Wonders on the Wabash is a program created by the Tippecanoe County Partnership for Water Quality for 6th grade classrooms. The program allows students to experience the Wabash River during a 4.5 mile rafting trip from Tapawingo Park to Fort Ouiatenon. Along the way, students will have the opportunity to participate in education sessions to test water quality, study native mussels, observe the fish of the Wabash and learn the history of the river. The floating classroom exposes the students to the wonderful Wabash and all it has to offer while teaching them the importance of water quality and how our everyday lives impact the water and environment around us.
Wonders on the Wabash focuses on the importance of our ecosystem and instills a sense of stewardship in protecting one of our most valuable natural resources, water. The program has been designed to incorporate state standards in: agriculture, mathematics, physical education, social studies, history, economics, geography, and science.
What is a Watershed?
All geographical locations on Earth are part of a watershed. Watersheds are defined as areas that contain a common outlet into which water, sediments and dissolved materials drain, commonly called a drainage basin. Water drains from higher areas to lower areas, generally concentrating into a wetland, stream, river or lake. Here in Tippecanoe County our watershed is the Wabash River.
A watershed knows no boundaries except its own. They may cross political, land-use and ownership boundaries. They can be made up of farmland, housing developments, industrial sites and urban areas. Buildings, people, plants and animals all have an influence in our watersheds.
The Wabash River Watershed
The Wabash River, which runs through Tippecanoe County, is the second largest tributary to the Ohio River and is the longest segment of free flowing river east of the Mississippi River. The watershed has a total drainage of approximately 33,000 square miles and in 2010 had a population of around 4,366,000 people. Historically, the Wabash River served as a significant transportation corridor and helped facilitate the European settlement of the Midwest. Today, the Wabash River and its tributaries are no longer utilized for commercial navigation, but remains a vital water source in the region. The Wabash River serves as an important migration corridor for waterfowl and shorebirds, and is home to nearly 400 rare species including approximately 151 fish species and 75 mussel species. In fact, the Wabash River contains 5 of the 40 richest river segments in the United States in terms of biodiversity.
The Wabash River also faces an array of challenges – flooding, drought, water quality, and ecosystem integrity. These challenges must be addressed in a systems context that reflects the interdependency of water uses and competing interests of a diverse group of stakeholders. Moreover, there is broad interest in flood risk management, as well as the continued rehabilitation and reservation of the Wabash River. Numerous positive actions have been implemented by stakeholders in the watershed, and many others are planned. Water quantity is an important issue too; having either too much or too little water can threaten farming, residential infrastructure, and stream health. Since everyone uses water, all are affected by its supply, accessibility, and cost.
The program relies heavily on the help and support of volunteers. For more information on volunteering, please click here.