We are thrilled to announce one of our most important wetland acquisitions since our founding in 1991: the Ricks property. The wetland includes 25+ acres located at Turkey Creek Road at the east end of Lake Wawasee. The property includes the inlet stream and mouth of Turkey Creek and has 365 ft. of frontage shoreline.
Patricia Ricks, Bethesda MD, acquired this property by inheritance. Her father purchased it in the early 1950s from the Nathanial Crow family. After Patricia’s passing, the wetland was transferred to her estate and WACF was able to secure this property from her son, Brian Ricks.
What makes this property so significant?
In 1995 a Commonwealth Engineering Study identified this property as a crucial acquisition opportunity as it held considerable wetlands in need of protection. The WACF Ecology committee then set this property as a high priority for WACF.
It is important to note that Indiana ranks tied for 3rd worst state in loss of wetlands since 1780 according to the U.S. Geological Survey. 87% has been lost because of drainage for cropland, channeling around lakes, flood control, etc. A tour around our lakes will confirm that the Wawasee Watershed has experienced similar loss. The state estimates that wetland losses continue at 1% to 3% each year and WACF believes the loss of even one acre of important wetlands is too much.
Wetlands represent a lake’s natural counterbalance because they filter out excess nutrients. Phosphorous and nitrates feed organisms that lead to blue-green algae and poor water quality. Sediment carries the nutrients into the lake and it too leads to poor water quality. As mentioned, this property encompasses the mouth of Turkey Creek, the dominant tributary feeding water through the lake system. The wetlands on this property are considered emergent wetlands, the last remaining on Lake Wawasee.
Coupling these strategic facts with the sensitive location of this property makes it stand out as extremely high in priority for protection. Strategically and ecologically it may be the most significant acquisition WACF could make for achieving long-term water quality objectives.
Collaboration and Partnerships
WACF is grateful to the Ricks family for their willingness to continue dialogue with us for nearly 20 years as they considered how to best manage their property. This acreage was originally purchased in the early 1950s from the Nathanial Crowe family and we are honored to now have the responsibility to ensure it will remain a thriving wetland for generations to come.
In addition, we are humbled by the donors that have stepped forward to help us make this purchase and drive our mission. Without their strong commitment to preserving our watershed, this acquisition may not have been possible. We also recognize the support of the community who also share their time, talent and treasure with us. Preserving and protecting our lakes takes the collective work of many. Together we are making a difference!