All posts by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

Biting News at Peck’s Lake

Ed and I disagree on a number of things, but we are always in agreement about our pets! We had decided to take them with us for an overnight in the trawler at Peck’s Lake. 

I laughed and smiled. It was a beautiful and very cold day. I was so glad Ed had some time off. We were both having such a good time until I looked at the alert that came up on my phone…

“Ed you’re never going to believe this. There is an insurrection at the White House. A sea of Trump supporters are attempting to break into the Capitol.

It was January 6, 2021 and I knew for Ed this brought back terrible memories. In the 1960s Ed’s family had emigrated from Argentina to the United States to escape a series of military coups. 

Ed and I spoke for hours about the situation in the United States. Not much could be more depressing. Having Luna and Okee with us took off the edge. Before we all went to bed, Ed and I promised to get up tomorrow and enjoy Peck’s Lake. Peck’s Lake, as most all of us know, lies within the Jupiter Narrows and once was an inlet to the sea. Yes, historic maps show that many times the Atlantic has breeched this shoreline, most recently twice in the 1960s. The ACOE filled in this gap and today Nathaniel Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge sits on these sands. You can reach this place by boat or a long walk north from Hobe Sound Beach in Martin County. If you like to canoe, you can put in at Cove Road. Peck’s Lake is one of 560 U. S. National Wildlife Refuges and lies in Martin County. Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish call this refuge home. 

A long walk along the beaches on the Atlantic side of the refuge is incredible, probably one of the only desolate beaches to be found on all of Florida’s east coast. Certainly, the area doesn’t look too different from 1696 when Jonathan Dickinson was escorted by the Ais Indians north.   Tooling around on the Jupiter Narrows side, Ed and I even saw wonderful things and weird things. We witnessed many osprey nests; we saw an otter surface and dive alongside an oyster covered mangrove forest, and we saw seagulls eating from a strange looking, large-eyed fish carcass. When I called Indian Riverkeepeeper, Mike Connor to find out what this cut up was he said it was a swordfish! Ed and I threw the fish back into the water and seagulls dove for it from every direction.-Below: Osprey nest. Above: Ed drives dingy with trawler, Adrift in background at Peck’s Lake-Look! An otter! -Swordfish head floating. Very strange! -Seagulls dive   When Ed and I got home that evening, we also experienced no seeums or sand fleas and it was torture! 

“Are you getting bitten?” Ed asked coming into the cabin.

“Not really. Let me go outside and check.”

By the time I had been outside for thirty seconds, my hair was full of sand fleas and I was slapping and scratching myself everywhere at once. 

“Unbelievable! It’s been a long time since I felt them! When I was a kid growing up in Sewall’s Point and Stuart they were here!”

Ed and I ran inside and  barred the door as the tiny creatures made their way through anyway covering the lights of the cabin. Ed and I ate by flashlight that evening and Okee and Luna thought they were in heaven. Ed and I didn’t even think about the state of the world, we were too busy scratching…

Videos: 1. Cove, Peck’s Lake; 2. Mangrove Tour, Jupiter Narrows, Peck’s Lake

*Pets stayed on boat. They are not allowed in the wildlife refuge 🙂

 

 

As Far Away As One Can Go, Flamingo…

My primary 2021 New Year’s resolution was to write more, however my angst over our country’s political, social unrest and the worsening Covid-19 epidemic has caused me to experience  “writer’s block.” Nonetheless, today I will try to get going with my resolution. 

On January 9th, 2021, my husband, Ed, looked at me, “I’ve got a few days off; do you want to stick around Stuart or do you want to go somewhere?”

“Hmmm? Let’s go as far away as one can go, Flamingo.”  I replied.

“Flamingo?” Ed looked like he wasn’t quite sure…

“Yes, Flamingo, at the very southern tip of Florida.”

-Flamingo lies in Monroe County, inside the boundary of Everglades National Park (ENP)

The following day, Ed and I packed up and drove from Stuart to Lake Okeechobee taking Highway 27 south until we arrived in Florida City, just south of Homestead. Next, we drove about an hour along the historic Ingram Highway. It was a beautiful drive – like going into Florida’s past with marl prairies, slash pines, and tremendous bird life.

About forty miles later, we finally arrived in Flamingo. Now a ghost town, Flamingo was once the home of the American Flamingo -thus the name. Although these spectacular long legged, pink birds were all killed for their spectacular feathers a over a century ago, today there have been reports of a few returning. Most of us are familiar with the story of  Guy Bradley, the first Audubon warden hired to protect Everglades wading birds from poachers. This is his land.

Back in the early1900s when Bradley was trying to protect the birds, Flamingo, as all of South Florida, was thoughtlessly being sliced and diced with canals. Today, one can see this most pronounced at the Flamingo Welcome Center along the Flamingo, more modernly called the Buttonwood Canal.  Here lies a “plug” between Florida Bay and the mosaic of fresher/fresh waters in and near Flamingo.

According to our ENP tour guide, Mr Nick, this “Flamingo” or “Buttonwood Canal” was dug by Henry Flagler in the early 1900s and later abandoned when Flagler realized the canal failed to drain the land – instead, due to the tides and topography of the area, bringing  too much salt water from Florida Bay. A cement plug was later placed to ward off this saltwater intrusion.

I was pleased to see that a family of Ospreys had built their nest right on this plug in the midst of much human activity! The female osprey was hard at work, peeking over the side, protecting and incubating her eggs while the male intermittently delivered fish. The large birds appeared absolutely unaffected by people!

FLAMINGO or BUTTONWOOD CANAL                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          -Salt water, Florida Bay side of plug-Below: brackish/fresher water on estuary/marsh side of plug leading to Coot Bay (Coots no longer come in droves as the water is still too salty.)-The cement plug cutting off salt water of Florida Bay from canal, note osprey nest! -Our ENP guide, NickThe first day Ed and I took a tour and Mr. Nick was our guide. The second day, we rented a Mako flats boat and followed the same path ourselves. We learned so much. It was incredible. While Ed looked for places to fish, I searched for the Shark River. The Shark River is one of many that extends out from Shark River Slough, the remaining ridge and slough, “river of grass,” of the Everglades. Some of its waters lead to Florida Bay. Taylor Slough, on the other hand, has shamelessly been cut off by development.

 

Flamingo Canal was full of wildlife: wading birds, manatees, and by far the most interesting, crocodiles, of which I had never seen. These southern waters of Florida are one of the only places on Earth where both Alligators and Crocodiles live together. This canal is so salty the crocs have the edge. Our tour led from Flamingo Canal, to Coot Bay, to yet another canal, and then into Whitewater Bay. This track is referred to as the “Wilderness Waterway.” (See map below.)

American crocodile, an endangered species -The most prevalent wading bird by far was the tri-colored heron-There were many baby crocodiles along the Flamingo Canal warming in the sun. It was 37 degrees in the morning of our second day at ENP! -Because of the plug, manatees must enter the protection of the Flamingo Canal by swimming into the rivers entering Florida Bay that lead eventually into  Whitewater Bay! A very long journey. 20 miles? -Our tour guide, Nick, called this tree along the Flamingo Canal  the “perfect mangrove.” -Flamingo/Buttonwood Canal opening to Coot Bay-Entering Whitewater Bay on a cold day!It is very hard to explain how gigantic this area is! Over ten miles long and more than half that wide. Irregular in shape. It was truly “liquid land,” with mangrove forests everywhere and smaller even more beautiful mangrove islands dotting the horizon. One thing was for sure, it would be very easy to lose one’s sense of direction and get lost in Whitewater Bay. No thank you! 

Ed and I spent hours tooling around but never made it to the Shark River as access is limited. Nonetheless, I got a much better idea of the lay of the land for sending water south. I am hoping Ed and I can one day return in a canoe.

I was happy to go as far away as one can go-FLAMINGO!-Learning about a Florida I did not know- Whitewater Bay islands of Flamingo -Ed practices casting-Islands within Whitewater Bay; all of Florida must once have looked this way! -Back on Land: A Walk down the Guy Bradley Trail-Ed watches a fisherman cast in Florida Bay-Moonvine once covered the southern rim of Lake O’s pond apple forest, now gone.-Ed poses with a giant Buttonwood tree-Morning Glory. Is there a more gorgeous flower?-Guy Bradley Trail and an end to a wonderful day!

VIDEOS: 1. FLAMINGO/BUTTONWOOD CANAL; 2. MANATEES; 3. CROCODILE 

Africa’s North Fork of the St Lucie

I felt like I was in Africa…

It’s strange to find perhaps the most untouched part of the St Lucie River in the heart of Florida’s eighth largest city, Port St Lucie. In fact a full trip up the North Fork goes all the way to Ft Pierce. Although many of the trickling branches once running to the river have been developed, some have not, and the immediate area around the oxbows was left wild. 

Poor water quality from agriculture and development’s runoff plague this 1972 designated Aquatic Preserve but nonetheless it is an incredible relic! Today I share phots and videos of this remarkable place. The photos of mangroves and sable palms look a bit flat and repetitive, but the videos really reveal the dimension of the experience. 

Port St. Lucie 1967, mouth of North Fork looking  from south, St Lucie River- Photographer,  Aurthur Ruhnke, Thurlow Archives, Sandra Henderson Thurlow

Ed and I took put the Maverick in at Leighton Park in Palm City. Other than screaming a few times when gigantic wakes almost enveloped us, it was a great trip- a trip I have not taken in many, many years.

This excerpt from  the 1984 Aquatic Preserve Management Plan notes that the North Fork was straightened and channelized by the U.S. Army during World War II, nonetheless much of the fork has the wonderful oxbows as you can see from my phone’s screenshot below. These oxbows are an incredible thing to see and definitely give one the feel of someplace wild and exotic like Africa. Like Florida was not too many years ago…

“Water is the one resource whose characteristics most directly affect this

             estuary’s habitability and healthiness for the plants and animals naturally

             adapted to living there. The drainage basin of the entire St. Lucie River has

             been modified by agricultural drainage and residential development. The North-

             Fork-St. Lucie River receives the outfall of two major drainage canals (C-23

             and C-24) and many other drainage sources in the upper headwaters. The

             freshwater flow from the St. Lucie Canal on the South Fork may also affect the

             North Fork indirectly. The uplands surrounding the preserve area are also

             modified by the extensive Port St. Lucie residential development and the other

             residential developments along the river. The North Fork was also modified by

             the U. S. Army during World War II. Those modifications involved the

             straightening and channelization of the upper section of the river

             (Environmental Quality Laboratory, 1980). The result of all of these

             modifications to the river and its basin is that rainfall that may have taken

             months to get to the river by natural drainage now takes only hours. The

             river that once meandered through a broad floodplain now flows down a deep

channel.” -1969 Internal Improvement Fund via 1984 N.F.A.P.M.P. 

Photos North Fork, St Lucie River January 3, 2021

-Pond Apple 

-My favorite photo! A turtle sunning itself! 

Videos St Lucie North Fork Oxbows

List of Birds/Wildlife/Plants seen 1-3-21 SLR and North Fork

Seagull
Great Egret
5 ibis
Little Blue Heron
Blue Heron (young) 
Pair ospreys
2 Little Blue Herons
Turkey vulture
Floating flock of seagulls
Floating flock of pelicans
Cormorant
Kingfisher-N. Fork
Turtle
Little Blue Heron
7 mullet jumping- Mud Cove
Little Blue Heron and ibis 
Little Blue
Pond Apple 
Frilly fern?
Leather fern
Saw palmetto
Seagulls hunting  S. of PC Bridge
 

 

 

Nature’s Ultimate Transformation

-Newly born MonarchFor me, there have been a few positive aspects regarding “Terrible 2020. “Covid-19’s Zoom World  isolation has given me time to learn to cook and also to study butterflies.

Recently, I decided to learn the difference between the celebrated and now endangered Monarch and the lesser known Queen. Walking my garden, I had noticed two similar but different caterpillars on milkweed that I had not seen together before. When the weather got unusually cold, I decided to bring them inside on their hosts plants.

“You are going to make those butterflies weak!” My husband Ed told me.

I smiled, replying, “Well at least they will live.” I had researched and learned that about ten percent overall make it due to predation and the elements. 

-Queen rust colored (below) all photos JTL-Monarch orange (below) both have white dots and stain glass window patternWith a little convincing, Ed helped me carry a heavy, old, lidded aquarium into my office, and the magic began. Within a few days all of the caterpillars were hanging upside down and turning into chrystalises. I noticed right away that the Queen’s case, although almost identical to the Monarch’s, was smaller and sometimes a cream-pinkish color rather than bright green. All had the distinctive and beautiful gold dots!Ed look!” Suddenly, he was captivated! 

“What are those gold dots for?” He asked.

“Perhaps camouflage, coloring -like many things with these butterflies, science doesn’t really know. An article in Scientific America says, best understood, to transform into a butterfly, a caterpillar first digests itself. But cells called imaginal disks survive, turning the soup into eyes, wings, antennae and other structures. When I look at the gold dots, they seem to line up with designs on the wings. But who knows? “

Ed quietly studied the gold spots and the emerging transformed creature. He like me, was intrigued!

So the original goal, the simple visual difference between the two?

The easiest way to show the basic differences between the Monarch and the Queen is to share some photos. It’s very clear when they are not flying around! Seventeen were born by yesterday, December 30th, 2020: seven Queens and ten Monarchs.

Ed and I released them all and all were healthy. It took about twelve days to witness Nature’s ultimate transformation. Certainly an inspiration for whatever is coming in 2021. Transform we must indeed!

-Queen -Above, newly born Queen. Below, Queen & Monarch chrystalises/markings the same but Queen smaller and sometimes cream in color rather than green-Monarch with one Queen and one Monarch broken casings/Monarch caterpillar gets ready to change -Queen caterpillar (below)-Monarch caterpillar (below) -Monarch more orange (below) -Queen more rust colored (below) -Can you tell the difference between the Queen and Monarch? I bet you can! -Release! Videos Queen opens wings to fly off; mating Monarchs in my yard:

Renewal By Fire

Born in the 1960s, I am a child of the Smokey Bear generation taught -at all costs- to avoid forest fires. Times have changed and we now know that fire is a necessary part of Florida’s ecology bringing renewal. As a Governing Board member of the South Florida Water Management District, I decided before 2020 ended, I should learn about this first hand.

Recently, Section Leader, Jim Schuette,  Land Management Department,  was my guide. We met near Cypress Creek in Palm Beach County near the Loxahatchee. We arrived early and were greeted by a small herd of adorable Zebu cattle – like miniature Cracker Cattle! 

Shortly thereafter, Gene Colwell, Senior Scientist, and Land Management Techs, Hal Camp and Marshall Davis arrived. Gene led the detailed safety/info briefing. “I hope I can do this,” I thought. Jim gave me some fireproof clothing and a hard hat. Suddenly, I was just “one of the guys.”

-Senior Scientist, Gene Caldwell leads briefing-Loxahatchee River Area near border of Martin & Palm Beach countiesThe fires were set with cans of diesel and gas and I noticed the pine needles that carpeted the forest burned slowly first. I was concerned about the wildlife. 

When the animals smell this they leave the area,” Jim said. 

“Are there any gopher holes for the smaller animals to hide in?” I inquired. 

“Yes, and the ground is moist.” He placed a handful of soil into my hand and explained that due to time of year and wet conditions, it would not be a towering fire. Jim noted that the team always worked to protect the canopy of the pine trees. I knew that in spite of the best circumstances, sometimes, there must be casualties, but for the health of the forest over-all it’s beneficial. 

Stepping away from the heat, I read my UF handout:” Ecological research shows that fire is an integral component in the function of natural habitats and that the organisms within these communities have adapted to withstand, and benefit from wildfires. In fact, many Florida habitats only exist due to the presence of wildfires. Some were created by frequent fires, others by a few big fires decades apart.” 

As time went on things heated up; I watched as Marshall and Hal used fire guns that ignited diesel filled ping-pong balls that were shot into the woods. Later in the day, I was asked if I wanted to participate under the supervision of the team. 

Getting my nerve up, I grabbed one of the heavy fire-lighting containers.

Mr Calwell instructed me to start the fires a good distance apart along the edge of the forest. The pine needles ignited first, cracking and moving like a living organism all its own. It felt strange lighting the woods on fire.

“There were a lot of things we believed in the 1960s that we no longer hold true.” I thought to myself.

The can was heavy and I used both arms. My neck ached. The sound of the fires popped and cracked as tall tongues hissed in the oily palmettos. Suddenly, liquid like flames traversed the bark of the pine trees creating a windstorm of fiery renewal. I was told the new growth would start coming back within just two days…

-Hal Camp with fire gun-Jim Schuette reports smoke situation on 1-95 “visibility is good” -Palmettos and sable palms are oily and burn quickly  -Post burn using water to cool hot spots-Fire brings renewal. Within just days green sprouts will emerge!  Above Jim wets embers

FIRE VIDEOS: IMG_7289

Thank you to Jim Schuette and the SFWMD Land Management team for this experience! 

 

Cusp Anastasia, Final Full Moon Rise of 2020

Cusp Anastasia, eve of Final Full Moon Rise, 2020. Photos JTL

Is it a moonscape? Perhaps a foreign land? Another planet? No, these sunset-moonrise pictures are of  the backbone of the the Atlantic Ridge, also known as the Anastasia Formation. This ancient coral rock lines much of Florida’s east coast and is dramatically revealed along the ocean shoreline of south Hutchinson Island, Martin County, Florida.

The photos are taken with an iPhone and untouched. During the golden-hour the rock reveals a warm, rich palate absorbing and reflecting the ocean and sky’s stunning sun and moonlight.

Although these  photographs were taken on the eve of the full moon, December, 28, tonight may be even more beautiful as the last full moon of 2020 will rise this evening, December 29, 2020.

It is said that “Anastasia” is a Greek name with roots in the word “resurrection.” For me, especially with a year like 2020, I am thankful for the beauty of Nature that gives opportunity to be reborn.

Wishing everyone a wonderful 2021.

Other posts Anastasia

 

Expanding My Environmental Education of Lake Worth Lagoon!

Lake Worth Lagoon Tour with ERM Director, Deborah Drum

December 14th, 2020. What a beautiful day!

Deborah Drum, Director of Palm Beach County’s Environmental Resource Management Department, ERM, invited me in my capacity as a SFWMD Governing Board member, to tour the Lake Worth Lagoon. I first met “Deb” when she was the ecosystems manager for Martin County. Today she oversees a much larger piece of the water pie. Palm Beach is Florida’s third largest county and has over 1.4 million people! Martin County? Ranking, I’m unsure, but we have just over 161,000 people…

After a quick Covid greeting elbow-bump at Bryant Park, of course we abided by social distancing rules, Deb introduced me to five of her 140 person staff. They were delightful and they informed me of the mission of ERM:  to establish, maintain, and implement programs for the protection, preservation, and enhancement of the land and water resources of Palm Beach County. 

This philosophy really translates into building restoration projects and is a shift from what I’m used to for the St Lucie River where the focus is more on managing and advocating against the ongoing crisis of poor water quality. Today I will give an overview of some of the hundreds of projects that have been constructed costing millions of dollars.  This is a complicated generational feat and today occurs with the coordination of Palm Beach County’s Deb Drum and Staff, and the complex help of hundreds of hands-on volunteers and members of the business community. See “mission” link above for more information on the history of this program. 

So how does it work in Palm Beach County? 

FOCUS ON PROJECTS 

Since the 1990s, the Palm Beach County environmental resources department has implemented hundreds of projects. In order to achieve this, relationships have been forged with the business and development community that in turn, indirectly, provide millions of dollars in materials for creating habit and other environmental projects in Palm Beach County. 

As an example, Jennifer, Baez, Environmental Program Supervisor explained that it is more cost effective for developers to share such materials for island or reef building, than to dispose of such items. Wow. Developers helping the environment? Now that’s a paradigm shift for my thinking!

-Jennifer Baez 

~This cooperation has been forged over decades and is now ingrained in Palm Beach County culture.

For example, if FDOT is building a new bridge, they save and coordinate with the county for the best pieces of throw-away cement to be used for an inland or offshore reef. Or say a new marina is being built, or expanded, by Rybovich Super Yacht Marina, and there is tons of sand and rock that have been excavated- well rather than throw it away or haul it to the dump, the business contacts the county and this material is put to work for the environment! I guess one could say it is “give and take.” In any case, for Palm Beach County this model is working. 

Once riding along the beautiful lagoon in the boat, I was fascinated to listen as Deb’s’ staff, TJ Steinhoff, Environmental Technician; Jennifer Baez, Environmental Program Supervisor; Jeremy McByran, Palm Beach County Water Resource Manager; and Mathew Mitchell, Environmental Manager as they told me the story of their years of building Lake Worth Lagoon creations and the measurable benefit to fish, birds and wildlife.

Amazing! 

“It must be fun to know you are doing something positive every day. And then seeing those results.” I noted.

All four agreed. They love working for Deb and for Palm Beach County. But let me be clear, just because the focus is one projects,  this does not mean there are no water quality issues…  

-Bryant Park, Lake Worth Lagoon

-Staff ready for boat tour covered for Covid-19: TJ Steinhoff, Environmental Technician; Jennifer Baez, Environmental Program Supervisor; Jeremy McByran, Palm Beach County Water Resource Manager; and Mathew Mitchell, Environmental Manager

-Rip-rap in from of a hardened shoreline, the beginnings of a Living Seawall project at Bryant Park

-A look at the water of the Lake Worth Lagoon on December 14, 2020 

-The 5 photos below are of large human-created Islands, restoration projects, in the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Below: Jennifer Baez, PBC Environmental Project Supervisor points to one of the many mangrove, native vegetation, sand islands built on top of “dead holes.” These areas were once devoid of life because they are so deep,  and were the unintended consequences of dredge and fill in the Lake Worth Lagoon that took place many decades before environmental laws regulated such activities.  

Jennifer explained how ERM identifies these deep holes, carefully works around muck, and then fills the depression with sand -in turn forming  an island-  that creates wildlife habit, seagrass beds, and eventually mangrove forests. She says one very obvious benefit of theses projects has been that Palm Beach County now has the most southerly nesting/foraging area of American Oyster Catchers. 

In springtime, the bright orange, black and white birds with their fluffy, adorable chicks are attracted to these human made islands near Bryant Park.

Learn about ERM Project on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PBCERM/

Deb Drum, Director ERM and yes she is smiling under that mask! 🙂 -Showing off more project islands! 

-The Southern Boulvard Bridge rebuild (below) is an example of materials used for a reef in Lake Worth Lagoon as seen on depth finder screen of Mathew Mitchell below. Mathew said he is very proud to be part of this project and explained that through technology and hands on visits he is documenting how the reef is improving fish habitat.

ISSUES OF WATER QUALITY 

As I mentioned, just because Palm Beach County primarily focuses on restoration, doesn’t mean that the Lake Worth Lagoon doesn’t have water issues. Before the late 1800s, Lake Worth was a many miles long fresh water lake with no outlet to the ocean. Today there are two inlets and  although the water body is now technically an estuary, salinities can be as high as the ocean due to heavy flushing from its inlets. Also due to fresh water inputs, like the C-51 Canal, salinity can swing up and down.

-The SFWMD measures saqilinties in the LWL 

Lake Worth Lagoon Water Quality issues are most affected by canal, area runoff, and sometimes Lake Okeechobee discharge into the lagoon. The C-51 is the canal of that continually drains unfiltered and untreated into the Lake Worth Lagoon. The C-51 carries contaminants and nutrient pollution from agriculture and urban development into the lake-lagoon-estuary. Deb Drum explained that sediment coming from this canal is extremely problematic causing a muck-layer throughout the lagoon. This impedes seagrass development and is a serious issue that is being addressed. 

Although the Lake Worth Lagoon was not built as am overflow water outlet for the Central and South Florida Plan, like the St Lucie and Calooshahatee were, Lake Okeechobee discharges are sometimes directed its way through the C-51 canal.  This is a controversial issue and of course local advocates of the Lake Worth Lagoon would prefer not to have this excessive polluted fresh water.  

-Jennifer and Deb in front of the C-51 Canal structure opening into Lake Worth Lagoon, note look of water. The C-51 basins are tremendous. All this runoff all ends up in the LWL.

C-51 Canal is the long blue line coming from the west connected to other interior canals. It then runs along Southern Boulvard as in the image below. The curve south occurs around the  Palm Beach International Airport, then turns east discharging into the LWL. Water Quality is being address methodically through Basin Management Action Plans.

KEEP ON RESTORING! 

So in the meantime, Lake Worth Lagoon’s water quality ails, but Palm Beach County keeps restoring…

Below shows a recent island restoration project near Southern Boulvard. This project addresses resiliency by protecting a nearby neighborhood seawall. In time, native plants will grow in and wildlife will arrive. People are allowed on beach area but if OysterCatchers are nesting, the area is taped off by FWF so the birds can nest in peace.

-Jeremy McBryan, Palm Beach County Water Resource Manager. 

Well, I could go on and on but the bottom line is that Palm Beach County is proactive. I am impressed! I learned so much about the mission of ERM and the Lake Worth Lagoon.  I really had no idea about all of the amazing restoration work being done by Palm Beach County.  Now for us all to push the state on Water Quality and to do our own part in our own backyards by avoiding fertilizer and chemicals that run right off into the water. This would actually be a huge start. 

Very impressive Deb! Thank you to you and to your amazing ERM staff! 

~Jacqui TL 

Documenting the Discharges, December 2020

Documenting the Discharges, December 2020

Eyeonlakeo

I posted most of these photos on Facebook, but today I will give explanations and document on my blog. From above, our St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon remains beautiful, but we must be sensitive to the losses beneath the waters. These aerials were taken during  a “slack tide” between 12 and 2pm on December 9, 2020 by my husband, Ed Lippisch. December 9th was the last of five days the ACOE stopped discharging from Lake Okeechobee; however S-80 was discharging “local runoff.” (Click on chart above.) Unfortunately, due to high lake level and lack of storage reservoirs, since these aerials were taken, the ACOE has begun ramping up Lake discharges once again. 

Below Lawrence Glenn of the South Florid Water Management gives a comprehensive ecological report covering low-salinities and loss of oyster spat in the St Lucie and other aspects, positive and negative, for the entire Everglades system.

Below is an explanation of aerials documenting discharges December 9, 2020. All photos by Ed Lippisch.

-S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam discharging local basin S-80 runoff on December 9, 2020

S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee closed on December 9, 2020. No algae visible. 

-Plume of along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet

-Dispersing plume in Atlantic Ocean just past Peck’s Lake in Jupiter Narrows

-St Lucie Inlet -St Lucie Inlet State Park, Sailfish Point, Sewall’s Point, Stuart, Jensen 

-Looking north to Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. This area has greatly degraded since 2013 as far as loss of seagrasses and fishing opportunities 

-The area below, especially around Sailfish Point, was once considered “the most biodiverse estuary in North America” as documented, first, by Grant Gilmore

-This photo reveals seagrass loss across many areas of the Sailfish Flats 

-Another view between Sewall’s and Sailfish Point, a seeming desert…

-Close up, Sailfish Point 

-Sewall’s Point, east Indian River Lagoon 

-Sewall’s Point is a peninsula surrounded by the St Lucie River on west side, and Indian River Lagoon on east side 

Ed Lippisch, selfie. Thank you Ed! 

As you can tell, I have lots of people helping me. Whether it is Ed flying or my brother Todd who provides an incredible easy to read website called EyeonLakeO. You can click below to check it out. The more we know, the more we document, the more we can overturn the destruction of our beloved estuary…

Eyeonlakeo website by my brother, Todd Thurlow. 

The Discharge/No Discharge Difference, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Looking back through my photo library, I was stuck by the color differences between these photos, so I decided to share….

The first two photos were taken recently, Saturday, December 5, 2020, the afternoon of the same morning the ACOE closed S-80 at the C-44 canal, and S-308 at Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee. This seems a bit quick for improvement, but so it was.

The second two photos were taken almost two months earlier, October 17, 2020 a few days after Lake Okeechobee discharges began and C-44 had already been discharging. 

The first three photos, taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, feature the confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point. The final  October 17 photos shows the plume from Lake O and basin runoff passing Peck’s Lake in the Jupiter Narrows. 

We all await the closing of both structures S-308 and S-80 for good. The issue at hand is always the height of the Lake Okeechobee and the story that accompanies such. 

Saturday, December 5, 2020, photo Ed Lippisch

October 17, 2020, photo Ed Lippisch

ACOE- Lake O discharges began Oct 14, 2020 and have stopped temporarily for 5 days, December 5, 2020. This is the most recent inflow chart, SFWMD.

Basin chart 

SFWMD basin map for SLR showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.

 

A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the Caloosahatchee

A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the Caloosahatchee

Today’s post is in response to a question by blog reader, Mike Downing. Based on Monday’s December 2, 2020 post:  A Ten Year Calendar View, Discharges to the St Lucie, Mike wrote:

“Thank you Jacqui! While this is bad for the East Coast, the West Coast has been inundated with nonstop discharges from Lake O. Can your brother update his Caloosahatchee chart to include 2020?” Mike Downing

Thanks to my brother, Todd, for replying to Mike’s question right away. (Chart above)

Mind you, these numbers measured from S-79 (comparable to the St Lucie’s S-80) include basin runoff and Lake Okeechobee discharges. As of 12-1-20, the brown line of 2020 is creeping higher, just under 2018, to 1,409,269 acre feet! That’s one foot of water on 1,409,269 acres of land!  

If we want to see a break-out of basin and Lake O discharges to the Caloosahatchee, we can view SFWMD, Division Director of Water Resources, Lawrence Glenn’s draft slide for the upcoming, December 10, South Florida Water Management District Meeting. (See below.)  

In a color coordinated way, Lawrence’s chart splits out the basin and Lake Okeechobee discharges over the course of 2020.  Look at all the dark blue representing Lake O in late October, November, and December. Also, look at all the basin runoff (green and gray)For Lawrence’s entire presentation -which includes the St Lucie- click here.