Authority: Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration, (Section 506, WRDA 2000), as amended.
Description: Jeorse Park Beach, owned and operated by the City of East Chicago, is located along the Lake Michigan shoreline just southeast of Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal in Lake County, IN. The park is bounded to the north by the Ameristar Casino, to the west by Cline Avenue and the Majestic Star Hotel parking lot, to the south by the Majestic Star Casino, and to the east by Lake Michigan. The project site is adjacent to Amtrak railroad lines with approximately 15.8 acres of beach and foredune habitat on the lakeside. The beach offers nearly 4500 feet of shoreline for potential aquatic habitat improvement and over 25 acres of lake bottom. Although the surrounding land use is primarily industrial and commercial, Jeorse Park Beach is commonly visited by birders and fishermen that take advantage of the park’s natural resources.
The Jeorse Park Beach Section 506 Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration (GLFER) project includes restoring 14.8 acres of beach and dunes, introduce approximately 1 acre of native plantings to an existing breakwater and construct four submerged rock reef structures as aquatic habitat. The goal is to restore self-sustaining native plant communities on shore and improve degraded hydrodynamic and biological processes within the near shore areas of Jeorse Park Beach.
Non-Federal Sponsor: City of East Chicago
Involved Stakeholders: The City of East Chicago is the cost sharing non-federal sponsor for the GLFER project but there is a diverse assemblage of federal, state and local partners that have a vested interest in the Jeorse Park Beach location. These members have come together to form the Jeorse Park Taskforce which meets regularly to discuss the progress of restorations plans, beach water quality monitoring and other projects that may influence the project site. Members of this Taskforce include but are not limited to staff from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Indiana Department of Environmental Management, East Chicago Water Management District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Michigan State University, U.S. Geologic Survey, City of East Chicago, City of Gary and Alliance for the Great Lakes.
Cost: GLFER projects are cost shared 65 percent federal and 35 percent nonfederal.
Total Project Cost: $2,380,000
Federal Cost: $1,547,000
Nonfederal Cost: $833,000
This project is funded with Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funds received from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Benefits: Dune and beach restoration will include the eradication of invasive plant species from the project site, supplementing existing vegetation with high quality native species and expanding naturalized areas of the beach. These restoration measures will positively affect 14.8 acres of beach and dune habitat to increase resting, reproductive and foraging opportunities for both resident and migratory wildlife. In addition, these new plantings will help stabilize and nurture dune formation by trapping sand on the site while improving the buffering capacity of overland runoff of storm water as it enters Lake Michigan. Native plantings introduced to the existing breakwater will reintroduce overhanging vegetation to Lake Michigan shoreline which provides shaded cover, foraging opportunities and valuable organic input to the nearshore area to improve fisheries habitat. These plantings will also bolster native songbird habitat while detracting nuisance bird species such as geese and gulls from the project site. Finally, the rock reef construction will introduce structural and hydraulic habitat diversity for native fishes along the littoral zone.
Current Status: A 5-year construction contract was awarded on 30 September 2016 to Foundation Mechanics, a women owned small business. On-site construction began with invasive plant treatment and removal in May 2017. Minor earth moving, grading and breakwater filling with sand were completed over the summer of 2017. Initial planting of native species will occur by spring 2018. The majority of heavy construction has been completed. The remaining activities on the contract are for establishment to support native plantings which includes recurring treatment of invasive species. Construction is anticipated to be complete in fall 2021.