Founding of a non-profit Field Station
Lacawac in the 1960's
Long winter evenings found Isabel Watres and her son, Arthur, reading. Two books by Fairfield Osborne, "This Plundered Planet" and "The Limits of the Earth," had a profound influence on them. What, they wondered, would become of Lacawac after they were no longer here? Attempts to interest the local government in preserving Lacawac from developmental excesses, on the basis of its sheer beauty, were unsuccessful. Beauty does not pay taxes! The Watreses decided to make a trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York in search of author Fairfield Osborne, for his advice.
At the Museum they were befriended by Dr. Richard Pough. In that year (1952) Dr. Pough was the first president of the newly established Nature Conservancy. Having become members of the Conservancy, the Watreses, at Pough's suggestion, went to speak to Dr. Radclyffe Roberts, the Director of the Academy of Natural Sciences, in Philadelphia. The Academy was becoming an important research center for aquatic ecology under the guidance of a dynamic scientist, Dr. Ruth Patrick.
On a cold winter day, Drs. Roberts and Patrick made a visit to Lacawac. Dr. Patrick observed that Lake Lacawac was probably the southernmost unpolluted glacial lake in the United States, and that it would be invaluable as a baseline lake for research and education. For the past forty years, man's touch at Lacawac had been light, thereby protecting the watershed. Continued control over Lacawac, to protect the integrity of the Lake, would provide a living laboratory for research projects. To that point, the Watreses had felt that the beauty of Lacawac alone provided a basis for protecting the land. Now they had a serious, humanistic rationale for protecting Lacawac, and one that might attract support over time.
The Watreses spent the next fourteen years endeavoring to find an institutional partner to provide strength, stability and significant programs at Lacawac. Having failed to find an institutional partner of recognized strength and stature, the Watreses formed the Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation in 1966, and turned over the lake, most of the infrastructure and much of the land to it. By 1967, the Sanctuary had become a field laboratory for scientists from the Academy of Natural Sciences and for researchers and graduate students from the University of Pennsylvania.