5:29 min October 02, 2022

Lacawac Sanctuary

From hiking trails to scientific research to historic preservation, discover Lacawac Sanctuary near Lake Wallenpaupack.

“I think Lacawac is unique because it accomplishes three things of our mission, which is research then we do education programs, K-12 programs and field trips here,” said Craig Lukatch, President of Lacawac Sanctuary. “Then the third part is preservation. That’s 550 acres as well as historic buildings on property.”

Historic buildings including the Watres Lodge, the first of the original Pocono Mountains vacation homes built in 1903.

It is a setting for weddings, fundraisers and more.

And by more, Lacawac has a lot of nature to share with the public all year long including nine miles of trails.

“We were founded to do our mission and be open to general public. Our trails are interactive, there are lots of things to learn and experience,” said Lukatch. “Here we try to engage the public to learn something about protecting the environment while walking through Lacawac.”

Much of that learning happens when students visit Lacawac Sanctuary for field trips or summer camps.

“Our preference is them coming to us to see the salamanders under the rock, see microscopes,” he said. “With this environment with technology, there’s not a lot of hands on feel work for kids to experience nature like that.”

Lukatch is excited to see the sanctuary’s educational center grow to accommodate more students and more programs including lab space and event space as well.

“That will allow us to go from one group of campers to two groups of campers per week, more students on field trips and stuff like that,” Lukatch added.

The history of this wooded corner of the Pocono Mountains is steeped in history. Preserved records let Lacawac leaders trace ownership of this land back to the time of the Lenape.

“Lacawac comes from Native American Lenape tribe word for ‘at the fork.’ Was it the shape of the lake?” wondered Lukatch. “There is evidence of canoes, one still exists in the shallow part of Lake Lacawac today.”

The glacial lake has more than just history within its banks. It serves as a gauge on how the environment around it is changing, providing deep data since the 1990’s registered every day measuring temperature, pH levels and more.

“The reason this lake is so important here at Lacawac and environment we control, nothing has polluted this lake, it’s a test lake, sample lake, to compare to lakes across the world, like Lake Wallenpaupack.”

Lacawac has set out to shape the next generation of scientists and has even provided insight on a global level of the effects of climate change.

“One thing we’ve found out our surface temperature is changing. So we know the environment is changing. And long story short, our lake was used for part of a report for a UN for climate change and how environment around us is changing,” said Lukatch.

And while change is a constant, one thing that remains the same is the need for donations and volunteers to keep the mission at Lacawac Sanctuary alive.