On August 3rd, I posted the above aerial noting the return of visible recovering seagrasses since the ACOE stopped discharging from Lake Okeechobee.
One of my readers wrote: “Most is not true seagrass, some algae’s, discolored sand. A little shoal grass here and there. It’s gonna take a few years of no discharges.”
And this is true. Seagrass is growing back, but right alongside, or even on the algae itself, is something else. A type of dark green, slimy-algae covering the grasses. I don’t remember it like this before…
We are living in a time of over-nitrification. Too much Phosphorus and Nitrogen drains off the land into the estuary feeding algae of all kinds as they compete for dominance.
And we decide who wins:
~A great video shared by my brother Todd covering the story of all types of algae and cyanobacteria.
I have seen the microalgae growing back on our seagrasses in the SLR/IRL, and it has been here for years; it is just getting more dominant. I have not photographed as doing so requires a protected camera. Thus I am sharing these photos that in some ways resemble our beds.
Within minutes, Ed and I had passed the Savannas, City of Port St Lucie, and were flying over sprawling agricultural lands, and then the northern diked region of Lake Okeechobee ~where the Kissimmee River meets the lake.
Today we will share photos of the approximate twenty-two miles of the Kissimmee River floodplain, once channelized, that is now being restored by the ACOE and SFWMD.
The map image below shows in detail the different parts of the floodplain-river, and its “de-construction.” For me, the Kissimmee is a the greatest example of Stuart News’ editor Ernie Lyons’ famous words: “What men do, they can undo,” as channelization in the late 1960s, was immediately recognized as an ecological disaster and people began lobbying Congress for change. Sometimes, I guess, we learn the hard way…but at least we learned. Thank you to all those who have been part of this restoration!
These five photos below show take-off from Witham Field in Stuart over Sewall’s Point, the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. The last two photos are the North Fork of the SLR and Port St Lucie.
The next six photos are the northern part of Lake Okeechobee. There is a lot of vegetation in this area that is sometimes submerged. These areas are important for bird life.
Below we start at the still channelized mouth of the Kissimmee River entering Lake Okeechobee. As we approached the restored area, birds were flying down below, white against green, having returned to their historic nesting grounds: https://www.sfwmd.gov/news/nr_2018_0329_2017_sfwbr
Yesterday, 3-17-19, my husband, Ed, flew the Super-Cub over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon ~ twenty-one days after the ACOE started discharging from Lake Okeechobee on February 24, 2019.
When Ed arrived home, I asked, “So how was it?”
“Brown,” he replied.
“Like dark coffee brown, or kind of like that weird mixed greenish-brown?”
He looked at me, and smiled. “Jacqui, it was brown.”
“OK, I said, I’ll take a look at your photos.”
So here are the photos from Ed’s flight from Witham Field in Stuart, over Sewall’s Point and Hutchinson Island, then out west to S-80 to see the “Seven Gates of Hell” where you can see the one gate discharging now at an average of 250 cubic feet per second, down from an average of 500 cubic feet per second. As you can see from the SFWMD chart below, there has been other runoff locations as well, but the majority is from Lake Okeechobee.
Thank you to my husband Ed, for showing us that right now, the river is brown.
The following phots are of Caulkins Water Farm, a former orange grove that died due to citrus greening that now holds water from the C-44 Canal. This is a wonderful thing! As local ag-man Mr. Hadad, told me once, “Jacqui we spent 100 years taking the water off the land, and we’ll spend the next 100 years putting it back on.” The later photos are of S-80 again with view of C-44 canal leading west to Lake O.(https://www.facebook.com/CaulkinsWaterFarm/)
The following photos are when Ed headed back to Witham Field going once again over the St Lucie Inlet over the Atlantic Ocean. You can see the water looks blue north of Sailfish Point north of the inlet with nearshore reefs visible. Plume is also visible south of St Lucie Inlet. Also in photos is the winding Jupiter Narrows and St Lucie River in the area of Stuart and Rio. You can see Langford Landing with scraped orange soil and docks built into river still under construction since 2015.
Temporary Flight Restrictions were in place this weekend as President Trump and the First Lady were visiting their home, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach. The restrictions go right up to the edge of Stuart, thus it was not possible to fly into the Crossroads or St Lucie Inlet to continue documenting the discharges that began on February 23, 2019.
Instead, today, I am posting a link to an article by Tyler Treadway of TCPalm entitled:
If Army Corps stops Lake Okeechobee discharges soon, St. Lucie River Suffers Little Harm. It states:
“Two weeks of Lake Okeechobee discharges haven’t caused much damage to the St. Lucie River estuary, but an environmental expert says extending the releases much longer could be devastating.
The Army Corps of Engineers, which started discharging lake water to the river estuary Feb. 25 at an average daily rate of about 323 million gallons, plans for the releases to continue at least until March 16.
They’d better not last much longer, said Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society in Stuart.”
From what I understand the releases are scheduled for 21 days which would put them through around March 15, 2019.
Ed did fly to Zephyr Hills near Tampa, so I asked him to take photos of that trip. Below you can see Moore Haven, S-308 Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee, and other aerials of interest. Ed said he saw no cyanobacteria or blue-green algae in Lake Okeechobee.
Some months ago, the original “River Warrior” Piper Cub was replaced with a Super Cub. Because the Super Cub is so much more powerful, more like a helicopter, it is much windier in the back of the plane, where I sit. I almost dropped my beloved iPhone, many times, before I gave up….
I have had to replace my lightweight and versatile iPhone with a “real” camera as the weight of the camera is stabilizing. Today, I share some of my other aerials of the St Lucie/IRL Region from 3-2-19, taken with this heavier camera. I thank my husband Ed for “giving me wings.” Over the coming months, as I adapt, we shall begin to document all of Florida’s east coast. First, here’s home!
Circling back over the IRL and US Sailing Center’s regatta, a beautiful sight!
The remaining photos are coming in for landing circling over the St Lucie at Roosevelt Bridge and developed lands…
Looking towards Palm City over SLR
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Last week, on Friday, the ACOE announced in order to lower Lake O for wet season, it would begin discharging for the next 21 days from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon with an average of 500 cubic feet per second through S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam.
My husband, Ed, and I took aerial photos at the beginning of these discharges on 2-24-19; we continue our documentation today, and in the future. The first set below was taken on Friday, March 1st around 3pm. The second on Saturday, March 2, around 12:30 pm. In both cases, it was an incoming tide ~with more sunshine on Saturday. Obviously, one can see negative changes in water-color and clarity after one week of discharges.