Lacawac Sanctuary took a major step forward in their mission for environmental research, with a ground breaking Oct. 25th for a state-of-the-art laboratory.
Crisp autumn air surrounded the gathering as L. Arthur Watres, 90, used a gold-painted shovel to dig earth for the ceremony, from land he and his family donated in 1966 to create a non-profit foundation. True to his original vision, the 545 acre sanctuary on the northwestern, Wayne County shore of Lake Wallenpaupack remains committed to "Preservation, Education and Research."
The new lab is being funded by a $329,094 grant from the National Science Foundation. It was awarded to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, in partnership with Lacawac Sanctuary to provide infrastructure and equipment improvements to meet the mission goals. A 20 by 30 foot addition to Lacawac's Visitors Center will house an analytical laboratory that will be available to research scientists and students. It is expected to be open in the Spring of 2014.
Bob Sadoski, Executive Director, told the group that he hopes this laboratory will serve as an impetus for other colleges and universities to partner with the Sanctuary. In addition, local high school and middle school students from northeastern Pennsylvania will have opportunity to come here and do field studies and perhaps be inspired in their career paths. Partnering with local secondary schools is a new feature in fulfilling Lacawac's mission.
He thanked the consistent base of members who have over the years given of their finances and volunteer hours to Lacawac. He also thanked the corporate sponsors who have been a tremendous help.
Dr. Craig Williamson, Professor at Miami University and a researcher at Lacawac, expressed special thanks to Watres, who beginning in 1952, sought out some of the leading conservationists of the day to assist in protecting Lake Lacawac and its watershed as a place for scientific research.
Studying the effects of ultra-violet radiation and advanced instrumentation are highlights of the work being done here.
Lake Lacawac is a 52-acre glacial lake, and almost all of its watershed is contained within the protected grounds of the sanctuary. Nearly pristine from human impact, the lake is seen as a unique laboratory for studying water quality and climate change.
Watres first shared his vision with Dr. Williamson in 1986. A consortium of scientists convened here the following year. After the ceremony, Watres said he was very happy about the new laboratory and was hopeful it would attract many people to Lacawac.
Miami University assisted Lacawac in funding the position of Director of Research and Education at the Sanctuary. Dr. Leslie Knoll took on this new role in the beginning of 2012. She wrote the proposal for the grant that funded the new laboratory.
She discussed their goal to make Lacawac Sanctuary a center for a worldwide study lake water quality. The laboratory will further this ambition to become a hub for Ecological Observatory Networks (EONs). Among these are the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) and the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON). EONs address environmental questions of national and international scope.
Page 2 of 2 - Lake Lacawac is a site member of GLEON. There are more than 60 GLEON sites in about 40 countries around the planet.
Knoll said that in the last two years, over 70 students from more than 20 institutions of higher learning have come to Lacawac to further their environmental studies.
This laboratory will expand that effort to train students in techniques and new ways to do science, she noted. This in turn will "train the next generation of environmental scientists and make the world a better place," Knoll stated.
They also plan to increase fund-raising to expand awards presented to students and early career faculty to start their projects at Lacawac. Internship opportunities will also be expanded.
Lacawac is looking to partner with local schools and environmental organizations in the region to address concerns facing the Pocono area.
Another partnership was also announced in a press release that day. Lackawac Sanctuary Foundation, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and Drexel University have agreed to form an environmental research consortium. This will build on existing partnerships with leading universities to focus on cutting-edge global climate change and water quality studies.
Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and Drexel University in Phialdelphia have been key in developing the consortium concept.
Public involvement at Lacawac Sanctuary has supported the mission through the decades. Programs are held through the year, including nature talks and walks, workshops and music events at the historic lodge on the property. The Sanctuary also offers public hiking trails. Memberships and volunteer opportunities are available.
For more information, contact Lacawac at 570-689-9494 or visit online at www.lacawac.org.