Last week, Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant had a two-day meeting and retreat at the Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana. In addition to devoting some time to planning and discussing current and future projects, we were treated to a couple of informative and scenic tours in the area, learning more about the extensive restoration work to protect the dunes, the state park and national lakeshore, and the water quality of Lake Michigan.
Staff members were able to join National Park Service workers on-site to learn about and get their hands dirty at the Great Marsh Restoration Site not far from the dunes. Once very large, the remaining Great Marsh area is approximately 12 miles long and harbors a wide range of plants, animals, insects, and other beneficial organisms. Those native species are threatened by invasive species, however, and work is ongoing to plant and establish native species to bolster the wetlands’ resistance to invasive species and restore the natural balance of the area. 
Informative, fun, and muddy, the chance to do on-the-ground work in restoring this watershed was a valuable experience for everyone involved, and offered a practical reminder of the importance of restoring and protecting these areas. 
There are more terrific photographs of the restoration project and the lake shore on Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant’s Facebook page. Head over and check them out, and be sure to plan a visit to the park for yourself.
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