Four years after a giant sand dune swallowed a 6-year-old Illinois boy, the beach at Mount Baldy will be reopening on a date still to be determined. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Public Information Officer Bruce Rowe says three and a half years ago Mount Baldy started developing holes that scientists didn't know about.
Rowe says two research projects have been conducted at Mount Baldy. The first was by Indiana University Northwest. The study indicated the holes are being formed by trees that rot away under the dune.
The Indiana Geological Survey conducted a second extensive study using ground penetrating radar to try to determine how extensive the issue might be.
Indiana Dunes staff has been doing ranger-led hikes on the western edge of the dune for the last couple of years and will continue to do so.
Rowe says that people have been looking forward to being able to access this particular area of the dunes again. In the initial stage of the reopening, the National Park Service will heavily patrol the dune with park staff to ensure that people know that the dune is still closed except for ranger-led hikes.
Rowe says a new pathway also needs to be created from the existing trail to the beach. There used to be a set of wooden steps, but they were taken out by a storm about two years ago. Heavy equipment will be used to make a sand ramp from the path down to the beach, which is about 15 to 20 feet below.
Rowe says as soon as an exact date is set for the reopening, the National Park Service will announce it.