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Save the Dunes partners with others to remove tires dumped in Lake County nature preserves.

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November 23, 2020

HAMMOND, IN- Save the Dunes finally bid good riddance to several piles of tires this fall that had been dumped at three nature preserves in Lake County, IN.

With funding support from bp, Save the Dunes had the financing in place to hire Northern Indiana Mechanical to remove and properly dispose of the tires. The preserves included Shirley Heinze Land Trust’s Ivanhoe South Nature Preserve and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ Pine Station Nature Preserve in Gary, and Save the Dunes’ Martin Oil property in Hammond. These preserves have been the focus of extensive efforts from all three organizations to revitalize and restore the rare dune and swale habitat prized in this area.

Unfortunately, tires are often dumped at these nature preserves and others located near the Grand Calumet River. It was during an October 2019 site visit to develop land management plans for Martin Oil, with support from the Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program, that Save the Dunes’ Senior Program Specialist, Victoria Wittig, first observed the tires: “It was shocking to see tires dumped in an area where thick stands of invasive phragmites had recently been removed, thanks to the hard work of our conservation partners at the Indiana DNR and The Nature Conservancy. Instead of feeling energized by significant progress in restoration efforts at the site, it was disheartening that people disconnected from the land looked at the restoration as a dumping ground.”Shortly thereafter another pile of tires was dumped on the site and Save the Dunes began a search for funding to remove the tires and dispose of them properly. During the search, Save the Dunes learned that several other nature preserves nearby had also recently been used to dump tires.

When bp stepped in, it was a gift for all conservation partners in the region working to confront this chronic, expensive issue. A total of 250 tires were removed from the three sites, and our staff and partners could not be more excited to see them gone! It is hoped that municipalities in Lake County can help spread the word that low-cost tire disposal options are available – there is no need to dump tires illegally on private land, let alone in nature preserves.

Katie Hobgood, Save the Dunes’ Program Director was on site at the Martin Oil property while the work was completed. “It was incredibly satisfying to watch as the tires were pulled out of the vegetation,” Hobgood said. “Unfortunately, this type of thing happens, but I’m glad that we can do our part to make it right.”

“Care for our planet is one of the focus areas of our sustainability plan,” said Donnie Brown, bp Whiting Refinery Manager. “One of our priorities in this area is to promote cleaner environments and enhance biodiversity. Due to restrictions related to COVID-19 we had to postpone our annual employee beach clean-up event. When Save the Dunes presented the idea of working together on the Lake County waterway clean-up, we jumped on the idea to support a project that helps to sustain these vital ecosystems.”

While conservation work is never done, Save the Dunes will certainly continue to celebrate every victory as it comes, and are already looking to secure funding for future excavations of debris at other properties. Save the Dunes’ staff and partners are thankful to have this first round of long-awaited clean-up finally complete with the generous support that bp provided.

Special thanks to Northern Indiana Mechanical for partnering with Save the Dunes to undertake this vital work, and to bp for kicking-off the Giving Tuesday season with their generous donation that made the tire removal possible. If you’d like to make a donation to Save the Dunes, you can do so right here.


Established in 1952, Save the Dunes’ mission is to preserve, protect, and restore the Indiana dunes and all-natural resources in Northwest Indiana’s Lake Michigan Watershed for an enhanced quality of life. Save the Dunes is asking Northwest Indiana residents and businesses to Get Involved, Get Outside, and Give — all to support the Indiana dunes and Lake Michigan. Mark J. Mihalo, D.D.S, Family Dentistry has pledged a $1,000 matching gift to Save the Dunes’ Giving Tuesday campaign, so your donation will be matched dollar for dollar up until Dec. 1, 2020. Visit www.savedunes.org to donate and visit their Facebook page to learn about how you can kick-off generosity and kindness this Giving Tuesday, 12.1.20.

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