The award is presented yearly at the annual WACF meeting. The meeting additionally provides an update on the “State of the Watershed,” a brief presentation from six committees, and introduction of new officers and board members.
The biggest news is expected to be announced late in the week when the latest acquisition is believed to be finalized.
Holdeman, outgoing president, also served as chairman of the finance and planning committee. Holderman lead the WACF¹s efforts to control the number of boats, halting a marina and the amount of dredging at Oakwood to protect the wetland and water quality of Conklin Bay.
“John¹s extensive effort negotiating with the Oakwood receiver, working with
our counsel, WACF personnel did not go unrewarded,” stated Sam Leman, WACF president. This past spring the dredging permit was limited to the channel area only and WACF reached an agreement on the pier use, limiting it to 120 watercraft total, operated by patrons of the hotel or Oakwood Park property owners. No marina.
Stanger was recognized for his efforts with the forerunners of the Knapp Lake Area Conservancy and its efforts to install sewers. Stanger, who has served on the WACF board since 2008, came to the board in 2006 requesting seed money for the sewer program. That initial $25,000 seed money for
engineering study and early legal fees has been turned into $5 million in grants. The project has been approved with construction to begin in 2014 and residents connecting to the system in 2015.
The final award was given posthumously to Wilcox. Wilcox was one of the founding board members of WACF. Known throughout the state, he was founder of the Little 500 at Indiana University and originated the Indy 500 Festival. Leman stated, “He was a board member from 1992-1998 and is
credited with acquiring our very first land acquisition, the property owned by Maymie Long on SR 13. That was the beginning of our wetland acquisition and conservation efforts.”
State Of The Watershed
Updates on grant projects, canoe trips, ecology, development, land management and land acquisition were all presented by respective chairpersons, several incorporating their educator backgrounds.
John Holdeman, for Tom Yoder chairman of the land acquisition, provided information on last year¹s acquisitions. He noted WACF was successful in purchasing property adjacent to Turkey Creek and to trade two barns and high ground on that property for an 8.5-acre conservation easement along Turkey Creek.
He also noted WACF was successful in purchasing 4.5 acres of a 100-acre farm east of the middle school to build a sediment farm to get cleaner water flowing through Leeland Gardens. There is 761 acres of property, including 35 wetlands, owned by the conservancy.
Heather Harwood, executive director, presented the project updates. Earlier Holdeman noted that in 21 years the foundation has received $1.35 million in grants and donations.
Harwood noted a grant was received through the Elkhart River Restoration Association and Dewart Lake to work with farmers in the watershed to keep the soil on the fields and out of the waterways and the lake along with continued work at Dillon Creek, the number one hot spot.
“This substantial grant of $400,000 is allowing us to get up there and work with all kinds of people in the watershed and getting that sediment held,” stated Harwood.
Upcoming projects she noted include the 4.5 acres behind the middle school and what can be done to hold some of the muddy plum coming into the lake, a project at Hindman Lake and working on the lake access development ordinance update – the funneling ordinance – to tighten the regulations. She noted the current regulations allow for double dipping.
Dan Berkey reported this was the end of the 16th year for the canoe trips, which were cut short due the drought. He stated 43 percent of the water in Wawasee comes from Turkey Creek, 15
percent from Dillon Creek, 16 percent from Tri-County, the rest from other sources.
Bob Fanning, land management, closed the meeting with an announcement that WACF had purchased the rights to a song written by Mike Struwin titled “Living Earth.” This song will be
utilized to promote WACF in marketing and in meetings. It will be used on the Web. Copies of the words and a CD containing the son was given to those present.
For a complete reporting of the WACF meeting, see this week’s issue of The Mail-Journal.