State of the Beach/State Reports/IN

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Indiana has fair beach access information and they are working on a comprehensive beach access guide. Access is good at Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore but is nearly non-existent along the heavily industrialized sections of the state's Lake Michigan shoreline. Indiana has a good water quality monitoring program but relatively poor water quality due to both industrial and municipal discharges into Lake Michigan. There is some historical data on shoreline erosion and shoreline structures, but little in the way of comprehensive current information and inventories. Municipal or statewide ordinances are needed to address the threat of erosion or rising lake water levels in a pro-active manner. Good beach ecology information exists for Indiana Dunes.

Indiana Ratings


(+) The Department of Natural Resources provides sample model ordinances in the Coastal Hazards Planning Guidance for Indiana Coastal Communities, to provide a template for municipalities to incorporate into their regulations to address coastal hazards and their impacts.

(+) Indiana has a robust geodatabase of maps of the Indiana Lake Michigan Shoreline, which can be used to identify and direct future development away from hazardous areas.

(+) The Great Lakes Commission (GLC), in partnership with LimnoTech and the Great Lakes states, has developed a free smartphone application that provides convenient, public access to swim advisories and other environmental conditions information for more than 1,800 beaches in the Great Lakes region. The myBeachCast application (app) retrieves locational and advisory data for Great Lakes in the eight Great Lakes states. The app also features real-time and forecasted weather and lake conditions (e.g., water temperature, wave heights, wind speed/direction) and nearshore marine forecasts, drawn from the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). myBeachCast allows users to discover local beaches based on the user’s location, view beaches and their status on a map, save favorite beaches, and get driving directions. To download myBeachCast, go to

(+) Sandy beaches cover 23 miles of Indiana’s lakeshore. The 2,182-acre Indiana Dunes State Park and the 15,139-acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore provide most of the public access to the state’s Lake Michigan beaches. The Indiana Dunes are among the most significant landscapes in America.

(+) The Indiana Department of Environmental Management administers the state’s beach monitoring and notification program. Sampling practices, locations, standards and notification protocols are set by the state or in consultation with the state. Seven Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore beach sites (Kemil, Lake View, Mount Baldy, Dunbar, West, Central, and Porter) are monitored and voluntarily post monitoring and notification data to the Indiana BeachGuard Web site, even though they are not eligible for BEACH Act funding.

(+) Indiana's Lake Michigan Coastal Program has initiated development of Indiana’s CELCP Plan. The first phase of the process employed the technical expertise of Indiana University and the Indiana Biodiversity Initiative (IBI), a diverse group of natural resource and conservation biology managers and researchers. IBI used maps and spatial optimizing software to identify areas with the highest concentration of desirable characteristics, such as numbers of rare species, availability of high-quality habitats, or large blocks of more common habitats.

(-) Indiana doesn't have policies that adequately address climate change, for instance, there is no climate change adaptation plan or state website dedicated to climate change. Lake management does not incorporate climate change. Efforts so far to address any coastal issues tend to be short-term and reactionary rather than planned long-term.

(-) In March 2017 the Trump administration proposed a 97% cut in funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

(-) On January 31, 2011 CBS reported that over the preceding three years, the Gary Sanitary District had discharged at least 6.8 billion gallons of raw and partially treated sewage to the Grand Calumet River, the Little Calumet River, and then into Lake Michigan.

(-) The opportunity to access the coast or the tributaries is conditional upon the ownership of the shoreline of the lake and tributaries (above the ordinary high water mark). Approximately 21.8 miles of shoreline are heavily developed and have historically prohibited public access at these points, with the exception of limited fishing access in some areas.

(-) Indiana was 28th among coastal states in beachwater quality in 2008, with 18% of samples exceeding national standards. Indiana had 185 closing/advisory events in 2008. Total closing/advisory days for 185 events lasting six consecutive weeks or less increased 56 percent to 333 days in 2008 from 213 days in 2007, 111 days in 2006, and 131 days in 2005.

(-) Local communities lack sufficient ordinances (e.g., setbacks or rolling easements) and technical expertise to control development activities that might have an adverse effect on natural resource function.

(-) The state does not have an adequate geographic information system (GIS)-based inventory of shoreline structures. Without a regularly-updated inventory, it is difficult for the state to determine legal ownership and condition of structures along the shoreline. The lack of such an inventory also hampers the state’s ability to provide current information and technical assistance to individual homeowners and local communities.

(-) The 2006 Assessment notes that despite the current public access projects underway along the Lake Michigan shoreline, DNR has concluded that the demand for public access within the coastal area exceeds the state’s ability to provide it. This demand is strongly influenced by the proximity of Gary and Chicago; day visitors from the cities rely heavily on Indiana’s lakeshore for recreational opportunities, particularly during the summer.


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State of the Beach Report: Indiana
Indiana Home Beach Description Beach Access Water Quality Beach Erosion Erosion Response Beach Fill Shoreline Structures Beach Ecology Surfing Areas Website
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