Residents and users of Indiana's Lake Michigan Coastal area should mark their calendars for March 15. A public meeting will be held in Chesterton on the development of the Indiana draft Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program plan for federal funds that reflects the state's priorities for land conservation.
The forum will be held at 6 p.m., at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center, with representatives from the DNR's Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program (LMCP), who will present the draft plan for public comment. The state's draft plan will be made available to the public during a 30-day public comment period, March 15 to April 14 at www.in.gov/dnr/lakemich/grants/celcp.html.
Mike Molnar, LMCP manager, said such a plan is necessary because of the extensive building in the area.
"Lands in the Lake Michigan coastal watershed are being developed at a rapid rate and the CELCP plan can help local officials identify critical lands that should be protected," he said. "As such land becomes increasingly rare in that area, the CELCP aims to protect coastal land for wildlife habitat and public access."
A CELCP plan is required by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from each state participating in the national Coastal Zone Management Program to compete for national funding consideration from the program. Funds are targeted for lands that can be effectively managed and protected. The CELCP's stated purpose is to "provide funding for the acquisition and conservation of coastal and estuarine land with significant ecological, conservation, historical, recreational or aesthetic value."
LMCP is one of 34 federally approved coastal programs authorized under the Coastal Zone Management Act. Its purpose is to support coordination and partnerships among local, state, and federal agencies and organizations, for the protection and sustainable use of natural and cultural resources in the Lake Michigan region.