Indiana is developing the Lake Michigan Coastal Program to participate in the national initiative with 33 other coastal states to protect, restore, and responsibly develop Indiana’s coastal areas.
The beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline runs for 45 miles inside Indiana’s boundary, is home to rare species (such as the Peregrine Falcon and the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake), and more than 1,400 types of plants. Indiana’s shoreline is also home to Indiana’s International Port at Burns Harbor, one of the busiest shipping ports on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway. In 1999, more than 2 million tons of goods passed through the port.
After Indiana has created a Lake Michigan Coastal Program, it will be eligible to join the federal Coastal Zone Management Program and receive more than $600,000 each year to help with coastal projects. These projects could include developing a regional trail system, restoring local park habitats, and planning for economic development. The Coastal Zone Management Program, established in 1972 through a partnership between coastal states and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is active in 33 of the nation’s coastal states.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which is leading the development of the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program, has worked with local and state agencies and organizations to identify priorities for Indiana’s coastal region. These priorities are outlined in a draft plan of the program that is available at www.state.in.us/dnr/lakemich. The draft plan explains how Indiana can meet these regional priorities through the state’s existing laws and management structure.
The Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input on the draft plan. The department will hold six public input meetings in Northwest Indiana to give the public an opportunity to learn more about the draft plan. Comments from these meetings will be recorded and included in a draft Environmental Impact Statement before a final impact statement is developed. The draft plan was developed with the input of the Northwest Indiana Public Workgroups and the Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel.