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.
Ensuring safety for visitors to Lake Michigan involves several factors, many departments and people, and a terrific amount of work. And still, unless good, accurate information reaches visitors and people who need it, potential problems can’t be avoided.
One such concern each summer season is the presence of rip currents
– a strong flow of water under the surface that carries away from the shore. Each year, swimmers and surfers in all major bodies of water can be endangered by the presence of these currents. That is why developing a more accurate and immediate way of warning beachgoers about rip currents is incredibly important, and why the National Weather Service, the U.S. Coast Guard, life guards at several beaches, and other organizations are partnering to develop and share information about rip currents.
From the Northwest Indiana Times:
“…the National Weather Service’s Chicago office in Romeoville, Ill., and the Northern Indiana office teamed up with beach operators to enhance predicting and warning of rip currents along Lake Michigan’s beaches in an effort to reduce drowning deaths.
In addition to modeling to predict rip currents, forecasters now have the help of lifeguards at beaches at Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Washington Park in Michigan City, Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer, Mich., and Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph, Mich. The lifeguards report water conditions twice daily and can see the rip currents in the water from their guard stands.”
Read the complete article here
, and find information about rip currents and beach conditions at the Great Lakes Beach Hazards
from NOAA. And most importantly, stay safe and have fun this summer at all of the Great Lakes.