Lake Wawasee Emergent Vegetation Survey In Ecozone Areas Of Johnson And Conklin Bay – 2008

Executive Summary

V3 was contracted by the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation (WACF) to complete Tier II aquatic vegetation sampling and ecozone vegetation surveying in Johnson and Conklin Bay.  This study was funded in part by the Lake and River Enhancement fund (LARE) as part of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Division of Fish and Wildlife which was obtained by the WACF.  Funding for the LARE program is provided by an annual fee charged to boat owners. Additional funding was provided by the WACF.  This study will also serve as a prerequisite to continue LARE program funding to control exotic or nuisance species.

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Lake Wawasee is a 3,410-acre lake in northeastern Kosciusko County, Indiana.  This report will document the present condition of vegetative communities within Johnson and Conklin Bay and serve as a practical plan for managing nuisance and exotic vegetation within Lake Wawasee. Exotic aquatic species disrupt lake ecosystems and provide poor habitat for fish and other organisms.  A Tier II aquatic vegetation survey was conducted on August 13, 2008 in Johnson Bay and Conklin Bay was surveyed on August 14, 2008.  Ecozone vegetation surveying in Johnson Bay was conducted on August 14, 2008 and Conklin Bay was surveyed on August 15, 2008.  The benefits of wetlands are well documented, and Lake Wawasee has historically had high water quality attributed to the many water-filtering wetlands in its watershed.  Wetlands are especially
critical habitats for wildlife, and exceed all other land types in wildlife productivity (Kent, 1994). This makes the protection of wetland areas in the Lake Wawasee watershed an extremely high priority.  The results of the surveys will provide the data necessary to make scientifically based recommendations for aquatic vegetation management and changes in buoy locations.

The Tier II survey results had vegetative diversity values for both Johnson and Conklin Bay (0.9890 and .9897 respectively).  The results of the Tier II sampling effort identified chara as the most dominant species (DI 17.2) which was present at 46% of sample sites within Johnson Bay. Johnson Bay’s second most frequently occurring species was Eel grass (26%) followed by nitella (18%).  Approximately 75% of sampling locations within Johnson Bay were vegetated. Exotic species within Johnson Bay include Eurasian watermilfoil and starry stonewort.  The results of the Conklin Bay Tier II sampling effort identified eel grass as the most frequently occurring species among sampling locations (47.5%).  Chara, an advanced algae, ranked second in frequency of occurrence (40%) followed by northern watermilfoil (30%) within Conklin Bay.  Conklin Bay had vegetation at 95% of sampling locations and a secchi disk reading of 9 feet.  Curlyleaf pondweed was the only exotic species found in Conklin Bay.  In addition to Tier II vegetative sampling V3 performed ecozone surveys in Johnson and Conklin Bay.  V3 surveyed access sites for the presence of Hydrilla.  Survey efforts were focused within an approximate 10 acre area around the access location.  The public access survey involved throwing the rake an estimated 25 to 30 times to locate any possible areas where Hydrilla could establish. These vegetation surveys are proposed to improve Lake Wawasee’s ecosystem and facilitate the achievement of overall goals established by the IDNR.  These overall goals established by the IDNR for all lakes applying for LARE funding are: 1) develop or maintain a stable, diverse aquatic vegetative community that supports a good balance of predator and prey fish and wildlife species, good water quality, and is resistant to minor habitat disturbances and invasive species; 2) direct efforts to preventing and/or controlling the negative impacts of aquatic invasive species; and 3) provide reasonable public recreational access while minimizing the negative impacts on plant and wildlife resources.

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