The Everglades’ sister, Big Cypress Swamp, SLR/IRL

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Map showing Big Cypress Swamp next to the Everglades. Also note Lake Okeechobee.

The maps and information in today’s blog is taken from an article entitled “Big Cypress Swamp,” by Benjamin F. McPherson, that is included in the 1974, “Environments of South Florida Past and Present,” complied by Patrick J. Gleason.  As I have mentioned previously this week, this text was lent to my by Dr Gary Goforth who gives insight into understanding our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon system and our Lake Okeechobee and canal issues.

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....The Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp.
….The Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp.

This above map gives one an idea of how far east the Everglades used to go and how much development has crept in (see below)….how come agriculture and development didn’t totally take over Big Cypress? Well, perhaps they could not stop the water….

West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)
West of the red lines shows the edge of what was once the Everglades in South Florida. Development has crept and continues to creep over this edge. (Photo/map courtesy of Chappy Young,/GCY Surveyors, 2014.)

Big Cypress Swamp…we may not think of it too much over here on the east coast but we should  study it as well. It is sister to the Everglades and people fought to save parts of it and were successful. It became one of our nation’s first national preserves in the same year Patrick Gleason’s text was published, 1974. I was ten years old and my family had just moved to a very undeveloped Sewall’s Point.

Today I will transcribe from the parts of the summary from McPherson’s work. I like reading the old texts. Sometimes they seem more clear and easier to understand. It helps us understand how things have changed looking an old book like we grew up with instead of  today’s electronic media.

Excerpts from “Big Cypress Swamp,” by Benjamin F. McPherson

“The Big Cypress Swamp differs form the adjacent Everglades in topography, soil, water quality, and vegetation. Because the swamp has relatively more high land, inundation soil deposit are less extensive in  the swamp than the Everglades. Soil in the swamp is usually a thin layer of marl sand or mixture of the two or is absent where limestone crops out where as soil in the Everglades is usually deeper organic peat. Vegetation in the swamp is closely associated with typography, water inundation, and soils,  and is more diverse and forested than in the Everglades…

Big Cypress Swamp is a flat, swamp area of about 3120 square kilometers in SW Florida. It is seasonally inundated over as much as 90 % its surface area. Water moves slowly to the south by overland flow toward the estuaries. Fifty -six percent of the surface water that flows into Everglades National Park comes from the Big Cypress. A substantial amount of water also enters Conservation Area 3 from the Swamp. The western part of the Swamp is drained by canals and no longer floods extensively…

The quality of water in the big Cypress, particularly in the untrained parts is in generally of better quality that the water in the Everglades. Some contamination by metals pesticides and other potentially toxic chemicals does occur however….

Up close map 2 drainage of Big Cypress
Up close map 2 drainage of Big Cypress
Summary
Full summary from article 

Part of Big Cypress Swamp became a national preserve in 1974: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Cypress_National_Preserve. It is to be appreciated and protected. This is all part of our South Florida water system.

Dr Gary Goforth:http://garygoforth.net

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