When Ruth Patrick laid eyes on the pristine glacial lake in the Poconos, she immediately recognized its ecological value.
An environmental groundbreaker and recipient of the National Medal of Science, Dr. Patrick and other Academy and Drexel scientists went on to conduct many studies and collect valuable data about Lake Lacawac that have informed citizens and researchers within the region and ensured its preservation for future generations.
Today, 60 years later, the 13,000-year-old lake is at the heart of the beautiful 545-acre Lacawac Sanctuary and Biological Field Station, a popular National Natural Landmark and educational research station for the Academy, Drexel University and other students studying water quality and climate change.
On Aug. 10, in recognition of the Academy’s long-standing contributions, the Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation honored the Academy with its Lifetime Achievement Award in Research.
“Lacawac and the Academy of Natural Sciences have had a long-standing relationship in the area of scientific research dating back to the 1960s,” said Craig Lukatch-Setser, president of Lacawac Sanctuary. “It is an honor to award the Academy the Lifetime Achievement Award in Research, not only for its help in developing Lacawac as a research field station, but for the ongoing partnership we currently have today working together to train the next generation of scientists.”
David Velinsky, PhD, Academy vice president for science, echoed the strong partnership between the two organizations.
“On behalf of the many current and former Academy researchers who have had the opportunity to explore Lake Lacawac and its watershed, I want to thank Craig and the Lacawac Board of Trustees for this great honor. We look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the Lacawac Foundation and hope to build on our successful research and educational programs in the future,” Velinsky said.
Located about 7 miles from Hawley, Lake Lacawac and its entire watershed are contained within the grounds of the sanctuary, creating a unique laboratory for long-term studies of water quality and climate change.
Preservation and research within the area is important because the Delaware River Watershed provides drinking water to more than 15 million people in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Delaware and has been the focus of many public policy and research groups concerned with the environment.
In 2013 Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation, the Academy and Drexel formed an environmental research and education consortium to build on existing partnerships with other leading universities.
As part of the agreement, high school students in the Drexel Environmental Science Leadership Academy get to spend a week at Lacawac in the summer, gaining valuable hands-on experience in a range of research areas under the guidance of Academy and Drexel scientists.
To read more about the fascinating history of Lacawac Sanctuary and the Academy connection, visit this link to see their website.
Story by Carolyn Belardo and images by Roger Thomas