Progress by 1970s Standards vs Today

St Lucie River Photos  display Local runoff from C-24, C-23, C-44 basin and Willoughby Creek in St Lucie and Martin Counties. All runoff flows to the St Lucie River/IRL (Photos by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch and Ed Lippisch, 2-2-14) 

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Our beautiful St Lucie River on a gorgeous winter day,  a week or so after extremely heavy rains that flooded parts of Port Saint Lucie and Martin County. An eighty foot section of Indian River Drive collapsed. It rained  6-11 inches, I  have read. All that rain has to go somewhere since manmade canals don’t allow it to stay on the land as nature planned.

Viewing a map of Florida from the 1800s one sees that Port St Lucie and parts of western Martin County were in a swamp, Alpatiokee, that stretched from about the mid eastern inland coast of Lake Okeechobee to north of Ft Pierce.

Most of these wetlands, like the Everglades, were drained for agriculture and development in the 30s and 40s.  Most of us live on “these lands.” The C-23, C-24 and C-25 are not connected to Lake Okeechobee but they too destroy the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. There is no turning back but there must be room for improvement.

When I was a kid growing up here in the early 1970s, I was never taught about the canals really. I remember driving in the family Pontiac “Catalina “around Ft Pierce and my mother would point out a rolling dry lands and say: “This all used to be  swampland; a layer of water  used to flow across these lands to the river during rainy season, but now they are drained.”  “What about all the animals?” I would ask. “Jacqui, it’s progress.” Mom then turned looking straight ahead and kept on driving.

It’s been 40 years since those days. I’ve  kept my mouth shut for a long time. But today I speak out.  For me it won’t be progress until we re-look at the destruction we have caused and really improve the situation. Mom, I love you, but times have changed and  progress is never progress if you are soiling your own nest.

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