The Wawasee Area Watershed ecosystem includes Lake Wawasee (Indiana’s largest natural lake at over 3,000 acres), Syracuse Lake, Bonar Lake, and Lake Papakeechie, as well as ten lakes in the upper Turkey Creek sub-watershed. Covering 23,618 acres, the Wawasee Area Watershed ecosystem is more than lakes, rivers, and streams; it also encompasses agricultural area, forests, wetlands, prairies and urban developed area. Within a watershed, land and water are connected by the flow of the water. Thus, what happens on land has a direct effect on the water.
The primary mission of WACF is to preserve and enhance water quality in the lakes. To that end, a long-term goal is to acquire wetlands and endangered areas along the shorelines and feeder streams. After it’s formation in 1991, WACF met with the DNR and targeted five key wetland areas in the watershed that were important to protect. Of particular interest were the health of the three major tributaries to Lake Wawasee; Turkey Creek, Dillon Creek, and Lake Papakeechie that supply surface water to Wawasee. Other tributaries of interest and concern that contribute sediment and runoff to the lake include Martin Creek (behind the Middle School to Leeland Addition), South Shore golf course outflow, and the Bayshore area. When considering a land purchase, the established targets are considered along with WACF’s ecological review of land acquisition priorities.
Currently, the WACF protects over 900 acres with 51 properties including over 125 acres in conservation easements and deed restriction property. This translates into well over 10 miles of shoreline.