LEESBURG — A summer celebration was hosted by The Watershed Foundation Thursday evening, July 6, recognizing accomplishments over the past years and future projects.
Guests gathered at the Tippy Creek Winery, CR 200E, Leesburg, for wine tasting, music, food and a common interest — preservation of the Tippecanoe Watershed. Lyn Crighton, executive director, briefly spoke about what TWF is about and what it does, along with providing updates on past and future projects.
Crighton stated TWF is focused on protecting and improving water quality in the lakes and streams in the Upper Tippecanoe River Watershed and working on fixing those pollution problems. “We work closely with the land owners and educate them on the best practices for maintaining a healthy environment and water quality,” Crighton said. TWF also works with many partners and monitor for progress in water quality. “This has proven the water quality is getting better. We’re really about getting results.”
Crighton explained fixing water quality problems is stopping pollution from the lake which could be soil erosion, farm fertilizer, and waste from non working septic tanks, from farm animals and pets. “We’re working with all residents in the watershed,” she said. The 246 square mile Tippecanoe River Watershed, which flows into the Tippecanoe River, includes 60 lakes and 16 lake associations with 75 percent of the land being farm land.
A lot of TWF’s work is with farmers to reduce the pollution coming off the land. “These projects we do are proactive … prevent pollution before it gets to our lakes and streams,” she said. The influx of fertilizer and waste into the water can cause algae blooms and sedimentation. “One pound of phosphorus can grow 10,000 pounds of weed and algae.”
Accomplishments Last Year
One major accomplishment last year, according to Crighton, was the acquisition of five acres of wetlands near Ball Wetlands, between Big and Little Tippy. This acquisition will keep the wetlands in conservation forever. “So now when you go through that channel between Big Tippy and Little Tippy, neither side will never be developed and will always be there acting as a wetland, filtering our water and providing a habitat for fish and wildlife.”
She spoke about the healthy shoreline program where over the last five years over 100 projects on 14 lakes in the upper watershed have been completed. Another project, the soil initiative, has worked with 43 land owners to implement almost 1000 projects on 5,000 acres of farm land. These projects reduced 814 million pounds of weeds and algae in the lakes.
There are currently 14 new projects underway valued at over $325,000 with TWF raising $85,000 to contribute to the projects. It was noted the landowners of where the projects will take place, will be paying a percentage of the costs for the work needing done.
Crighton spoke of what individuals can do to help protect the lakes and about upcoming events. The brief presentation was ended with Ted Burnworth, board member, encouraging individuals to make financial contributions to TWF. Burnworth noted the lifetime memories made at the lakes. “If we don’t have the lake to do that and if the water quality continues to decline, then a lot of these memories will not be available.
“There are lots and lots of projects we’re trying to complete. Grant money is drying up … seriously consider making a financial investment in our watershed that your grandchildren, your grandchildren’s grandchildren can have fun…”