A River Kid Grows Up – Naia Mader

-Naia Mader co-founded River Kidz in 2011; today she is a  junior at UC, Berkeley .This week, as part of my River Kidz series, I proudly feature Naia Mader. Naia, the daughter of Nicole and Donny Mader, co-founded River Kidz in 2011 with friend Evie Flaugh.  Naia was only ten years old at the time. Today, she is twenty and earning a bachelor’s degree in Society and Environment, College of Natural Resources, University of California, Berkeley. Right in line with her River Kidz training, Naia is also completing a minor in Public Policy.

I had not spoken in depth with Naia since she left her hometown of Stuart, Florida, three years ago. I was happy to hear that Naia feels River Kidz helped prepare her for her studies. Last week, I interviewed her briefly by phone while she was in between classes.

JTL: “Hi Naia.” My having been born at Travis Air Force Base in California, in 1964, makes me feel like we have something in common. How do you like it out there in the Golden State in 2021?”

N: “Well, it was a shock in many ways. It is very different from Stuart. Now I love it.”

JTL: “What was the first thing you noticed was different?”

N: “Mmmm, the mindset of the people I think. Like when I think back on how those adults  were against us at the CRC. I think there is more support here for youth and the environment. People are more hopeful, less divisive. For everyone, there’s more of an eco-consciousness. It’s not negative.”

JTL : (Laughing) :Naia that was incredible. Those were not just adults, those were very powerful Gunster lawyers -working against what you and Evie spoke in favor of “A Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment“- at the Florida Constitution Revision Commission in 2017. You and Evie learned a lot at a very young age. Water is the big issue here. What are some of the big environmental topics facing people in California?”

-River Kidz co-founders Evie Flaugh (11) & Naia Mader (10) 2011.-Evie & Naia, Tallahassee 2017. River Kidz  advocated before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, the Florida Senate, members of the House of Representatives in Washington DC, and various Florida county and city commissions. There have been over 600 members of River Kidz since 2011. Today’s generation is writing the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and politicians to get the ailing manatee back on the Endangered Species List.N: “Water too. But it’s water shortage, along with drought and fire.”

JTL: “Yes, we read a lot about the fires in California. Can you compare them to hurricanes in Florida -where it’s sometimes a little bit scary, and you hunker down and wait for it to pass?”

N: “It’s a different kind of scary. In a hurricane there is time and you prepare for this big storm, but with these fires they are always kind of looming over our heads. It’s more of an eerie feeling- it’s a constant thing…”

JTL: “So it’s more pervasive….”

N: “Yes, don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely beautiful here most of the time, but still. I’ll send you some pictures I took last year in September.  Due to distant fires the sky was glowing completely orange. Its was like I said, eerie more than scary. And we are very aware of the AQI (Air Quality Index) out here and check it daily.”

JTL: “What’s the AQI?”

N: “The air quality index.”

JTL: “Wow. I take that for granted!”

N: “Two years ago we couldn’t go to class for four days because the AQI was over 270. It was strange; my roommates and I stayed inside. Sometime we don’t go out to exercise.”

JTL: “Well thank you for sharing about that Naia. I know people back in Florida are interested.”

-In 2020 Berkley had twenty days of red flag warnings. Photo Naia Mader “outside” Sept. 2020.JTL:  “Naia, like you said, drought is a big environmental topic and linked to the fires affecting people and wildlife. Clean water and stopping the discharges from Lake Okeechobee was the mission of River Kidz, so what is it like dealing with drought – not enough water? How is it  affecting people you know or yourself?”

N: “It is also pervasive. And yes a shift. So I for instance, I had class with fellow students two days ago, who, you know, they have water caps imposed by their local governments. They can only shower with the full strength of the water for an allowed period of time per day and the other part of the day has to be on half pressure.”

JTL: “Your’e kidding? Wow. I practice conservation, but I can’t imagine having a government cap on my showering time! Has this affected you too?”

N: “No, Berkeley is not in that situation. But other places not far away from here are, and some of my friends experience it when they visit home.”

JTL: “Water is everything…”

N: “Yeah, and another thing about drought, like here in California, it “never” rains, which is such a foreign concept to me because it rains all the time in Florida. For many of my classmates’ families that are from California, the effects of drought are far reaching and they talk about it a lot and are very conservation oriented. But don’t get the wrong idea, not everything is dry here, there are a lot green places too!”

JTL: “Yes, California has always been considered one of the most beautiful states desert or forest. It is a very special place. It think it’s great you are going to school out there.”

-Naia walks trails around Berkley, always a tree hugger! JTL: “Naia, I know you have to go to class. Before I leave you,  if you had something to say to next generation of River Kidz what would you say? Thank you so much for your time today.”

N: “I would tell them to be totally encouraged and to keep on fighting, to keep on getting involved, to use their voice. I think that’s the most important thing we can do right now.”

JTL: “Last question. Did River Kidz help prepare you for – life – basically? Can you explain?”

N: “Oh, I think ten-thousand percent. Like I’ve actually spoken to Evie about this. I feel like the way I present myself in speaking terms, writing terms… How I see things from many different  perspectives…  I feel like on a global scale, it has totally stemmed down from River Kidz. It taught me to mature at a young age, not forced to mature but… being able to write speeches, understand adults, and know what was going on even if I was a kid.

And I feel like I’ve carried that sense of self over to being here a Berkley. In class, I can speak much more eloquently. I know how to do presentations, speeches – I feel like I kind of have that down on lock. 

I feel like River Kidz really prepared me. I also feel that on the environmental scale I have been learning about these big environmental  issues from a young age. It’s actually funny, one of my friends at school was learning about the toxic algae blooms in the St Lucie River/ Indian River Lagoon. So I was like “oh my gosh- that’s my home!”

It’s so far reaching…It definitely prepared me.”

__________________________________________

Ironically, today parts of California are experiencing torrential rains. I will be interviewing more grown River Kidz in the future.

 

 

A River Kid Grows Up – Evie Flaugh

In the fall of 2011, the River Kidz were born. A grassroots youth uprising due to Lake Okeechobee discharges hurting St Lucie River wildlife and the power of social media that was in its infancy. A mixture of over one-hundred children, parents, and politicians came to the original River Kidz gathering and fundraiser at Sewall’s Point Park. A ten year old and an eleven year old had just changed the trajectory of their lives, and the river found a voice in a new generation.

Now it’s ten years later…

~Full disclosure, Evie Flaugh is my niece, the daughter of my younger sister Jenny and her husband Mike. Evie is the only child I have seen born into this world and it is heartwarming to watch her mature.

Recently, while I was Adrift on the St Johns River, Evie released her Capstone Project 2021 for Rollins College staring first and foremost the Everglades, along with interviews with Dr Leslie Poole, me, Maggy Hurchalla, Eve Samples, Mark Perry, and Nic Mader. The product is ¬†impressive and very professional. So proud of my River Kid! BTW Evie won “best” class! I’m allowed to brag; I’m her Aunt ūüôā

Evie’s fourteen minute video “Send it South” is posted below on YouTube. Please watch. Please share. Please comment. My plan is to do a series of post about our grown up River Kidz.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-cj3VsK8hk

-Evie Flaugh (11) and Naia Mader (10), September 17, 2011 co-founders of River Kidz, Sewall’s Point Park, 1st official event. Photo JTL-Evie 2021. Born and raised in Stuart, Evie co-founded¬†River Kidz with Naia Mader in 2011. She remains¬†passionate¬†about¬†activism¬†and fighting for the environment. She recently graduated from Rollins College with a degree in¬†Critical¬†Media & Cultural Studies and is currently in her first year at the Crummer Graduate School of Business, on track to receive her MBA in May 2023. ¬†The “Send It South” documentary was her senior capstone last May. (Taken from Evie’s interview on WFLM with Robert Delancy, September 30, 2021; photo Evie’s Facebook page)

Tales of the St Johns – Palatka to Sanford

East Palatka, St Johns River selfieHow does one tell the story of the St Johns River?  Believe it or not, the St Johns River starts close to home in the western marshes of Indian River and northern St Lucie counties. Drained and destroyed for agriculture and now in the process of being restored, the waters of these wetlands wind north, melding with springs, creeks, and rivers finally exiting into the Atlantic Ocean near Jacksonville. This is the mighty St Johns!

When Ed and I began our trawler excursion this year, I really didn’t know what to expect. I read as much as I could, asking my mother to share history, but even so I was really unprepared for the experience. The St Johns is so long (310 miles) and covers so much territory. It runs through twelve counties. I couldn’t even find it on one map. With the Mainship’s ¬†four foot draft, only a portion of the river was navigable (Jacksonville to Sanford) but it is much longer than that. So again, how does one tell the story of the St Johns River? A part at a time.

  1. Stuart to Ortega
  2. Ortega to Palatka

Today’s part, 3, Palatka to Sanford, is longer than the previous two and will be the final tale of our journey. By the way, as 1st Mate, I didn’t miss a line! ūüôāOn September 11, 2021, Adrift departed¬†the shores of East Palatka headed for Sanford. We were excited. There would be famous things to see along the way like, Rodam Reservoir, Lake George, Welaka State Forest, Astor, Hontoon Island, Blue Springs State Park, and Lake Monroe. We had overnighted at Corki Bells¬†close to the 2,757 acre Horseshoe Point Conservation Area the night before. As with the entire St Johns, in some areas the water appeared¬†impaired and in others not. By the conservation area the water looked healthy. The fish were jumping. ¬†It was this morning that we saw the first eagle.

“Ed is that an osprey or an eagle? It has a white head. Oh my gosh! It’s an eagle!”

Over the course of the next two days, Ed and I saw a total of sixteen eagles, mostly in pairs.  They were staring down at us from tall cypress trees; they were sitting on channel markers eating fish; they were swirling overhead. It was incredible! None of my photographs are good enough to share, but I did take a photo of a mural at Corki Bells that gives the feel of these soaring majestic eagles, especially on Patriot Day. -Map showing St Johns River cut of Cross Florida Barge Canal to the Ocklawaha River

PALATKA

One cannot tell the story of the St Johns without telling the story of the Ocklawaha. Not¬†too far south of Palatka’s conservation area lies a cut from the St Johns River into the Ocklawaha River¬†-scared by the history of¬†Rodman Pool and Kirkpatrick Dam. In the 1960s and 70s Marjorie Carr and Defenders of the Environment garnered public and political will to halt the ecological nightmare of the still infamous¬†Florida Cross State Barge Canal. Today activists calls continue to free the damed Ocklawaha.

I had read so much about the 1800s Riverboat trips to Silver Springs and how they define the history of Florida itself -so much so that there is a giant painting by Christopher Still in the state Capitol entitled “Ocklawaha”and historic documents and photos of the river are housed in the archives of the University of Florida. She is a part of the St Johns we must never forget.

-Dredged cut ¬†into St Johns River- the beginning of the Cross Florida Barge Canal-Historic postcardsRiverboat mural of the Ocklawaha, Florida State CaptiolUFLibrary Theodore Hahn’s Ocklawaha historic documents and photos

LAKE GEORGE

The winding waterway south of Palatka is treed with cypress, sable palms, and other trees I didn’t know with only a few small towns along the way. We saw turtles, alligators, wading birds and more eagles! ¬†After about five hours we made it to¬†Lake George the second largest lake in Florida and interesting enough, although the river is fresh at this point miles from the ocean, the lake is brackish -due to salt water springs- leftovers of an ancient Florida sea. The first clue we were in a different ecology was the abundance of hundreds of seabirds: seagulls, terns, and smaller birds I did not recognize. It was as if we were at the ocean! Shallow, eleven miles long, and six miles wide, Lake George is known for quickly- rising dramatic storms. Sure enough, when we entered the lake it was a beautiful day, by the time we were exiting, cumulonimbus had developed over the eastern edge forming thunder, lightening, wind, and white caps.

-Seabirds line the wooden guide to exit Lake George

ASTOR

Just south of Lake George lies Astor, a small hamlet that friend Captain Paul, who we’d met in Ortega, recommended. Ed and I stayed at Astor Bridge Marina. After a creative docking assignment, Ed and I exited Adrift stumbling upon the gigantic¬†William Bartram Memorial Oak that had almost been obliterated by Highway 40 -basically cutting this little town in half.

As most of us were taught in school, in the mid 1700s William Bartram returned as he’d first come as a boy with his father to famously document the St Johns River Valley’s flora and fauna. The records remain a baseline today. For me it was serendipitous to find the ¬†memorial tree and learn that Astor was a location that William Bartram had actually overnighted. Between all the eagle sightings and the memorial oak, I was feeling inspired to continue my own ¬†journey for the St Lucie River. -William Bartram Memorial Oak, Astor, FL

AN ACCOUT BY WILLIAM BARTRAM

There was an exquisite sunset that evening. Sitting on the upper deck, as Ed sipped a vodka, and I drank white wine, I read Ed an excerpt from William Bartram. An account of a storm on Lake George as shared in Tales on the St Johns River, by Hallock. ¬†Behold the little ocean of Lake George!” How absolutely full of wildlife the St Johns River Valley must have been when the Bartrams visited Florida in the 1700s! His accounts of birds, alligators, deer, bears, wolves, fish, the tannin-clear waters, and native people is especially amazing . I started to realize the St Johns Valley is equally important to the Everglades.

SANFORD

-Ed fixing the water pumpOn the morning of September 12, 2021, we departed for our final St Johns destination, Sanford on Lake Monroe. Docking was easy at Monroe Harbor Marina.¬†Ed wanted to go get a pump as our water pump was failing, so I looked around ¬†while he went to the office. Immediately I recognized ¬†something because I’d been reading that William Bartram book. I saw hundreds, if not thousands, of dime sized¬†banded mystery snail¬†shells.

The grackles had eaten the mollusk and thrown the shells aside. I remembered Bartram’s account about the native people of Lake Monroe eating these by the millions to sustain themselves, creating middens, and that some of these middens remain today. What a name: Banded Mystery Snails…

-Lake Monroe approaching Sanford-Banded Mystery Snails from Lake Monroe, Sandford, FLWhere is Sanford anyway?To the east of Sanford lies Cape Canaveral and to the west Mount Dora. My maternal grandmother, Dorothy Dell Rawls Henderson, was born in Plymouth, Florida, not too far southwest of Sanford, close to Lake Apopka. The metropolis of Orlando lies south and Sanford International Airport, once a naval air station, now operates worldwide. Sanford has had its up and downs but now it is growing!

It was a fun change from being anchored out. There were good restaurants. There are great historic districts. Goldsboro was interesting. It was the second black incorporated township in the Inited States! ¬†And the Sanford Museum?¬† It told the story of how the city grew up from agriculture south of Lake Monroe and Swedish immigrants role in its success. Once the citrus crop froze in the late 1800s, Sanford became the “Celery Capital of the World.” I never knew that!

-Sanford Museum with celery columns¬† -Sandford’s famous downtown clock -St Johns Riverboat tours ¬†on Lake Monroe a big hit since 1850! -Downtown is historic and modern¬†-The best pancake breakfast and coffee Ed and I ever had! Colonial Room Diner-Having fun! Many homes had natural yards for butterflies and birds in the historic¬†district. -Veterans Memorial Park, Lake Monroe It’s hard to share everything so I have just noted highlights. What a great experience the 2021 St Johns trawler excursion had been! ¬†It was sad to leave but it was time to get back to the St Lucie. Our farewell was a ¬†beautiful and crystalline day and Ed and I shall cherish ¬†it forever. “Goodbye St Johns! Thank you for sharing! Thank you for educating! Thank you for un-plugging us from social media! Now please safely take us home.”

So on September 15, now tried and true, Ed and I left Sanford to head back up the St Johns and then down the Indian River ¬†towards “Stuart on the St Lucie.”

-Heading out of Lake Monroe-A mirror of beauty, the St Johns… -Returning home…

Watch a video of the beautiful St Johns River 

Tales of the St Johns-Ortega to Palatka

-Suspension bridge, Ravine Gardens State Park, Palatka.Today’s blog post continues the story of Ed my recent trawler excursion along the St Johns River.¬†It was September 9 and we had been Adrift¬†for eight days. Definitely starting to “mellow out,” the world as we knew it seemed a million miles away.

In order to reach Palatka, we’d departed¬†Ortega at dawn. With the wind at our backs and overcast skies, Ed guided us past some of the most beautiful small towns and shorelines of the St Johns River: Mandarin, the home of Harriett Beecher Stowe; Hibernia, where Margaret Fleming taught her slaves to read; and Green Cove Springs, location of the famed “Fountain of Youth, and the “Mothball Fleet.” ¬†So much history and Palatka would offer even more.¬†St Mary’s Episcopal Church built in 1878, shoreline, Green Cove SpringsGetting from Ortega to Palatka took about five hours. As we nibbled on apples and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, we looked down on a tannin colored, wide, curvy, and heavily treed St Johns. I had to wonder how much different it looked during the St Johns Riverboat era, long over a hundred years ago. The river’s path was taking a significant swing west. Dark clouds had formed and the ominous Seminole Power Generating Station gleamed like a dark sentinel as we slowly approached Palatka.“Is that Georgia-Pacific?” Ed pointed from the upper deck to what looked like billowing smokestacks.

“Yes, the area of the paper mill, and a coal-fired power station I think.” I yelled back from the bow.

“Isn’t Palatka the place you read there was once a giant lumber yard?

I shook my head up and down. “Wilson Cypress Company, established 1891-the second largest cypress mill in the world! I can’t imagine cutting down all those giant trees!”

-AdriftWith a few squalls but no major issues, we pulled into the Boathouse Marina, where Craig, the dock hand, greeted us with firm direction and a friendly demeanor. ¬†As were tying up, I saw the remains of an old riverboat along the shoreline; a gator slipped into the water. “I’m gonna love this place.” I thought. And we did!

Before we went exploring, Ed wanted to take the dingy out and go across to East Palatka. It was windy and clouds were in the distance but I agreed. We made it across and explored but on the way home the engine sputtered and died.

“You have got to be kidding me.” Ed said.

I remained silent. Ed fooled with the battery. Watching the clouds rolling in from the west and checking my phone, I could see it read: “Lightening in Area.”

“There is lighting Ed. You better start rowing!” Ed looked sternly into my eyes. “That’s why I have the paddles!”¬†he replied. I knew this was not the time for discussion. So like a modern Cleopatra I sat looking at my phone while Ed rowed across to Palatka proper. Luckily, Ed did a great job and we made it safely across. Ed immediately got a beer and went over to look at the old riverboat and see if I could find the alligator. Paltka is like a time-capsule of Florida history: railroads, riverboats, and wonderful historic homes. Our favorite excursion was¬†Ravine Gardens State Park, one of nine 1930s New Deal state parks in Florida. The park is an ancient ecological wonderland with two ravines up to 120 feet deep featuring walking paths, gigantic trees, and wildlife. Its springs and waters trickle to the St Johns. It is part of the famed Bartram Trail of 1773-1777. It was a quite a hike and beautiful!¬† -Court of States,¬†“Hi mom and dad!”I was born at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, California, 1964!¬†-The Amphitheater¬† We also enjoyed the “The Hammock,” part of Palatka’s authentic Historic District. These homes were built during the city’s hay day of railroad crossings and Riverboats. Palatka is the City of Murals.¬†All together there are twenty-three! On the way home from Ravine State Gardens we followed the on-line guide and visited almost all. A great way to share the past. Palatka has a great historic downtown right in the middle of the murals and the homes. They have not taken down their Confederate statues but the conversation is alive and well!Before I close on this chapter of Palatka, there is one more story I must tell. The public docks were within vision of the marina. For two days and nights Ed and I had seen crowds of locals throwing cast nets off the dock and this went on for hours. One night there was thunder and lightening and I awoke around midnight. I got up and looked outside. To my surprise the people were still throwing their cast nets! I woke up Ed.

What do you think they are catching?” I asked. “There must be something really incredible in those waters! What do you think? Catfish? Mullet? What could it be?”¬†

Ed kept snoring and when we awoke the next morning, the fisher people were still there. When we went to dinner that evening at a great Mexican restaurant, the fisher people were still there! On our walk home, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

“Let’s go visit the dock Ed!”We walked in the dim light onto the dock filled with people. Old folks, children, women, men. They were casting their nets into the water methodically, one throw at a time. Ed and I watched, walking along the far side of the dock, trying not to get in their way. We strained our eyes to see.

“Shrimp Ed! “They are catching shrimp!” They were not bring up many, maybe ten to twenty at a time. Each person had a five gallon bucket. Little kids would pick up the shrimp that got free and place them back into the bucket. I saw one they’d missed at the edge of the dock that certainly would have shriveled up. ¬†I snuck it into my hand. I looked at the people working.

“May I take a picture?” I asked one of the sitting men.

“Sure,”¬†he said. “Are the shrimp here all the time?” I inquired.

“No mam. They are here just once a year. This is the St Johns River shrimp run.” Ed and I smiled. We walked to the end of the pier. “I can’t believe it!” Ed said, “I never would have guessed!” I threw the shrimp that had been snapping in my hand as far off the dock as ¬†possible. “Stay low.” I whispered, hearing the shrimp are caught as they ride a rising current.

“Incredible,” Ed said grabbing my hand.

So many things we didn’t yet know about the wonderful St Johns River. Next stop Astor.

Watch a video of the locals shrimping!

Shrimp Op-Ed 

 

Tales of the St Johns-Stuart to Ortega

So my blog has been quiet for a while. I have been away, but today I look forward to sharing with you Ed and my recent journey. On September 2, 2021, Ed and I began our trawler excursion number two. ¬†Last year we christened “Adrift” by completing the Southern Loop. This year our goal was something a bit more unfamiliar, the St Johns River.

Always worried about leaving in the heart of hurricane season, we were pleased that the weather was nice leaving “Stuart on the St Lucie.” Inching around the southern tip of home, the peninsula of Sewall’s Point, we headed north on the Indian River Lagoon. Honing our skills, we anchored-out the first night in Wabasso, and again the second night in Titusville. The third night we docked at the Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona; and the forth at St Augustine Municipal Marina.

St AugustineIt was St Augustine that awoke us from our South Florida slumber. Historic St Augustine lies at the intersection of what is named the Matanzas and Tolomoto Rivers and sits directly across from the St Augustine Inlet.

Docking at the marina went well, but our departure, not so much. In the pastel clouded morning, as wading birds and rock pigeons flew in every direction, Ed and I pulled away to continue on to Jacksonville. As we were slapping ourselves on the back for “an exit well done” the strong current pushed our craft aside sending us in the direction of two enormous yachts. We were headed for collision. Time froze, Ed and I could not believe our eyes. It happened so fast!

I followed orders grabbing a starboard line, but realized there was really nothing I could safely achieve. The force of the tide was overbearing. Ed’s instincts kicked in, he exercised full power, stern hitting a lone piling that swung wildly as we pulled away.

I heard a gentleman holding a cup of coffee yell to Ed: “Nice save!”

Ed and I looked at each other incredulously, both knowing it was more luck than skill that saved us. Miraculously, there was no damage other than our egos. From here on out, Ed and I paid great attention to the tides and currents of the region.We didn’t talk much that day, and the Tolomato River region revealed its most beautiful residents to sooth our spirts. At one point along the miles of bright green marshes, forty-two roseate spoonbills flew past! It was spectacular! Eventually we entered “the northern part of the ditch,¬†better known as the Intracoastal Waterway and suddenly we we entering the mighty St Johns River.

Jacksonville

The Intracoastal and the St Johns intersect just west of the inlet at the Atlantic Ocean and Mayport, one of the largest naval stations in the United States and historic fishing village. As we veered west, Jacksonville came into view. It was impressive and intimidating. The river was wide and ships the length of skyscrapers filled the shorelines. I kept looking down, thinking I could “see” the tide. This river made the St Lucie look like a brook. In spite of the size of the river and the heavy industry, I kept noticing what appeared to be Monarch butterflies flying low across the water to the other side of the St Johns.“Unbelievable,” I thought. “How do they do that?”Everywhere I looked there were tugboats and container ships. A pod of dolphins joined our wake to say “hello.” Ed and I laughed and for a moment in time, nothing else existed. Just joy! “I can’t believe there are dolphins here!” Ed exclaimed.The dolphins finally pulled away and Ed shifted his eyes to the horizon. Our destination was an historic neighborhood, Ortega, about eight miles away located on the western bank of the St Johns River. Ed slowed down, called on the radio and little Ortega River Bridge slowly opened. The horn blew – a sound from a simpler past. “Thank you!” I waved from the bow and shortly thereafter we slid into a slip at the Ortega Marina.That evening we met Captain Paul, the Ortega Marina Dock Master, who became our guide, friend, ¬†and confidant. ¬†In the evenings he held court on his boat, “Passages,” telling stories of tides, time, and fishing tournaments.

The next morning Ed and I used the marina bicycles and rode throughout the historic district of Ortega. It was stunning! Oak trees and mansions the size of dinosaurs filled the landscape. Ortega got its start in 1769 so history includes many tales. I enjoyed seeing that Florida has many live oak trees that can compete with our northern neighbors. Breathtakingly beautiful trees, branches to the ground! Almost back at the marina, we visited nearby classic¬†Chamblin Bookmine, Highway 17 – wonderful to browse for hours as most in Stuart are now long gone. After a final cool down and walk to Publix where we met displaced Canadian Geese¬†searching for last year’s wetlands, Ed and I ¬†visited again with Captian Paul. I informed him I had researched and found out the beautiful flowers growing in the Ortega Marina were swamp lilies; ¬†we were already fast friends even though I was a “tree hugger.” Ed was looking to Paul as a mentor. Planning for tomorrow, we ¬†talked tides and weather figuring out our departure.

Night fell. Ed and I slept like babies with the sound of the train echoing in the distance. I dreamt about Henry Flagler, riverboats, and Canadian Geese. I was excited about our next stop, September 8: Palatka.

 

 

The Hard Numbers-A Hard Future, Manatees

Crystal River, Credit: Paul Nicklen/National Geographic 2013.I

Slide from “Manatee UME on the Florida Atlantic Coast 2020-2021” -Martine de Wit, DVM

I wanted to share today’post because I have recently been exposed to this inofrmation. Most of it is very disturbing, and unfortunately, it is going to get even more so. We have to prepare. We have to decide. As winter approaches, we are going to have to face some hard choices about manatees.

As we all know, Florida’s manatee’s are in the middle of a UME or Unusual Mortality Event. It has been documented by FWC that most deaths are due to starvation as the seagrass meadows of the 156 mile long Indian River Lagoon are dead, dying, or in poor condition, due to poor water quality, algae blooms, discharges (S.IRL) , and thus lack of sunlight. The Florida Wildlife Commission’s 2021 numbers are displayed in the chart below and more information can be found here.¬†

This August, Martine de Wit, DVM, presented a power point to the Management Board of the Indian River Lagoon Council. It is heartbreaking but should be seen by all.

Manatee Unusual Mortality Event  on the Florida Atlantic Coast December 2020 July 2021 UME_IRLNEP_STEM_10Aug212

The bottom line is: this winter the migrating manatees will have site fidelity (like elephants) to the four power plants along the IRL. In the past, as many as 2500 ¬†have stayed true to the warm waters near Cape Canaveral’s power plant in the northern central IRL. The question is, not who will come this year, it’s just how many. These manatees will be warm but there are no longer historic seagrass beds to eat. In spite of this, they will stay and put being warm first. Since we know there is no seagrass and since we know they will gather in their known warm waters, should we try to feed them or relocate them/something not supported in the past…

What do you think?

Reintroducing Myself to Pelican Island’s Paul Kroegel

Reintroducing Myself to Pelican Island’s Warden, Paul Kroegel

-A 30 year old Jacqui meets the Paul Kroegel statue, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Sebastian, Florida, 1994.  Photo by mother, Sandra Thurlow.  -A 57 year old Jacqui reintroduces herself to the Paul Kroegel statue, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Sebastian, Florida, 2021. Photo by husband, Ed Lippisch.

The Story of Recreating the Photo

Last week, when I told my mother I had an Indian River Lagoon Council meeting in Sebastian, she forwarded me a 1994 photograph of me with my hand on the shoulder of statue Paul Kroegel. I vaguely recalled visiting the statue twenty-seven years ago during a family outing to the St Sebastian River.

“You’ll have to reintroduce yourself to our friend, Mr Paul Kroegel,” mom said. “You know, the man who inspired Theodore Roosevelt to create the Pelican Island Reservation that became the nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge in 1903. Mr Kroegel was appointed the United State’s first warden. He loved and protected thousands of pelicans!”

“I’ll do that mom. I’ll find the statue. I do remember that day,” I replied. “You, dad and I were canoeing and got caught in a thunderstorm.” It all started coming back to me…

The more I thought about it, the more I stared getting excited about finding the statue…

On Friday, August 13, I attended the Indian River Lagoon Council National Estuary meeting. Afterwards, using Google Maps, a devise not available in 1994, I found the Kroegel statue in Riverview Park just down the road from Sebastian City Hall.

There Warden Kroegel stood smoking his pipe, pelicans at his feet,  just a shiny as ever! Someone had patriotically placed an American flag in his arms. It blew in the wind as pelicans and wading birds flew by. I took a deep breath, stood tall, and using my best manners reintroduced myself to Warden Kroegel. Looking into his bronze eye was almost real. We looked at each other for a long time. I placed my hand on his shoulder as in the original shot but had to turn around to take a modern day selfie. No one was there to take my picture, so I was unable to recreate the 1994 photo for my mother.

-Sculpted by Rosalee T. Hume

Luckily when I got home that night at dinner, I convinced Ed to drive up with me to Sebastian on the weekend, Sunday, August 15, to recreate the photo. We had a blast! First, it is such a beautiful drive to Sebastian from Sewall’s Point along historic Indian River Drive. Second, Sebastian is small and beautiful. ¬†A lot like Stuart was when I was a kid. We really enjoyed our visit there. After finding Riverview Park and enjoying the scenery, I introduced Ed to Warden Kroegel and we took the picture!

-Riverview Park, Indian River Lagoon -Ed looks out to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Indian River Lagoon -Standing at Paul Kroegel’s statue¬†¬†-Ed takes the iconic recreation photo of Jacqui and Warden Kroegel 27 years later!¬†

Pelican Island and the legacy of Paul Kroegel are on display in Sebastian just about everywhere, but first and foremost at the remains of his Homestead at Kroegel Produce, right at the corner of Indian River Drive and U.S. 1. Pelican Island proper ¬†is “right behind” the old Homestead out in the Indian River. On land, the tomatoes were the best I’ve ever had! If you visit Sebastian, please take a photo with Mr Kroegel and send it my way. I’ll share it with my mother too.

And thanks to my husband, Ed, for helping me recreate the 1994 photo with Paul Kroegel. For mom, for fun, for history!

Information on Pelican Island today, Sebastian Chamber of Commerce.

Aerial Update St Luice, Jupiter, Lake O-August 20-21, 2021

VISUAL UPDATE-AERIALS ST LUCIE, JUPITER, LAKE O pilots Ed Lippisch and Scott Kuhns

FOR FULL EVERGLADES’ SYSTEM ECOLOGICAL CONDITIONS REPORT SFWMD 8-18-21

SuperCub, Scott Kuhns, August 20, 2021, 9am

-St Lucie Inlet to Atlantic looking beautiful at this time day. Note nearshore reefs.

-Crossroads’ confluence of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, S. Sewall’s Point – note lack of lush seagrass meadows

Jupiter Inlet and Loxahatchee RiverРheavy rains causing discoloration 

Beechcraft Baron, Ed Lippisch, August 21, 2021, 3:30pm

-Looking towards Stuart over Sewall’s Point, SLR/IRL. Sailfish Point Marina left ¬†corner.-Sailfish Flats- note shades of seagrasses but no lush meadows-brown coloration -Over Atlantic-Indian River Lagoon lies east of Sewall’s Point, St Lucie River lies west -Various views

-One can see river’s proximity to Witham Field in Stuart. These photos show darkness of St Lucie due to stormwater runoff off lands and canals C-23. C-24, and C-44. No Lake O discharges.

-St Lucie Inlet 

-Stuart Sandbar with many boaters. Water is dark with stormwater and canal runoff but remains to recreational standards.

-West now over S-308, Port Mayaca, Lake O – no visible algae from altitude of 1500 feet. Satellite images do show algae on west and middle of lake. SEE my brother Todd’s website ¬†EYEONELAKEO for all info. -Although water looks good at St Luice Inlet at an incoming tide, the estuary is suffering from too much input. Read Florida Oceanographic’s update for details.

Today, August 22, 2021 Lake Okeechobee is at 14.39 feet. This recent TCPalm article by Ed Killer gives insights based on a recent media conference with Col. Kelly of the ACOE.

Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)

The St Lucie’s Three Front War

Aerial SLR/IRL near St Lucie Inlet, courtesy Dr Scott Kuhns, 8-11-21.One of the difficult things about trying to keep an eye on the St Lucie River’s health is that destructive forces are coming from so many directions. It’s basically a “three front war.” During and after heavy rains, water is water pouring in, unfiltered, from the northwest, C-23, C-24, and C-25, and also from the southwest through C-44. ¬†When things are really bad, and the lake is high, the ACOE can discharge Lake Okeechobee as well. Some may consider this a two front war as Lake O and C-44 basin water are discharged through the same canal (C-44) but as they are separate “animals,” I consider it three.

So in recent weeks, as the rainy season has arrived, C-23, 24, and C-25 have been discharging stormwater runoff form the northwest, and now that C-44 is lower than Lake O (14. 38 feet), the ACOE’s operation is discharging C-44 too. Not yet, has the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee.

If you have been out on the river you have probably noticed the color is darker and it is going to get even darker as C-44 basin runoff also enters the river.

There are CERP projects set to improve these situations, the C-44 Reservoir and the C-23/24/25 Reservoirs. The C-44 Reservoir will be on line by the end of this year so long as when the ACOE starts filling it up this October, all goes well. The C-23/24/25 are in design and if the economy holds out and our advocacy continues should be done by 2030 or a couple of years before. This is great news! ¬†Also the EAA Reservoir, that will accept waters form Lake Okeechobee sending south, should break ground this year and ¬†is slated to be complete by 2028. The SFWMD is already well into building the storm water treatment component as the local partner in all of these projects. ¬†Thus relief is on the horizon, but until these all up and running, it’s the same old —-.

SFWMD basin map for SLR, note canals and Lake O connections.

Below is a slide from the most recent SFWMD Governing Board Meeting on August 12. Mr Glenn’s slide shows how much runoff was entering the St Lucie. The number is 2432 cubic feet per second daily flow. Over 1400 or 2000 is “off the cuff” considered “destructive.” And now C-44 basin is coming in on top of this. This began through S-80 this Saturday, thus the C-44 runoff is unaccounted for in this slide.

We can look at my brother, Todd Thurlow’s, website and see in real time (almost) how much C-44 water is entering the St Lucie. Yesterday, when I texted Todd at 11pm it was 1049.18 acre feet on 8/14 and 1043.31 acre feet on 8/15. Sorry to be going from cfs to acre feet, but the bottom line is -this is a ton of water that never entered the St Lucie before the canals were dug. These canals are what is what is killing our river as they carry agricultural fertilizers and pesticides together with all the pollution coming from our yards: septic tank effluent, fertilizer, pesticides-FDOT road runoff too!

Use Todd’s calculator to claculate acre feet and cfs

These aerial were taken from the SuperCub by Dr Scott Kuhns last Wednesday, August 11, 2021, and this is before Saturday when S-80 began discharging to the St Lucie for the C-44 “basin.” Bottom line, the St Lucie is now in a two front war against the northern and western canals, let’s fight for it not to become three. #NoLakeO to the St Lucie. Compare what the river looked on July 28, 201 and as the rains began.¬†

Aerials August 11, 2021, Dr Scott Kuhns

Crossroads SLR/IRL-South Sewall’s Point-Looking south towards Jupiter Narrows-St Lucie Inlet with plume but still able to see nearshore reefs north of inlet