Bismarck Hill

A conservation struggle is emerging in Michigan City, Indiana. Bismarck Hill, the city’s last remaining undeveloped dune, is eyed by developers and the parks department for a privately-operated, seasonal zip-line business.

Residents plan to speak on the issue at the city council meeting on Wednesday, 7 June, 2017.

The Michigan City Social Justice Group asked its followers to state reasons to preserve an undisturbed landscape. Responses note the ecological problems and limited economic benefit that private development would bring. The major regional environmental and conservation organizations have thus far failed to make a statement on this issue.

This sort of development seems to contradict the parks department’s natural restoration efforts undertaken earlier this spring. In March the department spoke of the “substantial benefits” to “native communities” such as “long-term reduced maintenance costs, carbon footprint reduction, improved soil stability, excess nutrient filtration, stormwater runoff reduction, aesthetic enhancement, and increased habitat diversity for insects, birds, amphibians and mammals.” All things that would be impacted or disrupted by this proposed business.

Mount Baldy

Michigan City, IN
images from 2000-2003

Mount Baldy is a 126 foot tall living sand dune on the easternmost edge of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It is unsuccumbed to nature and society, moving southward 4-9 feet each year; swallowing trees, the forest, boardwalks, observation towers, parking lots, and in 2013 a small child.

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My own brush with danger on 19 December, 2003:

A strong wind sent me tumbling down from the peak, ass over elbows. My journey was preserved in a trail left behind in the sand and snow shown in the image above. Midway down I hit a clump of trees,  bounced westerly a few feet and continued tumbling ass over elbows until I reached the bottom, startled and dazed but fortunately uninjured. As you can see below, the digital camera in my coat pocket deployed during descent.

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Happier Days

I’ve never been able to capture Mount Baldy in a single image, but the tiny humans in the images below should give some sense of the enormous scale. While shorter than its cousins in Sleeping Bear Dunes this is a majestic mountain of sand, a desert adjacent to the northern forests. With another closing announced for 2015 I’m missing this quarantined friend, the strenuous climbs and rewarding sunset skyline views it offers.

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