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Little Calumet River Riparian Restoration


Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) Program, Section 506 on the Water Resources Development Act of 2000, as amended

Project Location:   

The project footprint covers an area of 43 acres surrounding the East Branch Little Calumet River, several miles south of Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The project is situated at the intersection of Indian Boundary and Brummitt roads near Chesterton, Ind., Porter County. The site is currently a nature preserve titled Little Calumet Wetlands and is situated in a highly-visible area of Chesterton, adjacent to the Brummit Elementary School. 

Project Description: 

Historically, the Little Calumet River stream corridor and riparian zone was dominated by several naturally occurring cover types such as wetlands, forests, savannas and prairies. By the late 1800s, much of these cover types, particularly prairies, savannas and wetlands, were converted to agricultural, urban or industrial use. Subsequently, there was a significant loss of biodiversity within the last one hundred years, and side effects included an increase in flood events and a decrease in water quality. Human induced disturbances to the remaining natural areas include fire suppression, altered hydrology, increase colonization of invasive species and fragmentation. The following restoration actions were taken at the Little Calumet Wetlands site to improve its ecological quality 1) Restore natural habitat variability to support riverine specialist species,  2) Restore canopy structure and increase native diversity of the floodplain forest,  3) Eliminate pockets of invasive plant species that threaten other high quality wetland pockets.

Ecosystem Benefits:  

Benefits included increased biological integrity of the Little Calumet River, restoration of the natural floodplain morphology and hydro-periods, and increased floristic quality scores throughout the riparian ecosystem. Due to the reduced nutrient and sediment loading and increased habitat variability, water quality within the river and wetlands improved along with the wildlife diversity and abundance. 


Total Project Cost:    $370,000
Federal Cost:            $240,000
Non-Federal Cost:   $130,000
*This project was funded with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds.

Current Status: 

The planning design analysis was approved in April 2012, a project partnership agreement signed in August 2012, and a three-year construction contract awarded in September 2012. Construction started in fall 2012 and included invasive species control, and opening of the tree canopy. Treatment of dense stands of purple loosestrife in the first year was very successful with little-to-no purple loosestrife returning in the second year. Swamp White Oak, Shell-Bark Hickory, Nanny-Berry, and American Snowbell were planted in the bottomland forest in the second year. Treatment of invasive species continued in the third year of the contract. Construction was completed in fall 2015. The project was turned over to Shirley Heinze Land Trust for Operations and Maintenance and closed out in May 2016. 


Project Manager

Kirston Buczak

Project Map

Click map to enlarge.