Heather Herakovich tapes a room in preparation for painting at the new Shirley Heinze Land Trust headquarters in Valparaiso, Ind., on March 1, 2013. Herakovich is a stewardship technician for the trust. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
For more on the Shirley
Heinze Land Trust, 109 W. County Road 700N, Valparaiso, call 242-8558 or visit
Updated: April 18, 2013 6:05AM
Employees of the Shirley Heinze Land Trust spent the weekend of March 2 at their new headquarters, completing last-minute chores, like putting base molding in place and paint touch ups.
The trust announced in early February that it had purchased the former Girl Scout property Camp Meadowbrook, on County Road 700N in Liberty Township, and has been getting the property ready for the move ever since.
The trust, which owns properties in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, had been renting office space from Save the Dunes in Michigan City, but the purchase of the camp offered office space in a 4,000-square-foot house on its own property. The trust is renting some of that space out to other like-minded agencies.
“There are 74 acres back there. It’s great. It’s an ideal setting for us,” said Paul Quinlan, stewardship director of the nonprofit agency.
Funding for the purchase came from a state Bicentennial Nature Trust grant of $240,000, and a loan from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation.
Quinlan hopes grant funding and volunteers can help remove invasive species and reforest an area that was a field before the property became a camp.
The former camp also is centrally located for the trust and the other properties it owns, Quinlan said, as well as offering the agency a good setting to expand educational programs and greater visibility.
“Everyone knows Camp Meadowbrook, so it’s super,” he said.
Camp Meadowbrook first opened in 1946 in Burns Harbor, near the former Bethlehem Steel, and moved to its present location in 1963.
Jim Erdelac, the trust’s education and volunteer manager, said his mother and his aunt came to Camp Meadowbrook as Girl Scouts. Now, he’s coming up with plans for educational opportunities at the camp.
“The place presents tremendous environmental education possibilities,” he said, adding the Girl Scouts did a good job with the layout of the property.
He plans on interpretive signs for the land’s three miles of trails for self-guided hikes, since the property will be open to the public. Environmental programs could include tree identification and the impact of invasive species.