Northwest Indiana and the greater Chicago Region
is a uniquely relevant place for people interested in ecological
restoration. It contains some of the country's most botanically diverse ecosystems
(such as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,
which is home to over 1400 plant species), yet is in close proximity to heavy industry
and major population centers. This has led to many cases of habitat destruction/degradation,
but has likewise inspired generations of activists to protect and restore a large number
of areas. The Restoration Revolution in Northwest Indiana
has documented and compiled a map
of over 160 current restoration sites in the area.
NIRMI currently monitors 40 sites in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and
Newton counties in Indiana, and Cook County, Illinois. The region's biodiversity is due in
part to the fact that the south shore of Lake Michigan is a meeting point for several North
American ecosystem types. Here many species are near the edge of their distribution ranges.
The geological history of this area also allows a great variety of habitat types to exist in
a relatively small area. These plant and fungal communities range from active sand dunes,
dune-swale, savanna, mature oak woodland, wet prairie, and several types of wetlands.
The dune region holds a special place in the history of American ecology since it was here
that Henry Chandler Cowles studied the vegetation changes in habitats across time and pioneered
the theory of ecological succession
Our data section has information about our individual sites.