Wind and wave energy generated by recreational activities and harsh winters have taken a toll on the largest island in Webster Lake. At the worst spot, on the west side of Kline Island, severe erosion has stolen an estimated 20 to 25 feet of shoreline.
President Terry Fredericks of the Webster Lake Conservation Association began noticing the effects of erosion on the lake last year. Several smaller islands, including one in view from his home, have disappeared completely from the lake the last several years, he said. Intrigued, Fredericks took a look at the lake’s remaining islands.
Kline, the largest island on Webster Lake, is owned by Epworth Forest and is used as part of its camp as well as for natural habitat, the town’s Fourth of July fireworks launch site and as a community recreation area. The island is currently about 2.3 acres in size. But as the windward side of Kline has eroded, trees have fallen and silt has moved farther out into the lake.
During a meeting about two years ago Nick Yarde, director of Epworth Forest, agreed additional erosion seemed to be leading to complete loss of the island and would likely affect the nearby wetland. Fredericks — who is also a member of the Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation board — offered to spearhead a restoration project.
“We met with the DNR and strategized what grants might be available and what we could get done. The DNR was very interested in saving the island,” Fredericks said.
Together the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Tippecanoe Watershed Foundation, Indiana United Methodist Conference, which owns Epworth Forest, and the WLCA applied for and were awarded funds to defray the cost of preventing further shoreline erosion. Indiana Department of Natural Resources Lake and River Enhancement program and the Midwest Glacial Lakes Partnership provided the grants, which were applied for in conjunction with a project going on at Loon Lake that is being managed separately. One-third of the funds will be applied to that project.
A 20 percent local contribution is a requirement of the funding, so any cost for the Kline project beyond what is provided for by the grant capital will be paid by the WLCA, TWF and the IUMC.
Bids are coming in now from contractors that specialize in reclaiming land exposed to the elements. Starting early in the spring, biodegradeable logs will be laid in the water. It was hoped part of that process would begin yet this fall, but permits were not received in time.
After the logs are in place glacial stonework will be terraced up into the island and extending out into the water, to build up the shore. Then aquatic and wetland vegetation will be hand-planted to deep root into the area for a more natural look and to prevent further erosion.
“Hopefully, we’ll be done by mid-June. We’ll have it shored up and we’ll put buoys out to keep boats out of the area,” Fredericks said. Depending on the contractor involved and the amount of money remaining, some restoration work may also take place to bring back some of the displaced silt.