Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

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Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, a U.S. national lakeshore, a type of national park, authorized by Congress in 1966, is located in Northwest Indiana. The national lakeshore runs for nearly 25 miles (40 km) along southern Lake Michigan, bordered by Michigan City, Indiana on the east, and Gary, Indiana on the west. The park contains approximately 15,000 acres (61 kmē). A part of this area, 2,182 acres(9 kmē) is located in Indiana Dunes State Park and managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

The park contains 15 miles (24 km) of beaches, as well as sand dunes, bogs, marshes, swamps, prairies, rivers, oak savannas, and woodland forests. More than 350 species of birds have been observed in the park. It has one of the most diverse plant communities of any unit in the U.S. National Park System with 1418 vascular plant species including 90 threatened or endangered ones.

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Image:Indiana_dunes.jpg

The area first came to prominence in 1899 when Henry Cowles did some of the pioneering work in American plant ecology there. Despite attempts to protect the area from threats such as the nearby Gary steel mills led by groups such as the Prairie Club of Chicago, the area continued to be exploited. The tallest dune in Indiana, the 200 foot (60 m) high Hoosier Slide was hauled away and turned into glass by Pittsburgh Plate Glass and canning jars by Ball Brothers.

In 1926, part of the area became the Indiana Dunes State Park. Lobbying continued to expand the area and in 1963, the Kennedy Compromise linked the construction of the Port of Indiana to the development of a National Lakeshore. The Lakeshore was created in 1966 and expanded in 1976, 1980, 1986 and 1992.

The park provides opportunites for bird watching, camping, 45 miles (72 km) of hiking, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing. The park had 1.8 million visits in 2002.

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