one of the most productive conservation planning efforts to date and is key to maintaining the sustainability of the complex ecosystems in the Lake Michigan Watershed. However, even with the CELCP plan in place, some natural areas were missing conservation strategies, so a huge opportunity arose when funding became available for partners to collaborate on conservation plans for 3 "gap” areas. At the end of September, Calumet Collaborative and partners released a report for those gap areas that aligns with the larger CELCP plan. The Calumet Land Acquisition & Habitat Restoration Plan report details 5-year conservation strategies with actionable outcomes and next steps for the Calumet region
The 3 areas covered in this project are: Oak Ridge/ Hoosier Prairie (Lake County), Moraine/ Sunset Hill (Porter Country), and Ambler Flatwoods (LaPorte County). A number of diverse stakeholders in the region were involved to develop this comprehensive plan and report in just a 5-month time period, which speaks to the power of collaboration and collective action. These partners include, but are not limited to: Save the Dunes, The Nature Conservancy, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC), the Field Museum, Shirley Heinze Land Trust (SHLT), Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Coastal Program and Division of Nature Preserves (DNP), and not to mention the number of local, state, federal and planning agencies in the region that attended the planning meetings. In all, the CAP process consisted of 9, 2-hour, in-person meetings over 3 months, with 27 people representing 16 organizations. After the in-person meetings, select partners spent another 2 months writing the report based on meeting outcomes.
The CAP process was facilitated by Joe Tutterrow, Director of Protection at The Nature Conservancy in Indiana. The meetings were interactive and adaptive, and used maps to help visualize strategies. The meetings focused on action-oriented outcomes to ensure all parties agreed with the strategies that addressed the various conservation targets, threats, and opportunities, as well as what would be measured to indicate each strategy’s success.
"It’s another example of how much more we can accomplish together than we can by ourselves!”
Joe Tutterrow said “I was pleased to represent The Nature Conservancy as a part of this regional planning process. The level of engagement and commitment by all of the local partners and participants was very impressive. To maintain their energy over the course of this 3-month process speaks to the importance of the topic and the likelihood of success. It’s another example of how much more we can accomplish together than we can by ourselves!”
The partners involved enjoyed this CAP experience, as it provided a platform to work together in a new and different way: by creating strategic conservation plans over common goals, and addressing that threats don't stop at jurisdictional boundaries.
".The impacts of invasive species, pollution, and development pressures don't stop at management boundaries, and we wanted to develop natural resource protection strategies that reflect that reality to better protect the system as a whole.”
“Working as a partnership on conservation planning initiatives allows us to blur jurisdictional boundaries and treat these three project areas as ecosystems, rather than individual, fragmented sites,” explains Cathy Martin, Program Manager at Save the Dunes. “The strategies developed through this process are centered on collaboration and cooperation; the impacts of invasive species, pollution, and development pressures don't stop at management boundaries, and we wanted to develop natural resource protection strategies that reflect that reality to better protect the system as a whole.”
The release of this report is just the beginning for increased conservation efforts in Northwest Indiana. Now that strategies have been identified, projects are being developed to achieve those strategies, and the Calumet Collaborative will continue to report out on these projects and related opportunities as they become available.
To learn more about the CAP project, please read the Calumet Land Acquisition & Habitat Restoration Plan report, or the summaries for each area in the plan: Oak Ridge/ Hoosier Prairie (Lake County), Moraine/ Sunset Hill (Porter Country), and Ambler Flatwoods (LaPorte County). To become involved on conservation initiatives in the Calumet region, please reach out to Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org.