As the Illinois River Watershed Sanctuary begins to take shape with the restoration of the lake and the addition of the Watershed Learning Center, we are asking for your help with an important part of the Sanctuary’s development—naming the lake!

A seemingly simple task, but the responsibility is somewhat daunting. We want the name to properly reflect all that the Lake means to our community…the feelings, memories, and passion it inspires. And so we’re turning to you for help finding a name for the lake at the Watershed Sanctuary.


Canoes on the Lake at the Watershed Sanctuary


The lake at Cave Springs has a long, and rich history of bringing family and friends together.  It has been a destination for visitors and locals alike to come and enjoy the cooling springs, the peaceful lake, and the beauty of the natural surroundings.

The future of the lake promises all of that—and more. The 32-acre Watershed Sanctuary, purchased by the Illinois River Watershed Partnership in 2012, is home to a natural cave and spring, wetlands, a waterfall, the lake, a stream, native trees, and plants.  It provides an almost perfect microcosm of the Illinois River watershed in a single place in the heart of the watershed.  The Sanctuary represents the shared vision and values of our diverse partnership and our sponsors as stewards of our natural resources.


Bat Cave, Lake at Cave Springs, AR


The six-acre lake will serve as the center of a family-oriented nature preserve with fishing, hiking trails, canoeing, and an outdoor pavilion. Appealing to families, schools and businesses alike, the Watershed Sanctuary is the perfect natural setting for watershed education and outreach, watershed protection, and outdoor recreation.


In short, the lake is a very special place that holds a  singular significance as an icon of our watershed.


But how to put that into words?

How do you describe the natural beauty of a glistening lake, born of a cool spring rushing from a deep, dark natural cave?

How do you give meaning to a place of discovery?  The place where you first held a frog, caught a fish, or examined a turtle up close?

What words convey the delicate balance that exists between the native vegetation, the wildlife, and this pristine body of water?

What name symbolizes our commitment to conservation, water quality, and watershed education?


Kids fishing from the banks of the lake


This is where you come in!  We’re asking for your help to name the lake.

We’re turning to the community of the Illinois River Watershed to help christen the lake at the Watershed Sanctuary.  Draw upon your summer memories, the rich history of the lake, and our strong vision for the future.  Talk it over with your classroom, your family, your friends.  Be inspired by our natural surroundings.

Read more background on the lake in our recent blog posts:

Creating History for Next Century

The Lake of the Watershed

100 Years Later… Draining the Lake at Cave Springs

A New Chapter for the Lake at Cave Springs


Then send us your idea for a lake name befitting its iconic representation of our watershed and our mission.  Be a part of the history of this unique and beautiful place in the Watershed!

Submissions are due no later than June 30th.  Individuals, students, classrooms, clubs, and organizations are encouraged to submit their name suggestions.  To be considered, Lake Names must be submitted via our electronic Submission Form and must conform to the specified Rules.

A group of 10 Lake Name finalists will be selected by the IRWP Board of Directors Lake Naming Committee in July.  The final Lake Name will be selected by the full Board of Directors in August and revealed at a community event to be announced at a later date.


For more information go to:

Submission Information and Requirements


Submission Form

Release Form


Sun on the lake at Cave Springs


Thank you for sharing your ideas and spirit, and for helping to put a name on our heritage and our future in the Illinois River Watershed!


Click here for an entry form to name the lake!