Category Archives: History

Keeping Alive the Power of the Public Voice #3

As I continue my now popular retrospective series “Keeping Alive the Power of the Pubic Voice,” the next St Lucie River rally documented in my LOST SUMMER photo archives is dated August 20, 2013 –Ten days after the Beach Rally and and seventeen days after the first Rally at the Locks.

This was the infamous “riverlution” rally at the the St Lucie Locks and Dam when Governor Rick Scott visited. Just days prior to this, TCPalm put out their STOP KILLING OUR LAGOON issue. These were indeed incredible times! Below is an excerpt I saved from WPTV reporter Jeff Skrzpek, and some of my archived photos. Many people you’ll see in the photographs continue today to work for a better St Lucie River and Everglades LOSOM system.

The St Lucie “Lost Summer” led to significant changes to Florida water policy as we shall we in upcoming post. The recent wave started in Martin  County and continues to crash ashore today.

Excerpt, August 20, 2013 – WPTV

STUART, Fla. — – “Hundreds lined the road, armed with signs and chanted loudly as Governor Rick Scott zoomed by more than 300 protesters on his way to tour the St. Lucie Lock.

“Save our river!” screamed the crowd as the hot sun beamed down sweaty backs.

After arriving, Governor Scott was rushed into fenced area, topped with barbed wire fencing, walking away from the crowd without acknowledging any of the concerned residents. The chants turned from being loud to all out anger…”

-Jeff Skrzypek, WPTV

A protest sign greets Gov. Rick Scott and state Sen. Joe Negron before they tour part of the St. Lucie River near Stuart,Fla, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2013, to access the environmental impact of water being released from Lake Okeechobee. Scott is committing $40 million to finishing construction on a storm water treatment project by the St. Lucie River. He says the $40 million investment from Florida will speed up the completion date of the project which he says will protect the water quality in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Below” screen shot of TCPalm’s STOP KILLING OUR LAGOON SERIES. Note Eve Samples! I see Larry Reisman and I think that’s Ed Killer in the back. It is hard for me to see and recognize the others with my now “old eyes.” 🙂

 

 

Keeping Alive the Power of the Public Voice #2

I’ve had so many calls and reactions to my recent post “Keeping Alive the Power of the Public Voice,” that I’m going to keep sharing my photo archives of the “Riverlution.” Yes, today’s modern Florida water advocacy all started here in Martin County.

This next set of archived photos is dated August 10, 2013, Lost Summer (only seven days after the Rally at the Locks,) and labeled “Beach Rally for the River.” Photos reveal a large crowd at Stuart Beach and aerials of a black coffee/green algae St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Terrible!

For me, one of the all time most inspirational photos is in this collection. I am displaying it as the first one. It shows a  little boy raising his arms in glee towards the sky as Ed’s original River Warrior -the yellow Cub- plane passes overhead and the flag flies! Save Our River! We are working not just for ourselves but for the future. Please keep the power of the public voice alive for all our Everglades’ rivers during the optimization of LOSOM. The voice of the people must direct policy and we must continue to lead the way!

(Email to comment: LakeOComments@usace.army.mil)

Beach Rally for the River, August 10, 2013, Stuart, Florida (Thurlow archives)

Keeping Alive the Power of the Public Voice

Looking back…

As we move into the LOSOM optimization process, let’s recall the power of the public voice that started this St Lucie “riverlution” in 2013. Today in 2021, the River Kidz have all grown up, we have all gotten older, and a slew of new advocates are involved. But as was clear at yesterday’s Rivers Coalition meeting, the movement is still going strong. It got me looking through my photo archives. Amazing! I wanted to share. Let’s all keep alive the power of the public voice for all our rivers – it started here.

TCPALM “Something remarkable happened on the Treasure Coast in 2013. Was it a short-lived phenomenon or the beginning of a sustained movement?”

The beginning of a sustained movement for sure!

~Photos from RALLY AT THE LOCKS, August 3, 2013. Over 5000 people attended having seen  surfer Evan Miller’s Facebook post call to action due to the “Lost Summer.”

 

 

Leading Up to LOSOM

LOSOM is a component of the Central & Southern Florida System Operating Plan and stands for LAKE OKEECHOBEE SYSTEM OPERATION MANUAL. This manual will update Lake Okeechobee operations including discharge amounts and timing to the estuaries. 

When Ed told me he was going to take the Maverick out this morning, I decided it was a good time for me to document the Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. This very technical process has been well reported but remains difficult to understand. Today, I will share a few slides from a recent South Florida Water Management District Meeting on the subject for those who may wish to catch up and for purposes of documentation.

Tomorrow, July 19, 2021, at 1:30 pm the Army Corp of Engineers will announce what they call their “preferred plan” for a new lake schedule referred to as LOSOM. This is very exciting yet stressful, and numerous people have been working on this for years. Even with the announcement, the new lake schedule will not be implemented until 2023 as this slide from SFWMD’s Jennifer Reynold’s displays.

Although many are talking about “enhanced” plans, the Army Corp will be choosing one published plan to begin their “balancing process.” You can view an overview of the plans below. Different stakeholders like different plans depending on their positions. The St Lucie stakeholders have rallied around Plan CC “with enhancements.” At the most recent SFWMD governing board meeting another plan based on CC, entitled S.R. 3.5 was used as an example of how to “optimize” the CC plan. You can watch the meeting here to see the presentations and discussions.

Presentation SFMWD, Jennifer Reynolds, 7-15-21.

Suplemental Material SFMWD

SFMWD meeting 7-15-21 video/all documents. 

In the end, there was discussion about the 3.5 model (positive and negative) but board members supported the policy considerations and “direction” the SFWMD was headed. Please watch the meeting video above for specific comments. (Only 8 hours!)  For tomorrow, the main thing is to keep one’s eyes on the above charts, as those are the charts the Army Corp will be referring to to chose a “preferred plan” as the process for “balance”‘ continues. The Army Corps next step after choosing a preferred plan is to travel around for a “listening tour.” So be sure to look for announcements of their visit to your area.

Back to the slides!

Here are the SFWMD governing board policy considerations building upon Alternative CC. Note algae blooms are now a consideration.

Both Governor DeSantis and the SFWMD put forth statements earlier in the year for the goals of LOSOM. All were big shift in favor of the environment.

As this contentious process continues, we must recognize how much progress has been made for the estuaries. Never before have the estuaries had such a central seat at the table. This will certainly translate into improvements!

Thank you to the Army Corp of Engineers for this remarkable LOSOM NEPA environmental process. I look forward to your decision tomorrow and the continuation of an optimized plan that we  can all be proud of.

Vice Mayor, City of Stuart, Merritt Matheson speaks for the SLR.
Congressman Brian Mast stayed the entire meeting speaking for the SLR.

Snow Moon ~ Hideaway Hammock

Hideaway Hammock is open to the public for events and special evenings.On February 27, 2021, a Snow Moon rose over Hideaway Hammock. This ancient prairie hammock lies in western St Lucie County off of Highway 70 and Carlton Road. Ed and I had been invited to partake in this memorable evening by Mrs Joanne Carlton Humphries and her husband Fred Humphries. Ed and I were delighted to attend.

The evening was a  special one, just the drive was an inspiration -to get out of the city and see the open land. When we arrived, we fetched a drink and introduced ourselves to strangers that soon enough were friends – realizing family and business connections as conversations unfolded. There were about thirty people from near and far. Some as far away as Maine who were very happy to escape the cold weather. 

The hammock is dedicated to the memory of Mr and Mrs Humphries late son, Clay. Certainly he is smiling upon this beautiful place. The meal was really spectacular. Though I most enjoyed taking photos of the incredible trees in the setting sun, and then, later in the evening, during the hay-ride, I watched in amazement as mother cow mooed as her new born calf stood-up proudly for the very first time! 

Ed and I had so much fun!

The moonlight washed over the place like a sentinel, reminding us of Florida’s rich ranching heritage. It was a beautiful evening, listening to Fred and Joanne, around the campfire, share their family histories that in some cases go back to before the statehood of Florida. It was an evening I will always treasure. So incredible that a  Land Remembered exist right here at home. -What is a hammock anyway?-Hideaway Hammock is dedicated to the memory of Joanne and Fred Humphries son, Clay.-Evening falls…-A delicious steak dinner with all the fixings was served on beautiful China!-Mrs Joanne Carlton Humphries and JTL -Jacqui and Ed on the hay-ride! -Passing cows in the moonlight! -Look at those trees! -Back to the hammock for storytelling….

A Land Remembered…

Click here to learn more about Hideaway Hammock.

 

As Far Away As One Can Go, Flamingo…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

American crocodile, an endangered species -The most prevalent wading bird by far was the tri-colored heron-There were many baby crocodiles along the Flamingo Canal warming in the sun. It was 37 degrees in the morning of our second day at ENP! -Because of the plug, manatees must enter the protection of the Flamingo Canal by swimming into the rivers entering Florida Bay that lead eventually into  Whitewater Bay! A very long journey. 20 miles? -Our tour guide, Nick, called this tree along the Flamingo Canal  the “perfect mangrove.” -Flamingo/Buttonwood Canal opening to Coot Bay