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Explore the wonders of Wolf Lake

Wolf Lake has hosted numerous events festivals throughout years.  |  File photo

Wolf Lake has hosted numerous events and festivals throughout the years. | File photo

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Updated: June 23, 2014 1:52PM



Wolf Lake is at the boundary between Indiana and Illinois and the intersection of urban life and industry with water sports and ecology.

The lake and its shores long have been a location for a broad range of endeavors, from wind surfing to hosting a defense missile site. It’s been a home for both hunting lodges and for endangered species. And yet there are many who live nearby who haven’t experienced this place.

This weekend’s 14th annual Wetlands, Wind and Water Festival offers a variety of free activities, including some designed for those experiencing Wolf Lake for the first time, and others that will give even longtime fans a deeper appreciation of the lake and its surroundings.

“The variety at this event is thanks to the volunteers who are engaged in so many different activities here. We want to let people know what’s out there and to let them experience it. We also try to give urban youth an opportunity to experience the outdoors,” said Michael Boos, director of the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative.

The association is a bistate organization working to protect and enhance Wolf Lake and its surroundings, and to instill a stewardship ethic in the area’s youth.

Wetlands, Wind and Water Festival activities start at 9 a.m. Saturday on the Indiana side of Wolf Lake, at 122nd Street and Calumet Avenue.

“At the lake, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be doing a water safety demonstration,” Boos said. “This is followed by a presentation on rowing crew by the coach of the team at Calumet College of St. Joseph. They train on Wolf Lake. The the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association will have canoes and kayaks people can try out, and while that’s going on there is kite flying and a fishing clinic using poles checked out from (local branches of) the Chicago Public library.

“Then at 11 o’clock there’s a wind-surfing demonstration using a demonstrator on dry land that looks like a board and allows people to get on and experience the effect of the wind and how the sail swivels,” Boos said.

Also starting at 9 a.m. at the Environmental Education Center, 2405 Calumet Ave., Arianna Yepez, 9, of Hammond, and Christopher Bonilla, of Griffith, will be honored as winners of the annual contest to design posters depicting recreation at Wolf Lake and stewardship activities in the watershed.

“Then at 10 a.m. Dr. Young Choi will lead a nature hike from there,” Boos said. “He’s the perfect person to lead the hike. He’s an ecologist at Purdue University who has done studies of Wolf Lake starting in 2000. One of his recommendations was to restore the Hammond shoreline. Now his students are conducting a study to see the effect of that restoration.

“In the afternoon (starting at 1 p.m.), many of the same activities will be repeated on the Illinois side (of the lake) at the William Powers Fish and Wildlife area. That side will also have archery with an opportunity for a lot of first-timers to try that. We end Saturday with a campfire, song and stories.”

This area is accessed from Avenue O at 126th Street in Chicago. The campfire starts at 5 p.m. near what is referred to as the Nike missile parking lot.

Information about the area as a site for Nike missiles is part of Sunday’s programs, all of which are near Shelter 2 in the William Powers area.

“My personal favorite event is Sunday morning’s memorial service,” Boos said. “It’s at 6 a.m. It’s pretty amazing how quiet it is then, so it’s always such a peaceful place to be. A local Cub Scout pack will serve as the color guard, and will be accompanied by an ecumenical choir.

“During the service we’ll talk about Wolf Lake’s connection to veterans. I think there were about 96 living memorials to veterans created in 1946. Many were trees planted by some of the many local veterans organizations there were in those days, along with a plaque honoring a veteran. After the service we invite those attending to come over for breakfast.”

The last activities are a nature walk or bike tour beginning at 8 a.m., and a talk on the history of the Calumet region waterways by geologist Dave Dolak at 10:30 a.m.

For more information on the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative, visit www.wolflakeinitiative.org.



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