The 37th Annual Everglades Coalition Conference took place at Hawk’s Cay in Duck’s Key, January 6-8 2022. I’ve attended almost all of the conferences since 2012 and this year’s was another one for the history books: Everglades Restoration: “Investing in a Climate Resilient Future.”
I am sharing all pages that include the program schedule and award winners. You can reference full program from above link. I will also include various photographs, and a my phone’s video of legend, Mr Dick Pettigrew’s acceptance speech – He was awarded the “Hall of Fame” award. He is 92 years old and still going strong! What a wonderful conference.
It was impressive to see almost the entire SFWMD board and executive staff in attendance and the ACOE’s Col. Jamie Booth, and LTC Todd Polk – along with ACOE staff. So many participants from so many perspectives! We are listening and all have the same goal: to adapt and restore America’s Everglades.
-Martin County legend Mark Perry, was awarded the Conservation Award (Ed and JTL, Nancy and Mark Perry, Eve Samples)
If there is any child that epitomizes the River Kidz movement, it is Veronica Dalton. The date was August 3, 2013, and Ed and I were out of town. We were somewhere in North Carolina when my phone started blowing up. “There is going to be a Lost Summer protest at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Surfer, Evan Miller, put a Facebook invite, and over 5000 people are coming!”“Holy cow Ed!” I said. ” I can’t believe we’re gone for this. The River Kidz need to be part. What should I do? There is this newer member, she has written her speeches out before the group for other events, Veronica Dalton. I’m going call her parents, Tammy and John and next, Rivers Coalition leader, Leon Abood, and see if Veronica will do it.” Her parents put Veronica on the phone. Leon supported.
The rest is history.
Eleven year old Veronica Dalton, a student at Port Salerno Elementary School, in her own words- spoke before a crowd of over 5000 people. In the photos sent to me, I could see the crowd loved her and she was beaming!“She has never been nervous about public speaking since,” I am told by her parents John and Tammy Dalton of Stuart. Veronica graduated from South Fork High School’s International Baccalaureate Program. She is now a Sophomore at the Department of Theatre at Florida State University in Tallahassee. I had a chance to catch up with her when she was home during the holidays in late December 2021.
JTL: “Veronica! Great to hear your voice. Tell me about yourself!”
Veronica: “So I’m a theatre major with the School of Theatre at FSU. I’m focusing on design production so I am more on the technical side of theatre and film. I’m learning to design costumes, build costumes. I took a welding class last semester. It’s all hands on work. I am presently working in the costume shop as a stichary, so I’m getting show credits for all of the productions being put on so far. I’ve joined in a non profit organization named MUSED PRODUCTIONS. The goal is to bring focus to artist in Tallahassee. We basically put on live music events that are themed. In April, we’re putting on a ball which is going to have a fashion show element to it as well. So I am the creative director of that event.”
JTL: “Very impressive! I know you were into theatre at South Fork as well. Has Covid waned a bit or is it still defining university?”
Veronica: “At least this year, 2021, it doesn’t seem to be as prominent as last year. FSU isn’t allowed to require students to wear mask so they just highly encourage wearing a mask and getting vaccinated. It’s been normalized now. In 2020 it was pretty intense, we had no in person classes, I was like doing performance theater in my bedroom in front of a camera. It was very strange. This this year having a personal connection is really nice.”
JTL: “Your River Kidz experience of your youth, are any of those skills translatable to what you are doing now?”
Veronica: “Well, yes. So all of the public speaking I did has prepared me to better articulate my ideas especially when I’m coming up with designs and then I have to present them to a director – getting my ideas across – and now I’m doing event management so I’m like really learning how to stay in conversation and host events and organize with other groups of people who have similar interest. So that’s all been very helpful. The communication aspect of River Kidz has really helped.”
JTL: “This makes me so happy Veronica. That’s the thing with skills such as public speaking, especially speaking before a political group, politician, or a crowd, that is applicable to all things in life. It instills confidence.”
Veronica: “My end goal is to go into entertainment law and help costume designers and fashion designers have quality and equal pay – not living unworkable hours -start helping the economic side of theatre.”
~”Also what I’ve I learned in the theatre and the fashion industry is that every thing is very wasteful. They have fast fashion brands like Sheen or Forever 21 that are over-utilizing resources abroad and it’s just causing more waste to be produced. I want to work for creating more sustainable fashion and sustainable fashion houses. We really need to start working on that. There’s so much that goes into it. There’s copyright law because Sheen is always stealing designs off of Instagram and selling them at a cheaper price and they are cheaply made. Usually, those outfits are only worn once or a few times because they are poorly made and they end up in a dump and the cycle just continues.”
JTL: Wow, I would have never thought about that.”
Veronica: “There’s so much sustainability that needs to be brought into theatre and film just to keep it a sustainable art and not something that over time becomes difficult to do because we don’t have the resources we need.”JTL: “Wow the River Kidz recycling education is in you Veronica! I’m so proud! Do you have any words of wisdom for the next generation of River Kidz?”
Veronica: “It’s kind of cliche, but get out of your comfort zone. I say this…. It’s all because, the River Kidz, was an accident chance occurrence- you pushing me onto the stage to speak… 🙂
-Photos shared by Veronica of herself and her boyfriend Trey. Thank you Veronica!
I read late into the night, and recognized early in chapter one, that author, Lamar Johnson’s childhood account of the 1921 Everglades was absolutely captivating and included an event that I had attended “100 years later,” -through the South Florida Water Management District in 2021.Lamar Johnson tells many incredible stories. The one that follows his dog, Lassie, getting dragged down deep to her death in the Miami Canal by a giant alligator includes his boyhood account of the murder of G.C. Douglas, the first Deputy Sheriff in Lake Harbor, once near Bare Beach, in Palm Beach County. As alluded to, I had been exposed to this story of the Deputy – and invited in August of 2021, to the 100 year later – memorial – by my parent’s dear friend, Chappy Young, GCY INC.
-Group shot -SFWMD Board Members, Ben Butler, JTL, and Exec. Dir. Drew Bartlett-Photos from the area, Lake Harbor, just east of Clewiston along Lake Okeechobee. -The old Miami Locks. Lake Okeechobee met the canal here in 1921. -Location of event as shown on Google Maps, easy to see how the lake once reached this area and beyond during wet season, then flowed south through the River of Grass.-This Google Map close up shows the Old Miami Locks from above at Azalea Court and Weaver Lane; note width of original canal compared to today. Thankfully this has been preserved as a state historic site. -Arriving with Regional Rep. Sherry McCorkle -The Riderless Horse awaits its que-Getting ready to start the ceremony -Looking around-People begin to gather -Family of Deputy Douglas-JTL -Ben Butler, Chappy Young, and JTL -Chappy and members of Douglas Family-Libby Pigman, Regional Rep. SFWMD -The ceremony begins -Dog belonging to a member of the crowd, left its owner during gunshots, hiding in next to Ben Butler. So cute! -Sheriffs/organizers with Chappy Young -Old Miami Locks – far right
Mission Statement: Our mission is to safeguard and restore South Florida’s water resources and ecosystems, protect our communities from flooding, and meet the region’s water needs while connecting with the public and stakeholders.”
-Ms Jennifer Reynolds, Director of Ecosystem Restoration and Capital Projects, presents to the Governing Board, Okeechobee, October, 2021.I am proud to serve on the Governing Board of the South Florida Water Management District. As 2021 comes to a close, I would like to document what the board and staff with the help, firstly, of Governor Ron DeSantis, and also South Florida residents, organizations, and state and federal government investment have accomplished since 2019. This list was compiled by Communications Director, Mr Sean Cooley, after the November meeting in West Palm Beach, as brought to our attention by Vice-Chair Scott Wagner.
-Everglades Drainage District Map 1914, Florida MemoryI love historic documents! In case you enjoy reading them too, I am sharing three that I have recently studied that come from the South Florida Water Management District’s archives – perhaps not “seen” since the 1940s, 50s or 60s.
The first two are very similar. These notebooks were compiled by the Everglades Drainage District, precursor of the South Florida Water Management District, to document and explain South Florida’s great physical and monetary losses due to the rains, flooding, storms, and hurricanes of 1947. Using the technology available of the day, I see these documents as a “local call for help” to the State of Florida and the U.S. Federal Government.
Starting around 1914, first, was the Everglades Drainage District; second, 1948, the Central and South Florida Flood Control District; and third, 1977, the South Florida Water Management District. Due to the photographs in these two reports, I believe they were precursors to the famed Crying Cow Report that inspired the Central and South Florida Project– what allows us to live here today -while trying to improve the project’s over-drainage and sometimes ecologically destructive side-effects.
-CSFFCP map ca. 1948
I. BLACK NOTEBOOK #1
To access link this notebook, click on #1 link below. These documents are large and may be slow to open.
Next, notebook #2, is very similar to #1, but more comprehensive. Please view link below to peruse this document that is noted as “tentative,” whereas number #1 is referred to as a”brief brochure hurriedly prepared.” This is also a large file and will be slow to open.
Third, is a more modern looking report, not from the Everglades Drainage District, but compiled by Dr Gordon Gunters, written for the District Engineer of the Jacksonville Corps of Engineers. Dr Gunter was a Biological Consultant of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The bound report is entitled “Biological Investigations of St Lucie River Estuary in Connection with Lake Okeechobee Discharges Through St Lucie Canal, October 15, 1960” – replacing the orange report inside dated October 15, 1959.
Link to access below. Again slow to open.
I really enjoyed reading starting on page 2. As page 7 references the “Stuart News and St Lucie-Indian Rivers Restoration League,” I have to wonder if this is the report that in local Stuart history lore was so excitedly accomplished, but “then they walked away andnothing ever happened.” Well, thank God today things are happening and we are not relegated to notebooks!
Wishing you enjoyable reading for this holiday season and always!
Reintroducing Myself to Pelican Island’s Warden, Paul Kroegel
-A 30 year old Jacqui meets the Paul Kroegel statue, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Sebastian, Florida, 1994. Photo by mother, Sandra Thurlow. -A 57 year old Jacqui reintroduces herself to the Paul Kroegel statue, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Sebastian, Florida, 2021. Photo by husband, Ed Lippisch.
The Story of Recreating the Photo
Last week, when I told my mother I had an Indian River Lagoon Council meeting in Sebastian, she forwarded me a 1994 photograph of me with my hand on the shoulder of statue Paul Kroegel. I vaguely recalled visiting the statue twenty-seven years ago during a family outing to the St Sebastian River.
“You’ll have to reintroduce yourself to our friend, Mr Paul Kroegel,” mom said. “You know, the man who inspired Theodore Roosevelt to create the Pelican Island Reservation that became the nation’s first National Wildlife Refuge in 1903. Mr Kroegel was appointed the United State’s first warden. He loved and protected thousands of pelicans!”
“I’ll do that mom. I’ll find the statue. I do remember that day,” I replied. “You, dad and I were canoeing and got caught in a thunderstorm.” It all started coming back to me…
The more I thought about it, the more I stared getting excited about finding the statue…
On Friday, August 13, I attended the Indian River Lagoon Council National Estuary meeting. Afterwards, using Google Maps, a devise not available in 1994, I found the Kroegel statue in Riverview Park just down the road from Sebastian City Hall.
There Warden Kroegel stood smoking his pipe, pelicans at his feet, just a shiny as ever! Someone had patriotically placed an American flag in his arms. It blew in the wind as pelicans and wading birds flew by. I took a deep breath, stood tall, and using my best manners reintroduced myself to Warden Kroegel. Looking into his bronze eye was almost real. We looked at each other for a long time. I placed my hand on his shoulder as in the original shot but had to turn around to take a modern day selfie. No one was there to take my picture, so I was unable to recreate the 1994 photo for my mother.
-Sculpted by Rosalee T. Hume
Luckily when I got home that night at dinner, I convinced Ed to drive up with me to Sebastian on the weekend, Sunday, August 15, to recreate the photo. We had a blast! First, it is such a beautiful drive to Sebastian from Sewall’s Point along historic Indian River Drive. Second, Sebastian is small and beautiful. A lot like Stuart was when I was a kid. We really enjoyed our visit there. After finding Riverview Park and enjoying the scenery, I introduced Ed to Warden Kroegel and we took the picture!
-Riverview Park, Indian River Lagoon -Ed looks out to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, Indian River Lagoon -Standing at Paul Kroegel’s statue -Ed takes the iconic recreation photo of Jacqui and Warden Kroegel 27 years later!
Pelican Island and the legacy of Paul Kroegel are on display in Sebastian just about everywhere, but first and foremost at the remains of his Homestead at Kroegel Produce, right at the corner of Indian River Drive and U.S. 1. Pelican Island proper is “right behind” the old Homestead out in the Indian River. On land, the tomatoes were the best I’ve ever had! If you visit Sebastian, please take a photo with Mr Kroegel and send it my way. I’ll share it with my mother too.
And thanks to my husband, Ed, for helping me recreate the 1994 photo with Paul Kroegel. For mom, for fun, for history!
It’s fun having a mother who is the “history lady” because if I ask a question, it’s answered. Recently I ask her why the address of the South Florida Water Management District was 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, Florida, 33406. It always kind of hits me as I exit from I-95 onto GUN CLUB ROAD before our governing board meetings. Mom answered: “That’s of course because the Gun Club used to be located in the western lands after it was moved from its original location two miles north of the famous Royal Poinciana Hotel. So originally it was located along the Lake Worth Lagoon. In those early days, all revolved around Henry Flagler’s creations.” “Were they hunting animals? Killing them all?” I asked. “Jacqui I think it was more ground birds and skeet shooting. As seen in the photo, there was an audience. All was part of the extensive social life of the wealthy during the Florida boom of the early 1900s.”
Interesting! So what’s going on today along Gun Club Road? The Gun Club is long gone, the airport has expanded and now the SFWMD sits on this road.
A lot is happening that is helping Nature, not shooting at it. Today I’d like to share some photos of recent Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Projects as the SFWMD is the local sponsor to the Army Corp of Engineers. They share the costs 50/50.
1.~Picayune Strand: July 9, 2021, water flowing south to restore thousands of acres of land in Collier County for the very first time. Photo SFWMD. This project was pushed forward with the help and passion of Governing Board member Col. Charlette Roman.