Map, SLC, Ten and Five Mile Creeks are located in St Lucie County north of Midway Road.
Ernie Lyons wrote in the 1960s: “There was never anything more beautiful than a natural South Florida River, like the North and South Forks of the St Lucie…Their banks of cabbage palms and live oaks draped with Spanish moses and studded with crimson flowered air plants and delicate wild orchids were scenes of tropical wonder, reflected back from the mirror-like onyx surface of the water….”
A recent St Lucie County tourist publication goes back even further back: “Early Ten Mile Creek along with Five Mile Creek to the northeast form the headwaters of the North Fork of the St Lucie. These waters were originally comprised of a large area of interconnected march that eventually formed a creek. This marsh system in times of high water connected with the St Johns River, which flows north, allowing native peoples to travel many miles by canoe. These native peoples lived and flourished in this area 3000 to 750 years BC.”
Although the north fork and attached waters were awarded the “Florida Outstanding Waters” designation in the 1970s, by 1995 the Department of Environmental Protection published a report on pesticide contamination in the area: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/tenmile_creek.pdf)
Today the area is most well known for “Ten Mile Creek,” the failed storm water treatment area built by the Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/10Mile_FS_July2012_508.pdf) Thankfully after more than a decade, the agencies are moving forward on rectifying what they can of the project.
So what happened? How did this paradise die off? How did the “fresh water in the upper zones, furnishing some of the most marvelous sport fishing conceivable” pretty much disappear?
Again, I will quote Stuart News editor and environmentalist, Ernie Lyons: “Drainage canals mostly for agricultural purposes, cut the throats of the upper rivers. During periods of heavy rainfall, muddy waters gushed down and turned the formerly clear streams into a turbid, silted mess. During dry spells, gated dams held back the water for irrigation. The water table was lowered. Salt marched upstream, turning the formerly fresh waters brackish and eventually so salty that fresh water fish could not procreate.”
As we know, humankind changes his/her environment. Not only were the canals cut in the northern creeks, but Gilbert’s Bar/St Lucie Inlet was opened permanently (by hand) in 1892, allowing salt water permanently into what used to be a fresh water river….the St Lucie.
Somehow it seems we should be able to change things with out creating so much destruction. I have hope our children will…
5 thoughts on “Ten and Five Mile Creeks, the Once Glorious Headwaters of the North Fork of the St Lucie River”
Jacqui – You’re doing a “wonderful thing” here in your Blog… Your are presenting the changes that have taken place and are continuing to take place from a historic perspective rather than just stridently putting “blame” on one (or supporting the positions) of one single cause or currently “popular” group or interest. Most “current day” residents along the Indian River “Lagoon” fail to realize that our adjacent inshore waterway was historically essentially a fresh water passage TO the ocean through the areas various & shifting natural Outlets. Note that i call them “outlets” – not Inlets. It is “man’s” actions that have changed these waters from their historic character of being essentially fresh water creeks and rivers to the current characteristically salt water lagoon and brackish water rivers associated with what is now called The Indian River Lagoon.
Thank you Rick. I am trying
Thank you Rick. It is amazing the changes…
The lagoon itself was far more fresh than now. Summerlins and Cobbs claimed to have drank from it in early records.
So interesting. Refreshing! Thank you for comment. I will look up Summerlins and Cobbs.