The ecological value of Lake Lacawac was recognized by Radclyffe Roberts and Ruth Patrick of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia during visits at the invitation of Isabel and Arthur Watres (daughter-in-law and grandson of Louis Watres) in the 1950’s. Because access is strictly controlled and the shoreline and watershed are undeveloped, Lake Lacawac supports an unexploited fish community and a diverse community of native macrophytes, including several rare emergent species. In 1966, the Watres family donated the land and infrastructure to the Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation, a not-for-profit (501c3) organization with a three-part mission of preservation, education, and research. In 1968, the National Park Service designated Lake Lacawac as a National Natural Landmark. There are also two locations on Lacawac’s property (natural boreal bog around Lake Lacawac and Wallenpaupack Natural Ledges area) that were designated in 2010 by Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources as a Pennsylvanian Wild Plant Sanctuary.
Early research efforts at Lacawac were led by Clyde Goulden of the Academy of Natural Sciences in the 1970’s and 1980’s (Goulden 1969, 1971, Tessier and Goulden 1982, Tessier 1986). In 1988, Lehigh University emerged as a major user of Lacawac. Under the direction of Craig Williamson (then on the faculty of Lehigh University), Lacawac became a base for many research and educational projects involving investigators and students from multiple colleges and universities. Funding from the Andrew W. Mellon and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundations was used to develop and support the Pocono Comparative Lakes Program (PCLP), an informal consortium of scientists from several institutions. The primary focus of the PCLP was a long-term sampling program on three local lakes (including Lake Lacawac) across a productivity gradient (Moeller et al. 1995). Much of the sampling was conducted by undergraduates supported through NSF’s REU program. Research associated with the PCLP was coordinated through annual meetings held each fall at Lacawac.
In 1992, Bruce Hargreaves began a continuous electronic weather and lake monitoring program that has been expanded several times, continues today (described at http://www.lehigh.edu/~brh0/pocono_mon/), and contributes data to GLEON projects (e.g., Klug et al. 2012).
Numerous Lacawac publications have resulted from work focusing on the impact of ultraviolet radiation (UV) on aquatic ecosystems. This research has been continuously funded with grants from NSF since 1993 including a large, 10 investigator Integrated Research Challenges in Environmental Biology grant awarded in 2002 and the currently active NSF EARS IGERT (Miami and Kent State Universities). Mercury evasion research, supported by the EPA, was conducted in the mid to late 2000’s at Lacawac (Wollenberg and Peters 2009). Many advances in dissolved organic matter quality and optical metrics have come from research supported by Lacawac Sanctuary (Kirk et al. 1994, Morris et al 1995, Morris and Hargreaves 1997, Hargreaves 2003, Wollenberg & Peters, 2009). During this same time period, NSF supported hydrological research on Lake Lacawac (Nyquist et al. 2009).
Many Lacawac users have been advancing the concept of using lakes as sentinels of climate change. Lakes are at the lowest position in the landscape and thus provide chemical, biological and physical signals of change including those from the surrounding landscape (Williamson et al. 2009a, Williamson et al. 2009b). Sensors, including automated, high frequency weather and lake stations, have been a part of research conducted at Lacawac since 1992. Beginning in 2009, Lake Lacawac has been used for training new NSF IGERT fellows from Miami University and Kent State University on sensor use and technology.
About lacawac sanctuary
Lacawac Sanctuary Field Station and Environmental Education Center is an independent, non-profit, environmental education organization located on the shore of Lake Wallenpaupack in the Northern Poconos. We operate solely on program fees, memberships, sponsorships, grants and private donations from people like you