The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is the closest national park to the Chicago area and a plan is being led by the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) to gauge public opinion. The NPCA in conjunction with other park partners including the Eppley Institute at Indiana University, The Field Museum of Chicago, and the National Park Service is leading a team to reach out, especially to those that love the park most in order to improve the visitor’s experience.. The strategic plan implemented by the NPCA “will focus on identifying park challenges and developing solutions with the help of park partners, supporters, community residents, and visitors.”
The project team will talk to many people over the coming months by phone, email, and in person. The project team will also survey random visitors in the coming months. A big cog in the wheel of this process is a special online survey, which allows online visitors a portal to input their thoughts. Click here to complete this important survey and make your ideas known to the survey team.
Visitors can also communicate with the team via a direct email sent to Midwest@npca.org. Another online tool the NPCA is utilizing is a feedback page. Rate the park and provide feedback with a comment on this page.
Many people are hesitant to complete surveys because they feel they are a waste of time as their thoughts are not seriously considered. However, from my recent experience in the park it is clear to me that the park is sincere about accommodating the wants and needs of the public. A couple of weeks ago I visited the Dorothy Buell Visitor center to inquire on where to cross-country ski and Marci at the front desk was incredibly helpful and friendly.
I wrote a subsequent article on my experience at the Ly-co-ki-we Trail and Kim Swift, a park employee, commented on my article. She thanked me for the article and let my readers know that the park now has a cross-country ski hot line and a staff member will be on hand on the weekends to greet skiers with a warm fire in the warming hut and hot cocoa when there is sufficient snow.
It appears that the park is dedicated in trying to please the public and this customer service and appreciation of their visitors from a government park is refreshing. From the attitude of park employees it is evident that the National Park Service will listen closely to the results of the NPCA run program. In order for this to work they need to hear from the public and that is where the survey comes in. Do not discount your voice. Complete the survey, make your voice heard, and first and foremost, make sure to visit the park sometime this year. It is a gorgeous park year round and only 35 miles from Chicago with great year round activities.
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