LAKE ARIEL - Nonprofit Lacawac Sanctuary was founded in 1966 as a nature preserve, ecological field research station and public environmental education facility.

It totals 550 acres and is home to a group of historic buildings.

One of the most popular attractions at the sanctuary is Lake Lacawac, a 52-acre lake in pristine condition and free from development or encroachment, said Craig Lukatch, president and executive director.

Lukatch led a tour of the sanctuary during a recent bus tour sponsored by the Wayne County Tourism Promotion Committee.

Tour participants visited numerous places of historical significance in southern Wayne County, including Lacawac, Ice Works Factory & Ice Harvest Museum, the Greene-Dreher Historical Society, Lake Wallenpaupack, Dorflinger Glass Museum and Bingham Park in Hawley.

The tourism committee also held a separate tour of the northern part of the county. Those tours were led by local historian Tom Kennedy.

Stories detailing other parts of the tours will be published in future editions.

The mission of Lacawac Sanctuary Foundation is to preserve Lake Lacawac, its watershed, the surrounding forest and historic structures; provide a venue for ecological research, scholarly interaction and the training of scientists; provide public education on environmental and conservation issues; and conserve open space in Pennsylvania, according to its website.

Lacawac also has nature displays, a native plants garden, demonstration forest, deer exclosure plots and six public hiking trails.

The property preserves a natural boreal bog, the Wallenpaupack Ledges Natural Area, Partner Ridge and the Heron and Golden Ponds, according to the site.

Lake Lacawac was declared a National Natural Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1966.

Lacawac is managed by a volunteer board and limited staff with assistance from many volunteers, Lukatch said.

It operates on donations, grants, user fees, memberships and income from endowment.

The sanctuary also has established an education consortium for environmental research.

Miami University in Ohio and Drexel University in Philadelphia have been key partners in developing the consortium concept, which focuses on global climate change issues and water quality research.

Miami University recently received a $329,000 grant to construct a new research laboratory at Lacawac.

Lacawac was founded by late environmentalist Louis Arthur Watres.