. (Gary Post-Tribune photo)

Dunes Creek was contained in a pipe for 80 years until it was unleashed in 2008. (Gary Post-Tribune photo)

Indiana Dunes State Park and discharges into nearby Lake Michigan. The creek was forced into a large pipe in the 1930s so a new parking lot could be built where the stream once flowed. The creek remained harnessed for 80 years. In 2005, officials at the state park decided to daylight an 825-foot-section the creek. Three years later, after heavy rains and flooding collapsed part of the parking lot above the creek, officials decided to daylight another 700-foot section of Dunes Creek. The project restored the creek’s natural flow, improved flood protection, created fish and wildlife habitat, improved water quality and reduced the volume of polluted runoff flowing into Lake Michigan. The project, which included construction of a boardwalk, improved the overall aesthetics of the park and increased pedestrian access to the creek. Daylighting the creek meant fewer parking spaces, but that reduced overcrowding at the park, which has actually increased revenue. In 2005, the park brought in 68 cents for every dollar invested. By 2009, that had soared to $1.20. The project, which was dedicated in 2012, has won numerous state and national awards.

Approximate cost of project: $2 million.

Beach-goers at the Indiana Dunes State Park enjoy playing in Dunes Creek. Photo from Flickr/Lotzman Katzman.

Beach-goers at the Indiana Dunes State Park enjoy playing in Dunes Creek. Photo from Flickr/Lotzman Katzman.

Resource challenges addressed: Loss of fish and wildlife habitat, polluted runoff, bacterial pollution at nearby beach.

Key partners (public and private): Indiana Department of Natural Resources, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Federal Emergency Management Administration and the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Types of jobs created: Biologists, hydrologists, landscape architects, civil engineers, heavy equipment operators and general laborers.

Results and accomplishments: Restored the natural channel in a portion of Dunes Creek, which created new fish habitat, reduced polluted runoff and bacterial pollution on a nearby Lake Michigan beach.

Web site: http://bit.ly/16S3Uym

Originally Published: March 25, 2013

One Response to Liberated creek improves park, reduces water pollution

  1. Tom Anderson says:

    It would have been nice to show the area under the parking lot that has been restored to native habitat. Also, this was an outgrowth of the Dunes Creek Watershed Plan and was driven by citizens with funding identified by the Indiana Coastal Program. I wrote the watershed grant.

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