The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation (WACF) was founded in 1991 at the suggestion of the Wawasee Property Owners Association (WPOA). WPOA deals with Lake Wawasee issues such as water safety, fire hydrants and special events and are membership funded. Two directors from WPOA first started WACF, which quickly grew to eighteen directors elected for staggered three-year terms. It did not take long for the initial core group of WACF volunteers to understand that it is not just the lake, but also the entire watershed area that affects water quality. WACF’s mission covers the area’s complete watershed ecosystem including 26 lakes (including Wawasee, Syracuse, Papakeechie and Bonar lakes) and is funded by individual, corporate and government gifts and grants.
WACF was originally created to preserve and improve the lakes by:
- determining problems by performing periodic environmental testing and scientific analysis on the Lakes and the surrounding ecosystem
- solving those problems by developing systems for the protection of the water and ecosystem of the Lakes from environmental pollution and deterioration by, among other methods, acquiring, by gift or purchase, ecologically significant parcels of land
- educating the public by disseminating information to the general public and state of Indiana
In 1995, WACF engaged environmental engineers to study the watershed and determine problems in maintaining the ecology of the lakes. The study has served the basis of dozens of projects conducted. As of 2001, WACF has acquired over 750 acres of wetlands and buffer ground including 11,350 feet of wetland shoreline now protected by WACF ownership.
Since the inception of WACF, funding for projects to improve water quality has reached over $1,250,000 in grants and contributions. WACF is supported by FRIENDS who donate their time, money, expertise, and / or land. The organization is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity.
The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation (WACF) is a local public not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of the Wawasee area watershed for present and future generations. The Wawasee Watershed covers 23,618 acres including Wawasee, Syracuse, Bonar and Papakeechie lakes as well as ten lakes in the upper Turkey Creek sub watershed.
The Foundation was formed in 1991 to anticipate, search out, and solve threats to the Wawasee Area Watershed and to its water quality. The Foundation is dedicated to enhancement the watershed and works hand-in-hand with property owner groups, the State Department of Natural Resources and other governmental and civic organizations that share its concerns. The Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) corporation, thus enabling it to provide tax advantages for gifts and grants.
Five major areas within the watershed have been targeted for protection by acquisition. These wetlands reduce water velocity and absorb polluting nutrients and thereby contribute significantly to the WACF clean water mission. The conservancy has now acquired thirty-five wetland properties totaling approximately 750 acres rendering approximately 53,000 feet (10 miles) of protected shoreline:
- Purchased .1 acres on Conklin Bay at the south end of the channel along SR13 (2013)
- Purchased 2.04 acres of Wawasee lakefront property at the WACF Education Center (2012)
- Purchased 4.5 acres upstream of Martin Creek, Leeland Addition, to control sediment (2012)
- Donation from the Lynda Hirsch Family of 2.3 acres adjacent to the WACF Education Center (2011)
- Traded 2.4 acres with barns for 8.5 acres along Turkey Creek near Turkey Creek tributary (2011)
- Purchased 3.44 acres along Turkey Creek where cows formerly had access (2011)
- Purchased 1.23 acres of along Turkey Creek at Turkey Creek Tributary (2011)
- Purchased 2 acres at Knapp Lake along the channel between Knapp and Little Knapp Lakes (2009)
- Purchased approx. 20 acres of highly erodible soils in the Bayshore area (2009)
- Purchased 10.2 acres including the south side of Village Lake and it’s wetland areas (2009)
- Purchase and partial gift of 53.49 acres of forested lowland thru which passes Dillon Creek (2008)
- Purchased 21.8 acres along Dillon Creek, the biggest contributor of sediment to Wawasee (2008)
- Donation of approximately .75 acres of wetland in the Chinese Gardens / Mud Lake area (2008)
- Purchase 35.25 acres of wetland and upland area adjacent to Conklin Bay (2008)
- Purchased 27.22 acres bordering Turkey Creek near the outflow to Wawasee (2007)
- Donation of 42.36 acre Conservation Easement along Turkey Creek from Knapp Lake to Gordy Lake (2007)
- Donation of property in Enchanted Hills including a residential lot and boat lot (2007)
- Purchased 6.47 acres straddling Turkey Creek and Noble County at the Kosciusko county line(2006)
- Purchased a 70-acre restriction to prevent a Confined Feed Operation straddling Turkey and Dillon Creek (2005)
- Purchased 8 acre property at the Bayshore outflow including ponds (2005)
- Gifted 3.5 acre island in Southeast Bay of Wawasee (2004)
- Purchased 21.35 acres of wetland, upland and pond area west of Main Channel Bay (2003)
- Gifted .34 acre parcel in the Mudd Lake area (2003)
- Purchased 8 acres in the Syracuse/Bonar Lakes wetland area (2003)
- Purchased 37.7 acres straddling Dillon Creek in the Enchanted Hills watershed. (2002-2003)
- Partially gifted .74 acre island adjacent to Morrison Island (2002)
- Gifted 1-acre island, 513’ of shoreline between Syracuse and Wawasee Lakes in Main Channel (2002).
- Purchased 17.164 acres on the southeast edge of Turkey Creek Inlet wetlands (2002).
- Purchased 9.10 acres, including over 600’ of natural shoreline on the north side of Knapp Lake (2002).
- Gifted 2.643 acres along the south side of Bonar Lake (2001).
- Purchased and partially gifted 128.7 acres along the north side of Village, Duely, Rider and Gordy lakes including approximately 7,000 feet of wetlands shoreline including the historic Indian Oven (2000).
- Purchased 10.08 acres of forested wetlands adjoining Turkey Creek near the outflow to Lake Wawasee (2000).
- Purchased 70 acres of wetlands and related acreage consisting of approximately 4,400 lf. of wetlands shoreline on Moss and Hindman Lakes, including the entirety of Neal Lake (2000).
- Gift of 2.72 acres with 400 lineal feet of wetlands shoreline on Conklin Bay and adjacent to SR13 (2000)
- Gift of 20.595 acres of wetlands and related acreage between Syracuse Lake and Bonar Lake (1999)
- Purchased 6.58 acres of land/wetlands adjacent to Turkey Creek near the outflow to Wawasee Lake (1999)
- Purchased 4.5 acres known as Buck Island on the southeast end of Syracuse Lake (1999)
- Purchased 19.65 acres surrounding Little Knapp Lake (1999)
- Purchased 13.52 acres of land/wetlands on Knapp Lake (1999)
- Purchased 1.17 acres of Mud Lake (1998)
- Purchased 16.07 acres of Bonar wetlands (1997)
- Purchased an additional 16.07 acres of Bonar wetlands (1997)
- Purchased 15.79 acres of Bonar wetlands (1996)
- Purchased 14.14 Acres of Bonar wetlands (1995)
- Purchased 1.66 acres on Conklin Bay (1994)
- Gift of land of 2.02 acres on Conklin Bay from Mayme Long (1993)
Other accomplishments include:
- 15 years of outdoor programming with canoe trips throughout the upper Turkey Creek 10-lakes area
- Received $33,000 grant from IDNR LARE for sediment control in Ritter Branch at Hindman Lake (2012)
- Planted 7,000 trees in a former agricultural field for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) on the WACF Bayshore property and ponds created thru LARE in ’06 (2012)
- Received a $14,500 grant from the IDNR Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) in partnership with Syracuse Lake Association (SLA) for a Starry Stonewort survey in Wawasee and Syracuse Lakes (2012)
- Received a $2,500 grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service for planting of a wetland at the outflow of Village Lake Stream (2012)
- Partnered with the Elkhart River Restoration Association on a Great Lakes Commission Grant for $397,000 for sediment and erosion control of over 40,000 tons from the Dillon and Turkey Creek subwatersheds (2011)
- Received a $20,000 grant from the IDNR Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) for construction of a wetland at the outflow of Village Lake Stream (2011)
- Received a $45,000 grant from the IDNR Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) for erosion control of Dillon Creek (2011)
- Received a $5,000 grant from the Kosciusko County Community Foundation (KCCF) wetland enhancement at the WACF Education Center (2011)
- Received a $20,000 grant from the IDNR Lake and River Enhancement (LARE) for survey of Starry Stonewort in Wawasee and Syracuse Lakes (2011)
- Received a $5,000 grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for Village Lake Stream wetland outflow (2011)
- Received a $650 grant from the USFWS for maintenance of CRP property at Moss Lake (2010)
- Received a $40,000 grant from LARE for survey and treatment of Starry Stonewort in Wawasee (2010)
- Received a $46,875 grant from LARE for an Engineering Construction Project on Village Lake (2009)
- Received a $9,000 grant from the KCCF for a Master Plan of the WACF Education Center (2009)
- Received a $27,000 grant from LARE for a Feasibility / Design Study on Dillon Creek (2009)
- Received $27,000 grant from LARE for aquatic plant management including treatment and survey (2009)
- Received a $1,000 grant from the Kenneth and Lela Harkless Foundation (2008)
- Received a $20,000 grant from LARE for update on the Aquatic Weed Survey (2008)
- Received at $31,500 grant from LARE for erosion and sediment control at the Village Lake tributary (2007)
- Received a $10,000 grant from the Harkless Foundation (2007)
- Received a $10,000 grant from the Harkless Foundation for a Carrying Capacity Study (2006)
- Received a $9,000 grant from LARE for experimental Littoral Zone Plant Restoration in Wawasee (2006)
- Received a $30,000 grant from LARE for a design build sediment removal project in the Bayshore ponds and enhanced wetland construction (2006)
- Received a $10,000 grant from LARE for update on the Aquatic Weed Survey (2006)
- Received a $10,000 grant from Ruth Lilly for prairie seeding at the WACF Conklin Bay site (2005)
- Received a $6,000 grant from the Harkless Foundation for invasive species survey and treatment (2005)
- Received a $60,000 grant from LARE for a Watershed Management Plan (2005)
- Received a $8,000 grant from the KCCF and $3,200 grant from LARE for an Aquatic Weed Survey (2005)
- Received a $26,250 grant from LARE for reconstruction of a sediment basin in Turkey Creek outflow at Gordy Lake (2004)
- Received a $1,138 grant from the KCCF for two Dissolved Oxygen/Temperature Probes for water testing (2004)
- Received a $21,750 grant from LARE for design and construction of a sediment basin in Martin Creek in the Leeland Addition (2004)
- Received a $2,300 grant from the Great Lakes Aquatic Habitat and Network Fund for a Groundwater Study to help fight a proposed hog farm ½ mile from Lake Wawasee & adjacent to supply creeks (2004)
- Received a $20,000 grant from LARE for design and construction of biolog erosion control project on Griffiths Island in Lake Wawasee Engineering Feasibility Study (2003)
- Received a $52,000 grant from LARE for sediment control in Dillon Creek based on recommendation in the Lake Wawasee Engineering Feasibility Study (2002)
- LARE released $30,000 for Land Treatment Projects to treat runoff in the Dillon Creek area (2002)
- Received a $1,750 grant from the KCCF for a full color calendar photo competition and project (2002)
- Received a $60,000 grant from LARE for a Design Study based on Lake Wawasee Engineering Feasibility Study recommendations including enhanced wetlands at Dillon Creek and Bayshore, and check dams at Dillon Creek and Martin Creek (2001)
- Received a $60,000 grant from LARE for an Engineering Feasibility Study on areas around Lake Wawasee that were identified as threats to water quality in the Diagnostic Feasibility Study. These areas include problems with agricultural erosion, development erosion, runoff, bank and grade stability, stream relocation to original flow, sediment traps, constructed wetlands and stormwater retention (2000)
- Awarded a $45,000 grant from LARE for a glacial stone seawall demonstration project along the north shore of Lake Wawasee totaling 1,700 lineal feet of shoreline (2000)
- Received a Green Water Testing Equipment Kit grant from Hoosier Riverwatch (2000)
- Received three (3) grants prior to 2000 totaling $443,000. An important grant was for the Watershed Diagnostic Feasibility Study examining the health of our lakes and streams, including a Watershed Management Plan identifying threats to water quality and a plan to preserve the watershed.