Indiana Coast Comes Alive in Poster Series, with NOAA’s Help

The Takeaway: Full-color ecosystem portraits draw thousands of teachers, students, and outdoor explorers to a coastal stewardship message.

Image shows nine panels of wildlife illustrations, with the words “Ecosystems of the Indiana Coastal Region”
Natural wonders. Indiana’s Lake Michigan ecosystem is rich and complex.
Credit for all images: Barb Labus

Since 2005, an Indiana campaign focusing on the critical importance of protecting coastal resources has captivated thousands of state residents with vibrant, information-dense illustrations that are unveiled roughly every two years. The Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program helms the poster campaign, with funding assistance from NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, and from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency via the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

The poster illustrations, by local artist Barb Labus, were designed to appeal to students in grades 2-5, enabling teachers to weave lessons about the coastal environment into their science curriculum.

Posters Illustrate Ecological Abundance

Beach access. Wetland restoration. Balancing economic growth and ecosystem health. Sand dune protection. Flooding solutions. Containing stormwater runoff. The list of challenges, and coastal management solutions, is a long one.

Image of wetland greenery and waterfowl with the words “Marsh” and “Ecosystems of the Indiana Coastal Region”
Wetlands wildlife. The “Marsh” poster illustrates wetland grasses and other vegetation that nurture waterfowl and aquatic animals. Songbirds are often heard in this environment, and visitors can spy tree swallows and rusty blackbirds resting up during long migrations. Mallards and wood ducks make their homes here, while beavers can be spotted in the watery channels and along the shore.
Image of sand dunes, and related plants and animal species, with the words “The Dunes” and “Ecosystems of the Indiana Coastal Region”
Dunes protect. These mounds and ridges of wind-deposited sand, mostly near Lake Michigan, shelter a wide variety of threatened and endangered species. The piping plover, a small shorebird, nests in the shoreline sand, often in the protection of a perched dune. Houghton’s goldenrod, pitcher’s thistle, and the dwarf lake iris are all examples of threatened plant species that live on the Great Lakes dunes.
Images show trees, animals, and leaves, as well as people doing prescribed burns, with the word “Savanna” and “Ecosystems of the Indiana Coastal Region.”
Saving coastal savannas. Much of the flora and fauna found in Black Oak savannas are listed as rare, threatened, or endangered. For instance, the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly needs savanna habitat for its food source, the wild lupine. Prescribed burns help maintain savanna health.
Image shows waterfowl along tree-lined rivers, with the words “Grand and Little Calumet Rivers” and “Ecosystems of the Indiana Coastal Region.”
Restoring river habitat. Partners are hard at work to heal the ecosystems of the Grand and Little Calumet Rivers, which have been harmed by past urbanization and habitat destruction. The waterfowl shown in this illustration will benefit greatly from the cleanup and renewal process.
Four illustrated panels show Lake Michigan aquatic species, food webs, and a species timeline for the lake, with the words, Lake Michigan” and “Ecosystems of the Indiana Coastal Region.”
Lake treasures and troublemakers. Lake trout and Chinook salmon ply the waters of Lake Michigan. So do non-native invasive species, such as zebra mussel and lamprey, which threaten a variety of drinking and inland waters, as well as electrical power generation and other industries. Many organizations work to limit the damage caused by these creatures.
Image of two panels shows colorful wildflowers, grasses, waterways, and wildlife creatures, plus the words “Dune & Swale” and “Ecosystems of the Indiana Coastal Region.”
The beauty of restoration. Running along the Grand Calumet River is the Seidner Dune and Swale, a 50-acre area that was restored after heavy industrial ecosystem damage. The landscape of dunes and swales (shallow ditches that carry off water) feature beautiful wildflowers and a rich sheltering ground for egrets, herons, and other creatures. A 1.3 mile walking trail is also on site.

Posters: Take Your Pick

Posters may be picked up at several locations in the coastal region, or ordered by mail for a small shipping and handling fee. See this web page for more information. (2023)

Partners: Indiana Lake Michigan Coastal Program, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency