WINONA LAKE — A recent report suggests changes made at Winona Lake Limitless Park are improving both water quality and safety conditions for visitors.
In 2017, The Watershed Foundation (TWF) brought together community partners to implement an integrated solution to health and safety concerns at Winona Lake Limitless Park. Problems included a crumbling seawall, diminishing water quality caused by shoreline erosion and public health risks posed by an overabundance of goose droppings. TWF’s integrated approach included engineering a healthier shoreline, engaging and educating the public and conducting research to quantify any resulting improvements.
TWF’s Executive Director Lyn Crighton shared, “Although all of our projects benefit the community by reducing pollution and protecting water quality in our lakes and rivers, this one was extra special. It was amazing to see the community come together with 15 different partner organizations and hundreds of volunteers of all ages in support.”
The work began in early 2019. The old seawall was removed, and glacial stones were installed along 500 feet of shoreline to slow wave action. Cherry Creek’s streambanks were stabilized, and a buffer of native shrubs and plants was incorporated along the stream and the shoreline to discourage geese activity, among other benefits. In addition, TWF launched a public education campaign that included hands-on activities and signage throughout the park, informing residents and visitors about healthy shorelines and encouraging clean water behaviors, such as not feeding waterfowl.
Among other positive outcomes of the project, there has been a notable reduction in goose activity. A recent report from a three-year study conducted by the Lilly Center helps quantify the impact.
The Lilly Center for Lakes & Streams collaborated with TWF on their restoration project by studying conditions in the park before, during and after the work occurred. The Lilly Center research team surveyed for goose droppings across the grassy portion of the park. Goose droppings offer an understanding of whether or not geese are spending time there, and are also the main concern for the health of the lake and those who recreate in it. The Lilly Center found significantly fewer droppings (56%) along the shoreline after the restoration than there were before.
“As the plants continue to establish themselves along the shoreline, we hope to see these results continue each year,” said Adrienne Daeger, research program specialist at the Lilly Center. “And we hope that Winona Lake, the park, and our community benefit greatly!”
TWF is grateful to the many organizations and individuals who were involved in this project along the way! Thank you to all who continue to do their part for water quality by making simple, everyday choices like picking up pet waste and not feeding waterfowl.