My recent blog post featuring my brother Todd’s time capsule flight of Palm City 1966 Then & Now received great interest. So today I am going to take the subject a bit further in our study of area canals that drain wetlands into the St Lucie River.
If you have never seen the 1940s Aerial Photos UF Collection, you must! These historic aerials were taken when the United States had new-spy plane technology. They are our earliest comprehensive, aerial wetland accounts of Martin County, St Lucie County, and all of central and southern Florida. (All the dark in the photos is little ponds and sloughs!)
Just recently, through the help of archivists at the South Florida Water Management District, I was able to verify important historic information regarding canals C-23, C-24 and C-25. Again, these canals were constructed as part of the Central and Southern Florida Plan after the great flood of 1947. What is most interesting is that these canals were dug atop already existing local drainage ditches…
According to the SFWMD:C-23: “Acquisition began in April 1951 and concluded in 1961. There was an existing creek and ditch known locally as the Bessey Creek Canal. The Corp’s As Built Survey is dated November 18, 1964.
*I would think this local ditch had been dug by the Palm City Drainage District.
C-24: Acquisition began in August 1958 and concluded in October 1962. There was a existing canal know as the Diversion Canal, which was under the jurisdiction of the North St Lucie River Drainage District and they converted their interest in the canal to the SFWMD in August 1958. The Corps’ As Built Survey dates June 22, 1962.
NO PHOTO for C-25. (1940 aerials do not contain the Belcher Canal as the plane did not fly that far north. There are later aerials of the Belcher Canals after 1940, but I am sticking with 1940 today! the Belcher Canal, now C-25 is starts in Ft Pierce at Taylor Creek dumping into IRL.)
C-25: Acquisition began in October 1949 and concluded in September 1962. There was an existing canal known as the Belcher Canal, which was under the jurisdiction of Fort Pierce Farms Drainage District and they converted their interest in the canal to the SFWMD in January 1961. The Corp’s As Built Survey is dated July, 8 1964.”
For me, it is important to know the history of these canals. The C-44 south, and connected to Lake Okeechobee is our greatest water quality nightmare, however C-23, C-24, and C-25 are also extremely destructive. Yes, they allowed great growth of agriculture and development, but they, as all the canals of the Central and Southern Florida Plan continue to killing our environment and the wildlife that once flew, roamed, ran, hopped, and dug freely, not to mention water quality issues.
The ACOE and the SFWMD are in the process of Northern Everglades restoration through the Indian River Lagoon South component of CERP. This is wonderful news! We must be mindful of this before we continue to allow more growth and development and more drainage within these lands.
Indian River Lagoon South an overview
C-23/25 Recevoir & STA under construction