EPA looks to conclude gathering data on Mount Baldy on Tuesday
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent August 29, 2013 10:38PM
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:33AM
MICHIGAN CITY — Investigators with the Chicago office of the Environmental Protection Agency are expected to finish gathering data on Mount Baldy by Tuesday but it may be a few weeks before they have a report.
Both the ground penetrating radar and the conductivity testing, started earlier this week, will be complete, Bruce Rowe, public information officer for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, said Thursday.
“Then it will take a little bit of time for the EPA to analyze and package the result,” Rowe said, adding that could take a couple or a few weeks.
Mount Baldy, which is about 126 feet high and covers around 43 acres, remains closed for the foreseeable future.
Researchers with the National Park Service and the EPA, which brought in the necessary equipment Aug. 12, are trying to determine why a portion of Mount Baldy collapsed on July 12, taking with it Nathan Woessner, 6. The Sterling, Ill., boy, who was on vacation with his family, was buried in 11 feet of sand for more than 3½ hours.
The research equipment can scan 30 feet under the surface and will be able to provide images of what lies below the dune. One theory about what happened to Nathan is that a tree below the surface shifted, causing the hole. Pictures of Mount Baldy from 1935 show trees on that spot.
Investigators found a second hole shortly after they began their quest earlier this month, about 100 yards from the hole Nathan fell in.
Since the dune collapsed, Rowe has heard from two people who said they have witnessed similar events, including one person who sank knee-high into the sand at Mount Baldy and another one on a private dune in southwest Michigan.
Still, nothing has occurred to the extent of what happened on Mount Baldy last month, even at other parks with shifting dunes. Mount Baldy is shifting at a rate of 10 to 15 feet a year, Rowe has said, and much of it has been blocked off from hikers for the past few years to slow erosion and help the re-establishment of dune grass.