PORTER, Ind. -- A U.S. House committee has advanced a plan to make Indiana's Dunes National Lakeshore a national park.
The House Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the plan Wednesday. The full House will next vote on whether to send it to the Senate, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported .
Turning the dunes into a national park will boost the region's tourism industry, said U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, a Democrat from Merrillville who, along with Indiana's eight other U.S. House members, is sponsoring the plan.
"I hope that the full House considers this important legislation as soon as possible, so that we can quickly begin to harness this national recognition of the Indiana Dunes and attract new visitors and economic activity to our Region," Visclosky said.
The dunes were initially recommended to become a national park in 1916, because of their biological diversity and geological features. The effort was set aside because of World War I.
The dunes became a state park in 1925, and then earned the designation of national lakeshore in 1966. The area has since expanded four times.
U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, a Republican from Elkhart, said everyone deserves to see the "natural beauty and outdoor recreation" the area has to offer.
"Making it the first national park in Indiana will strengthen our state's economy by drawing more tourists from around the country and boosting the outdoor recreation industry that is so vital to our region," she said.
Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com