Life is a Changing River: Ernest Lyons, River Kidz and the Indian River Lagoon

The Ernest Lyons Bridge spends the Indian River Lagoon from  Sewall's Point to Hutchinson Island. Mr Lyons was an eloquent and outspoken river activist in his day.
The Ernest Lyons Bridge spans the Indian River Lagoon from Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island. Mr Lyons (1905-1990), an eloquent and outspoken Stuart News river activist, remains very much “alive” in Martin County. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)

Life is a Changing River

“And what a marvelous river it was, with the pelicans diving into the mullet schools, bald eagles screaming as they robbed ospreys of their prey,  a river teeming with interesting things to see and do, and such good things to eat…Pompano jumped into the boats. Tasty oysters were abundant–‘squirt clams put hair on your chest.’ How sad it is to see it change. But life, too, is a changing river. I suppose  the river today is just as wonderful to those who are as young as I was in 1914.” —-Ernest Lyons, 1964, as transcribed by historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

Ernest Lyons was one of  Martin County’s  most prolific, and outspoken environmentalist and river advocates. His award winning Stuart News columns were published across the nation romanticizing and documenting pre and post World War growth that turned “sweet watered streams into walled canals.” (

Nonetheless, he recognized the power of river’s magic for all generations. He wrote the above, the year that I was born, in 1964.

Yesterday, 10 year old,  St Lucie County River Kidz member, Aidan Lewey, spoke before the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board that was voting whether to support the Central Everglades Planning Project, (CEPP), a project that  should, in time, redirect  approximately 20% of the waters from Lake Okeechobee “south.”

Part of what Aidan said was: “Please find it in your hearts to complete (CEPP) for the kids and for the mammals that are dying every day, because there is too much pollution coming into our playground…”  Because to Aidan, and to his generation, just like Mr Lyons said, “the river today, is just as wonderful to those who are as young as I was in 1914.”



Today’s Stuart News headline regarding the SFWMD CEPP vote, by Tyler Treadway: WEST PALM BEACH — The South Florida Water Management District board unanimously gave the go-ahead Thursday to a project designed to ease, but not end, catastrophic Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River estuary and Indian River Lagoon.

Official CEPP information: (

6 thoughts on “Life is a Changing River: Ernest Lyons, River Kidz and the Indian River Lagoon

  1. Very good article Jacqui and a big thanks to our River Kidz and Aidan for his great speech yesterday with his little sister Hannah by his side. You are future leader Aidan and a great speaker at your young age.

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