Environmental Assessment for Restoration of Cowles Bog Lake Plain Wet-Mesic Prairie
The National Park Service has begun the process of planning the restoration of a portion of the Cowles Bog Wetland Complex (CBWC) at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on the southern tip of Lake Michigan.
The purpose of the proposed action is to restore approximately 25 acres of CBWC to its former lake plain wet-mesic prairie conditions and provide waterfowl habitat in an adjacent open water body. A lake plain wet-mesic prairie is a species-rich, lowland prairie community that occurs on moist, level, seasonally inundated glacial lake plains of the Great Lakes. Seasonal flooding, cyclic changes in Great Lakes water levels, and fire historically maintained the species composition and community structure of lake plain wet-mesic prairies.
The action alternatives addressed in the Environmental Assessment include restoring wetland hydrology, minor grading to fill in ditches, removal of the majority of the tree canopy and understory, and planting native plants now absent from the area to restore the site to its former historic lake plain wet-mesic prairie condition.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore wants to restore CBWC to increase native plant and animal diversity, provide a rest stop for migratory birds near Lake Michigan's southern tip, protect rare species of plants, create a high quality plant and animal habitat, protect the beaches and improve Lake Michigan's water quality by reducing and controlling runoff, enhance educational opportunities for students and the public, and most importantly, to leave a natural resource legacy for future generations.
Dan Mason, Botanist