Watershed Wetlands

What is a Watershed Wetland?

Wetlands are lands covered by fresh water all or part of the time (seasonal), typically transitional lands between terrestrial uplands and water bodies.  They are the most complex fresh water ecosystems.  Categories includes marshes (few trees), swamps (trees/shrubs), bogs, river banks, potholes, and floodplains.  Marshes are the most common in North America.

Wetlands on Lake Wawasee and Syracuse Lake are typically lily pads, reeds, bulrushes, and cattails.  Examples include Mudd Lake and areas in Johnson and Conklin Bays.  They can also be solid ground that is saturated with water only part of the year.

What are the Environmental Benefits of Wetlands?

They are critical for water purification, flood control, carbon sink and shoreline stability. They also are an important habitat for a large variety of wildlife species.

How can our Watershed be Protected?

A wetland system needs to be regularly monitored to see if it is becoming degraded. Degraded wetlands will cause the Wawasee Area Watershed to suffer a loss in water quality, and good soil conditions. It will also threaten wildlife including endangered species.

To dredge or fill in a wetland, a USACE “Section 404 Permit” is required.  Indiana requires a “Section 401 Water Quality Certification” prior to that.

What Can You Do?

-You can obey Ecozone Buoys and avoid creating big wakes near wetlands. You can watch for inappropriate wetlands destruction by individuals or companies.

-If considering wetlands projects, make sure you apply for the necessary permits from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and US Army Corps of Engineers.

-Learn more about Indiana’s wetlands…

-Keep up-to-date with information from WACF (E-News Sign-Up) about Wawasee Area Watershed wetlands including the Education Center Enhanced Wetland Restoration Project and Wetlands Adventures for Kids!

Additional Information:

Impact of Boating on Wetlands

  • Direct impact from boat props —> cutting of plant material, scouring lake bottom and uprooting plants
  • Indirect impact
    • Turbidity leading to decreased light penetration impacting macrophyte growth
    • Increased nutrient levels —> increased algae growth
  • Wave action impacts macrophyte distribution, species composition, and growth rates
  • Degraded wetlands can lead to a loss in water quality, increased algae growth, and impairment/reduction of acquatic species

History of Ecozone Buoys on Lake Wawasee

  • 1995: IDNR developed a non-rule policy on “Wetland Conservation Guidelines”
  • 2000:  state legislation established  the authority to set up ecozones on public waters
    • Address unusual conditions or hazards
    • Fish, wildlife, or botanical resource management
    • The protection of users
  • 2002:  Local Lake Wawasee and Syracuse Lake community with support of IDNR and other constituents established ecozones adjacent to large wetlands in lakes.  Locations specified by GPS.
  • GPS-located buoys placed and removed annually by volunteers

Indiana Wetlands

  • Wetland mapping in 1991 showed Indiana had approximately 813,000 acres.
  • Forested wetlands (swamps) are the most common type in all 92 Indiana counties.
  • Indiana has lost over 85%, 4.7M acres, of 5.6M acres since 1700’s!
  • Noble and Kosciusko have the greatest number of acres of Indiana counties, this area has almost 7% of the State’s total wetland acreage.