Category Archives: aerial photos

Hurricane Nicole’s Ugly Effect – St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

As shared in my recent blog post, Hurricane Nicole brought a significant storm surge to the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon region. Many residents experienced flooding and property damage, especially of docks and seawalls.

Today, 11-16-22, my husband, Ed, went up in the RV plane and took pictures to compare to others we took prior to Hurricane Nicole.

It has been quite a time. Nicole hit Florida on November 10, 2022 and Hurricane Ian on September 28, 2022. The river has taken two recent hits.

When Ed got home and I asked him how the river looked, there was a pause and he replied, “just like old times…” meaning “not good.”

Ed’s photos were taking during a rising tide around 1:15 November, 16, 2022. You will see that there is the flushing/cleaning of incoming ocean water from the St. Lucie Inlet. If the estuary is left alone, in time, a few weeks, it will significantly clear up. If the ACOE discharges from Lake Okeechobee, (the Lake is at 16.22 feet) it will not clear. Tomorrow’s (11-17-22) Rivers Coalition meeting at 11am at the City of Stuart Chamber, 121 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart, Fl 34994, will address this issue, also the issue of “sending water south.” The guest speaker will be LTC Todd Polk. I encourage all to attend.

The goal? To allow the St Lucie River to return to her true beauty and that can only happen when we stop the discharges, all of them.

2-11-15 ACOE Periodic Scientist Call information: Periodic_Scientists_Call_2022-11-15

-Sewall’s Point between the SLR/IRL -click on to enlarge. -Ernie Lyons bridge from Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island- IRL–Jupiter Narrows far left, SLR-Plume in Atlantic Ocean coming out of St Lucie Inlet

 

Then and Now Images and Movies – Hurricane Ian

Screenshot of slide-bar image: “Then and Now Images and Movies:” “Matlacha After Hurricane Ian,” eyeonlakeo.com, Todd Thurlow.

Having grown up in Florida, my brother Todd and I both developed a reverence for the natural world. Hurricane Ian made landfall in Southwest Florida on September 28, 2022. Today, I share Todd’s latest eyeonlakeo.com creation featuring jaw-dropping “then and now images and movies” of Hurricane Ian’s swollen effects on the Kissimmee, Peace, Lake Harney and St John’s rivers; the Gulf of Mexico; the intense destruction in Charlotte County’s Gulf Cove; Lee County’s once fishing village of Matlacha; and Sanibel Causeway; as well as NOAA NGS emergency response imagery. This is documentation is almost as powerful as the storm itself and the comparison images can be viewed by clicking on the illustration and then using the simple blue dot slide-bar to go back and forth. Respectfully, Todd and I submit this documentation with continued prayers for those whose lives are forever changed.

Please click link below:

THEN & NOW HURRICANE IAN 

Different Views~St Lucie River Region

These aerials were taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, between September 16 and September 23, 2022. I had asked him to get some photographs other than our normally featured Sailfish Flats area between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island.

I chose a few of my favorites for a series entitled “A Different View.” This past weekend, I started closely reviewing all of Ed’s photos and decided to share more. Ed captured from Stuart, to Hobe Sound, to Palm City and Port St Lucie. I think what is most clear is how close we are to the river and thus how it is clearly our responsibility to protect her. Thank you Ed for being our eye in the sky and for giving us these different views.

-Roosevelt Bridge, FEC Railroad, and US1 crossing St Lucie River, Stuart. Palm City west. -Roosevelt Bridge, St Lucie River Stuart looking east over Witham Field and Sewall’s Point to Atlantic Ocean.-Shoreline of North River Shores, just north of Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, FL.-Closeup Roosevelt Bridge, Florida East Coast Railway, and US1. St Lucie River, Stuart.-Indian River Lagoon and Savannas Preserve State Park, Jensen/Rio and north St Lucie Co. -North Fork of St Lucie River, Port St Lucie, looking east to Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean. -Savannas Preserve State Park looking west to Savannah Club Golf Course, St Lucie Co. (I think) -Savannas Preserve State Park looking south to St Lucie River, note Sewall’s Point & St Lucie Inlet. Very old- Indian River Drive and the Florida East Coast Railroad are clearly seen along the ridge of the Indian River Lagoon. -Nettles Island in the Indian River Lagoon,  St Lucie County, Hutchinson Island. -Jensen Beach Bridge at Hutchison Island where large section of mangroves died due to drowning and poor planning. It appears some are coming back to life.-North Sewall’s Point looking from over the IRL to forks/and the St Lucie River. Line of C-23 can be seen in distance. -Evans Crary Sr. & Ernie Lyons bridges from Stuart to Sewall’s Point leading to Hutchinson Island, St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon. Rio/Jensen north, and City of Stuart sprawling north and south. -Bird Island, a Critical Wildlife Area, off South Sewall’s Point, note seagrass/macroalge beds.-Ernie Lyon’s Bridge ending at Hutchinson Island at Indian River Plantation, Marriott, right. Elliott Museum and Florida Oceanographic on left. Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean in view.-C-23 Canal, the county line between Martin and St Lucie counties. Note the difference in development patterns. “Newfield” will be constructed around Citrus Blvd. the wavy white line in the now green area of Martin County it’s pattern will not resemble PSL. -Next two photos: Another view of C-23 Canal and surrounding area near North Fork and former arm of the St Lucie River. -Next five photos: Winding North Fork of St Lucie River surrounded by development of Port St Lucie under puffy clouds. -Hobe Sound area near Bridge Road looking southwest. This is where the controversial development of Atlantic Fields was just approved by the Martin County Commission. The Polo Club where it will be built  is located close to the oval shape (maybe a horse track) seen in the green field. Atlantic Ridge State Park and Loxa-Lucie are also in this region of Martin County. The Town of Jupiter Island is along the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean at the east end of Bridge Road. There are many other developers eyeing this area or Martin County.  -Next three photos: Same area of Hobe Sound -note Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean east and right, and St Lucie River ahead. The South Fork of the St Lucie was once easy to see in this area. Since drainage of South Florida it is almost unrecognizable, but it is here. -Florida Turnpike and I95 near Bridge Road, Hobe Sound, FL. -Natural Lands near Atlantic Ridge State Park and Seabranch Preserve State Park looking east towards Jupiter Narrows, Indian River Lagoon, and Atlantic Ocean. Thank you to those who worked to save some of these lands around the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. We must conserve even more!

Thank you Ed, for giving us “a different view.”

A Different View~Western Port St Lucie

-September 21, 2022 at 10:48 am, SW Gray Fox Lane, at Heron Preserve, Port St Lucie, FL, aerial photo by Ed Lippisch. 

A Different View~Western Port St Lucie

I once read that as a city grows, road names reflect a time long past. This is certainly the case here in western Port St Lucie. The name the road below is “SW Gray Fox Lane,” but there are no longer gray foxes running here. And the development? Ironically, “Heron Preserve.”  Don’t think so. Just scraped and squared wetlands that once cleansed water running south. Our river cries for days long past.

A Different View~North Fork St Lucie River

-North Fork of St Lucie River surrounded by by development, Port St Lucie, Florida. Distinctive oxbows lie south of Prima Vista Blvd. Aerial photo by Ed Lippisch September 16, 12.15pm.

The above aerial of the North Fork of the St Lucie River is the second in my recent series entitled: “A Different View,” as Ed and I feature areas of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon other than the Sailfish Flats and Sandbar between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island.

For me, today’s is a powerful visual. Though it shows the remaining serpentine beauty of the North Fork of the St Lucie River one can easily see how the river, remaining natural lands, seagrasses, and fish and wildlife -close by and downstream-  are impacted by human activity from the surrounding houses, roads, bridges, and highways.

Just think of all the people living in this sea of development surrounding the winding waterway. Imagine if the people were thoughtlessly putting fertilizer and pesticides onto their lawns -that runoff in turn draining into the river- or perhaps their home located right inside the river’s watershed has an old, leaking, septic tank. Envision all the oily/dirty runoff from the surrounding roads and highways flowing down into the waters after a hard, long rain like we’ve had this week.

An image such as this makes it intensely clear and can be applied anywhere as a learning tool in the St Lucie River region: It is ridiculous not to change and modernize our ways if we truly desire the health and recovery of our waterways. All of us!

 

A Different View, St Lucie River~Indian River Lagoon

-Indian River Lagoon & St Luice River meet to flow into the Atlantic Ocean as seen over the savannas. Nettles Island , a landmark, juts into the IRL (upper left.) Note peninsula of Sewall’s Point and St Lucie Inlet. Aerial photograph by Ed Lippisch, 9/11/22, 6:15pm.Recently, I have been asking Ed to get a “different view” while flying-something other than the location between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island near the St Lucie Inlet. That area is the heart of the matter when documenting seagrass recovery or destructive discharges from Lake Okeechobee. However, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon includes much more than that. The undeveloped savannas region seen above is quite striking.

Here Ed looks south over the savannas, now Savannas Preserve State Park, an area west of the railroad tracks stretching ten miles between Jensen Beach and Fort Pierce.

As my mother, author Sandra Thurlow writes  in her book, Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River, …”ours is not a savanna at all. A true savanna is grassland with scattered, small drought resistant trees. Many eons ago the Jensen Savannas was a lagoon like the Indian River. Now the ancient lagoon is a region of lakes, marsh and pine flatwoods. When polar icecaps formed, bringing Florida out of the sea, tides and winds shaped a primary dune along the east coast of the peninsula. The shallow waters in the wetlands behind the dune were brackish. The ocean levels continued to drop and sand bars just off the coast were exposed, forming Hutchinson Island. What had been the primary dune became the Atlantic Coastal Ridge.” 

She goes on to explain that prior to modern times the savannas’ ecosystem was almost 200 miles long, but due to development along the Indian River Lagoon the region has been reduced to just ten ecologically intact miles.

Areas such as these “savannas” are critical to the health of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and an inspiration for more comprehensive protection in the future.

Hope you enjoyed today’s different view.

 

 

True Beauty, SLR/IRL

-L to R: The peninsula of Sewall’s Point lies between the SLR/IRL. The Sailfish Flats and Sandbar seagrass meadows lie between Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island. Witham Field, Stuart, can be seen west. The Atlantic Ocean is east. St Lucie Inlet State Park is located south on Jupiter Island. The St Lucie Inlet is cut between Hutchinson and Jupiter Islands. Today’s photos highlight the area’s returning seagrass meadows after their disappearance primarily because of years of damaging cyanobacteria laden Lake Okeechobee discharges, especially in 2013, 2016, & 2018. Photo Ed Lippisch, 8/26/22.When Ed came home from flying the RV on Friday, August 26, 2022, he said, “I think the aerials look good, you can really see the seagrasses.” I looked at him kind of funny. He never says anything like that. Looking on my phone, I could tell the photos were revealing, but it wasn’t until I viewed them full screen on my computer that I saw their true beauty. Ed’s photos reveal clear water, clear air, defined nearshore reefs, and lush seagrass/micro-algae meadows.

It is exciting to see and am I so glad Ed captured it! In the coming days and weeks tropical weather may be pushing our way. “Thank you Ed, for capturing the river before the height of hurricane season, before possibly more rains and more runoff.”

These just might be the most beautiful recent photos ever taken of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Over the past couple of years, we’ve had some good ones of blue water alone, but blue waters cradling seagrass beds, the life of the sea itself, this is “true beauty.”

These improvements have only been possible due to recent  ACOE policy decisions – no major Lake O discharges for over three and one half years, and Mother Nature, who so far, has not brought any of her discontent our way.

At this time, it is in order to thank former City of Stuart Mayor, Merritt Matheson, who went to great lengths over the past four years to hold accountable and build relationships with the Army Corps of Engineers. Mayor Matheson led numerous boat tours and meetings inviting, colonels, commanders, and staff. His St Lucie River tours led by an elected,  passionate, educated, local helped the ACOE understand the fragility of our region and the intense ecological and health impacts caused by discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Mayor Matheson your efforts made a tremendous difference for the health of the St Lucie River. Thank you.

Canal system SLR/IRL, SFWMD

 

Awash

This post is for aerial documentation. With recent needed rains this past week in the St Lucie Region, the St Lucie River is “awash” from area canals and “local” runoff. But #NoLake O!

Remember: Don’t fertilize through rainy season-June 1-Nov. 30-and let’s all be aware that everything we or our four legged friends put on our lawns ends up in the river. Seagrasses are recovering let’s help not hurt.

Ed Lippisch & Scott Kuhns, August 19, 2:18pm, RV, Lake Okeechobee (no visible algae) to St Lucie River 

-Island in Lake O south of Buckhead Ridge also visible is Kissimmee River, now C-38  -St Lucie River at St Lucie Inlet 

Ed Lippisch, August 21, 8:45am Lake Okeechobee to St Lucie River, RV -Visible plume 

Canal systems dumping fresh water into SLR, SFWMD.

8-14-22 (South Sewall’s Point)

8-17-22

Aerial Update St Lucie River/IRL-end July

My “River Warrior” team and I continue to document the health of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Thank you to pilots Scott Kuhns, and my husband, Ed Lippisch. Also my brother, Todd Thurlow, for his eyeonlakeo website updates and Florida Oceanographic for their weekly water quality report. As the summer temperature heats up, the water is not as clear as earlier this year, however, Saharan dust is keeping the rain and hurricanes away, seagrass is rebounding, and there have been no major discharges from Lake Okeechobee in over three years. Thank you to everyone and every agency fighting and advocating for clean water!

Florida Oceanographic Water Quality Report shows a C+ for the overall St Lucie Estuary with high scores near the inlet but lower scores in the main river and forks. See above link.

The seven photos below were taken by Scott Kuhns from his SuperCub on Saturday, July 30, 2022 around 11:30am.

1.

-St Lucie Inlet area and confluence of SLR/IRL -Sailfish Flats with seagrass recovery but lots of attached micro algae

2.

The ten photos below were taken by Ed Lippisch from the Vans RV-also on Saturday, July 30th, at approximately 2pm. No visible algae was seen visually at S-308, Port Mayaca or S-80 in the C-44 Canal although Lake Okeechobee was recently reported by FDEP to be around “50% algae coverage.” View here on my brother’s website  EYEONLAKEO under HAB-IMAGES.

-Port Mayaca’s S-308 at Lake Okeechobee -S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam, C-44 Canal

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image and the only canal that connects to Lake Okeechobee.

 

Turquoise Today

Today’s post is a visual water update. My husband, Ed, flew over the confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon on July 6, 2022. As you can see, it looks beautiful. Our waters near the inlet are turquoise today. The water is not this color throughout the estuary, only in the area where the inlet regularly flushes in and out.

May Mother Nature hold off her heavy storms and rains this summer; may the state and federal agencies recharge themselves to do all possible to be laser-focused on sending  water south.

As the heat increases, the annual algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee is expanding. Keep track on my brother Todd’s site, EYEONLAKEO.

#NOLAKEO

Aerials, July 6, 2022

-St Lucie Inlet’s nearshore reefs -St Luice Inlet: confluence of SLR/IRL -Sailfish Flats with budding seagrass and macro algae visible -Sailfish Point, Hutchinson Island, Sewall’s Point, Stuart. Look at the color of the ocean! Ed gets into the Van RV pre-flight,  a plane I have not flown in yet. 🙂 Thank you Ed! Our “Eye in the Sky since 2013.”KNOW THE ENEMY: Canals of the Central and South Florida Plan. Only C-44 is attached to Lake O and can have long term human-made discharges. All canals negatively affect the St Lucie Estuary.

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.

 

 

Visual Update SLR/IRL June 23, 2022

I am very fortunate to have a team of people, “River Warriors” who help me document from sky to water the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Today, I share photos taken by friend  Mary Radabaugh who overnighted in the area over Father’s Day weekend, June 18-19, 2022. She took amazing photos of nature: live sand dollars, growing seagrasses, wading birds, manatees, and sea turtles. Life is returning to the area.

Next, Dr Scott Kuhns shares five aerials he took the same weekend, on June 18,  around 11:30am. These photographs reveal clear waters with rain runoff plume over St Lucie Inlet and nearshore reefs. There is also a photo of the C-44 Reservoir filled to just over ten feet. This reservoir sits on the C-44 Canal and was just completed this past year as the first major CERP project. It is scheduled to be operational by 2023, although the ACOE is trying for earlier.

My husband, Dr Ed Lippisch, took his plane up yesterday. He shares four photos from June 22, 2022 around 12:30 pm that encompass the estuary from a higher altitude. The darker rain runoff is more visible. The estuary still looks good in the region near the St Lucie Inlet. Higher up the north and south forks the water is darker. There have not been major discharges from Lake Okeechobee in over three years. This is a very good thing and we must continue to make this our goal.

Thank you for all who fight for a clean and healthy St Lucie River!Periodic_Scientists_Call_2022-06-21

ST LUCIE RIVER/INDIAN RIVER LAGOON

I.-Mary Radabaugh, living sand dollar and more life, Sandbar near St Lucie Inlet between Sewall’s Point & Hutchinson Island, 6-18/19-22

 

I am adding two more wildlife videos 4:35pm, 6-23-22

A. Spotted Eagle Rays at the Sandbar, June 19, 2022,  by my sister Jenny and her husband Mike Flaugh.

B. Trigger Fish, Powers family dock, S. Sewall’s Point, IRL side June 23, 2022.

 

II.-Scott Kuhns, SuperCub, June 18, 2022 near St Lucie Inlet and C-44 Reservoir, 6-18-22.

 

III.-Ed Lippisch, Van RV, St Lucie Inlet SLR/IRL  June 22, 2022. 6-22-22.

SFWMD canal and basin map.

 

 

Not too Bad…

I visited my mother yesterday and we talked about the tremendous recent rains. We sat inside to chat because the mosquitoes were so bad outside.

This is about how our conversation went:

Jacqui: “I just took a picture of another seven inches in my rain gauge.”

Sandy: “Yes, I have dumped out over fifteen inches of rain in mine since that tropical disturbance…”  (6-3-22)

In spite of all this rain, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon doesn’t look too bad. Here are aerials taken by my husband, Ed Lippisch, and friend, Scott Kuhns, on June 11, 2022 to show what the area looks like. The St Lucie itself does look dark brown and there is a plume from runoff, but overall it is “not too bad…”

We will continue to be your eye in the sky documenting the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

#NOLAKEO

-Ed Lippisch, RV, June 11, 2022 10:30am. St Lucie Inlet.