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State Rep. Jackson hopes people visit wetlands park, understand its environmental importance

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INDIANAPOLIS — State Representative Carolyn Jackson (D-Hammond) participated in a tour of the wetlands organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures in south Chicago, right across the state border from her district.

Jackson, a member of the Environmental Affairs Committee, was honored to be the only Indiana representative to attend, and is excited to share the information with her colleagues.

“I can see how the wetlands in Chicago affect our Lake Michigan Shore, the Calumet River, Wolf Lake and the wetlands in the Region,” Jackson said. “We may be in different states, but wetlands don’t care about state borders and neither does pollution.”

Jackson, who also grew up in Chicago, used to ride her motorcycle past the same wetlands on her way to work, but she did not know at the time what purpose they served.

“I just thought it was a cool way to go home and avoid traffic,” Jackson said. “The air was always fresh and crisp; it was so soothing to me. Back then, I thought it was just standing water, and the overgrowth of bushes was over my head.”

Now, the Big Marsh Park offers off-road biking and hiking trails after clearing some of the overgrown bushes. It is also a good site for bird watching. 

“I can see the changes that they made — from when I just rode by on my motorcycle and thought it was standing water — to make it a beautiful place that invites people to enjoy nature,” Jackson said. “Now that this ecosystem has been restored, birds and butterflies and other animals know it’s safe to make these wetlands their home again. I hope people visit and learn the importance of this land and why we need to protect it.”

Wetlands mitigate air pollution, improve the quality of drinking water, prevent shoreline erosion and protect neighborhoods from flooding. This past legislative session, the General Assembly passed a bill that strips vital protections from wetlands, despite outcries from the House Democrats and several environment advocate groups.

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