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West Central
East Central
Welcome to northwest Indiana

Northwest Indiana is a region of contrasting landscapes. On the shore of Lake Michigan, the Indiana Dunes National State Park is a place with rich ecosystems that blend together to make a very diverse landscape. Standing on the top of Mount Baldy, the tallest sand dune in the park, one can see the expanse of the lake, the skyline of Chicago, and the large cooling tower of a

coal burning plant. In addition to the state park, northwest Indiana is home to many steel mills and oil refineries. These industrial areas help give “The Region,” as it is often known, the distinction of being one of the most polluted areas in the state.

Ironically, though, this region used to be Indiana’s most diverse natural area. Most prominent were the wetlands, including treacherous bogs that could swallow up a man on horseback, and the Kankakee Marsh, one of the largest marshes in the country; the dunes, which seemed barren but actually hosted a diverse ecosystem; and the Grand Prairie, which covered half of this region, extending on into Illinois. While nearly all of the prairie is gone and most of the wetlands have been destroyed, thanks to settlement efforts that began in great numbers in the 1830s, some reminders of this area’s former glory remain. The Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area is one such reminder. Each year, tens of thousands of sandhill cranes make the wildlife area a stopping point in their fall and spring migration, using the marsh as a feeding and nesting area.

Pertinent ecosystems
Sand dunes

Relevant environmental terms/issues
Air pollution
Endangered species
Urban sprawl
Water pollution
Wetland destruction

Related authors
George Ade
Darlene Mathis Eddy
Don Kurtz
Anna Nicholas
Jean Shepherd
Edwin Way Teale
David Wagoner