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The Journal Gazette

Conservancy buys 44 acres in Wawasee watershed

A lake conservancy group has bought additional lakefront and wetlands in Kosciusko County to protect the area’s natural environment for future generations.

The Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation bought 44.5 acres along the southeast corner of Syracuse Lake. The property is adjacent to the CSX railroad tracks, East Shore Drive and Cornelius Road. It includes the Bonar Lake wetlands, Syracuse Lake wetlands and about 950 feet of shoreline.

“The property is the confluence of Syracuse, Wawasee, Bonar and Mud lakes, and its preservation and protection is vitally important to our mission,” said Sam Leman, chairman of the WACF board of directors.

“This property, along with other WACF acquisitions, extends the protected Syracuse Lake Wetlands from the lake east to Warner Road.”

The group’s mission is to preserve and protect the Wawasee area watershed for present and future generations. The watershed ecosystem includes Syracuse, Wawasee, Bonar and Papakeechie lakes, as well as 10 lakes in the Turkey Creek sub-watershed.

The wetlands and adjoining properties that are crucial to the conservancy group’s mission were originally mapped and identified by the Commonwealth Engineering Study of 1995.

“This property has long been of interest to us, and its acquisition brings the total WACF watershed protected property to nearly 820 acres and over 12 miles of shoreline,” said Tom Yoder, WACF board member and chairman of the Land Acquisition Committee.

The foundation is fully donor-supported and operates under the direction of a 21-member volunteer board of directors, assisted by an executive director.

With a documented record of acting to preserve the watershed, the WACF focuses on land acquisition and management, watershed projects and education programs.

Its headquarters – the Levinson-LaBrosse Wetlands Education Center – is located at 11586 N. State Road 13, Syracuse.