Text and Photos
By Deb Patterson
John Bearss and Jim and Sally Hubbard were recipients of the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation 2019 Cattail Award. The award was presented at the annual WACF Summer Celebration and Brunch Saturday, July 27.
Bearss, whose family has been coming to the lake for more than 60 years and himself all his life, was recognized for his work with the Friday morning canoe trips. “He is one of our canoe guys,” stated Doug Yoder, WACF board chairman. “He is really active in the canoes. We want to thank John for his efforts helping out on canoe trips and he will come on the board of directors in the fall.”
The Hubbards were noted as being a “big help in getting the Between the Lakes program started with funding for a lot of invasive weed control, down tree removal, installing fence,” noted Yoder. He added their inspiration has “really gotten things going on this project.”
Scott Fetters, who was not present at last year’s celebration, was given his award.
The annual celebration provides an opportunity for friends of the conservancy to learn about projects and work WACF has been doing in the past year. This year’s celebration focused on progress of the Wawasee Inlets Nutrient Study by Ecosystems Connections Institute LLC.
“We (referring to the human body) need nutrients to grow and thrive,” stated Beth Morris, chairwoman of the ecology committee. “If things get out of balance over time stuff gets out of whack and we run into significant physical problems … the eco system and the watershed is much like that. … So one of our long term goals is to prevent the entry of excess nutrients that fuel growth of weeds and algae that harm the health of our lakes.”
Morris explained the ecology committee looks at the long term plan, how it is going to protect the watershed along with the short term and long term steps needed. Following a hot spot study that identified 99 areas scattered throughout the watershed, 29 of them critical, it left the committee in a quandary – where to start and what was the best bang for a buck.
A decision was made to embark on a potential three-year Wawasee Inlets Nutrient Study with Ecosystems Connections Institute LLC. Dr. Jerry Sweeten and his staff began the study in April. Herb Manifold with ECI gave the presentation.
Manifold talked about the objectives of the study, talked about where the gauges are located and the workings of those gauges. He noted there are samples collected every six hours and since April close to 3,000 samples have been received with close to 20,000 tests conducted.
Several graphs were presented — rainfall, total phosphorous and nitrate levels. He also talked about the future work which includes weekly water collections, biological surveys and submitting an annual report in the fall. He noted this data is between ECI and WACF and is not shared with government entities.
There was a time for questions and answers.
Yoder noted WACF needs approximately $170,000 a year to fund the study, over and above funds needed to operate the conservancy.
Earlier in the event, Yoder touched on the three main committees, which are the backbone of WACF. Those areas are public relations that have changed the face of WACF in the media and on social media; ecology; and education, which has educated more than 400 kids and 400 adults to date this year. Additionally he noted WACF owns 900 acres of property and more than 10 miles of shoreline on lakes and steams.
The meeting also recognized the outgoing board members: Larry Baumgardt, Terry Clapacs, Jane Finch, Bill Herdrich, Joan Szynal and Yoder. Incoming board members include Donn Baird, Bearss, Tom Kelley, Dan Kiley and Rick Winter. Chris Roberts will take over as chairman.