Reflections on Conservation, Preservation, and Education, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Fork of the St Lucie River, 2007.
“Reflection.” North Fork of the St Lucie River, 2007.

My mother tells me that when I was a baby she nursed me in Muir Woods, California. My father was in the United States  Air Force, and the family was living in the area at the time. It was 1964. She has joked, my entire life, that this perhaps is the reason I have always been so adamant about protecting the environment and its creatures.

John Muir was part of America’s early conservation movement. He wrote a collection of stories for “Century Magazine” entitled “Studies in the Sierra.” In 1892 Muir joined the magazine’s editor in creating the Sierra Club, an organization with the mission to protect America’s resources and public parks.

There were others who are also famous in the “conservation movement” of that era such as President Theodore Roosevelt. He is most famous for the establishment of many National Parks; Pelican Island, along the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian,  established in 1903, was actually our nation’s first “national wildlife refuge.” (http://firstrefuge.org)

President Roosevelt said: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others.”

As the conservation movement moved forward it is said to have split into two modes of thought. The first was to conserve resources for the future and for their use by humans and the second was more to preserve nature for wilderness preservation.

In any case, the foundation of America’s “conservation” movement was established during  this period from approximately 1850 thorough 1920. This movement was bubbling up in Florida as well.

In 1900 Louis F. Dommerich and his wife Clara hosted a gathering of neighbors in Maitland, Florida, just north of Orlando. On this fateful night the group decided to align themselves with other chapters the existing Audubon Society forming Florida Audubon.

In 1900, not only was Florida’s bird population being decimated, by the plume trade and the rage for feathers on ladies hats, the southern part of the state, almost entirely wetland,  was being drained for agriculture and development.

Great egret in the IRL. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.
Great egret in the IRL. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.

This drainage focused around Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River cutting off waters to the Everglades which for thousands of years had formed one of the world’s most important and productive wet lands for birds, fish and hundreds of other species. We, living along the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, are part of this story.

–You reading this today as people who care about the conservation of our area are the grandchildren of that those 15 people who met in Maitland Florida in 1900…

1850s map of Florida
1850s map of Florida

And for conservationists today, water issues are at the top of this list. Although Florida seems to be full of water, it is not. It is along side with California and other western states in its struggle to conserve and preserve water and its life.

South Florida's southern Everglades, 1950 vs. 2003. (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)
South Florida’s southern Everglades, 1950 vs. 2003. (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)

1.7 billion gallons of water is wasted on average to tide each day through the canals draining Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. With only 3% of the water on the planet being “fresh” and an exponentially growing population, this is wasteful beyond comprehension.  Right now, just south of Orlando, the Central Florida Water Initiative, a conglomeration of three state water districts, is organizing because this area of the state has maximized its water use. They need more.

This is no knee jerk reaction and wise water use is completely linked to the success or failure of Florida’s future.  Unless we can learn to conserve, preserve and perhaps most important, educate the children of the future there will not be enough clean water for people and for the wildlife that has a right to these resources as well.

River Kidz teaches about water issues in the state of Florida. (Julia Kelly artist, 2013)
River Kidz teaches about water issues in the state of Florida. (Julia Kelly artist, 2013)

________________________

Conservation in Florida, FWC : (http://www.myfwc.com/Conservation/)

Florida Audubon: (http://fl.audubon.org)

River Kidz a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Florida Oceanographic: (http://www.floridaocean.org/p/233/advocacy-environment#.VSfHAKbRwl8) These presentation links refer to the 1.7 billion gallons of wasted water through canals and are excellent resources.

20 thoughts on “Reflections on Conservation, Preservation, and Education, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. Thank you, Jacqui. I do not believe most people realize how close we are to “running dry” as we continue to manipulate our water in the name of flood control.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are truly a babe in the woods!

    We missed you yesterday in West Palm Beach at the Governing Board meeting. I reminded the Board that 40 years ago their predecessors balked at the idea of restoring the Kissimmee River, and gave similar excuses (too costly, too complex, etc.) to the public that appeared before them.

    There will be additional storage and treatment constructed south of the Lake – if not now, then at a later time when we have true leaders. I pointed out that their inaction on the October 2013 deadline to purchase the land at $7,400/acre has cost the public at least $150 million. Shame on them.

    It will happen!!!

    All the best,
    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Gary I missed you all too!!! I followed everything I could on Facebook and Twitter and I tweeted SFWMD that we will never forget 2013 or our goal of moving water south through the EAA. I have had three speaking engagements this week and could not go the WPB again after just being there for WRAC. This board has made of its mind and will will have to wait for change—better said we will have to make change. I think we as Team David are more solidified than ever in spite of the wall we are staring at. Thank you for being there and I will watch the video this weekend and cry.

      Like

  3. You are truly a babe in the woods!

    We missed you yesterday in West Palm Beach at the Governing Board meeting. I reminded them that 40 years ago their predecessors balked at the idea of restoring the Kissimmee River, and gave similar excuses (too costly, too complex, etc.) to the public that appeared before them.

    There will be additional storage and treatment constructed south of the Lake – if not now, then at a later time when we have true leaders. I pointed out that their inaction on the October 2013 deadline to purchase the land at $7,400/acre has cost the public at least $150 million. Shame on them.

    It will happen!!!

    All the best,

    Gary

    Liked by 1 person

  4. No huge thing, Jacqui, but the polluted water wasted to tide to keep the sugar cane fields arable is a thousand times more than you report.

    Just something to keep handy the next time you mention it. That’s one of the difficulties in dealing with millions vs. billions.

    And of course the 1.7 number is just someone’s rough division, and annualized, which misses the point that the big discharges are all in wet seasons.

    Hope to see you…

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have been reading about calcium chloride.Wekapedia says that in 2002 3.7 billion pounds of calcium chloride was consumed in North America. The 4 ingediants needed to make calcium chloride are ammonia and salt(both found in urine) Hydrocloric acid(primary ingredient of gastric acid—found in poop) and calcium. Years ago there was a small dairy farm located where the sebastion river is just a stream. Newspapers bashed these people for years saying they were detecting the bacteria found in cow poop in the sebastion river. I don’t know what happened to these dairy farmers but finally they were gone and immediately a mall was built on their land. Just the other week on the front page of our newspaper it said millions of dollars are going to have to be spent pumping muck that was caused by construction runoff and farmers. I believe(what really happened) when manitees come to fill themselves with fresh water they also take a big poop . Is this how America operates?How much better an ending to the story had environmentalist showed farmers how to turn the waste into something good that may have even helped their cows produce more milk.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. If only the Indians had a 6th grade chemistry lesson they would have understood how shells churning on the shore could turn the 2 biggest killers of fish ( ammonia and acid)into the 2 biggest assets to fish ( calcium chloride and oxygen—h2o2–) They would have for sure put the shells back in the water.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I was on the other side of our lagoon here and we still have shell mittins that would take 100 dump trucks to remove. It is no wonder we are in such a mess—it is very sad—On this (east) side for miles and miles it was standard practice to pull ALL the soft coquina rock out and stack it up so it would harden and make sea wall. On the west side Henry Flaglers rail road crew and the US 1 gang took everything and left nothing.I read in the Sebastion River they identified 7 speciese of fish that live only in this river. There is no telling what all we have lost forever.Today I saw a wadeing bird different from anything I have seen before. It was like a little gray “herron” but it was tall and had kind of a blueish head.I think I got a picture.Menhadden minnows line the shore everywhere and all the birds are getting fat.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think one place is on the property sea world owns. Its about 8-10 foot deep with solid shells . It blends in with trees on top but its shells.I found it by boat.About straight accross the river from Valcaria road—maby a little north.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think I have a new way to keep mullet from eating all the grass. Last night I got 2 buckets of sand from the beach. I am sure the city people don’t mind because they spent millions digging up the town to build a system to catch peoples lawn clippings when all they had to do was put sand in their pipes.Anyway I spread it over about a hundred foot circle on the sea grass. Going back to the car in the rain I talked to a homeless guy and gave him a 9 by 7 camouflaged tarp to stay dry. Tonight I went back with a flashlight and saw tiny fish and shrimp but no mullet. The same guy said He was glad I came back because he waunted to tell me that all day today there were at least 20 wadeing birds right exactly where I put the sand.They were not any place else. I think I can put birds to work protecting grass in this area with overwhelming numbers of mullet.

    Liked by 1 person

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