Tag Archives: aerial

No Fertilizer in This Wonderful 1925 Aerial, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Ariel 1925, SLR/IRL courtesy Archives of Sandra Thurlow as shared by Higgins Engineering WPB.

I have shared this 1925 aerial previously, but it is worth sharing again. What a wonderful photograph of a healthy confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Every time I see it, I see something new.

I see the white sands of the newly dug St Lucie Canal, today’s C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee,  in the far middle distance; I see dark, prevalent natural vegetation; I see an undeveloped Sailfish Point, Rocky Point, Manatee Pocket, Sewall’s Point, and Stuart; there are a few roads, but no airport; no spoil islands along Sewall’s Point; there are no “bridges to the sea; ” I see shoaling, as the St Lucie Inlet had been opened/widened not too long before ~located just around the left hand corner of the photograph; I see beaches at Hutchinson Island with beautiful coquina sands that had not been “re-nourished;” I see lush seagrass beds, the nurseries of life,  cradled against the shoreline; I see Paradise…

What would we do as far as development in this paradise, if we had it to do all over again?Or would we do just the same?

How we develop lands,  of course, affects the health of surrounding waters. Today, what can we do to reinvigorate our rivers, our paradise? How can we help bring back the seagrasses especially? Well, we can do a lot.

Think of all the lawns that would be in this photo today!  All the development, and how when it rains everything on our streets, parking lots, and lawns  runs into our drainage  systems and into our river.

Yesterday was June 1st, the beginning of rainy season. The beginning of fertilizer restrictions that were especially inspired for the entire Indian River Lagoon by the work of Sewall’s Point, the first to have a strong fertilizer ordinance,  in 2010. I am proud of this and thank my fellow commissioners of that era.

Do what you can by not fertilizing your yard this rainy season, and if you haven’t considered changing out your yard to a more natural, Florida Friendly landscape, perhaps begin the process.

Every little thing we do, counts. And the more we do, the pressure we can put on the “big polluters” to do the same.

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BE FLORIDIAN program: “Saving Florida one lawn at a time”: http://befloridiannow.org/quick-start/

IRL Fertilizer Ordinances: https://sites.google.com/site/fertilizeruseintheirlwatershed/fertilizer-ordinances

Florida Friendly Yards: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu

Fertilizer Ordinances Martin County:https://www.martin.fl.us/sites/default/files/meta_page_files/Martin%20County%20Fertilizer%20Ordinance_FAQs.pdf

History of St Lucie River/IRL, development of canals, and Lake Okeechobee connection: by Bud Jordan, Rivers Coalition:
http://riverscoalition.org/reports-info/st-lucie-rivers-decline/

Once You Have Tasted Flight…SLR/IRL

“Once You have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1529)

Ed Lippisch, Crossroads, SLR/IRL 1-16-17

Governments’ “Toxic Algae” Releases Into Our SLR/IRL,”Busted…”

Aerial of S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Visible algae flowing through S-80 from western area of C-44 towards the St Lucie River. Photo Ed Lippisch.
Aerial of S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Visible cyanobacteria bloom flowing through S-80 from western area of C-44 towards the St Lucie River. These blooms were documented in Lake Okeechobee and around S-308 weeks ago and are now being released into our now fresh river. Photo Ed Lippisch.

I have been questioning the sick irony of the government sanctioned “toxic algae” releases into the St Lucie River since 2014. This was questionable, until now…

Let’s back up a bit…

My blog post on July 8th, 2014 was entitled: “Do the ACOE and SFWMD Release Lake Okeechobee Into to SLR When There is Toxic Algae?”

At that time there was a question for me; now there is not.
https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/07/28/do-the-acoe-and-srwmd-release-lake-okeechobee-into-the-slr-when-there-is-toxic-algae-in-the-lake-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/

The 2014 post told the story of seeing cyanobacteria’s fluorescent blooms in the lake when my husband Ed and traveled through the St Lucie River to Lake Okeechobee by boat passing the St Lucie Locks and Dam (S-80) and Port Mayaca, (S-308) in 2009. This was just when I was beginning to focus my interests on the health of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon as I had been elected to office in the Town of Sewall’s Point in 2008. During this trip it hit me that the algae started in the lake. Ed and I had traveled throughout the St Lucie River and C-44 canal, and when we got to Port Mayaca, at the lake, there it was….the fluorescent green algae.

Not being a scientist or biologist –it finally hit me “this is a fresh water bloom.” It blooms in the lake….not in the river that is more saline. But once the river is fresh from releases from the lake and canals, it can spread there too.

Hmmm?

The story of the blog continues into 2013, when I saw the SFWMD testing the water at S-80, St Lucie Locks and Dam, and  to my surprise I  could see the unmistakable flourescent green cyanobacteria that often becomes “toxic”going right though the gates! I found this unsettling. Obviously the SFWMD,  the ACOE, DEP, the Florida Health Dept and other official entities were in full knowledge that these dangerous blooms were being sent down the river to the residents of Stuart, Florida. Here I was an elected official representing a peninsular community and I had no clue. I had never even heard of this. Something is weird here, I thought. There is no warning to local governments. There is no press for the public. This is just everyday business….the everyday business of quietly poisoning Martin County’s citizens.

How could this be? I wondered…Maybe I am missing something? Maybe I am exaggerating?

Over time, I wrote other posts about this too.

I decided that this concept could be widely shared and understood, but we needed a good visual.

Well the ultimate visual is here…

Thank you to my husband, Dr Ed Lippisch for these photos and two short videos taken on Memorial Day, May 30, 2016 of tremendous blooms knowingly being sent through the open gates at S-80 towards the St Lucie River. We don’t have to wonder anymore.

In broad daylight, for all to see. State and Federal agencies….you’re busted.

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(Link VIDEO 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLXUH2a-0Gg&feature=em-upload_owner)

(LINK VIDEO 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXHD70JF9jM&feature=em-upload_owner)

*Thank you to the Stuart News, the River Warriors, Bullsugar.org and other river advocates for all of their work identifying and reporting the blooms especially in the lake and around Lake O  this 2016.
Toxic Algae blooms (Microcystis/Cyanobacteria) :https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microcystis_aeruginosa

Our Ability to Achieve When We Believe, Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

1968 Squadron VMCJ-2 Collection of Cory McDonald, Florida Memory Project
1968 Squadron VMCJ-2, EA-6B Prowler Jet, Collection of Cory McDonald, Florida Memory Project

10am Correction: I have been alerted that this plane is a MacDonald Douglas F-4 Phantom not a Prowler….https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_F-4_Phantom_II   (Florida Memory Project note must apply to accompanying aircraft)

This morning I went searching for inspiration so I visited the “Florida Memory Project” and typed in Lake Okeechobee. A variety of historical photos came up.  So interesting. Old photos of an ancient shoreline rimmed with pond apple, cypress trees, white sandy shorelines and loads of fish. Photos of building the dike and dredging around Lake Okeechobee…even some in another section of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. And then this aerial from 1968 of a VMCJ-2 squadron EA-6B Prowler photographed over Lake Okeechobee. I was captivated looking at this photo. The early days of color photography …dreamlike…

And the lake is so large– over 35 miles long and 28 miles across –70% its original size–still enormous!  You can tell the pilot flying next to this airplane took the photograph. Skill. Teamwork. Belief.

1968— This was a time of great social change and struggle in the United States, but also a time of great determination.  Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969, shortly after this photograph was taken. This EA-6B jet is not a space ship,  but it too represents the technological capabilities of the United States. Our ability to achieve when we believe.

When this photograph was taken, I was four years old. I remember this time in spirit if not in memory. Nonetheless, it is ingrained in me, as in all Americans,  that we can accomplish anything if we put our minds to it. This photo is an image that remind us that we CAN fix water in the state of Florida if we take the wide view and the high view of Lake Okeechobee. And if we believe.

VMCJ-2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VMAQ-2

1968 Squadron VMCJ-2 Collection of Cory McDonald, Florida Memory Project
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Florida Memory Project: https://www.floridamemory.com

Lake Okeechobee: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Okeechobee

October’s Plume? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Aerial of plume along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet, at 1500 feet, 10-10-15. Photo Cam Collins.
Aerial photo of plume from C-44; C-23, C-24, Tidal Basin, and 10 Mile Creek, along Jupiter Island south of St Lucie Inlet. Photo taken at 1000-1500 feet on 10-10-15 through a green glass canopy. Jupiter Narrows, part of the Indian River Lagoon, is visible west of Atlantic Ocean. Photo Cam Collins/Pilot Ed Lippisch.

Today I will be sharing aerial photos of the recent plume along Jupiter Island south of the St Lucie Inlet, taken this past Saturday, October 10th at 9:34 am. These photos are courtesy of friend Mr. Cam Collins. My husband, Ed, took Cam up in an acrobatic plane, the Extra 300, a plane I have not flown in yet. Doing “Half-Cubans” and “Loops” over the Atlantic Ocean is not my favorite way to see the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….

Typically I am sharing photographs taken in the Legend Cub, an open aircraft; most photos  are taken at around 500 feet. Cam’s photos are taken at about 1000-1500 feet, thus there is a much broader perspective. The effect is  powerful.

I was surprised to see the giant plume considering the major rain event from tropical activity occurred on September 17th, 2015, over three weeks ago. Out of curiosity, I went back and looked at the ACOE Periodic Scientists Call information to review what the release numbers from C-44, C-23, C-24, the Tidal Basin, and Ten Mile Creek have been. No Lake Okeechobee so far. This is what I found:

8-25-15/8-31-15 was reported at 1985 cfs (cubic feet per second)

9-8-15/ to 9-14-15 was reported at 2108 cfs

9-15-15/9-21-15 was reported at 5877 cfs (rain event)

9-22-15/9-28-15 was reported at 2311 cfs

9-29-15/10-5-15 was reported at 1418 cfs.

Cubic feet per second is very hard to understand. For reference, I can share that at the height of releases from Lake O during 2013, the cfs were between 5000 and 7000 cfs at S-80. (http://www.midtel.net/~dccinc/sample_graph.html)

SFWMD discharge chart.
SFWMD discharge chart via ACOE  10-6-15.

So I wonder how long it takes the discharge water to travel through the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon and out of  the St Lucie Inlet? September 17th’s rain event was three weeks ago? It seems that water would have passed through by now…..what water is the water in Cam’s photographs? Is October’s plume September’s water? If you have an idea, please write in.

——In any case, thank you Cam and thank you Ed. We will continue to document the discharges, Lake O or otherwise, that are killing our St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. These canals have expanded the basin of the SLR/IRL 5 times or more its natural water flow. (Florida Oceanographic Society)
Cam Collins, 10-10-15.
Cam Collins, 10-10-15.
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To get involved, advocate, and learn about St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon issues please attend a Rivers Coalition meeting: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Canal and agency info:

South Florida Water Management District: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Army Corp of Engineers, Lake O: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

Canal C-23: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf)
Canal C-24: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)
Canal C-25: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf)
Canal C-44: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

Port St Lucie was a Swamp? Really? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Topographical map, courtesy of Todd Thurlow.
Topographical 1823 U.S. Army map, courtesy of Todd Thurlow.
Map overlay with I-95 and Turnpike. (Todd Thurlow)
Map in transition/overlay showing today’s  I-95 and Turnpike in yellow. (Todd Thurlow)

Link to short video journey showing the former swamp “Alpatiokee” juxtaposed to today’s agriculture and development– Post St Lucie and western Martin County,

The first map in the video is a 1823 U.S. Army Map showing “Al-pa-ti-o-kee Swamp,” as it was known. The second is a 1846 map by Bruff. We then fly in to view Green Ridge, and the ridge just east of Indiantown. Next, we then overlay the 1983 Topo maps to view Green Ridge again, fly up, and around, Ten-mile Creek, and then back down the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. —-Todd Thurlow

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2f-e0ul1mY&feature=youtu.be)

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Not only was the city of Port St Lucie a swamp, but western Martin County was too. Please view the above video and “see” for yourself! It must have been a fabulous place, now long gone, know as “Alpatiokee,” or “Halpatiokee Swamp.”

Meaning “alligator waters” by the Seminoles, these lands/waterways were traversed for centuries in hand-made canoes. The native people and the Seminoles traveled many miles through the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and during rainy season they could travel all the way up into the St Johns River. How? Because these lands, when flooded, were “connected.” Now they are not only no longer connected but water that flowed north into the St John’s flows south into the St Lucie River….

Back to Port St Lucie…..

Recently, I kept noticing that the 1856 “Everglades” Military Map I like so much showed an expansive swamp close to where Port St Lucie and western Martin County are located today.

“This is weird,” I thought.  “What happened to the old swamp?”

So, I contacted my brother, Todd, who loves maps and can combine them together with technology. (See link/video above.)

Below you’ll find an edited version of Todd’s notes to me.

I find all of this absolutely fascinating, and sometimes a bit unsettling….The natural ridges in the land we seem to ignore; how we blew canals through them; how the water USED to flow; how humans have developed and built agricultural empires, and changed everything….Maybe one day with visual tools like these, future land planners, and water district employees can change back some of our landscape to it’s former glory, and maybe even return a few gators to the landscape, since it’s named after them.

That would be nice, something more to look at while driving the Turnpike than “concrete.” 🙂

Alligator resting but always alert....(Public photo.)
Halpatiokee or Alpatiokee translates as  “alligator water” in the Seminole language. (Public photo.)

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TODD’S NOTES REGARDING VIDEO:

THE OLD MAPS: The old maps are not necessarily accurate, but they give an idea… They show basically what was known as the “Hal-pa-ti-o-kee Swamp.”  On some other maps it is labeled the “Al-pa-ti-o-kee Swamp.” On almost all old maps, it would cover the area that is labeled Allapattah Flats on the modern topographical maps — but Hal-pa-ti-o-kee was probably more to the east.

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Google Earth image 2015, Todd Thurlow.
Google Earth image 2015, Todd Thurlow.

TOPOGRAPHY AND RIDGES: There are two distinct ridges in western Martin County. Green Ridge is about 4.6 miles west of the turnpike, (12.5 miles west of the ocean), and can be seen on aerials. The western edge of Allapattah flats is a ridge where the elevation goes quickly from about 30 fee to 40 feet. This ridge (an obvious ancient ocean shoreline) can be seen running all the way to Cape Canaveral parallel to the coast. This ridge is about 12.5 miles west of the turnpike (20 miles from the ocean). Indiantown sits on the high side of the ridge. This Hal-pa-ti-o-kee Swamp on those old maps would be the we area east of the Indiantown ridge – so it is basically all of western Martin and St. Lucie County.

FORMER WATER FLOW: Probably everything east of the Green Ridge flowed east into the St. Lucie. Everything between the two ridges flowed north to the St. Johns watershed and everything West of the Indiantown ridge (not much) flowed west into Lake Okeechobee via the little creeks on the east bank of the

….Somewhere between the St. Johns and the St. Lucie so everything between the two ridges, but north of that point, went north to the St. Johns River. Everything south would have gotten picked up by Ten-mile creek in the extreme North Fork of the St. Lucie River, which actually flowed north-east before turning back south to the St. Lucie.

CONCLUSION: There are academics that would know this stuff for sure and all the proper names. These ridges are like little continental divides, separating water flows into separate directions like the Rocky Mountains. When they busted all these canals through the ridges they changed the direction of all the water flows from mostly north/south to east/west. But that was the goal — get it to sea level as quickly as possible and drain the swamps…

—Todd Thurlow, Thurlow and Thurlow, PA (http://thurlowpa.com)

Martin County’s Hundreds of Ponds, “Down the Drain,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

1940 aerial photo from the US Dept of Agriculture Flight over Martin County, Fl 1940. Here Stuart, Sewall's Point, Hutchinson Island and Jensen are easily recognized by air. (Photo courtesy of UF Smathers' Library collation.)
1940 aerial photo from a US Dept of Agriculture flight over Martin County, Fl. 1940. Stuart, Sewall’s Point, Hutchinson Island and Jensen are easily recognized by air along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Many small ponds can be seen darkly colored. (Photo courtesy of UF Smather’s Library collation.)

 

1964 photo, left to right, uncle and aunt Dale and Mary Hudson, and my parents Sandy and Tom Thurlow. Me in lap. (Self portrait)
1964 photo, (left to right) uncle and aunt, Dale and Mary Hudson, and my parents Sandy and Tom Thurlow. Me in lap. (Family album.)

From the time I was a baby until growing up, I remember lots of ponds here in the region of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Hundreds of ponds intertwined with scrub lands…

Some of these boggy ponds were right outside my neighborhood in St Lucie Estates, just off of East Ocean Boulevard. It was the 1960s and 70s. Over time, especially in the 80s and 90s, when I had grown up and was off to University of Florida and beyond, these ponds simply dried up and “disappeared.” These lands became shopping centers, an expanded Witham Field, gas stations, schools, golf courses, and more neighborhoods. The same thing happened to the lands out west of town, but they became expanded agricultural lands. At a kid, I didn’t think too much about it. Today it blows my mind.

The aerial at the top of this blog post is from 1940. I was born in 1964. The small dark areas are ponds. When I asked my brother Todd, who is very knowledgeable on these old photos and land use, where all the ponds went, he noted  that when our area canals were constructed by the water districts and Army Corp of Engineers, from about 1920 to the 1960s, the canals not only drained the lands, but over time, the water table dropped, (the water below the surface of the soil that you don’t see)  drying out the many of little ponds, so that these lands could be developed.

Canals in Stuart, C-23, C-24, C-25 built in the 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s.
Canals in Martin and St Lucie counties, C-23, C-24, C-25 were  constructed in the 50s and 60s. C-44 is connected to Lake Okeechobee but also drains the agricultural lands around it. It was constructed in the 1920s.

So most of the 1940 wetlands you see in the aerials throughout this blog are now gone, and “we are here.” This happened all over Martin, St Lucie and almost all counties of south Florida. This on top of the shrinkage and drainage of giant Lake Okeechobee!

Yikes!

There is something is really odd about this. Millions of people living in former wetlands. Like sitting atop a dry sponge. No wonder all the wildlife is gone and the rivers are polluted. I’ve heard people talk about this change forever, and I have lived it myself, but seeing my brother’s video below, really bring the whole thing “home.” Watch and wonder where we should go from here…

Click here to see Martin County’s land use change over time, and watch the little ponds/wetlands “disappear. ” Time flight video by Todd Thurlow: 

 

Link to video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvH5H0TiG5c)

The flight starts in the area around Pratt & Whitney in northern Palm Beach County / southern Martin County where the land still looks like much of Martin County used to look. We then fly to the area around Bridge Road where the headwaters of the South Fork used to be nice and wet in the 1940s. Hundreds of interconnected ponds and bogs eventually coalesced into the tributaries of the South Fork. Today the ponds have been drained for farming and a few neighborhoods. The smallest tributaries are now drainage ditches. Next we fly over the area around the City of Stuart and Witham Field. You can see how the old ponds and bogs lined up between low ridges that run parallel to the ocean. Many of the bogs are now low-lying dry nature preserves in the neighborhoods and golf courses. –Todd Thurlow

 

1940 DOA image of boarder between Martin and St Lucie Counties, where Port St Lucie sits  today.
1940 DOA image of border between Martin and St Lucie Counties, where Port St Lucie sits today.
1940 aerial of  east side of east side of Lake  Okeechobee and lands of western Martin and St Lucie counties.
1940 aerial of east side of east side of Lake Okeechobee and lands of western Martin and St Lucie counties.
Ponds and bogs that are still left in undeveloped areas of Matin County. (Photo JTL 2015)
Ponds and bogs that are still left in undeveloped areas of Martin County. (Photo JTL 2015.)

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Todd Thurlow: (http://thurlowpa.com) 

(Link to University of Florida’s Smather’s Library aerials: (http://ufdc.ufl.edu/iufmap/all/brief)