Indiana Dunes Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk

News & Resources


Teens looking for summer work?

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has jobs for 10 teenagers this summer. The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program is a work-learn-earn program for 15 to 18 year olds. Deadline to apply is April 30. No experience is necessary. Participants will be selected by random draw from the pool of applications.

Participants are paid $7.25 an hour for the 40-hour work week. The program runs from June 9 to August 15. Applicants should be prepared to work the entire length of the program. Youth jobs include working as part of a crew to do a variety of manual labor tasks, normally outdoors. The crews perform work such as staining, painting and caulking the exterior of park buildings and work as grounds maintenance (mowing grass, picking up trash, etc.) and trails rehabilitation.

To be eligible participants must be U.S. citizens and 15 years old before June 9, 2014, but not turn 19 years old before August 15, 2014, the ending date of the program. The YCC application form is available through high school guidance offices or from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Employee Services Office at (219) 395-1721. The forms are also available on the national lakeshore website at:

Tourism to National Lakeshore creates $75 million in Economic Benefit

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore News Release
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Contact: Bruce Rowe, 219-395-1609

Report shows visitor spending supports 947 jobs in local economy

INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,889,381 visitors to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in 2012 spent $75.9 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 947 jobs in the local area.

“Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said acting superintendent Sue Bennett. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides and to use the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service - and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well. We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion. According to the report most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

To download the report visit
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.
To learn more about national parks in Indiana and how the National Park Service works with Indiana communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to

Overnight workshop to explore reptiles and amphibians of the dunes

February 24, 2014 12:00 am • The Times

CHESTERTON | A sure harbinger of spring, frogs have have been around for 250 million years, having survived ice ages, asteroid crashes, and environmental disturbances. Today, nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are threatened with extinction. Why?

Dunes Learning Center’s two-day, Focus on Reptiles and Amphibians workshop will provide insights and an opportunity to explore the inner life of these sensitive creatures.

The Indiana dunes and its diverse wetlands are home to an array of reptiles and amphibians. This in-depth, overnight program will take participants into the field, where they will observe the cold-blooded critters in their native habitats, participate in citizen science activities and learn how they can assist in monitoring projects.

The action-packed schedule includes activities for the young, and young at heart. The wide variety of frog calls will be the subject of a night hike. Lunch will feature a presentation on the Massasauga rattler — the region’s only venomous snake. Craft projects, games, a puppet show and a campfire with s’mores are all planned during this weekend exploration of all things herpetological.

The fun starts at 5 p.m. March 28. Lodging is provided in Dunes Learning Center's modern, heated cabins, each with 4 bunk beds and a private bathroom. Tuition is $95 per person — including food, shared lodging & materials. Fill a cabin with four people for $300. Space is limited. Register online before March 17 at or phone program coordinator, Kellie Koerner, at (219) 395-9555 for more information.

Read the original article here.

Dunes camp teaches families about maple sugaring

February 21, 2014 9:15 am • Christine Bryant Correspondent, The Times

The Dunes Learning Center will hold its first ever family camp this weekend, giving parents and kids the opportunity to explore maple sugaring and enjoy a camping experience.

Participants will learn about the science of maple sugaring through stories, games and hands-on activities at the retreat-style workshop, which runs Feb. 21-22.

"There's a long history of maple sugaring - both in the historical sense and within programs at the park," said Sandi Weindling, director of marketing and development at the center.

While many families enjoy maple syrup on their pancakes, not everyone knows the process behind extracting the sweet treat. The National Lakeshore is home to hundreds of Sugar Maple trees, and in the early spring months, sugars within the tree being to move.

Cold winter weather causes the trees to start converting food they have stored up all summer into sugar, and when daytime temperatures rise, these sugars flow through the tree, according to the Dunes Learning Center.

Syrup makers drill a hole into the tree and then place a spout into the hole. Sap flows out of the spout and into a bucket, and from there the sap is processed into syrup.

Families participating in the weekend event will get to see this process first hand, and even try their hand at it, Weindling said. They will even get to stand in the sugar shack where sap is boiled using the same methods the Chellberg family did in the 1930s.

When families arrive on Friday night, they will move into cabins and eat a maple-themed dinner, followed by a night hike and campfire with maple sugaring storytelling.

"A lot of history will be revealed within storytelling," Weindling said. "Characters will tell stories through their perspectives."

The next morning, breakfast will include a maple syrup taste test and science experiments, followed by a "Walk Through Time" with more characters and a tree ID hike. Lunch will include a "maple sugaring at home" presentation and kids activities.

"After lunch, families will be able to tap a tree and gather sap," Weindling said.

They will even be supplied with the materials needed to tap trees at home, she said.

The following month, the park will host another family camp on the subject of reptiles and amphibians, Weindling said.

For more information, call the Dunes Learning Center at (219) 395-9555 or go to

Read the original article here.

Lake Michigan ice harbors hidden danger, naturalist says

February 08, 2014 8:45 pm • Susan O’Leary Times Correspondent, The Times

PORTER | Lake Michigan resembled the frozen tundra Saturday, as nearly 40 people, bundled in heavy boots, parkas, mittens, hats and scarves, dodged snowflakes and trudged through deep snow to see shelf ice and learn how it forms.

Brad Bumgardner, Indiana Dunes State Park interpretive naturalist, led the hike to the lake’s edge and escorted the group to the top of the beach pavilion for a bird’s-eye view of the shelf ice during a Shelf Ice Exploration program.

Bumgardner said Lake Michigan’s surface does not stay calm enough to completely freeze. But as small areas freeze, waves break up the frozen sections into chunks of ice, called float ice. At the same time, ice forms along the shoreline. Waves push the float ice into the shoreline, creating shelf ice.

Most people don’t realize that shelf ice is not a solid piece of ice, Bumgardner said.

Imagine a bulldozer knocked down a brick building and then pushed all the bricks up into an unstable pile, Bumgardner said.

“The ice shelf is like that, blocks of ice that are pushed together and refreeze,” Bumgardner said. “They are full of air pockets and full of dangers.”

Those who venture out onto shelf ice should beware, Bumgardner said. A person could fall into a pocket of ice up to his neck and be trapped in 32-degree lake water that would “instantly drain you.”

“You could be stuck in a great wall of ice,” Bumgardner said. “The hole can close back up behind you and lock you in.”

Bumgardner said even though warning signs are posted along the beach, people venture out to the ice shelf every day. Staff patrol the beach and herd them back in.

Marcia and David Malicki ventured east from South Bend, making their first trip to the state park.

“I just wanted out,” Marcia Malicki said.

Reminiscing about his younger days, David Malicki said he and his friends would travel to Tower Hill in Michigan and walk on ice chunks in the lake.

Bumgardner said ice levels on the Great Lakes are at record highs, and even Lake Superior — which is currently 93 percent frozen — is expected to fully freeze in the coming weeks.

“It’s the most ice we’ve had in 20 years,” Bumgardner said.

As soon as temperatures warm in spring, the ice “breaks up really fast,” said Bumgardner, making it rare to see ice on the lake beyond early April.

Depending on spring temperatures, water temperature could be anywhere between 46 and 62 degrees by Memorial Day, he said.

With the holiday still far away, the Malickis said they appreciate the dunes even in frigid temperatures.

“I love Lake Michigan in winter,” Marcia Malicki said.

Read the original story online here.