The River League’s Briefcase and the Spirit of Ernie Lyons ….SLR/IRL


IMG_1616Recently, at Rivers Coalition Defense Fund meeting, president Kevin Henderson brought along the old River League’s briefcase. It had been stored away for many decades in an aging  house in Stuart. In case you have not heard of them, “The River League” worked tirelessly in the 50s and 60s to stop the expanding destruction of our rivers by the Florida Flood Control District (today’s South Florid Water Management District) and the Army Corp of Engineers.

I couldn’t believe the old brief case—a beautiful sight–aged leather, and rusted metal with the sweat of those who carried it unwashed from its handle…

Kevin placed the briefcase on the table and opened it. It had not been opened in almost 50 years! No pun intended, but the sound of the locks “clicked”and suddenly it was open…

I held my breath.

I swore for a second that I saw the spirit of Ernie Lyons come out of the old briefcase like a genie. He had a giant cigar in his mouth and dark rimmed glasses. His hair was greased back and he sat at a floating desk from the old Stuart News…He was leaning back in his chair with his hands behind his head smiling from ear to ear. His teeth were stained with tobacco juice and he looked happy as a clam.

“Ernie here….Ha! Good to see you workin’ so hard! Those bastards are still killing it aren’t they? The river that is! Don’t you for a moment have despair. As you know this war has been going on for a long, long time. All of us, who have passed, are on your side. We are here. All of us who worked so hard to save the paradise of this place. You’ve probably caught on. Good versus evil is not a game. And I got a secret to tell ya. —I know the end—and good wins. Don’t give up! And know we’re here working the magic behind the scenes to help you save the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon.”

Then he looked away and started furiously typing…the words he was writing could be seen above his head:

Today’s column, 1968


“There was never anything more beautiful than a natural South Florida river, like the North and South Fork of the St Lucie…

A bank of cabbage palms and live oaks draped with Spanish moss 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….”

When I looked up, Ernie was gone and our meeting was in full discussion…

As a reflection from the mirror of the St Lucie’s onyx-like water–I know that Ernie is here…


Ernest Lyons, Editor Stuart News and state and national award-winning conservationist:  Florida Press: (

Ernest Lyons with Mr Oughertson, (bow tie) Timer Powers (hat) and other dignitaries ca 1960s (Photo Sandra Henderson Thurlow) 
photo 2
The bridge between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island is named in honor of Ernie Lyons.


6 thoughts on “The River League’s Briefcase and the Spirit of Ernie Lyons ….SLR/IRL

  1. I just read your blog about the River League’s Briefcase and Ernie Lyons. You have such descriptive writing Jacqui. I love reading your work. It puts the reader right in the middle of the situation.


  2. Really cool. This battle has been going on for ever and lost every time. Killing Florida Bay, Everglades, The Big O and now both coastal communities. Its always about the money. Maybe our rallies should be at Grocery stores telling people to boycott there product$$$. At all the Politicians  Offices who FAILED especially  the ones that are getting MONEY, All the Government Water Management Agency who have FAILED,  Science Institutes whom Studies who have FAILED. Lets film these people that perpetuate the problem and make careers out of never stopping the source .Let the public put a face to them. Lets have some accountability that our society has lost.  Take all the Money Wasted and BUILD WATER TREATMENT PLANTS, BUILD RESERVOIRS,  Make Farms / Ranches Contain and Clean Runoff. Eliminate Septic, Starting with All New Construction. Phasing in Existing Septic,  Buy or Take the Land and Return the Natural Flow. When you STOP the SOURCES of the PROBLEM then you can clean, dredge, replant and let the Environment HEAL. Its TIME TO TAKE THE GLOVES OFF. Thank you Michael

    From: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch To: Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2016 9:20 AM Subject: [New post] The River League’s Briefcase and the Spirit of Ernie Lyons ….SLR/IRL #yiv4880591805 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4880591805 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4880591805 a.yiv4880591805primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4880591805 a.yiv4880591805primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4880591805 a.yiv4880591805primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4880591805 a.yiv4880591805primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4880591805 | Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch posted: ” Recently, at Rivers Coalition Defense Fund meeting, president Kevin Henderson brought along the old River League’s briefcase. It had been stored away for many decades in an aging  house in Stuart. In case you have not heard of them, “The River Lea” | |


  3. All the creatures in the lagoon have evolved over tens of thousands of years to live in a brackish water environment where waves churn violently on shores of calcium coquina formations. This is the hard TRUTH. Anyone who says differantly brings death to the few remaining creatures like they have been doing for many years.


  4. Despite the long history of government inaction, disregard and let’s call it what it is–blatant corruption–the water Mangement District and the sugar growers still have the gall to point at us and call us environmental extremists, complainers, whiners and worse.


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