Volunteer for Environmental Stewardship Activities

Gary’s Natural Resources

The City of Gary has several natural areas with environmental and recreational functions and values. These have been previously outlined in the Gary Green Links Master Plan and the Open Space Study. There are various locations of the protected areas the unprotected core natural areas and other critical habitats.  One of the top priorities as identified is to restore the ecological health within Gary’s watersheds.

As a legacy industrial city, Gary struggles with contamination issues on many of its industrial and commercial properties. In addition to contaminated brownfields throughout the city, most of the city’s developed land is built on an urban fill whose composition may not match that of the native soil, nor be clean enough to grow native plant species. In addition, climate change, stormwater runoff, poor soil conditions, existing transportation practices, and invasive species threaten the health and stability of Gary’s ecosystems.

To restore the ecological health of natural areas in and around developed parts of the city, work must be done to remediate soil and water, and to remove invasive species. Moreover, land use and development policies should be put into place that help limit the spread of invasive species and buffer natural assets from sources of pollution.

Gary Comprehensive Plan 2019 (Under Chapter 5 Built Environment Section 3: Nature ) – Natural Assets

Calumet Heritage Area:

National Parks – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore has more than 1,135 native plant species distributed over six plant communities. Among all the national parks in the United States, it ranks seventh in plant diversity. This is an amazing feat for 15,000+ acres.  The far western portion of the Indiana Dunes National Park is in Gary which features the Paul H. Douglas Center for Environmental Education and Miller Woods.  Click here for more information.

Major Waterbodies (coming soon)

Lake Michigan Marquette Park Lagoons
Grand Calumet River Little Calumet River

GreenLink Natural Corridor

 The Marquette Park lagoons are located within Marquette Park and form the headwaters of the Grand Calumet River. Habitat reconstruction and improved public access are the focus of restoration efforts in this area. The eastern lagoon will link with the planned Gary Green Link which is a proposed trail linking the Grand Calumet River, the Little Calumet River and nearby natural areas.

The Grand Calumet and Little Calumet Rivers have potential as an environmental corridor as noted by the Gary Green Link Plan. The Grand Calumet River has greenspace and wetlands along its length in Gary. In between the levees of the Little Calumet River are large open spaces and wetlands available for restoration. Restoration of existing open space properties could enhance the value of the Grand Calumet River and Little Calumet River as a biodiversity and dispersion corridor for terrestrial and aquatic species. Given that the existing natural areas are now poorly interconnected, this environmental corridor is important for the continued biodiversity of the region.

The Grand Calumet River has been designated as one of the 42 Great Lakes Areas of Concern (AOC) by the International Joint Commission. Both the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor Ship Canal are heavily contaminated and clean-up measures are underway. The Citizens Advisory for Remediation of the Environment (CARE) prepared a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the region.   The City of Gary is a member of the CARE Committee and encourages the public to participate.  For more information on public participation and involvement, please click here for environmental stewardship opportunities.


Trails (coming soon)

  • Oak Savannah Trail
  • Little Calumet Levee Trail
  • The Gary GreenLink
  • Marquette Park Trail