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Dune Acres group sues to stop Cowles Bog project

Updated: January 13, 2013 11:10AM



A group of Dune Acres residents wants a federal judge to block the National Park Service from cutting down 25 acres of trees in Cowles Bog, claiming the project will harm the environment.

However, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and several environmental groups say the project will help restore the protected area to its original wetland status and allow native plants to replace the non-native trees.

The Coalition to Protect Cowles Bog Area says in its lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, that the National Lakeshore has refused to turn over notes from an 1830 survey that it cites in determining the original environment of the 25 acres, which sit in the northwest corner of the intersection of U.S. 12 and Mineral Springs Road

The coalition, along with fellow plaintiffs Terry Grimm, Robert Evans and Cheryl Evans, questions the plan to clear out about 3,400 trees and says in the lawsuit that it will cause “needless destruction” of Cowles Bog.

“The clear cutting of the trees, bulldozing of the ground cover and soil, and plugging of ditches on the property will contaminate the nearby Cowles Bog fen, harm the plants and creatures there, and lead to higher noise and dust pollution that will also jeopardize the health and safety of both area wildlife and coalition members,” the suit says.

The plaintiffs say their aesthetic enjoyment of the area would be damaged by the project, as would their health and safety.

The National Lakeshore announced a week ago that it had received final approval to start the restoration project and would begin immediately.

The project did go through a public comment period earlier this year, in which Dune Acres residents raised concerns about flooding and noise pollution from U.S.12 and the South Shore Line.

Although a representative with the park could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit, the park did respond to the public comments that the native plants it will use to replace the trees will actually help to control water runoff.

Save the Dunes wrote a letter in April supporting the project, saying the native plants will help filter pollutants from water flowing to Lake Michigan, resulting in cleaner beaches.

The coalition is asking that a judge issue a temporary restraining order against the project.



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