The Dream of the Sleeping Jellyfish

When I saw them I was immediately struck by their shapes. They looked like hundreds of snowflakes lying at the bottom of the mudflats in the Florida Keys’ Tavernier mangrove swamp.

I became preoccupied with them, checking them during different times of day.

“I’ll be there in a few minutes, I’m going to visit those underwater snowflakes.” I told my husband, Ed.

“Are they sea anemones?” I wondered. “Are they some kind of tropical underwater flower?”

I lay prone on the dock, staring. And there I saw it. I saw upside down jellyfish- yes standing on their heads as if they were sleeping. I realized the beautiful geometric shapes, the snowflakes, were their out folded branching tentacles.

How bizarre!

Some of the jellyfish were “breathing,” their heads expanding and contracting, pushing water, while others seemed completely comatose, not moving at all.

A few smaller ones were actually swimming heads-up the way I would expect a jellyfish to!

I took lots of photos while hoping no boat would disturb their slumber.

I read, laughing, when I learned that they are indeed known as Cassiopea, the “upside down jellyfish,” ironically, all part of a symbiotic relationship with algae. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassiopea)

I really fell in love with this snowflake jelly forest. Now, before I go to bed, I often wonder what they are dreaming about.

Perhaps clean water and a healthy sea…

https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/img_1105-1.mov

Early Newspaper Articles, Loxahatchee Wild and Scenic River

Lillies, and ferns along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno.

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3 

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

Loxahatchee Lesson 6

Loxahatchee Lesson 7

Life buds forth -along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno.

Today I share my final Loxahatchee Lesson, # 8.

“My husband Fred van Vonno worked as a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior,  National Park Service, Regional Office, Atlanta Ga.  His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails”. My  husband was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies”. -Nicki van Vonno 

These news articles saved by Fred van Vonno, now loving shared by his wife Nicki, are now available for all.  I learned so much reading through them and most are not available on line. Now they are! May we continue to study our past so that we may work towards  the best future our beloved Loxahatchee River! 

The photos are organized by year: 

1980

STUDYING THE LOXAHATCHEE

PROTECTION BEING STUDIED

1981

RIVERS FATE

1982

C-18 SUIT SETTLED

WMD TO PROTECT

1983

RES IPSA LOQUITUR

Bromeliad in bloom along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno

1984

RIVER WAR IN PIVOTAL BATTLE

1985

LOXAHATCHEE WILD AND SCENIC

2001

CAN THESE CYPRESS TREES BE SAVED

2002

RIVER FRIENDS UNITELOXAHATCHEE VITAL

2004

UNIQUE ECOSYSTEM

No Date

STATE MOVES TO PROTECT RIVER

1978 Booklet

“Study By the Staff of the U.S. General Accounting Office, Land Use Issues”

General Accounting Office Study – Land Use Issues

Red-eared slider along the Loxahatchee River, ca. 1980, courtesy/archives Fred van Vonno

The above photos were slides

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER (also see Lessons 4, 5, and 6 above)

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented as many are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. ~Sandra Henderson Thurlow

 

 

 

 

 

DRAFT EIS: Wild and Scenic River Study, Environmental Impact Statement, Loxahatchee River, Florida, 1982

Wild and Scenic River Studies, Loxahatchee River, archives of Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3 updated!

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

Loxahatchee Lesson 6

Loxahatchee Lesson 7 

~History of Florida’s Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee

In the lessons above, I have been sharing the archives of Mr Fred van Vonno who worked as a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior, National Park Service, Regional Office, Atlanta Georgia.

According to his wife, Nicki, his work involved assessing the recreational potential of rivers and trails and Fred was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. 

One of the documents Mr van Vonno saved was the 1982 Wild and Scenic River Study, Draft  Environmental Impact Statement.  This declaration led to the Loxahatchee River being designated Florida’s first Wild and Scenic River. An incredible feat! 

You may ask, “what is an Environmental Impact Statement anyway?” Basically, it is a rigorous requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1970 and thankfully it is still protecting the environment even today. 

The FINAL Loxahatchee EIS is available on line. As of publishing this blog post, the DRAFT is too. It is always interesting to see the evolution of a document and to see what ends up on its pages, and what does not…

Please see link below for the DRAFT Wild and Scenic River Study, Environmental Impact Statement, July 1982, Loxahatchee River, Florida and thank you Mr van Vonno for saving! 

DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT LOXAHATCHEE  WILD AND SCENIC RIVER RIVER STUDY JULY 1982

Excerpt from the Environmental Protection Agency

What is the National Environmental Policy Act?

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) was signed into law on January 1, 1970. NEPA requires federal agencies to assess the environmental effects of their proposed actions prior to making decisions. The range of actions covered by NEPA is broad and includes:

  • making decisions on permit applications,
  • adopting federal land management actions, and
  • constructing highways and other publicly-owned facilities.

Using the NEPA process, agencies evaluate the environmental and related social and economic effects of their proposed actions. Agencies also provide opportunities for public review and comment on those evaluations.

On this page:

  • What does NEPA require?
  • How do federal agencies carry out the NEPA requirements?

What does NEPA require?

Title I of NEPA contains a Declaration of National Environmental Policy. This policy requires the federal government to use all practicable means to create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can exist in productive harmony.

Section 102 in Title I of the Act requires federal agencies to incorporate environmental considerations in their planning and decision-making through a systematic interdisciplinary approach. Specifically, all federal agencies are to prepare detailed statements assessing the environmental impact of and alternatives to major federal actions significantly affecting the environment. These statements are commonly referred to as Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) and Environmental Assessments (EA).

Title II of NEPA established the President’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to oversee NEPA implementation. The duties of CEQ include:

  • Ensuring that federal agencies meet their obligations under NEPA
  • Overseeing federal agency implementation of the environmental impact assessment process
  • Issuing regulations and other guidance to federal agencies regarding NEPA compliance.

Learn more about the National Environmental Policy Act.

https://www.epa.gov/nepa/what-national-environmental-policy-act

 

Loxahatchee Structures, People…~Wild and Scenic Rivers, Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Structures and People, courtesy of Fred van Vonno, Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River Studies

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

Loxahatchee Lesson 6

~Loxahatchee Structures and People, Fred van Vonno, Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River Studies.

As we continue to share the slides of the late Fred van Vonno,  today’s photos fall under the categories of structures and people. Lesson 5 contains Flora and Fauna, and Lesson 4 Aerials. Thank you to my mother for archiving these photos that were once slides in Mr van Vonno’s 1980s slide shows. Thank you to our friend, Nicki van Vonno for sharing her husband’s work. 

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the photos are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. 

Sandra Thurlow 8-20

STRUCTURES

PEOPLE

As I have room in this post, I am going to include two tother categories my mother achieved even through I first thought I would leave them out. The first my mother labeled as “bad.” Some of these photos may be technology not recognized today. The next is labeled “other places.” Mr van Vonno’s research as Study Coordinator for the Wild and Scenic River Program certainly took him many places and perhaps he wished to compare some of those places to Florida, thus I am including them as well. The purpose of these photos is to share and I am hoping some who see them can see and share something I don’t know. Please write if you do! Thanks. 

ELSEWHERE

Loxahatchee Flora and Fauna, River Scenes; Wild and Scenic Rivers, Fred van Vonno

Giant cypress trees, Wild and Scenic River Studies, courtesy archives Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

The purpose of this post is to continue to share the slides of the late Fred van Vonno.  I presented charts and aerials yesterday in Loxahatchee Lesson 4. Tomorrow, or later today, I will add structures and people. Today we share my favorite, Loxahatchee Flora and Fauna as well as River Scenes. If you recognize anything interesting let us know! My mother noticed what appears to be old world climbing fern slide #7. A terrible invasive plant that costs millions of dollars for the State of Florida to manage. 

Thank you to my mother for archiving these photos that were once slides in Mr van Vonno’s 1980s slide shows. Thank you to our friend, Nicki van Vonno for sharing her husband’s work. 

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the photos are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. 

Sandra Thurlow 8-20

FLORA & FAUNA

RIVER SCENES

 

Loxahatchee Charts and Aerials, Wild and Scenic River, Fred van Vonno

Wild and Scenic River Studies, ca. 1980, courtesy archives of Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Today, I share “charts” and “aerials” from the archives of the late Fred van Vonno. My mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, was given these materials by Mr van Vonno’s wife, Nicki. Ms van Vonno summarizes her husband’s work below. 

“My husband Fred van Vonno worked as a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior,  National Park Service, Regional Office, Atlanta Ga.  His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails”. My  husband was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies”. -Nicki van Vonno 

We share these photos and materials so that they are available to the public for reference and continued documentation of Martin and Palm Beach counties’ “Wild and Scenic River,” the Loxahatchee. Tomorrow, I will highlight more slides including flora and fauna, river scenes, structures and people. 

SLIDES RELATING TO THE LOXAHATCHEE RIVER

Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the aerials are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. The aerials are pre-I-95. There are a couple of scenes of Trapper Nelson’s place that are of significance. -Sandra Thurlow 8-20

AERIAL CHARTS

AERIALS

CHARTS

 

 

“Environmental Considerations in Wild and Scenic River Studies,” FVV’79

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Few of us get to see our river dreams come true; Frederik von Vonno did. 

In 1979, while getting his master’s degree in City Planning at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Mr. van Vonno, wrote a paper entitled, “Environmental Considerations in Wild and Scenic River Studies.” In this paper he primarily juxtaposes the Obed River of Tennessee and the Myakka River of Florida to make his point regarding environmental issues. But the following year, van Vonno would be conducting the Loxahatchee River National Wild and Scenic River Study in Martin and Palm Beach counties with Luther Winsor, Chief, Division of Resource Area Studies for the Southeast Region of the National Park Service. (Evening Times, 1980).

Certainly van Vonno’s work on this paper was invaluable and set the North Star…

Map insert, Chapter 2.

Today, I share Chapters I-V of this paper; I see it as a seed of what became the Loxahatchee Wild and Scenic River and a clear guide to understanding the designation today. You can access a PDF of the report by clicking the link below. 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS IN WILD AND SCENIC RIVER STUDIES, Fred von Vonno, 1979.

In achieving the “wild and scenic” designation, the Loxahatchee River had a lot of competition as many of our nation’s rivers appear to be much more dramatic. But in the end, for Florida, the Loxahatchee’s stunning and calm sub-tropical beauty was honored first, to stand along side some of the most famous rivers of the United States.

Loxahatchee River https://lrpi.us

APPENDICES to Mr van Vonno’s report: A, B, and C. 

A: Wild and Scenic River Act

B: Guidelines for Wild and Scenic Rivers

C: Park Service Study Process.jpg

Full map insert from Chapter 2, van Vonno.

 

Mapping the Wild and Scenic Loxahatchee

Loxahatchee Lesson 1 

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love maps! Today I opened a map entitled “Physical, Hydrological, & Biological Characteristics of the Loxahatchee River Estuary, Florida, U.S Geological Survey,” that may not have been unfolded since the year I graduated from Martin County High School in 1982.

In June of 2020, my mother and her dear friend Nicki van Vonno, shared with me documents belonging to Nicki’s late husband, Frederik W. van Vonno. In 1979, as a student, “Fred” wrote a paper that he presented to his Georgia Institute of Technology professor,  entitled: “Environmental Considerations in Wild and Scenic River Studies.”

As we know,  the Loxahatchee River was designated a federal Wild and Scenic River shortly thereafter, in the momentous year of 1985. It was Florida’s first!

So this map is part of the history of the Loxahatchee becoming a Wild and Scenic River. There is a lot to talk about in Mr van Vonno’s documents, but I want to begin with this map. It will be our guide over the coming days. There are sections listed: Introductions, Purpose and Scope, Methods, History, Physical and Hydrologic Characteristics; Sediment; and Summary and Concluding Remarks -by Benjamin McPherson, Maryann Sabanskas,  and William Long -all of the Department of the Interior’s Geological Survey. You can peruse all of these sections  if you click on map below.

For purposes of time, and our goal to learn beginnings today, I will focus only on the historical building and demise of this great river, Loxahatchee.

History of the Estuary from map

The Loxahatchee River estuary owes its existence to a rise in sea level and an increase in rainfall. About 15,000 years ago, the shore of the Atlantic Ocean was several miles east of more than 300 feet lower than its present location and altitude at Jupiter Inlet. The climate was windy, cool, and dry. From about 15,000 to 6,000 years ago, sea level rose relatively rapidly at a rate of more than 3 feet per century. Near the end of this period, modern vegetation and climate became established and the rise in sea level slowed. Sometime near the end of the rapid rise in sea level and several thousand years ago, tidal waters began to flood the estuary embayment. Prior to this time, the embayment was  probably a flood plain or a freshwater marsh. From the time of the first tidal flooding to about 1900, the shape and bathymetry of the estuary were modified solely by natural processes of sedimentation and erosion…

The rest I will paraphrase:

In 1900 came the “progress” of man bringing with it two big shifts: 1. the dredging and permanence of the Jupiter Inlet which allowed much more salt water into the delicate estuary,  and a familiar foe, over-drainage – Ground water levels were lowered and fresh water inflows reduced.

The once fresh water inputs going into the Southwestern Fork (far left/down) from Hungryland Slough and the Loxahatchee Marsh -part of Loxahatchee Slough we talked about in Loxahatchee Lesson 1- were tamed by  the huge C-18 canal. The Everglades connection severed.

The Northwest Fork’s water (middle) was reduced due to development of the Central and South Florida Plan, all of the giant historic canals that are managed today by the South Florida Water Management District. Creeks Kitching and Cypress remain, but are anemic. A portion of this Northwest Fork -from  Riverbend Park to Dickinson State Park is the area that was deemed “Wild and Scenic” in 1985. In spite of this status, cypress trees have been replaced by mangroves due to less fresh water input and more salt water input. 

The North Fork (far right) is surrounded by development but a small portion looks untouched in its upper region. 

All things life changing begin with a dream. My writings will follow Fred van Vonno’s dream. 

The Loxahatchee is one of thousands of United States rivers that have been negatively transformed by agriculture and development; but, the Loxahatchee has more hope than most. In future blog posts we will explore this studying the Wild and Scenic designation and how this “dream come true” is not over yet. 

DOI Archives: 

Click to access 0001pt01.pdf

The Once Incredibly Long Reach of the Loxahatchee…

Excerpt Loxahatchee, 1839 Map of the Seat of War, Florida, Gen. Zachary Taylor
Page 48, Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, McVoy 2011

“The Loxahatchee River,” Seminole for “River of Turtles.” What a beautiful name. A name, a river, I really know very little about…

Let’s learn…

First, we must note that that today’s Loxahatchee River, located just south of Stuart, is the antithesis of the St Lucie River. Whereas the St Lucie’s watershed has been immensely expanded, the Loxahatchee has been amputated. 

Over the next few days, I will be sharing about the Loxahatchee, a river that partially lies in Martin County. However the majority of this once great river lies in Palm Beach County, home to over 1.2 million people! 

Let’s go back….

First, we have to think about where the Loxahatchee originally flowed, before drainage. The Loxahatchee’s story is an incredible one as the Loxahatchee was connected to the Everglades.

Look at the image below from Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades, McVoy. Note the red drawn outline that represents the natural edge of the Everglades. Now look at the “arm,” the red formation in the upper right hand side of the image. This is what is called the Loxahatchee Slough, now gone, but today its remnant is Grassy Waters. This gigantic slough was indeed connected to the Everglades and in high water times the flow from the Everglades rose to swell inside the Loxahatchee Slough feeding the Loxahatchee River. Incredible! Today this gone. It, like everything else in South Florida has been channelized, drained, for agriculture and development. We drive over these now dry lands thinking this is the natural state. It is not, these lands were once a mosaic of the Everglades, our River of Grass.

Excerpt: SFWMD Facilities Map

So think about this for a moment.

The Loxahatchee  River “ran” from the coast, near Jupiter, to the Everglades. The river has been minimized, the slough is compartmentalized, but one remaining piece of this Loxahatchee Reach to the Everglades still alive is today’s Aurthur R. Marshal Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.

This important refuge is easy to recognize as it is the “top oval,” in the images.

It is considered” the last northernmost portion of the unique Everglades. With over 221 square miles of habitat, the Loxahatchee Refuge is home to the American alligator and critically endangered Everglades snail kite. In any given year, as many as 257 specie son birds may use the Refuge’s diverse wetland habitats.”

These lands/waters are owned by the state through the South Florida Water Management District but are managed by U.S. Fish and Wildlife. You will find the most intact remaining tree islands here. Deer and other wildlife live on these tree islands and sometimes in the early morning as the sun rises, the deer stand on the levee while bicyclists go by!

To the South Florida Water Management District the refuge is known and functions as Water Conservation Area 1, just west of Parkland, Florida. 

When I drive south on Highway 95 from Stuart to the South Florida Water Management District, I often wonder what these lands will look like one hundred years from now. Quite a thought isn’t it? What do you think? Who knows what will happen; but let’s continue to get to know the Loxahatchee! 

Southern Path to the Loxahatchee River: Time Capsule Flight, Todd Thurlow: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/history-of-the-loxahatchee-river/)

 

Prohibiting Toxic Discharges, Would Change Everything

On almost any summer day, Lake Okeechobee is green with algae.

A recent press release states:

“Congressman Brain Mast has introduced legislation to prohibit toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon.  This legislation would make it illegal for the Army Corps of Engineers to discharge water containing algal blooms with a level of toxicity above the Environmental Protection Agency’s human health standard of 8 parts per billion microcystin.”

(Microcystins are hepatotoxins (liver toxins) produced by cyanobacteria, blue green algae.) 

Such a law regarding blue-green algae would push back and change everything. ~The toxic algae, the discharges, the years’ long built up non-point pollution that has made Lake Okeechobee eutrophic.

Let’s think about this.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has codified exactly what level of microcystin is too toxic for human contact. The number is 8 parts per billion.

Some people in opposition to this bill say it is outlandish. I think it is outlandish that any business interests, neighboring communities, or level of government would think it is OK to literally dump toxic water onto the citizenry of Martin County.

Thank you Congressman Mast!

St Lucie River wide water, 2016.

Please be familiar with this press release and accompanying bill.

August 12, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Kyle VonEnde, 202-329-1890

                     Kyle.VonEnde@mail.house.gov

Mast Introduces Legislation Prohibiting Toxic Discharges

 

Stuart, Fla. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today introduced legislation to prohibit toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon.  This legislation would make it illegal for the Army Corps of Engineers to discharge water containing algal blooms with a level of toxicity above the Environmental Protection Agency’s human health standard of 8 parts per billion microcystin.

“The Army Corps has proven that if left to their own devices, they will continue to poison our communities with toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee that they have acknowledged to be toxic.  No Floridian should tolerate being poisoned by their government,” Rep. Mast said. “The EPA has told us exactly what level of microcystin is too toxic for human contact, and now we must tell the Corps to stop these discharges that are destroying our waterways and putting our health at risk!”

The legislation is supported by Captains For Clean Water and Friends of the Everglades.

BACKGROUND

 

For decades, Florida’s coastal communities have been on the receiving end of toxic discharges, including recently discharges that have tested more than 60 times more toxic than the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for human contact.  These discharges put public health at risk, damage the economy and destroy the environment.   Last year, Rep. Mast worked with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set a new public health standard for microcystin (8 parts per billion), which in turn forced the Army Corps of Engineers to admit to knowingly discharging toxic water to the coastal estuaries.  Despite acknowledging that these releases are toxic, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has continued to poison Americans.  

The legislation is attached: MAST_8ppb

_____________________________________________________

The photos below were taken just today, 8-12-20, at 9:30 am, by pilot Dr Scott Kuhns from the SuperCub. They show algae clusters in Lake Okeechobee. These algae clusters can grow very rapidly. Following are aerials of S-80 in the C-44 canal: when opened by the ACOE this structure allows water to discharge from Lake Okeechobee  into the St Lucie River.  Photo#1 JTL & Congressman Mast today at the Riverwalk along the St Lucie River, Stuart, Florida.  

 

 

Hurricane Shutters Up; I’m Ready…

Over the past weekend, August 1 & 2nd 2020, I looked at my phone for a National Hurricane Center update:

“Tropical Storm Isaias May Become a Hurricane.” 

I sat there dreaming…

“What if it really speeds up?” 

Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isaias: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Isaias

I checked my handy note card: Category 1,  74-95 miles per hour; Category 2, 96-110 miles per hour. I recalled Francis and Jeanne and Wilma.

In spite of the news reports, Isaias did not speed up. The storm didn’t even come ashore. There was no rain. 

Early this morning my husband, Ed, drank his coffee. Our eyes met. “I feel like we wasted the whole weekend,”  he said. 

“Wasted the whole weekend?” I inquired. “What would you prefer? Destruction?” Ed smirked. 

Hurricane Dorian2019: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Dorian

It’s a weird feeling. The feeling that you’re going to get clobbered, preparing, and then it doesn’t happen at all.  I recall Hurricane Dorian, September 1st of last year. I was convinced “this was it” – the end of all things material that I loved. I carried around  a small box of my most dear possessions. Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5, hovered over and dismantled the Bahamas, but never arrived…

When Ed and I first moved into our home in Sewall’s Point, my neighbors told me they put hurricane shutters up on half the house every August. I thought they were being extremists. I rolled my eyes. Now, with so many fits and starts, I’ve begun to do the same. 

Ed wanted to wait until September, but I thought, “you know, Isaias, this is an opportunity. An opportunity to plan, just in case Mother Nature isn’t crying wolf.

So the bedroom is darker, and the living room needs lamps to read. But me? I feel ready. I feel prepared

Atlantic Hurricane Season: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/climo/

Lake O Algae Visible Again

You may have seen my most recent Lake Okeechobee post from July 25, 2020? After algae aerials since May 8th, my dear husband, Ed, said he saw no algae. Ed and I had a back and forth -me saying the algae “was hiding.” Hiding in the water column. Ed saying it was gone. Well, guess what? I was correct… 

Today, July 29, only four days later, the cyanobacteria is back. There was one positive to it all. Ed added to his long list of esteemed flight guests, Ft Meyer’s Captains Chris Whitman and Daniel Andrews – the faces of Captains for Clean Water. The east and west coasts of Florida have been advocating together since the days of the Sugarland Rally in 2013. East and west, an important water alliance. 

According to Ed, “the algae was bright and visible over the majority of the western,  and southern-central portion of the lake, but became less dense as one approached Port Mayaca.” 

“Were you surprised the cyanobacteria had returned?” I asked. 

Ed had a very simple answer: “yes.” 

Ed also said it was a great to hosts the Captains. What an honor. 

Below are some of Ed and Captain Daniel’s photographs from Wednesday, July 29, 2020. You will see, with the sun shining, the lake is once again, visibly, full of algae. This is important documentation for the Army Corp of Engineers as we possibly face a very wet weekend. 

Havens and Hoyer diagram from study of cyanophyte movements.Courtesy, Joe Gilio.
Courtesy of Captain Daniel Andrews-off southwestern shore

Courtesy of pilot Ed Lippisch-southern to southwestern shore of L.O.

St Lucie Connections – Lost Through Time

Excerpt from 1839 Map of the Seat of War in Florida compiled by order of Brid. Gen. Z. Taylor principally from the surveys and reconnaissances of the Officers of the U.S. Army.

The following of which you will recognize many names and places, was shared from my mother, Sandra Henderson Thurlow. For years it lie dormant in her history files.

Written in 1881 as an article in an old time newspaper, The Florida Star, the article describes the location of pioneers living near the river and the extent of the St Lucie River itself. It is told that the South Fork of the St Lucie was connected all the way “westward of the Jupiter Lighthouse having its origin in the Everglades.”  Since 1881, we have drained so much of Florida that we only know its remnant. Imagine what it was like. Read, dream, and enjoy! 

From The Florida Star, Titusville, Florida, February 23, 1881, “Indian River” by Elias B. Wager, transcribed by Sandra H. Thurlow 

One mile south of Judge Paine’s is the mouth of Taylor Creek; on the left bank of which is the residence of Mr. Alex. Bell. Opposite the creek the oyster bars decrease. Two miles south from Bell’s is the old parade ground at Fort Pierce some of the of which are yet visible, extending quite a distance back to where was a watch tower commanding an extensive view of the river. Here is a fine spring of water bursting out from under the river-bank. Here also is the site of a store kept by Mr. Hogg. Going southward from Fort Pierce and passing several old places along the  skirted western bank, we find Herman’s Grove about eleven miles from Fort Pierce. This grove, a valuable piece of property is owned by a man living at Key West. About two miles from Herman’s Grove, is the clearing and home of Mr. T. E. Richards, late of Newark, planted to orange trees and the pine-apple. He has a clearing on the east shore of the river also, for growing vegetables, etc. Six miles from Mr. Richards is Mount Elizabeth, crowned with hummock of Cabbage Palmetto, the home of J. S. Fowler, late of New York. The river at this point is some two and one-half or three miles wide. Nearly opposite Mount Elizabeth and on the east bank of the river is the “Old Cuban’s Place.” Here grows the bananas very luxuriantly. The distance from the eastern shore of the river to the beach, is some three or four hundred yards. The river from Indian River Inlet to the Narrows is called St. Lucia Sound. Some three miles south from “Old Cuban’s Place” is located House of Refuge No. 2. Four miles south of Mt. Elizabeth and on the west side of the river is the mouth of the St. Lucie River. This river has a North and South Branch. Some ten miles above the meeting of the Branches, the North Branch separates into three streams, called Five, Ten, and Eleven Mile Creeks, indicating the distance from Ft. Capron to the several Fords used in the Seminole war.  The South Branch comes from away down to the Westward of Jupiter Lighthouse, having its origin in the Everglades. It has two branches from the Westward which have their sources in the “Big Cypress” and are called Big and Little Cane Creeks, and abound in black bass.

No Visible Algae in Lake O? Really Hunny?

This past Saturday, July 25, 2020, my husband, Ed, flew across the state to Ft Meyers  to visit pilot and fellow River Warrior, Dave Stone. Along for the ride were two other friends, Scott Kuhns and Don Page. 

Before the men flew off, I asked the question, like a tape-recorded message: “Could you please take some photos of the algae in Lake Okeechobee?”

Sure,” Ed replied. “But we’re just going straight across.”

The afternoon went by, and when Ed returned home, my first question was, “Did you see any algae?”

“No,” he answered. “Didn’t you look at the photos I shared?”

I looked at my phone and clicked on the 52 photos. “No visible algae in Lake Okeechobee? Really hunny?

…Where did you guys fly?”

Ed took a long breath. “I told you Jacqui- straight across.”  

“What was your altitude?” I shot out. 

“About 2000 feet; why are you asking?” Ed looked at me with wide eyes.  

“Were you talking to Scott and Don so much that you didn’t really look?” I inquired. 

Ed looked me straight in the eye: “Jacqui, we were ALL looking. I told you, there was none, zero, nada.”

“Hmm.” I mused. “Why then aren’t there any photos of the central or west side of the lake?” 

“Because there wasn’t any algae!” His final reply.  

So today, I share Ed’s photos.

They highlight Port Mayaca at Lake Okeechobee, C-44 Canal, St Lucie Inlet, Hutchinson Island (with a lot of seaweed), Sailfish Flats (seagrass kind of coming back), and Sewall’s Point (with very little seagrass around Bird Island.) Nonetheless, you’ll see that the water itself looks better all around.

And the algae?

It is wonderful that Ed and his friends saw no visible algae.” Really great.

“Visible” though is the key word here. Cyanobacteria is known for its ability to move up and down in the water column. Sunlight is key. My brother Todd’s website eyeonlakeo reveals daily pass satellites Terra, Aqua -there was heavy cloud cover over Lake Okeechobee parts of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. 

In 2016, the year the lake was 90% covered in algae, Dr Edward Philips of the University of Florida Dept. of Fisheries and Aquatic Science was quoted in an Okeechobee publication. I thought it explained all so well, I wrote it down: 

“Cyanobacteria have gas vesicles which act as buoyancy control devices. The vesicles can be expanded and filled with gas, causing the cyanobacteria to float on the surface, or deflated, which causes the cyanobacteria to descend into the water column. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on.”

No Visible Algae in LakeO? Really Hunny? 

Ed and I will back up in the air again soon! 🙂

~Your Eye in the Sky,

Jacqui and Ed 

Port Mayaca at Lake Okeechobee

C-44 Canal and S-80. Now closed. 

St Luice Inlet and Hutchinson Island 

Sailfish Flats between Hutchison Island and Sewall’s Point.

Fly Over! SFWMD Current Canal Network Satellite Image

SFWMDCurrentCanalNetworkCurrentSatelliteImage-PDF LARGER IMAGE

Today’s canal map of South Florida is the third I’ve shared. These recently created maps are the work of SFWMD’s Z.(Ken) Chen, Ph.D., GISP, Supervisor, Geospatial Mapping Services Unit, and his very talented team: Lexie Hoffart, Nicole Miller, and Erica Moylan SFWMD’s GIS. 

You can find all of the maps and more at the SFWMD’s “Map Gallery.” It is located at the public facing GIS site (https://www.sfwmd.gov/science-data/gis). Or you may use the following link for direct access to the maps: https://sfwmd.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MinimalGallery/index.html?appid=1facf32f199240b49a326432258c102f SFWMD Current Canal Network with Current Satellite Image (today’s share); SFWMD Current Canal Network with 1940-1953 Historic Images (298linework); SFWMD Current Canal Network with 1940-1953 Historic Images (Simple Version). Also, I provided an easy link at the top of this page to view the map in large format where you can easily save as a PDF on your desktop. 

You may have noticed that I love maps!

Exploring these maps of Dr Chen and Team, in particular,  allows one to fly with out an airplane! I am always surprised by what I see and learn. You may be too! Through knowledge we shall achieve a clean water future. 

The map key’s bright colors display areas where 298 special drainage districts exist. Many go back to 1913 or before and all were designated by the Florida Legislature. Fascinating! How does this all tie in? (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0200-0299/0298/0298.html)

Words of Dr Chen satellite map:

  1. Current Satellite Imagery

The satellite images are from Landsat data that are the most recent cloud-free (e.g. <10% cloud coverage) images over our areas of interest. The sensor on Landsat is called TM or Thematic Mapper. Therefore these images are usually called Landsat data or TM data. Because these individual TM images (or scenes) are processed by USGS following a standard Landsat imagery processing process, and exported to a standard imagery format, therefore it was not very technically challenging when we mosaicked or stitched them together. But the mosaicking was a very time-consuming process because imagery processing always requires a lot of computer time (i.e. CPU and GPU intensive) partially due to the fact of large file size of images as well as the nature of imagery processing. During the mosaicking process, we cropped out the black edges of the individual scenes and applied a limited tonal balancing to minimized the tonal contrasts between the individual scenes.

Dr Ken Chen

~Blog Posts: 

Canal Network of SF w/Historic Imagery, Simple Version 1940-53, SFWMD https://wp.me/p3UayJ-b8N

Current Canal Network of SF w/Historic Imagery 1940-1953 Map, SFMWD https://wp.me/p3UayJ-b83

Wind Blows LakeO Algae Bloom West

Today’s flight, 7-18-20,  revealed a lack-luster colored algae bloom blown to the southwest area of Lake Okeechobee. Rather than the florescent green often seen, there was more of a pea-green conglomeration against the west side. But it was there. 

We continue to be your eye in sky…

Jacqui & Ed