Today, family friend, Dr Scott Kuhns, flew the River Warrior II taking aerials of the the St Lucie River. He wrote: “8:15 this morning 5/29/20 can’t find any clear water! All the way past Jupiter.”
My reply: “This is really good that you have taken these pictures Scott. This is all tremendous runoff from C-23, C-24, probably C-44, as well as our tidal basin. The SFWMD Raindar chart shows it poured up to 10 inches in the past week in the area of Martin and St Lucie Counties. South in Miami, even more. The positive thing is this runoff discoloration of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon will fade after dissipating -when the rain stops -unlike Lake Okeechobee discharges that can last for many months unstopped, on top of such. Thank you! Interesting to know it is dark water all the way south to Jupiter. Thank you for taking these photos. They document our so called “local runoff.”
See the house in the distance in the above photograph? It was the Olds’ homestead that I mentioned in my previous post about Hutchinson Island. I had thought when I read about and discussed a property dispute between the Olds and the U.S. Government -that built the House of Refuge- that the Olds’ property was built first, as they were making a claim against the building of the House of Refuge-saying that they owned the land it was built upon. But that was incorrect; the House of Refuge was built first, but built on land that mistakenly later was homesteaded to the Olds. Confusing!
In thinking about this story the above photograph helpful because it shows part of the long strip of land that was homesteaded to the Olds as well as the proximity of House of Refuge -apparently built about in the middle of what became the Old’s very long parcel of land. The survey and documents below will help us unravel all this and why in the end, the Olds had to get an easement to access their own property with the Gilbert Bar’s House of Refuge like an island in between.
To clarify the dates that I got confused about in my previous post, the Olds’ homestead was formally granted by the U.S. government in 1894 (as you can see below) and they built shortly thereafter. My reference to 1862 comes from the date of the Homestead Act itself. The House of Refuge was built in 1876. In spite of the dates, or the paper issuing of the homestead, somehow the Hutchison Island property was deeded to the Olds even after the the House of Refuge was built on it. (See History of Martin County below.) The House of Refuge was the first house built in today’s Martin County, but there is more to the story than just “being first.” Next time you visit this wonderful place, remember that even in the 1800s things could get very mixed up.
“The Olds homestead shows well on this map.” Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Email exchange after my prior blog post:
Mom : “Jacqui, The Homestead Act of 1862 was what provided for Hiram Olds homestead claim of 1894. It is strange that he homesteaded after the House of Refuge was already standing but it happened. It was an error that it was granted and the government had to make amends later. The House of Refuge was the first build we know of in this area.”
Jacqui: “So the Olds house wasn’t built first? Shouldn’t I still mention 1862, the first year of the U. S. Homestead Act?
Mom: “I don’t think 1862 should even be mentioned. It throws people off because it is a date when the country first was open to homesteading. Our first homestead was no earlier than 1883.”
Jacqui:” It seems to me, if they had rights to the land they must have gotten those rights prior to 1894 or there would not have been a conflict with the US Govt. regarding their construction of the House of Refuge in 1876. Right? It was granted afterwards? Strange. I’ll figure something out.”
Below: Explantation from page 52, The History of Martin County, Historical Society of Martin County, Florida.
Looking south in the direction of today’s St Lucie Inlet. Former home of Hiram and Hattie Olds, 1907, Hutchinson Island, in what became Martin County, Fl. Courtesy Agnes Tietig Parlin, achieves Sandra Henderson Thurlow and Deanna Wintercorn “Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, Home of History.”
The more I learn about water, the more I want to know about the land. Inexorably connected – as the lands change, so do the surrounding waters.
Don’t you love this above photograph?
The lone high-house rising through thick vegetation reminds us of what the beach-scape of today’s Hutchinson Island, Martin County, Florida, used to look like. Cradled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, the home belonged to Hiram E. and Hattie Olds who made application for homestead with the United States Government in the early Florida year of 1862. The photo above spotlights the natural beauty and native vegetation; it was taken in 1907 – forty-five years after the original homestead. With almost a half century passed, like a protective cape over the sandy dunes, the Indian River Lagoon/Hutchinson Island vegetation remained in tact. What an incredible and rare photograph! It almost feels like Africa or some far-off exotic place.
There must have been so many hiding places for birds and other wildlife. Rain percolating through sandy soils to ocean and estuary. Only a shadow of this vegetation remains today, although Hutchinson Island remains a beautiful place.
This second photograph reveals the same house in the distance, the Olds’ homestead, granted in 1862-but structure built ca. 1894 -that later became the Yacht Club. From this perspective we are now looking south from the House of Refuge -built in 1876. It is clear from this Thurlow Archives photograph that theGeorges Valentine shipwreck had recently occurred thus this photograph must have been taken around October 16, 1904 – the fateful night of the ship’s destruction. Again, look at the thick high curve of vegetation along the western edge of the Indian River Lagoon. Fabulous!
With these 1904 and 1907 photographs we can, for a moment, go back and imagine what Hutchinson Island looked like. It was not just an Anastasia rocked shoreline, but a Beach-Jungle! A jungle that protected wildlife and waters of our precious Indian River Lagoon.
In our next blog post, we shall learn how the Olds homestead and the House of Refuge were “connected,” not just via fantastic vegetation, rocks, and dune lines, but also through claims of property rights to the United States Government.
What a beautiful word: “Anastasia.” A quick search tells me it comes from the Greek meaning “the resurrection.” This is appropriate in that it is almost a religious experience walking along the beach amongst these ancient rocks. Last Saturday, May 9, 2020, the tide was so low that I could walk between them and the sea looking head on into their strange and beautiful formations. The voice of wind, waves, and time lives here.
I share my photos of this special Martin County moonscape in a place we call home whose waters and reefs also are affected by water quality issues. I began my walk at Santa Lucea Beach moving south past the historic House of Refuge to Bathtub Beach where I saw more eye catching fire coral than people. But those people I did see, made me smile. Watching the faces of children collecting shells and playing in the waves, lifting my gaze to see the talented brown pelicans flying, and sea birds diving.
On April 27th, 2020 Ed and flew over the St Lucie River-Indian River Lagoon to get a special photo for our friend Mr Billy Escue. Some of the photos came out very well. So I wanted to share these recent photos and I think it is interesting to compare the images to where they fall within “The Total Daily Inflow Into the St Lucie Estuary” chart from the A.C.O.E. Periodic_Scientists_Call_2020-05-05
Take a look at the graphic. What was running off as inflow those days? Mostly “tidal basin,” the area shown in a cream color. Take note of what was not discharging too.
Yesterday, 9:30 AM, May 5, 2020, at a Martin County Commission Meeting there was a nondescript preset entitled: Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) – Indian River Lagoon (IRLS) South Presentation.
I learned about this presentation after the fact and was not invited to attend by the South Florida Water Management District. At no time was I ever briefed that the District or the Corp would be making a presentation in my hometown. I found out that not only was CERP discussed, but Drew Bartlett, Executive Director of the South Florida Water Management District and Col. Andrew Kelly of the Jacksonville District, Army Corp of Engineers were the presenters.
The most simple courtesy normally extended to all Governing Board Members, was not extended to me. I wonder why I was not included? Of that I will never be sure, but I will be sure today to say what I would have shared, or have insisted be shared if I were at that meeting especially because Part D of Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12 reads: “Instruct the SFWMD to immediately start the next phase of the EAA Storage Reservoir Project design and ensure the US ACOE approves the project according to schedule.”
Yesterday Col. Kelly announced to the Martin County Commission that 130 million dollars has been put towards the C-23/C-24 Reservoir/STA. The C-23/C-24 getting money is a good thing, however I do not believe it was made clear where that money is coming from. That money is on the books to be re-channeled because of the “New Start” status of the EAA Reservoir. Yes, the money that the EAA Reservoir would have had for *2020, is now going to C-23/24 Reservoir/STA project.
So what is a “New Start,” other than a complicated bureaucratic word with nuances to confuse? A New Start basically means a project cannot get the funding it was to receive. Oh yes, of course it is possible to get it in the future, but we all know what that means when it comes to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers as clear in this video at 1:56.
After I was so rudely not informed to attend the Martin County Commission meeting, I did receive a phone call apologizing from the District. In that phone call and following email I insisted that the New Start language be explained clearly to the public and put on a timeline so that those who have given their lives advocating for EAA Reservoir could be informed. I was given the following one pager that is helpful. Thus today I share it with you. Please click to read the following: EAA Reservoir and STA New Start
My take on this? If you know me, you know what I’m thinking. It’s time to start fighting again. As necessary as the C-23 C-24 STA and Reservoir is, it is not the most important fix. The most important fix for the St Lucie River is to stop the putrid discharges that destroy the St Lucie River from Lake Okeechobee.
The St Lucie River-2018 to 2020. Like night and day.
The waters were fluorescent green-brown, and now they are clear.
It has been an amazing year. Even I have been surprised by the recent clarity of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. And what is really amazing, is that even the “worst of the worst” toxic areas of 2013, 2016, and 2018 now look “pretty good,” and life is returning.
One of these areas is the Harborage Marina in Stuart under the Roosevelt Bridge. I recently took these photos as I felt even at night the reflection of the bridge shone brighter.
Like Night and Day, Reflections on a Once Toxic Marina
ROOSEVELT BRIDGE SOUTH DAY/NIGHT, APRIL 2020, JTL
ROOSEVELT BRIDGE NORTH DAY/NIGHT APRIL 2020
WATER OF HARBORAGE MARINA APRIL 2020, OYSTERS COMING BACK. WATERS MUCH CLEARER.
THESE PICTURES BELOW ARE FROM 2018 SHOWING SEAWALL AND ROOSEVELT BRIDGE AREA DURING TOXIC OUTBREAK. SAME PLACE DIFFERENT YEARS; DIFFERENT WATER MANAGEMENT. DAY CAN TURN TO NIGHT VERY QUICKLY SO PLEASE KEEP UP THE FIGHT.
Family friend Scott Kuhns is a great dentist, pilot, and photographer. For years, Scott has been one of our “eyes in the sky,” taking flight over the St Lucie River-Indian River Lagoon -and west out to Lake Okeechobee.
Today, Sunday, May 3, 2020, before noon, Scott forwarded these striking photos. He wrote “I can see some algae at Port Mayaca.”
When I first reviewed the impressive photographs -coast to lake- I found it hard to believe, but indeed looking very closely, there is a wisp of algae close to S-308 at Port Mayaca in Lake Okeechobee.
Can you see it? When things are so beautiful, like right now, it’s easy to miss!
Thanks Scott for your continued service “River Warrior” extraordinaire! We will continue to keep an eye on the water as we move closer to hurricane season.
ST LUCIE INLET, CROSSROADS OF INDIAN AND ST LUCIE RIVERS DIVIDED BY SEWALL’S POINT, ~ALL PHOTOS BY DR SCOTT KUHNS
JUPITER NARROWS & ATLANTIC OCEAN SOUTH OF ST LUCIE INLET
C-44 CANAL at ST LUCIE LOCKS AND DAM, S-80
S-308, CONNECTION OF C-44 CANNAL to LAKE OKEECHOBEE
VERY TIP of S-308 with ALGAE WISPS SLIGHTLY VISIBLE, BUT DEFINITELY THERE
INSIDE STRUCTURE S-308, PORT MAYACA LAKE OKEECHOBEE ALONG C-44 CANAL. S-53 ON ANOTHER CANAL. ALSO FPL COOLING POND SURROUNDED ON WEST BY WHAT APPEARS TO BE SUGARCANE FIELDS
Since I was a kid growing up in Martin County, I have been excited to hear stories about hail. Hail is really the closest thing to snow down in these parts. I remember once, in the 1970s, when our family lived at 109 Edgewood Drive, in Stuart, it hailed and we kids ran outside and collected it in our sweaty palms dumping it into Tupperware that ended up in the freezer. Those hail pieces sat in there for years, and every now and then we would climb on a squeaky high chair, when mom wasn’t looking, and take the cold frozen memory out, just to revel. Amazing! As a kid, I never knew what else to do with the hail, and in time, I’m sure my mother removed it to make room for ice cream.
As I got older and my mother’s local history books were being published. I was struck by one photograph of the 1934 Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart overflowing with hail -looking like, yes,- like a snowstorm had come!
In this photo by Frances Carlberg King in “Stuart on the St. Lucie: A Pictorial History” by Sandra Henderson Thurlow, hail covers the old Roosevelt Bridge on Feb. 10, 1934. A hailstorm covered Stuart with ice, creating street scenes that some say looked like “someplace up North.”
Hail, though it can be destructive is a novelty, one to be appreciated, even celebrated.
Just last Sunday, April 19, 2020, month two coronavirus containment, it stormed wildly and hailed in south Sewall’s Point. The noise on our metal roof was deafening! Right after, I ran out and collected the hail pieces just like I had when I was a kid. The air was so chilly! My bare feet were cold against the deck and wet earth. Somehow, the whole thing was exhilarating!
When I brought my hail inside, I quickly put the bowl in the freezer and looked for my husband, Ed.
“Ed! Come look! I collected some hail!”
There was silence for a bit, and then I heard him slowly ask, “what are you going to do with it Jacqui ?” Ed grew up in Chicago so ice is not so unusual.
“I have a surprise!”
That evening after dinner, I said, “I recommend we do something special with this hail. I think we should make real cocktails with it, you know, like the kinds from the 1950s? And then, we are going to toast Mother Nature.”
Ed laughed and we did just that, “for the hail of it!”
If you live in Martin County, you may have experienced a short lived violent storm this past Sunday, April 26th, 2020. In south Sewall’s Point, early afternoon, the winds exploded in a crash of falling branches, rain, thunder, and hail! Under the deafening sound of our metal roof, Ed and I stood on the porch in amazement, looked at each other and said, “well at least it’s raining,” as presently drought conditions cover much of the state.
The following day, Ed took wing taking these aerial photographs. They are a good example of “local runoff.” No Lake Okeechobee thankfully! Lake O too though looked beautiful after the storm as displayed at the end of this aerial series. Somehow, it always seems most beautiful after the storm…
L-R: ST LUCIE RIVER, SEWALL’S POINT, INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, HUTCHINSON ISLAND, ATLANTIC OCEAN, by Ed Lippisch 4-27-20
INDIAN RIVER LAGOON, ST LUCIE COUNTY, HUTCHINSON ISLAND ~NOTE ST LUCIE POWER PLANT AND SAVANNAHS ON MAINLAND TO WEST
Earth Day 2020 will certainly go down in the history books. The worldwide outbreak of Covid-19 gives all of us a new lens to view the world, our fragile blue planet… Certainly everyone sees “change” differently. For those of us along the Treasure Coast, when we think of Earth Day we may think of water. Since 2013, thousands of us have come together amplifying a longstanding fight for clearer, cleaner water. We started a modern movement that caught traction, and indeed, changed the political landscape and perceptions of Floridians. We are making progress! But big change comes slowly, thus we must do all we can ourselves right now. It must start with “little things,” like with how we think about pollution; how we live; how we use, develop, and protect ours lands; how we manage our pesticide-fertilizer-water-hungry lawns, or get rid of them all-together; how we think about food, transportation, and most important, our expectations of large scale agricultural production. It’s overwhelming really. But it’s a must. Earth Day cannot just be a celebration, a recognition, it has to bring real change, right now.
2013, 2016, 2018 JTL/EL: St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee during multiple toxic algae crises, not long ago, a strong reminder of the need for continued change. We cannot ever again allow such polluted waters upon our Earth.
I don’t know about you, but since the coronavirus pandemic has relegated me to my home, I have been going though my closets. In fact, after I was done with mine, I called my mother and asked her to go through her’s as well. She always wins when it comes to finding cool forgotten stuff tucked away in the closet!
Yesterday, she found the family fossil box. She left it out front of her house for me to pick up. It was very heavy and FOSSILS was neatly written atop. It was a timely find as I have been blogging about Lake Okeechobee’s ancient inland sea. Lake Okeechobee and beyond offer not just shelling but incredible fossil hunting as well.
Yes, almost all of Florida was once an ancient sea, not just Lake Okeechobee…Florida in various forms has been in and out of the water many times…
Many of the fossils from my mom’s fossil closet are from Gainesville where she grew up and where my grandparents lived. My cat Okee was very interested in the fossils too! They must still smell! She was bating an ancient shark tooth around like it was a toy. She loved when I laid out the contents of the fossil closet.