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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, January 22, 2019 1:00 am

Legislation to make Dunes national park reintroduced

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Federal lawmakers representing Indiana have reintroduced legislation that would designate the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a national park. 

Republican Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun and Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, are reviving legislation that Young and Visclosky introduced in the last session of Congress.

The House approved Visclosky's version by voice vote in 2017, but the Senate never voted on that bill or companion legislation that was introduced by Young and then-Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.

If the Hoosier lawmakers are successful this time, the Indiana Dunes along Lake Michigan in Porter County would become the first national park in Indiana and 61st in the nation.

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore consists of 15,000 acres of beach, sand dunes, wetlands, prairies, rivers and forests, according to the National Park Service.

Young, Braun and Visclosky said in a joint statement that national park designation would draw more visitors to the Indiana Dunes and improve the local economy. 

Their bill is co-sponsored by Indiana's eight other members of the House.

Young announced he also has reintroduced legislation that would extend the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail east from St. Louis to Pittsburgh and include the southern border of Indiana. The trail currently runs west from Wood River, Illinois, to the Pacific Coast in Oregon.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark planned their expedition across the western United States at the cabin of Clark's brother, Gen. George Rogers Clark, in Clarksville, Indiana, and departed from there on the Ohio River in 1803.

bfrancisco@jg.net