Category Archives: aerial photos

Seagrasses? Algae? Who Wins?

The Crossroads off Sewall’s Point in the confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. In 2019, seagrasses can be seen returning to an area that was post-2013, 2016, and 2018  a desert of sand. 8-3-19 photos by Scott Kuhns.

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.

 

8-3-19 Scott Kuhns what do you see?
8-3-19 Scott Kuhns looks back towards Stuart from St Lucie Inlet area. Area to right was once famous for its rich seagrass beds.

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.

Seagrass growing with microalgae: photo SeaGrant: https://seagrant.noaa.gov/News/Article/ArtMID/1660/ArticleID/357/Quantifying-Nitrogen-in-Shellfish-Helps-Planning-Efforts-on-Cape-Cod-
Example of seagrass and microalgae USGS public domain. https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/macroalgae-seagrass-and-litter-oh-my

A Summer Day Without Lake Okeechobee Discharges, 2019

7-28-19

Today,  Ed and I document a summer day along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon without Lake Okeechobee discharges. ACOE, we are grateful! J&E

The Crossroads between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point, the confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Seagrasses returning…
Hutchinson Island south of the St Lucie Inlet, home of the northern reefs. Color- blue not brown!
The St Lucie Inlet looking beautiful.
Sailfish Point at the St. Lucie Inlet, blue and turquoise meet.
Sailfish Point along the ocean with Sailfish Flats and Sewall’s Point in background.
Sailfish Flats east of Hutchinson Island and the Atlantic Ocean. Ed and I could not fly over IRL here due to air traffic, so I could not get up close pictures. But the color certainly looks better!
Turquoise ocean but lots of sargassum weed! Turtles and manatees were present.
Just north of Martin County, St Lucie County’s Hutchinson Island beaches with super density Nettles Island visible in a blue looking Indian River Lagoon.
Hutchinson Island and IRL in St Lucie County
Indian River Lagoon with good visibility as discharge water is not being pushed up north through the IRL in Martin County.
IRL St Lucie County, good visibility and some seagrasses.
IRL St Lucie County looking to the Savannas.
A clearer IRL due to lack of discharges from Lake O. The most suspended sediment comes into the SLR/IRL from Lake O. St Lucie County. As I said earlier the tower would not allow Ed and I to fly over the S. IRL in Martin County due to air traffic. We will have to get it another time.
IRL near St Lucie Power Plant
Nettles Island
Back south, looking over Indian Riverside Park and the Penninsula of Sewall’s Point. IRL on left. St Lucie River on right. St Lucie Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean in distance.
St Lucie River, Langford Landings docks, with Roosevelt Bridge and Stuart in distance.

 

St Lucie River, west side of Sewall’s Point
Wide St Lucie, Roosevelt Bridge, Rio, and Stuart.
Wide St Lucie looking west towards Lake Okeechobee.
Ed and Jacqui -seven years older since the first “lost summer” of photographing in  2013 ~never giving up!
The Super Cub!

 

Army Corps of Engineers’ February 2019 operational change press release for Lake Okeechobee and the Estuaries. This operational decision continues to affect operations this summer: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1764322/corps-takes-action-to-lower-lake-okeechobee-in-advance-of-wet-season/

Kissimmee River Fly-Over; What Men Do They Can Undo

Yesterday, due to presidential Temporary Flight Restrictions, Ed and I decided to fly to the interior of the state and photograph the Kissimmee River. It was a beautiful day, but very bumpy up there.

Looking down at take off, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon appeared dark-colored as the ACOE has been discharging to the river through C-44 from Lake Okeechobee since February 24, 2019 in an attempt to get the lake lower for hurricane season. It has also rained recently so there is canal (C-23; C-24 & C-25) and other runoff mixed in with the Lake O water. As we know, the “throat of our river was cut by these canals…” (https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1791397/corps-adjusts-lake-o-releases-to-caloosahatchee-over-next-two-weeks/)

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!

http://www.ces.fau.edu/riverwoods/kissimmee.php

https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1432/ML14328A488.pdf

https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/kissimmee-river

 

PART1

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.

 

PART 2

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.

 

PART 3

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

~I created a self-made map to show where I took photos; (BETWEEN THE ARROWS). You will see pictures going form south to north.

Documenting the Discharges, 3-17-19

*Please note all comments become public record.

1.Ed and the Super Cub 2019. Our “eye in the sky” since 2013.
2.Tip of South Sewall’s Point looking north to Hell’s Gate. Witham Field, Stuart, west.

We continue to document the discharges…

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.

ACOE Press Release: 3-14-19, ACOE, showing decision to go to 250 cfs to SLR/IRL. ACOE says they are “pulse releasing,” however, these are not the “pulse releases” we are familiar with during prior discharge destruction events, as the number never goes to 0, it just goes up and down. https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1784910/corps-to-continue-lake-o-release-plan-with-minor-adjustments/

Thank you to my husband Ed, for showing us that right now, the river is brown.

ACOE, Periodic Scientists Call, 3-12-19, http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm

 

3. Approaching the SL Inlet, algae covered remaining seagrass beds
4.Sandbar formation inside of SL Inlet
5.Blurry but shows boats at the Sandbar and that weird green brown color
6.Sailfish Point and SL Inlet algae covered remaining seagrass beds
7. Ernie Lyons Bridge, IRL with SL inlet and Hutchinson Island in distance
8. S-80 along C-44 Canal or the Seven Gate of Hell, boats going through locks, “250” cubic feet per second coming though

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/)

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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.

Thank you to my husband Ed, our eye in the sky!

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Temporary Flight Restriction, no Documenting the Discharges this past weekend, SLR/IRL

*Please note comments become public record.

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.”

Full article: https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2019/03/08/lake-okeechobee-discharges/3058538002/

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.

 

Link to TFR: https://contentsharing.net/actions/email_web_version.cfm?ep=vqM2fy2Ox3oo9a147CjVbkrn0IwxwCFcFsGjQGPffFSuxLqprS7UmNebRP1WKNSpmESJaQbSeNkWzNzkVbOhe990ltCQy62JQYPbMjyXjRjnBFTvJig3MX3kqpGJ25BT

S-308 at Port Mayaca, going to C-44 and SLR.
Near Moore Haven where canal goes to Calooshatchee, near S-79.
Somewhere on the way to Tampa region.
Over Lake O.
Looks like part or Restored Kissimmee River above Lake O, with canal.
Flood plain
Lake O again
C-44 canal, FPL pond, heading to Stuart. S-308 just being passed at Port Mayaca, Lake O.

 

Near Tampa, Zephyr Hills area – area one sees what looks like phosphate ponds, mines this is a big issue for water quality for rivers like the Peace and others in Central Florida.

Ed and I will try for an update of the discharges next week!

To Have Wings, SLR/IRL

*Please note comments become public record

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….

(Farewell Old Friend: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/yellow-cub-plane/)

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!

Photo Ed Lippisch, Jacqui with new camera over barren seagrass beds, Sailfish Flats.
Looking towards North Hutchinson Island, nearshore reefs, JTL
Sailfish Point at St Lucie Inlet, JTL
Atlantic Ocean looking east, JTL
IRL and Jensen Beach Bridge, looking east, JTL
Hutchinson Island, Sailfish Point, IRL, Sewall’s Point in distance. Sailfish Flats lie between. JTL
Barren Sailfish Flats, JTL
Indian River Plantation and Cove, Marriott, JTL
IRL, St Lucie Power Plant in background. JTL
IRL- Birds on a sandbar? No, a regatta! JTL
The Savannas, near Jensen, behind Indian River Drive, JTL
Savannah Road and US 1 leading to St Lucie River’s Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, JTL
Expanding Town of Ocean Breeze Park, IRL, JTL
Rio/Jensen, Warner Creek, peninsula of Sewall’s Point, Stuart proper and airport, JTL
Destructive C-23 canal separating Martin and St Lucie Counties across from North River Shores, SLR, JTL
Dixie Highway and train track, JTL
US 1
Roosevelt Bridge, discharges from LO coming through –  see sediment…

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

Please note all comments become part of the Public Record.

500cfs from Lake O, Documenting the Discharges 3-1-19, 3-2-19

*All comments become public record.

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.

Your eye in the sky,

Jacqui & Ed

ACOE website and press release on discharges to the SLR and Caloosahatchee: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1764322/corps-takes-action-to-lower-lake-okeechobee-in-advance-of-wet-season/

 

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

Set #1, 3-1-19, 3:10pm  Ed Lippisch all photos

In this photo one can see the airstrip at Witham Field with flight going over Crossroads of St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon as confluence meets at Sewall’s Point flowing out to St Lucie Inlet at Hutchison Island. The bare sand was formerly rich seagrass beds that have been devastated by the discharges. All photos are taken in this area of the St Lucie Inlet.

 

Set #2, 3-2-19, 12:45 pm Ed Lippisch

Plume south of St Lucie Inlet

You can click here to see what it looked like after one day on 2-24-19 to compare to what river near confluence looked like after being dumped on for one week: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2019/02/25/documenting-the-discharges-slr-irl-2-24-19/

Documenting the Discharges, SLR/IRL 2-24-19

*Please note comments become public record.

S-80 looking towards Lake Okeechobee one sees discharges coming through gates, photo Ed Lippisch 2-24-19

These aerial photos were taken yesterday, 2-24-19, by my husband, Ed Lippisch. The first two are of S-80, the structure at St Lucie Locks and Dam that drains water from the surrounding C-44 basin and also allows water to enter the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon from Lake Okeechobee.

On Friday, the ACOE announced it would be working up to 500 cubic feet per second to be discharged from Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River for possibly the next three weeks. These photos are meant as a starting point, and Ed and I will continue, weather allowing, to document the discharges. The discharge numbers can be viewed on the ACOE website but they are alway a day behind: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm Website: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil

According to Corps’ PR, their theory in doing this is to lower lake stage through structures they control S-80 (SL) east; & S-77; (Cal.) west, by dumping non-algae water now, rather than cyanobacteria laden water during summer later. 
News Release: https://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Media/News-Releases/Article/1764322/corps-takes-action-to-lower-lake-okeechobee-in-advance-of-wet-season/fbclid/IwAR3XE7bPGMw8nscQwlVO7Rf6VowbwG2In1XznVY42rSbfgjgMTsO2F2N5yE/

Structures and canals south of LO 2013 SFWMD map showing canals. The ACOE controls the structures discharging to the estuaries on east and west and the SFWMD controls those going south.

The four gates south of the lake are exclusively controlled by the South Florida Water Management District. The following is provided to check data:https://www.sfwmd.gov/science-data/current-water-conditions?fbclid=IwAR3CSQnkhhAJvXs1qxP-kGg728CLDewcgoDBo81GJf8URtwWURFnq7XjtAA. Here is the full structure and facilities list, it’s a whopper: https://www.sfwmd.gov/sites/default/files/documents/facility_map_overview.pdf

Ed and I plan on taking another flight next week to see how these discharges have visually affected the St Lucie and will do so until they are ended.

S-80 of the C-44 Canal is connected to the South Fork of the St Lucie River, here looking towards Stuart and Atlantic Ocean, note discharges coming through gates. Ed Lippisch 2-24-19
Beaches south of St Lucie Inlet by Peck’s Lake, (being-renourished). This area is also known as the Jupiter Narrows. Photo Ed Lippisch 2-14-19.
View of Sailfish Flats over Hutchinson Island, 2-24-19 Ed Lippisch
St Lucie Inlet where SLR and IRL meet at Atlantic Ocean, 2-24-19 Ed Lippisch
SL Inlet showing Jupiter Island south and Hutchinson Island north, 2-14-19 Ed Lippisch

Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

 

Pin is location east of EAA Reservoir area; Stuart is blue dot, and Chokoloskee is next to Everglades City on lower west coast.

The day began with smoke, smoke off the sugarcane fields.

Yesterday, Ed and I took a flight from Stuart to Everglades City, passing Chokoloskee and photographing the EAA Reservoir lands along the way. It is huge out there in the “Everglades,” seemingly endless. The easiest way to get one’s bearings is to look for the Miami and New River Canals that run south of Lake Okeechobee. Highway 27 parallels the New River Canal; where the red balloon is located above is the area east of where the EAA Reservoir will be constructed. For more specifics see link (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/a-1-aerial/)

For Ed and I the flight, although hazy, was an opportunity to learn to recognize from the air Water Conservation Area 3, just south of the EAA Reservoir Area. The water conservation area lands are not located in Everglades National Park, but water quality is protected.

“To me these are the Everglades,” Ed said looking down.

“They are but they aren’t,” I replied. “They are part of the Central and South Florida Project, they are not natural; they are controlled. When they are too full from EAA water, the water from Lake O is not allowed to go south. If too full, from rain, or otherwise the animals can drown. Trapped on the tree islands raccoon, and deer, and panther together. Terrible.”

“Why can’t the water just flow south,” Ed asked.

“Lot of reasons, people like to say it’s because of an endangered bird, but its bigger than that, mostly because we have chosen to make it that way, and powerful entities keep our legislature from changing it in spite of what the voters say.” (SFWMD Constraints: https://apps.sfwmd.gov/SystemConstraintsDataApp/)

Ed did not reply.

We looked forward to what appeared to be little hills. The cypress domes of Big Cypress National Park reflected in the sunlight, and I could see “end of the earth” Chockoloskee right next to Everglades City in the distance. Pretty…

I can understand why people like to live down there so far away from everything. But they too can not escape our problems ~not with water.

WCAs: https://archive.usgs.gov/archive/sites/sofia.usgs.gov/virtual_tour/controlling/wca.html

Water Conservation Area 3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Conservation_Area_3

Big Cypress National Preserve: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm

Chockoloskee: https://www.florida-everglades.com/chokol/home.htm

Cape Seaside Sparrow:
http://www.wlrn.org/post/controversial-bird-should-everglades-restoration-hinge-single-species

https://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/atlss/sparrows/ibsemabgeer00.html#fig1

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/seaside-sparrow

Water Conservation Areas
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Smoke rises over sugarcane fields southwest of Martin County near the Palm Beach Canal
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Smoke, canals, sugarcane fields

 

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Belle Glade, FL south of Lake Okeechobee
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Ed asked what this is. Not sure flooded fields, mining?
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Flowing Highway 27, the A1 on west side begins to show. Now a Flow Equalization Basin this land was once the Tailman Sugar Mill and is located on the east side of where the EAA reservoir is to be constructed.
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Looking west of A1 towards A2 where EAA Reservoir is to be built
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A1 from another position
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The North New River Canal to Ft Lauderdale now follows Highway 27. It once was in isolation as people used the canal to get to and from Lake O from the mouth of the New River
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Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA3) lies under A1 and A2 area; although not part of Everglades National Park, it’s water quality is protected:

Continue reading Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

Looking Back, St Lucie River ~Rain and Algae 2018

Even though the water in yesterday’s photo looked gorgeous, lest we forget, here are some images of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon area during a rainy and cyanobacteria ridden 2018.

Ed and I didn’t start taking pictures until were motivated…

In March 2018 there was a tremendous rain event. (https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/flood-control/managing-high-water)
My homemade rain gauge showed over 27 inches in just a few days along the coast!

You’ll see that after the rain event, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon looks terrible even with out Lake Okeechobee discharges. This is caused by directed water runoff from C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44 and “local” coastal runoff.  Naturally, the river never took all this water. Humans made it this way, and we must fix it.

SFWMD canal and basin map.

Soon after the torrential rain, the Army Corp of Engineers made things even worse and started dumping from Lake Okeechobee through the C-44 Canal into the St Lucie River by opening up the gates at S-308 and S-80.

My husband, Ed,  first flew over Lake O on June 1st,  just by chance. At this time, he spotted algae on the lake and took a photo.  Ironically, the next day, the Army Corp started dumping from Lake Okeechobee on June 2nd!

The algae or cyanobacteria (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bacteria/cyanointro.html)
that was festering in the Lake began to show up almost immediately thereafter in the St Lucie River that has also become  a “nutrient porridge.”

The rest unfortunately is history. 2018  was bad, but in my opinion not as awful as 2016 when the ocean was totally green: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/bathtub-beach-algae/

After another long, hot summer, the Army Corp finally stopped discharging in the fall~October 5th… Take a look at the photos and remember to enjoy the blue water when it is here, but NEVER FORGET! Only though looking back, will we have the determination to change the future.

Major rain event in March 2018.  Rain filled this vile up many times!
SLR IRL following major rain event in March 2018. This is runoff from C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44,  and “locally” from developed areas along the river and uplands made to drain into river. JTL
Following rain event in March 2018. A brown Atlantic.
Following rain event in March 2018, the SLR/IRL ~Scott Kuhns
Following rain event in March 2018 Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points ~Scott Kuhns
June 5th. A very dark plume moves south along Jupiter Island, just days after ACOE begins dumping so this is a combination of all pollution/runoff  waters…

LAKE OKEECHBEE DISCHARGES ADDED

Ed in the Cub after plume photo
Algae as photographed/spotted by Ed in Lake O on June 1st 2018.

City of Stuart, June 9 2018.

Rio near Central Marine, week of June 12, 2018

Photographing a manatee in the algae along seawall by Mary Radabaugh
Mary Radabaugh manages Central Marine with her husband. JTL

Mary found a dead baby manatee floating in the putrid water shortly after LO discharges.  MR

LAKE O: Week of June 16th, June 25th, and July 22nd. Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) blooms and then subsides. ~All the while, this water is dumped into the St Lucie River by the Federal Govt.; the water quality is terrible and this the responsibility not of the Feds but of the State of Florida.

Algae is now very visible in Lake O, June 16, 2018 JTL
June 25, 2018 Lake O, near S-308, Port Mayaca.  JTL
C-44 canal leading to SLR from Lake O.
C-44 canal leading from LO to SLR.
Satellite view LO bloom on June 24, 2018. ~At its height.
By July 22, 2018 the bloom in the LO is lessening, JTL
August 29, algae would come and go, throughout the SLR. Here near Overlook Drive JTL
September 4, algae still “coming and going” ~2018 Snug Harbor, Stuart.  Photo by my uncle, Dale Hudson

October 5, the ACOE stops dumping from Lake O. The blooms stop almost right away but the damage remains….

December 8, 2018 the river looks “normal” again near Sewall’s Point but it is not. JTL

Blue Water on Christmas Day, 2018

What should be normal, was a gift on Christmas Day, blue water in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. The peninsula of Sewall’s Point shone like the gem it is surrounded by aquamarine on both sides: the St Lucie River on its west, and the Indian River Lagoon on its east…

Feeling like the Bahamas, rather than the toxic-sludge we had to endure ~coming mostly from Lake Okeechobee this past summer, 2018, and yes, remember 2016, and 2013….the destruction must stop!

As 2019 edges into the picture, we will once again have to give everything we have to fight for clean water and encourage our state and federal government to support legislation “sending the water south.”

Seeing these beautiful blue waters once again is certainly encouraging. Now to keep the Army Corp and South Florida Water Management District at bay long enough, as projects proceed, and allow our precious seagrass beds to return so baby fish can once again hide, swim, and grow to maturity in these waters; once christened the “most bio-diverse in North America.”

Thank you to my dear husband, Ed, for these photos all taken 12-25-18. And from both of us, “Merry Christmas!”

Sewall’s Point lies between the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon
Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s and Sailfish Point. Seagrass remains bleak after years of discharges from Lake O, and other area canals
St Lucie Inlet opening to the Atlantic Ocean between Sailfish Point and the southern end of St Lucie Inlet State Park on Jupiter Island
Another angle of St Lucie Inlet area
Remnants of once lush sea grass beds off Sewall’s Point
Another angle: Evan’s Crary and Ernest Lyons Bridges on far right
A great shot of the now pathetic seagrass beds. This area was once considered “the most bio-diverse in North America,” with approximately 700 acres of healthy seagrasses in this area between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points

Photo below as a comparison ___________________________________________________________________________

NEVER FORGET! Town of Sewall’s Point, Martin County Florida, 9-2013 surrounded by polluted waters released from Lake Okeechobee. Even the ocean brown! Similar years were 2016 and 2018 both with cyanobacteria blooms along shorelines. This awful sediment, and nutrient filled water is dumped on us by our federal and state government and is a health hazard.

Historic Photos of Mosquito Control Along the Indian River Lagoon

Mosquito Ditch Digging, c.1920

The photograph above is one of those rare images that tells you everything even without a caption. This photo, shared by my mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, (http://www.sandrathurlow.com) was given to her by Mrs. Elizabeth Early, a pioneer of Stuart, “Stuart on the St Lucie.” The photo is entitled “Mosquito Ditch Digging,” and the subjects are unidentified. My mother believes the photo was taken in our region around 1920.

Mosquito truck, Florida Memory.

Mosquitos…such an integral part of Florida ~as is our war against them. Some have even gone as far to call the mosquito our “state bird.” As a kid, growing up in Sewall’s Point, in the 1970s, I remember having to run in place at the bus stop so as not to be attacked. Forever it seemed, I had white scars covering my tan scrawny legs. Another classic mosquito tale is gleefully riding my bike, along with my friends, behind the fog of the mosquito trucks. When we heard the trucks coming  we ran from our houses, meeting in the street, quickly negotiating who got to be first behind the blower.

In any case, the mosquito ditches, the mosquito control districts, and the small green and white metal markers along Indian River Drive reading “MC” for Mosquito Control are not something we think too much about anymore, but for the old timers, mosquitos, and our war against  them, and thus against Nature, defines this place.

My mother’s photos from her “Mosquito Control” file tell part of our local Martin County tale below. The lands are almost unrecognizable. In 1948 when the “Bridges to the Sea” were constructed over the Indian River Lagoon onto Hutchinson Island’s beaches – everything changed. The wetlands, the scrublands, and the old bean farms from early pioneers were ditched and diked, laced through and through like a pearl necklace. The government and owners organized with the goal to control those pesky mosquitos so the land would be fit for fill and for sale.

Over time, the mosquitoes lessened, and more and more people came to replace them.

According to my mother,  some of the very early mosquito control worked by allowing fish  into ditches to eat the larva; this not-so-intense mode was later replaced by other more stringent methods, including chemical means using DDT. As so often is the case in Florida, we are “successful,” successful at the expense of the environment.

Today we drive over the the Indian River Lagoon and forget the wars we’ve waged to live here, and instead, we wage a war to put our environment back into place.

Like little pearls, dragline scoops of white sand are deposited along the sides of freshly dug mosquito ditches, the idea being for the fish to come in from the lagoon and eat the mosquito larva. In this photo the Stuart Causeway is being constructed form Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island. This area is where the Marriott’s Indian River Plantation and Marina are located today. (Thurlow collection, photo by Arthur Ruhnke, Ca 1948.)
10-16-57 photo Aurthur Ruhnke, Thurlow Collection.  Athough one cannot see the piles of sand as well, they are there. This broad aerial shows all what is today’s Marriott, Indian River PlantationMarriott along Ocean Boulevard, Stuart Beach, The Elliott Museum, Florida Oceanographic and Publix.
Mosquito ditches Hutchinson Island, 1952, (Thurlow Collection, Aurthur Ruhnke) In the 1980s this area was developed by Mobile Corporation as Sailfish Point. Note natural ponds. After the mosquito ditches dug were, over the years, red mangroves already growing along the shoreline would move into the interior of the land via the dug canals. Note visible lush seagrass beds inside of Indian River Lagoon, this area was the epicenter of our SLR/IRL being the most diverse estuary in North America. This information is rooted in a conversation my mother had with, Grant Gilmore, an expert in area fisheries and in the IRL itself.
Mangroves -1956, Hutchinson Island, Thurlow Collection, Aurthur Ruhnke. Note straight lined mosquito ditches. Today this area is in Jensen Beach just north of Jensen Beach Blvd., were a large swath of mangroves has died that inspired my mother to share these photos today.

Links:

“Large Swath of Dead Mangroves, but Why?” Blog that inspired toda’s post: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2018/09/11/large-swath-of-dead-mangroves-but-why-slr-irl/

“Human Eradication of Mosquitoes, San Francisco, and the Destruction of the Indian River Lagoon: ” https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/mosquito-stuart-history/

UF/IFAS: http://mosquito.ifas.ufl.edu/Florida_Mosquito_Control.htm

Smithsonian: http://www.sms.si.edu/IRLSpec/Impoundments.htm

Martin County: Mosquito Conrol:https://www.martin.fl.us/MosquitoControl

Dept of Ag. & Consumer Services: https://www.freshfromflorida.com/Consumer-Resources/Health-and-Safety/Mosquito-Control-Directory

Our Algae Crisis Through the Lens of Master Photographer, Mac Stone

St Lucie Lock & Dam, S-80 where water from sick Lake Okeechobee is sent into the St Lucie River

It really says something about the state of Florida waters, when our most renowned Nature photographers visit to photograph the decline of what was once most beautiful. They cannot lie. To only photograph what is beautiful, is not to tell the story of what is happening to Florida’s waters.

On August 19, my husband Ed and I had the pleasure of taking award-winning Florida conservation photographer,  Mac Stone, https://www.macstonephoto.com for a flight over the St Lucie River, Lake Okeechobee, and afterwards, for a Sunday toxic drive.

Today, I share Mac’s photos, a testament to the terrible we must change…

To be around Mac himself was very uplifting. His message, I offer below. Please visit his Facebook page to view how Mac presented his St Lucie algae experience and to see his other work that is entirely inspirational.

Thank you Mac for sharing. Thank you Mac for caring! It meant so much to have you visit the dear St Lucie and your story reaches the world.

https://www.facebook.com/MacStonePhotography/

“Cities and estuaries, homeowners and businesses, beach goers and anglers, dems and repubs, people and wildlife, we are all affected by polluted water, no matter where you live. It’s heartbreaking to see my beloved coasts and wetlands like this and to hear the desperation in residents’ voices as algae-laden water courses through the arteries of their backyards. Let’s make sure this doesn’t happen again. Elections are coming up and no matter how you lean, please vote for water.” ~Mac Stone

#noworneverglades #florida #algae #everglades @ Martin County, Florida

Algae stream from Lake Okeechobee under the Veterans’ Bridge, Palm City
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae takes shape in C-44
A boat, no people, a dock, an eerie St Lucie River
The point is no longer the place to be
Cyanobacteria on the west side of Lake Okeechobee, littoral zone, and clouds
Driven by wind, what is toxic, proves beautiful in some odd way
Western Lake Okeechobee with toxic algae blowing into shoreline marsh
A striking image, giant fingers of cyanobacteria and a small boat, Lake Okeechobee
Empty Tiki Bar- Palm City is not, now so fun
Palm City, blue-green algae, properly called cyanobacteria- between red mangroves
Lightning strikes, an ancient form in modern times -cyanobacteria along the St Lucie
Gar fish, St Lucie Estuary, #toxic18
An outdated water model. St Lucie Locks and Dam. Florida must change from water management to water enhancement

_________________________________________________________

“Farewell Dear Friend,” River Warrior Plane, SLR/IRL

I’m the kind of person who gets attached. I’m loyal to people and things that are good to me. One of those is the Legend Cub, the little yellow airplane that started flying in Stuart in 2013.

As she began to fly over the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon helping spot destruction from Lake Okeechobee discharges, she came to be known by those who saw her from the ground as the “River Warrior.” Over time, she became known far and wide to pilots, guests, reporters, home-owners, boaters, beach-goers, and children. She flew over multiple river rallies tipping wings side-to-side “waving” inspiring thousands of people.

She inspired me too.

When I was too afraid to get up in the air with my husband, it was she who gave me wings. I trusted her to help me tell our River Story and she did. She discovered algae water pouring through S-80 and the gigantic algae blooms documented in Lake Okeechobee…

Looking back on the thousands of photos Ed and I took from her open cockpit, these photos starting with the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments, were shared and published~during that changing “Lost Summer,” of 2013, and then 2016, and now, 2018.

The River Warrior’s distinctive yellow strutted aerials have been instrumental in gaining statewide and national attention of the government sponsored destruction of our St Lucie River. The little plane gave us our first look from above and she woke us to action, yes, she did.

~Never a stutter and always with a singing engine she flew…

Since 2013, there have been more “Lost Summers,” now complete with disappeared seagrasses, and toxic blue-green algae to boot. She has seen it all. And today, there are now a total of five Cubs in Martin and Lee Counties. Indeed, being so cute and reliable, she stared a trend.

Nonetheless, next week, she is being sold and replaced with a “better” model. For me, there is no better model. She has changed the game; she gave me confidence to fly when I had none; she shall be missed and remembered forever. So if you see her this final week please wave “goodbye” and wish her well.

Farewell and thank you River Warrior plane. May your next adventure be as touching to those around you, as you have been to me. You are, and alway will be, the soul and heart of our river movement legend.

Love,

Jacqui

Photos from 2013

One of many algae blooms on Lake O:

July 18, 2017
May 30, 2016

One of many river rallies:

Rainy Today? Na! Remember 1947? Holy Cow! SLR/IRL

My husband tells me I shouldn’t consider myself NOAA, but I am certain that since May 13th my rain gauge has documented over 34 inches of rain in south Sewall’s Point.

Crazy!

I have had cabin fever, trapped inside, but happy my roof is not leaking. And to think, hurricane season doesn’t officially start until Friday!

It has rained hard in Florida before; we just might not remember…

Crying Cow image along with report, sent to Washington to promote C&SFP.

The  South Florida Water Management District describes the most memorable of rains like this:

“In 1947, after years of drought, the state is deluged by rainfall averaging 100 inches per year. This “Crying Cow” cover illustration from a 1947 flood drainage report becomes the symbol of the devastating effects of South Florida’s weather extremes. Floridians ask the federal government to step in with a flood protection plan.”

That flood protection plan was named the Central and South Florida Project, or C&SFP and it did indeed help tremendously with the flooding, but unfortunately came along with serious side effects that destroy our ecosystem, especially our waters. This is why there is CERP, “The Restudy,” or Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, consisting of 68 major projects that the EAA Reservoir (https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/cerp-project-planning/eaa-reservoir)
is part. CERP’s goal is to try to undo, or ameliorate, some of what was done in 1948 and onward due to 1947’s rain.

SFWMD, C&SFP: http://141.232.10.32/about/restudy_csf_devel.aspx

Everglades Restoration: https://www.evergladesrestoration.gov

Sun Sentinel Article on 1947 rains: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1990-09-09/features/9002130092_1_lake-okeechobee-water-hurricane

River of Interest, ACOE, C&SFP: http://141.232.10.32/docs/river_interest/031512_river_interests_2012_chap_02.pdf

When I was trapped inside during the deluge this past weekend, I started wondering what the land looked like back then, in the 40s, when the federal government made so many changes. I wasn’t born yet, but my father’s parents would come to Stuart in 1952, not too much later. Since then through agriculture and development most of these lands have changed.  All those little ponds should have been a clue. You can drain them, but you can’t take them away.

View Florida’s early landscapes: UF Smather’s Library, Dept of Ag. Aerial Surveys: 1938 onward : http://ufdc.ufl.edu/aerials/all

UF Library 1940 aerials, Dept. of Agriculture. Border Palm Beach and Martin County
Close-up Palm Beach/Martin border 1940. Note ponds/wetlands.

Don’t be Fooled by Beauty; Our Barren River… SLR/IRL

My husband, Ed, took these photos of the Indian River Lagoon at the St Lucie Inlet on 2-28-18, just a few days ago. They are certainly beautiful enough to sell real estate…The turquoise water is so pretty one could easily overlook the sand desert below the surface waters.

Enjoy the blue water, but know that especially since 2013, our seagrass beds have been decimated by black sediment filled waters and toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Seagrasses are the nursery for all sea life, especially the baby fish. These beds need time to reestablish if they ever will.

True beauty has something to offer, not just “surface water.” Keep your eye on the lake and fight against any coming releases this summer so we can get life back in our dear dead river.
 

Lake O level, ACOE: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml

The Importance of Seagrasses, FWC: http://myfwc.com/research/habitat/seagrasses/information/importance/

Paynes Prairie ~A Lake With a Road Through It…

I remember my historian mother telling me that Paynes Prairie was once a giant lake and that in the mid-1800s, before a sinkhole drained the lake, famed pioneer and pineapple farmer, Capt. Thomas E. Richards sailed from the St Johns River, in Jacksonville, over the lake, only to wind up at the Indian River Lagoon in Eden, near today’s Jensen.

Well this past Friday, on my way to Gainesville for the “Future of Florida Summit” (http://www.futureoffloridasummit.com) Paynes Prairie looked like it had become a lake once again. Although it is not a truly a lake any longer, it must be flooded as the prairie’s water levels go up and down.

As my grandparents lived in Gainesville and I graduated from UF, I have driven across the prairie many times, but seeing it from the air “all wet looking” really took me aback.  Like a miniature Tamiami Trail, one could see Highway 441 going right through this “lake!”

Apparently in 2000, eco-underpasses were installed as it has been widely documented that thousands of animals, mostly reptiles, have been killed on this road. And yet, many animals, reptiles and other, continue to be killed.

I know it would be expensive, but since transportation is perhaps one of the most highly funded of all state departments, in the billions and billions of dollars, and since Florida’s wildlife and natural lands rank as a portion of the state’s number one economic driver, tourism… could not, over time, Hwy. 441 become more like the Tamiami Trail is becoming, more bridged than flat…

It just doesn’t make sense to have a lake, or an Everglades, with a road through it.

Ed and I, a selfie on the way to Gainesville
A rainbow in the sky

Links:

Paynes Prairie website: web site: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Paynes-Prairie

Good historical article on Paynes Prairie: Chicago Tribune1991:http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1991-12-29/travel/9104260758_1_wild-horses-bison-spanish-florida

FDOT http://www.fdot.gov

2017-18, Funding for FDOT, state of Florida: https://www.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/news/2017/02/01/see-which-local-highway-port-programs-just-got.html

Abstract, animal mortality along 441 in Paynes Prairie and eco-underpass: http://www.jstor.org/stable/24321153

Twilight Flight Over the St Lucie River, SLR/IRL

Last night’s twilight flight was a first for me, but not for my husband Ed. Usually, we fly in daylight chasing algae blooms or black Lake Okeechobee water…

Last night was just for fun, but one still feels the pull to protect this sacred place.

The beauty of the lands lighting up beneath us was almost as inspiring as the sunset. Humanity, such promise.

We do live in a beautiful place. A place to protect and call home…

Documenting the Discharges, 12-4-17, SLR/IRL

12-4-17, ca. 2:45 pm, photos: Ed Lippisch & Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch

The Army Corp of Engineers has lessened but not stopped Lake O discharges that started September 20th, 2017 just prior to Hurricane Irma. Perhaps as the discharges have gone on at such a high rate for a comparatively long time,  the plume has had a chance to extend its territory. In yesterday’s photos, the dark, filthy plume is reaching clearly south beyond the exclusive Town of Jupiter Island.

Yesterday was a beautiful day, but the river and ocean waters of our entire region were ugly, possibly contaminated. How are we to enjoy our property and lives here?

When viewing the aerials below, please note the blue, sapphire-colored water just on the edge of the discharge plume. Yes, of course all estuaries put forth darkened fresh water after a rain event, and Ed and I could see this occurring just south at Jupiter Inlet. Nonetheless, the black, gigantic plume that we repeatedly endure for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon due to discharges from Lake Okeechobee is an aberration.

Please let’s all  support Joe Negron and the public’s work to build the EAA Reservoir; clean & send the water south!

Lake O discharges: http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm
Looking south along the southern most area of Jupiter Island.
Looking north along Jupiter Island-dark ocean waters. Jupiter Narrows an extension of the IRL on left.
Plume -looking north along Atlantic coast
Edge of plume; note clean sapphire colored water juxtaposed to dark Lake O/canal plume
Another angle, Jupiter Island,  looking south-blur due to wind and camera movement
Back at St Lucie Inlet
IRL, note bare bottom. This area is known as the Sailfish Flats and once had hundreds of acres of seagrass beds.
The Sandbar, a popular weekend recreational area for boaters, especially families, surrounded in dark Lake O discharge waters. This is a health issue.
Barren Sailfish Flats