In 1899, University of Chicago botanist Henry Cowles published an article in the ‘Botanical Gazette’ detailing the extensive array of plant life and ecological systems present at the dunes. The article brought him international attention and led to the birth of a new field of science, the study of ecology.

“Pageant of the Dunes” 1916

Cowles’ efforts also led to an interest in preserving the Dunes. In 1908 he organized the Prairie Club of Chicago. The group advocated for the creation of a park. Local industrialist and future director of the National Park Service, Stephen Mather, was a member of the group.