“I was really happy and totally surprised,” stated Healther Harwood, executive director of the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation when WACF was announced the 2013 recipient of the Indiana Lakes Management Society’s Outstanding Lake/Watershed Association of the Year.
The award was presented at the annual ILMS annual conference at Pokagon State Park, Angola, March 22-23. Harwood is on the board but has attended the conference for the last 15 years.
WACF was recognized for “promoting and encouraging the understanding and comprehensive management of lakes and reservoirs and their watershed ecosystems,” Harwood stated, crediting all members of the WACF board and their work in keeping WACF strong and able to make a difference. She also noted the recognition concentrated on the work done by the local foundation this past year in which the drought was beneficial as it allowed construction projects to occur with less damage to the environment and water quality. Additionally the receipt of several grants which allowed this work assisted in projects. While it is unknown how many associations were nominated of the 50 plus associations who are ILMS members, or if this is the first year for WACF to be nominated, Harwood noted the experience was “surreal,” as she sat among individuals from other organizations.
ILMS deals with everything that has to do with fresh water, according to Harwood who noted its board members are from all across the state. Topics of this year’s conference included scientific information about and how to identify blue/green algae, grants and fundraising, habitats, legislation and permits, dams, maintenance, benefits of reptiles and amphibians in the water and the keynote speaker, author Darby Nelson who wrote “For Love of Lakes.” Nelson spoke how all systems are interconnected and while everyone loves the water, it’s abused, noting how the shorelines are mistreated and the need for buffers instead of seawalls.
Harwood noted the conference is open to the public and next year’s event will be held in Bloomington.
More information about ILMS can be found on its website, www.indianalakes.org, or the WACF website, www.wacf.com.