Oakwood Group Pier Application for 248 boat slips by Buckingham Co.
WACF’s primary concern is water quality and the ecological issues affecting Conklin Bay as a result of the installation of the group piers. We have had numerous scientific studies of this area completed including Conklin Bay (Diagnostic Feasibility Study by Commonwealth Biomonitoring, Watershed Management Plan, Carrying Capacity Study and Conklin Bay Littoral Zone Study by JFNew, Aquatic Plant Surveys and Eco Zone Studies by V3). Every one of these studies support protection of this portion of the lake due to the sensitivity of the substrate and surrounding wetlands.
WACF can not support an excessive number of boat slips in this wetland area (bulrushes existing along Oakwood’s seawall) or anything over the limits implied by the Lake Access Development provision (3.11.11) of the Kosciusko County Zoning Ordinance. Our studies, as well as those of academia on boating effects on lakes, indicate that boat action, i.e. propellers, waves, exhaust, improper boat navigation, etc, are abusive to sensitive wetland areas, and the greater the boat traffic the greater the abuse. Therefore WACF stands for “not increasing” boat activity in this area and opposes a group pier plan that calls for excessive boat slips, especially in the Oakwood shoreline at the entrance to Conklin Bay, one of the most sensitive areas on the entire lake.
A Wawasee bathymetric map (included below) shows 0′ to 5’ depth in the area of the proposed group piers. If the DNR approves these piers, will the DNR also be allowing dredging to drive and park boats in an area of lake with less than 5’ in depth? WACF vigorously opposes any plans or permits to dredge the shallow water in the proposed pier locations because of bulrushes that are growing in these shallow waters.
The proposed group piers cover well over 50% of the Oakwood frontage, and WACF urges the DNR to follow the DNR Group Pier rules: A pier must not extend more than one-half (1/2) the width of the applicant’s shoreline or water line.
Conklin Bay is a valuable and particularly sensitive ecosystem. The water in the bay is relatively shallow, the bottom is primarily muck and easily stirred up and releases phosphorus from the bottom sediment, sending it up into the water column. This sort of pier plan would be unacceptable anywhere on Lake Wawasee but particularly in this sensitive zone bordered so closely on the south by a large wetland. This area has already been deemed sensitive enough to merit Eco-buoys to help protect the wetland from the effects of boat wakes.
WACF supports the concept of development at Oakwood, but would like to see a revised pier design and participate in the layout. Whether the proposal is for 248 slips or 190, it is excessive, goes significantly beyond State guidelines, exceeds the local funneling ordinance and is unreasonable given the nature of our lake.