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RESOLUTION OF THE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION IN SUPPORT OF EFFORTS TO IMPROVE COMMUNICATIONS AND COORDINATION IN THE USE AND ENJOYMENT OF INDIANA'S LAKE MICHIGAN COASTAL REGION
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana includes a diversity of plant and animal species unmatched in the state, including the Karner blue butterfly, sea rocket, Pitcher's thistle, Kalm's St. John's wort, beach pea, dune goldenrod, and Peregrine falcon;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana displays ecosystems of special significance, portions of which are preserved within the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Indiana Dunes State Park, and portions of which are outside these preserves;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana contains the Port of Indiana, the busiest port on Lake Michigan and a critical element of Indiana commerce;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana maintains a steel industry with state-of-the-art technology that produces 25% of the nation's steel;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana possesses a major oil refinery and other critical energy generating industries;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana is located adjacent to Chicago, a great metropolitan center, establishing both opportunities for tourism and challenges for providing adequate infrastructure and community services;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana includes Lake Michigan, an unparalleled water resource within the state, for boating, sport fishing, and commercial fishing;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana share Lake Michigan, its major source of drinking water, with industrial and other usages within and outside Indiana;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana concentrates these diverse and sometimes competing uses within 45 miles of shoreline;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana is challenged by environmental degradation, much of it dating from the beginning of the 20th Century, including one of 43 areas of concern designated in the United States and Canada by the International Joint Commission;
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana is experiencing population growth which both enhances opportunities and exacerbates challenges; and
WHEREAS, Northwest Indiana is governed by a multiplicity of statutory and regulatory standards, some of which are exclusive to the region, and these are administered by a multiplicity of federal, state, and local agencies;
NOW BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED BY THE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMISSION THAT
The Department of Natural Resources shall expand and enhance meaningful opportunities for public participation by citizens of Northwest Indiana in decision making relative to natural, cultural, commercial, and recreational resources.
The Department of Natural Resources shall seek to simplify and clarify permitting processes and incentive programs in Northwest Indiana.
The Department of Natural Resources shall actively pursue improved communication and coordination within the agency and with other state, federal, and Northwest Indiana agencies and governmental units.
The Department of Natural Resources shall develop new educational tools, including the preparation of manuals and the possibility of placing staff locally who have computer skills, to assist the citizens of Northwest Indiana in exercising their rights and opportunities relative to agency functions.
The Department of Natural Resources shall work with citizens of Northwest Indiana to help identify and prioritize social and environmental needs, particularly as they relate to the responsibilities of the Department.
The Department of Natural Resources shall explore and investigate innovative methods and opportunities which may help address the requirements of Northwest Indiana.
The Department of Natural Resources shall seek methods to implement these directives without the enactment of additional statutory authority or the imposition of new regulations which usurp the legitimate prerogatives of local government and civil liberties of private citizens.
The Department of Natural Resources shall report to the Natural Resources Commission, at least once a year, on its progress toward achieving these directives.