Brandt Baughman, Indiana Dunes State Park, 2013 – 2014 Team Member

Baughman

 

The first in the Indiana and among the first in the nation, the “daylighting” of Dunes Creek at the Indiana Dunes State Park is a shining example of collaboration in innovation, said Brandt Baughman, property manager. A two-phase project launched in 2005 and completed in 2012, it restored just under a mile of the stream to a near natural state that had been channeled into a culvert as it flows into Lake Michigan. “We removed 280 parking spaces as a result,” he said, “and instead of seeing fewer people, this led to an explosion in gate receipts.” Why? The answer: improved visitor’s experience! Long championed by environmental groups, the restoration of the final leg of the creek that drains a 7400 acre watershed had been diverted into a culvert that ran underneath two parking lots since the 1930’s. By the early 2000s, the main lot had fallen into disrepair and rather than restore the rarely used lot, the decision was made by DNR to remove it and restore the stream. The funding to design and construct the initial phase came from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program. The second phase, which was adjacent to the main parking lot, came from Great Lakes Restoration funds. Funding was about $2 million. Benefits include restoring the ecosystem. Also more than one million people annually visit the park, up from under 500,000 in 2005.

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