September 18, 2015

A family of wild turkeys seen in downtown Gary, Indiana last Saturday.

Residents in unincorporated Calumet Township are pushing Lake County, Indiana officials to stop a proposed sand mine one mile east of Griffith, Indiana. But the Lake County Plan Commission failed to resolve the permitting issue at their recent meeting, deferring it for their next meeting on October 21 at 6:30pm. The Army Corp of Engineers halted the project after property owners Walsh and Kelly failed to secure necessary permits and develop a mitigation plan for the 7 acres of wetlands they’ve destroyed.

Residents of the Town of Pines still do not know when arsenic-laced coal ash will be removed from their soils. Despite a misleading headline from the NWI Times (“Pines soil cleanup to begin soon“) the EPA gave no certainties at a recent public meeting.

The Porter County Alcoholic Beverage Commission voted 3-1 against granting a liquor license for Pavilion Partners and their controversial proposed new banquet center at the Indiana Dunes State Park. The vote came at the end of a lively four hour public meeting that drew an estimated 500+, the majority opposing the license. NWI Times reporter Doug Ross live-tweeted the meeting. The matter will be reviewed and made official by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission on October 6. The proposed banquet center is also raising concerns over the impact on the county budget.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has issued a 401 Water Quality Certification allowing the Singleton Quarry project near Lowell, Indiana to proceed, despite considerable criticism. The IDEM brushed off residents’ concerns about the quantity and quality of water that will flow into Singleton Ditch and the Kankakee River. The IDEM responded to the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s objections by stating that species and areas of concern were “located in Illinois” and that the permit is concerned with “water quality and aquatic life only within the waters of the State of Indiana.” Meanwhile in Illinois, US Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-2) toured the river and has contacted numerous federal agencies and representatives to ask for a stay on construction. The IDEM decision can be appealed before September 25. After significant flooding this summer, Illinois residents are concerned on the impact of an additional 12-36 (or maybe 52?) million tons of water a day entering from Indiana.

The feathered and non-feathered alike will enjoy improvements at the Porter County Parks’ Migratory Bird Sanctuary. Thanks to a donation from the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club, new bird and bat houses will be built at the site. Humans will enjoy new interpretive materials and a Little Free Library.

Controversy over the mow-line in Hobart’s Fred Rose Park has made the news again. The small park on the south banks of Lake George boasts a high level of plant diversity, making it one of the finest black oak savannah remnants in the region. Despite this, park board officials and parks superintendent John Mitchell have allowed mowing farther into the savannah.

Eight hundred LaPorte County, Indiana students got to enjoy a day on the Kankakee River at the inaugural Kankakee River Days at Dunn’s Bridge. Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Kankakee River Basin Commission the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District offered their guests a chance to learn the ecology of the river, its history, conservation efforts, and water safety. The grant will continue the program into next year, complementing a similar program at Trail Creek, established four years ago.

Residents in Sun River Terrance, Illinois are wondering why they didn’t received notice that biowastes would be used at a corporate farm near their properties. A similar controversy arose earlier this year on the northwest side of Chicago when biowastes were used to fertilize parks.

Hobart is looking to improve drainage near Union St and the Oak Savannah trail by Thanksgiving.

Controlled burn season is already upon us! Crews with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore conducted burns at the Tolleston Dunes (formerly Inland Marsh) and Miller Woods sites.

The state of Indiana is appealing to the federal government for an exemption from new EPA rules regulating farm runoff.

The Goshen, Indiana city council voted to renew at $2 million bond for street, bridge, and riverbank improvements. It is hoped that steel sheeting will prevent erosion along the Elkhart River.

The Michigan City Parks and Recreation Department is opening an ADA-compliant kayak launch at Trail Creek in Hansen Park.

Lakefront litter clean ups in Portage and Beverly Shores yield not only cleaner beaches, but also big data.

East Chicago hopes to make its lakefront more accessible.

It’s autumn in Michiana, why not visit a corn maze?

Finally, where will Hoosier Bear hibernate this winter? It’s anyone’s guess say officials.



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