Ranches, That Were and Are, Along the Indian River Lagoon…

Cowboys at work at the Adams Ranch, St Lucie County, FL. Photo courtesy of Adams Family and "Port St Lucie at 50 , a City for All People," by by Nina Baranski for the Historical Society of St Lucie County.
Cowboys at work at the Adams Ranch, St Lucie County, FL. Photo courtesy of Adams Family and “Port St Lucie at 50, a City for All People,”by Nina Baranski for the Historical Society of St Lucie County.

Yesterday, I received a copy of the FLORIDA RANCHES 2015 Calendar, 10th Anniversary. I have been lucky enough to have received this calendar for many years from various friends and business associates, and this year it was from, Stacy Ranieri, president of the Firefly Group, a public relations agency.

Stacy states: ” While most calendars focus on being visually appealing, ours also strives to educate the public about the importance of Florida’s ranch lands–and the finite and treasured water that flows through them…”

Hmm…water? I thought.

I casually perused the calendar and one quote I keep thinking about since, is one by Mr Bud Adams, who I consider a local hero. My family has lauded him all my entire life; I saw him speak and receive the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Harbor Branch’s “Love Your Lagoon,” two years ago; and I was in a commercial this year with Mr Adams for Congressman Patrick Murphy’s reelection.

In the write-up, Carlton Ward, who is the photographer for the calendar, and another amazing person from a local ranch family who focuses also on promoting the Florida Wildlife Corridor, perhaps the coolest thing going right now in the state of Florida…(http://floridawildlifecorridor.org) tells a story.

Carlton Ward is talking to Bud Adams, of course many years his senior, and he ask the well-known ranching environmentalist icon: “Mr Adams, would you consider yourself an environmentalist?”

And Mr Bud Adams with a quiet smile replies,” Well son, We’re careful about that word around theses parts. You see, to us, an environmentalist is a Yankee just out of college who comes out here in their air-conditioned car from their air conditioned office and tells us what to do with our land…”

Of course the Adam’s Ranch in known far and wide as being perhaps the most environmentally sensitive ranch in Florida and, as Mr Adams explains in the calendar:

“Most of the water that falls on Adams Ranch does not reach coastal estuaries. All of the water storage and distribution is privately done by Adams Ranch. These waterways never go dry and support fish that control the mosquito larvae. This eliminates the need for mass pesticides and allows for a healthy bee and insect population. …our heat tolerant cattle do not stand in the water and their waste replenishes soil organic matter…” (http://www.adamsranch.com)

Wildlife, from the smallest bunny, to predators at the top of the food chain, like bobcats and some coyotes, are allowed on Adams Ranch. Water is held on the land and the animals are attracted to this water. The water nourishes the land, the cows, and wildlife…with out running off onto dirty roads or carrying what is on the land into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

It is an amazing place, and I have visited with my family many times for tours. Mr Adams is a wildlife photographer himself, like Carlton Ward; His photos are often featured on the last page of Indian River Magazine.

So back to his comment I have been thinking so much about. “We’re careful about that word around theses parts…” 

It made me think. My mother is a 5th generation Floridan and my Father is a Yankee… 🙂

Hmmm? What am I?

In any case, the message is that if we environmentalist want to be liked, we must be careful with how we approach those who have been on the land for hundreds of years. This includes ranchers, and yes, farmers too….

No too long ago, ranches used to fill St Lucie County. Even when I was a kid growing up in Martin County in the 1960s and 70s… Indiantown and Palm City also had many ranches.

So many are gone…and now filled with houses.  We environmentalists must recognize that development is the greatest threat to our rivers. We should do all we can to keep these working ranches “working” in Florida for the sake of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Early ranches in St Lucie County, courtesy Adams Family and HSSLC.)
Early ranches in St Lucie County, courtesy Adams Family and SLHS.

Florida Ranches Calendar cover, 2015, photo Carlton Ward.

Florida Ranches Calendar cover, 2015, photo Carlton Ward.


Florida Ranches Calendars are available for purchase at (http://www.fireflyforyou.com)

St Lucie Historical Society: (http://www.stluciehistoricalsociety.org)

13 thoughts on “Ranches, That Were and Are, Along the Indian River Lagoon…

  1. One of the greatest times of my life was spent on a ranch in Wyoming run by Wm. C. Clark (descendant of one half of Lewis and Clark). Loved it there. Working outside helped me overcome asthma at the same ranch where Teddy Roosevelt also worked. I miss working on a ranch with animals and nature. Nothing better for getting centered than being outside. Clark loved how I, as a Jewish Yankee cowboy, could ride like an Apache. A former life I told him.

  2. I am NOT an environmentalist. I am not an Activist, either. I am Advocate. I advocate for a balanced way of living that is mindful of our precious natural resources. It is also important to remember that we are all consumers who leave a bit of destruction in our paths. We all create waste, burn oil, use water, etc. Mr. Adams is a shining example of finding balance. A wise woman once told me that words are important. It is important to be conscious of which words we choose when we define ourselves.

  3. Hopefully Mr. Adams will read some of the e-mails I have sent you. Somehow I can not picture any of the environmental Gesstopo comeing out in their air conditioned cars to appologise to Mr. Adams or any other ranchers who have seen their lives go down the toilet,Fixing the IRL is Totally doable. But people have to role up thieir sleves and make it happen.

  4. When It comes to feeding the worlds population I believe The History of the IRL may one day play a leading role. What you had was an allmost closed brackish ecosystem teaming with fish and wildlife.Any aquarium owner will tell you ammonia is the biggest killer of fish.I believe the historic IRL had a self cleaning system that also produced H2O2 which is what fish breath(.H2O2 has viscosity like surop and this is what sticks to fish gills as water flows over allowing them to breath with only 6 ppm oxygen).If this ecosystem can be recreated around the world what a difference it could make. I believe I can prove that the soft coquina formations is why our ecosystem in the IRL was once the most productive in the nation..

  5. It is true that putting coquina shells in a different ecosystem could be a disaster for other cretures competing for the fresh water algie that contains the calcium. I am seeing barnicals doing the same job on seawalls that the coquina formations were doing.I just came back from a quarter mile long sea wall on one of our causeways. Sand and sea shells has made barnicals thrive on the sea wall and even on the granite rocks.We have had a strong North wind for a week(lots of foam) and today was calm. For the whole quarter mile it was nothing but schools of menhaden and mullet feeding.I would say in other ecosystems just put calcium sea shells where wind and waves will act violently with them and see what happens. Last summer I had schools of menhaden 10 miles long. I don’t know if you will believe me—you know how us fishermen are.I believe I have a good idea where the shrimp will run this spring also.

  6. In 1984 alone commercial clammers removed 3 million pounds of clams(Brevard county) and 100K of oysters. Private clammers probably took just as many.I have said to many people who used to make their living from clams that had they only crushed the shells and put them back they would still be clamming. Many places I have seen the 1925 road bed and it is coquina with blacktop. The Indians left mountains of clam shells in sebastion and all this is not even counting Henry Flaglers railroad. I am just one person and the IRL is almost 2 miles wide and 157 miles long.If you pour viniger on the sand anywhere in the lagoon there is NO reaction. Like the Indian chief said the calcium is GONE and almost ALL the living creatures that depend on it for their lives.

  7. Fortunatly coquina formations seem to have been created to deal with sewage in a closed environment. People are meat eaters and have flesh eating bacteria in their poop. I think porpus may need a shot of antibiotics. 500 people have donated their docks for an oyster restoration program(here). A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. Menhadden are filter feeders –a single menhaden can filter up to 4 gallons a minute. coquina clams and cohog clams are filter feeders. Barnicals are also filter feeders.The only thing missing to clean our lagoon up is calcium. I hope I have answered your question.

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