By Deb Patterson
Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation seeks out and resolves threats to the water quality in the Wawasee area watershed. It promotes education, encourages best management practices to reduce erosion and acquires wetlands and endangered shoreline areas.
A number of projects are underway, including projects at the Levinson-LaBrosse Lakes and Wetlands Education Center, along SR 13, south of Syracuse. The three trails continue to be developed on the 40 acres at the center. This includes the creation of a memory garden on trail one. There has also been work to remove invasive plants and planting of native seeds of wild flowers and restoring the property to the native habitat.
Another project at the center is the construction of the amphitheater, north of the Ruddell Pavilion and overlooking the Conklin Bay wetlands. Once completed it will seat 120 people.
Work has also begun at the Between the Lakes Preserve creating trails and a prairie. Native plantings will take place. The property will feature fern sedges and boardwalk walkways that connect to the Syracuse-Wawasee Trails.
A Lake and River Enhancement grant is being used for a Turkey Creek tributary erosion control and restoration project. This project will protect the shoreline of the Turkey Creek tributary by slowing down the water flow. Additionally WACF is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on invasive plant removal from the Gordy Lake preserve.
Events to promote the efforts of WACF and to educate the public on the need to preserve and protect the lakes in the watershed are also important to the foundation.
A new event this year will be a summer social called “The Event.” This ticketed event, held from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 29, will include an evening of live entertainment, food and a cash bar. It will be an opportunity to meet neighbors, members of the WACF and lake friends. There will be a grand prize giveaway. Tickets are available through WACF’s website.
Other events include the annual meeting, open to the public Saturday, July 28. This event will include brief updates from various committee chairs and a big breakfast, donated by The Channel Marker.
Other programs, all providing fun educational opportunities, include a Fishing and Fun Day for youngsters from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, July 5, at Between The Lakes. Officers with the Department of Natural Resources will provide free fishing instruction.
The most popular event during the summer is the annual bug catch, the second of three Lake Talk and Eats programs, from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, July 7, hundreds come out to see what critters can be found along the shoreline of Lake Wawasee that tell the health of the lake.
Additional events and programs include the canoe trips offered each Friday from June 22 through mid-August, weather permitting; wetland adventures for kids from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursdays in July, starting July 12. The final Lake Talk and Eat program will be a cruise around Lake Wawasee on the SS Lilly Pad at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 18.
WACF also hosts a several programs for first and sixth grades and high school students during the school year.
The Levinson-LaBrosse Wetland and Education Center as well as the Barbara Berkey Grant Sacajawea Overlook are open to the public from dawn to dusk.
Further information about WACF can be found on its website: wacf.com or on its Facebook page.