Why You Should Visit
in Lake County, Ivanhoe is a remnant of a globally unique natural community known as "dune and swale." It was formed when ancient glacial Lake Chicago receded thousands of years ago. A series of linear sandy beach ridges alternate with long narrow wetlands in parallel bands to form this rare community. Like counting the rings on a tree, aerial photographs from the early 1930s clearly show this distinctive topography extending inland several miles from the shores of Lake Michigan. Rapid industrial and residential development of the lakeshore destroyed all but tiny fragments of this incomparable landscape.
What The Nature Conservancy is Doing/has Done
Located in a working-class neighborhood of Gary, the east 40 acres of Ivanhoe had originally been plotted into individual lots for residential development. The Conservancy began acquiring these lots in the mid-1980s through tax auctions and donations. The west unit of Ivanhoe was amassed in 1991.
With the help of volunteers, interns, and partner organizations, plus financial assistance through various public grants, the Conservancy transformed Ivanhoe into a rich patchwork of upland savanna, prairie, forest, and wetland by thinning out the overstory through prescribed burns and manual labor.