Tag Archives: agriculture and development

Documenting the Discharges 11-19-17, SLR/IRL

Last Thursday on November 16, the ACOE reported they will reduce the amount of water they are releasing from Lake Okeechobee. The Corp had been releasing at a high rate, on and off, since September 20th. New targets are 2800 cfs east and 6500 cfs west.

Photos below were taken yesterday, 11-19-17 by my husband, Ed Lippisch. We will continue to document the discharges from Lake O, and area canals.

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are thankful the discharges are lessened and that the SFWMD and the public are working hard to plan the EAA Reservoir Senator Negron fought for… We the people of Martin County, will not be satisfied until these discharge stop. The river has its hands full with unfiltered discharges draining agriculture and developed lands from C-23, C-24, C-25 and C-44. All must be addressed.

“And where the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes…” Ezekiel 

St Lucie Inlet, Sailfish Point R, Jupiter Island L, and Sewall’s Point and mainland Stuart in distance.
Sewall’s Point
Manatee Pocket
Hell’ s Gate Sewall’s Point to right
C-23 main SLR
Confluence of SLR/IRL at Sewall’s Point’s southern tip
Sewall’s Point
IRL looking towards Sewall’s Point and Stuart. Incoming tide pushes plume waters north into IRL
somewhere looking down…

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image and was connected to Lake O in 1923. C-23, C-24 and C-25 were built later in the 50s as part of the Central and South Florida Project that over-drianed South Florida causing many of the water problems we live with today.
Atlantic ocean off Jupiter Island, plume water moving south over nearshore reefs
IRL near Sailfish Flats where seagrass forests used to flourish housing many fish…
Hutchinson Island looking to IRL
Roosevelt Bridge SLR
C-23 SLR

The False Edge of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

screenshot 2.jpgIMG_6449.jpg

Road trip series:

Today we continue our road trip in the Glades atop the Herbert Hoover Dike.

In the short video below you can see my Glades tour-guide, former mayor JP Sasser, driving, –in his hometown of which he knows so much about–Pahokee. On the right lies the city, and on the left is Lake Okeechobee. A precarious position indeed!

Pahokee is actually unusual in that this little town is “high-ground.” According to JP, about 13 feet above ground. This is not the case for most of the Glades.

Interestingly, in the video, JP discusses how the Army Corp recently decided where to strengthen the dike in Pahokee, because if they had extended it out 500 feet as was done along the rest of the eastern shore, the town of Pahokee would have been covered up as it is located right beside the dike.

Video: Driving along dike:https://youtu.be/fQILKYeQbeU

Lake Okeechobee’s dike and its history are fascinating just as is all our area of the Northern Everglades including the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon that in 1923 became the primary exit point for waters that could no longer flow south after the Herbert Hoover Dike was built.

According to historian and Gladesman Lawrence E. Will:

“…following the floods of 1923 and 1924 water stood over farm lands nearly the entire winter. To protect the farms, the state of Florida had then constructed an earthen dike along the whole south shore. It was some five to eight feet above ground level but this dike was never intended to withstand a hurricane.”

Regarding the expansion of the dike, as the “Herbert Hoover,”after the horrific hurricanes of 1926, ’28 and again in again in ’49, Mr. Nathaniel Reed notes in his writing “Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades: “The Corps of Engineers studied the average size of Lake Okeechobee and designed a dike around it…”

Now this is where things get very interesting.

“The average size of the lake….” what’s that?

Now if we look at this slide taken from a 2016, presented by Jeff Sumner, who was at the time Office Chief State and Agricultural Policy, SFWMD, it shows the size of the lake pre-development. One can see it was about once about 1000 square miles in size and today it is 750.

screenshot.jpg

FullSizeRender 2.jpg
The checkered fields were once lake bottom. L. E. Will, “Okeechobee Hurricane”
FullSizeRender 3.jpg
L.E. Will Swamp to Sugar Bowl. The Glades area, today’s Everglades Agricultural Area has  become one of the most productive agricultural areas in the world…

Of course the size expanded and contracted based on rainfall, but one still gets the point…this lower area was nature’s shoreline, a boggy marsh with rivers leading into a sawgrass “river of grass” bordered by a forest of over 30,000 acres of Custard Apple trees that functioned like mangroves extending up to five miles or more south into what is today’s Belle Glade. As Mr Lawrence Will would have said: “Who wudda thought!” (http://museumoftheglades.org)

IMG_7427.jpg
Pahokee is in upper right. Map Laurence E Will
img_7501
The lake once went further south here and there following the rivers to  Hwy. 80
file-page1-2
Land ownership today
file-page1
Sen. Joe Negron’s map for land purchase

fig1x-2

Fly-over of South Bay and the Altered Historic Shoreline of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

 

South Bay is approximately 5.8 miles
South Bay is approximately 5.8 miles from open water, it was once “in” water. Lake O has been drained and altered for agriculture over the past 100 years with most drainage occurring after the 1926 and 1928 hurricanes. (Slide from Todd Thurlow’s presentation)
The red line shows where a former canal was located and filled in. The square is
The red line shows where a former canal was located and filled in. The square is Section 2, Township 44, Row 36E, once custard apples and a “dead river” part of the lake, now sugar fileds. (Todd Thurlow.)

Published on Oct 16, 2015
This overlay flight shows the following maps:
– 1907 Official Map of the Everglades Patent 137 conveyed to Florida on January 2, 1905
– Map of the Everglades Patent 137 re-recorded in Plat Books of Broward County, originally recorded in Plat Book B, Page 131, Dade County Florida
– 1924-1925 USCGS Maps of the Airplane Survey of Lake Okeechobee

After taking a counterclockwise lap around the shoreline of Lake Okeechobee while viewing the 1925 surveys, we return to South Bay.

Section 2 of Township 44 South, Range 36 East, north of the town of South Bay, was originally under the waters of South Bay. On 12/31/1888 that section was conveyed by TIFF to the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad Company. The area of the Lake is now sugarcane farms.

VIDEO LINK: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJkMOIqjr_I&feature=youtu.be)

Lake Okeechobee used to be a much larger lake. It crested at about 21 feet to fall over an undefined edge of sawgrass and in some areas a pond apple forest.

Since the late 1800s the lake has slowly had its undefined edge pushed back and dammed. The lake perhaps holds about 30% less water than it originally could. Those overflow waters today are plumed to drain into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee so that the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) can exist. Watch this amazing historic map/Google Earth video created by my brother Todd Thurlow and see for yourself!

South Bay, for instance…Todd explains: “You can see on Google Earth where the canals and levees follow the old shoreline of South Bay, now 5.8 miles from open water, but 2 miles from the rim canal. That Section 2, which was under the bay, was conveyed to the Pensacola and Atlantic Railroad Company by TIIF deed on 12/31/1888. It looks like there is a little town there called South Bay…”

I am also including a presentation by the SFWMD’s Dr Christopher McVoy, 2008, about pre-drainage Lake O. Hydrology: (http://conference.ifas.ufl.edu/geer2008/Presentation_PDFs/Thursday/Royal%20Palm%20VIII/1040%20C%20McVoy.pdf)

Through understanding history, we understand ourselves.

Lake O's original level was 21 today it is around 15 feet.
Lake O’s original level was 21 today it is around 15 feet.
All images below courtesy of Dr McVay's SFWMD presentation, 2008.
All images below courtesy of Dr McVay’s SFWMD presentation, 2008.
.....
…..
.....
…..

Todd Thurlow: (http://www.thurlowpa.com)

The Dream of the Roseate Spoonbill, St Lucie River/IRL–Blog Break

Roseate Spoonbill image, public. http://7-themes.com/6946210-roseate-spoonbill.html)
Roseate Spoonbill image, public. (http://7-themes.com/6946210-roseate-spoonbill.html)
Close up of a roseate spoonbill, public photo.
Close up of a wet and happy roseate spoonbill, public photo.

I imagine if there is a dream of the roseate spoonbill, it would be for more water to be on the land…The recent heavy rains and local flooding have been a smorgasbord and reminder of better days for our local shore bird communities.

Last week, while driving by the county jail on Willoughby Boulevard , I witnessed a variety of shore birds in the flooded grasses behind the barbed-wire fence: great egrets, white egrets, blue herons, little blue herons, wood storks, a menagerie of ducks, and four beautiful pink roseate spoonbills!  I got out of my car and peered through the fence….Amazing I thought…”was this area too once wetlands?”

In Sewall’s Point, a group of as many a ten were reported foraging  both along North and South Sewall’s Point Roads. What a sight! People stopping in their cars to see…taking pictures and posting on Facebook.

In the past few years, it has been reported by Martin County and Audubon that the spoonbills are nesting on Bird Island just off the Archipelago in Sewall’s Point. This was never reported before. Nancy Beaver of Sunshine Wildlife Tours documents their progress…

Roseate spoonbills along N Sewall's Point Road, photo Dr Dave Carson, 2013.
Roseate spoonbills along N Sewall’s Point Road, photo courtesy of  Dr Dave Carson, 2015.
Roseate spoonbill photo from my Greg Braun/Bird Island file, 2013.
Roseate spoonbill photo from my Greg Braun/Bird Island file, 2012.

We humans complain when there is flooding; the shore birds love it, as this was their habitat before we drained the lands for agriculture and development. “Couldn’t there be a way to have both?”

This I think would be the dream of the roseate spoonbill…

I will be taking a blog break as this week I will be traveling to Silver Springs with University of Florida’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, (http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu)
Florida springs, like Florida’s estuaries —–such as the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, are in big trouble. Agriculture and development’s impacts have impaired the springs that were once the symbol of our state tourism industry. Read this 2013 NPR story for more details: (http://www.npr.org/2013/04/13/177105692/before-disney-floridas-silver-springs-lured-tourists)

Have a good week, and when you are driving be sure to look up and see the dream of the roseate spoonbill–it is really the dream of all.

 

Time Capsule Flight to the Headwaters of the South Fork, 1940s to Today, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

 

Prong area of South Fork, St Lucie River also showing C-44 canal's connection. (1940 US Government aerials shared by Todd Thurlow.)
Historic map with beginnings of Google overlay showing pronged area of South Fork, St Lucie River, C-44 canal’s connection, and the many ponds that once spotted the landscape that are now filled with agriculture and development. (1940 US Government aerials shared by Todd Thurlow.)
C-44 canal 1940 map with beginnings of Google overlay. (Todd Thurlow)
C-44 canal 1940 map with beginnings of Google overlay emerging. (Todd Thurlow)

Link to video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuYkQ26OZvg&feature=youtu.be)

0:34 – Roosevelt Bridge
0:39 – Note the Old 1934 two-lane drawbridge in use. The current drawbridge was built in 1964
1:05 – Palm City Bridge
1:22 – Indian Street Bridge
1:27 – Note the increase in width of the river — in some places from approx 225 feet to 460+ feet.
3:24 – Halpatiokee Park
3:24 – Note the old Gaines Highway “Humpback” Bridge (SR-76) in use in 1940.
3:42 – Okeechobee Waterway (C-44)
4:00 – St. Lucie Lock and Dam (—timetable from Todd Thurlow)


I continue to take great pleasure in featuring the “time-capsule flight” historic map and Google Earth work of my brother, Todd Thurlow.(http://thurlowpa.com)

Today’s short video focuses on our beloved South Fork area of the St Lucie River. This video visually juxtaposes 1940s U.S. Government maps to Google Earth images of today. The video begins over an undeveloped Horseshoe Point, Sewall’s Point, and St Lucie River proper and then travels in a southern direction to the wide fork of the St Lucie River and deep along its wild, winding, and African-looking curves. One sees the old Palm City and new Veteran’s Memorial bridges come and go, and notices the  build up over time of sand in the fork (maybe some from dredging and some from sediment build-up from Lake Okeechobee releases.) This serpentine and beautiful section of the South Fork is southerly of Highway 76 that runs out to Lake Okeechobee alone the C-44 canal.  Today’s I-95 exchange is also visible.

Broad overlay of maps South Fork. (Todd Thurlow)
Broad overlay of maps South Fork. (Todd Thurlow)

And the little ponds! My favorite! Just everywhere!This is most incredible to me as today they are “gone.” These hundreds, if not thousands of little ponds, once slowly increased and decreased in depth and size based on rainfall, overflowing at times, into the winding South Fork. One can still see the lush vegetation surrounding some of these areas.  Can you imaging the wildlife that used to be in our area? I so would have loved to have seen it but this trip is better than nothing! 

As the flight continues, “today’s”  development is neatly  stacked right up to the winding edge of the fork on the south side in particular…makes me think of septic tanks???

I have to say it nice that there is some land around the areas of the fork and I am sure local environmentalist have fought to keep this over the years. Nonetheless, if we had it to do over again, I think we would decide to leave a much wider birth around these important watersheds.

In the final minutes of the video we travel over the dreaded C-44 canal built in the 1920s, known in  its early years as  the “St Lucie Canal.”  This canal of course, connects Lake Okeechobee to a section of a second prong (fork) in the winding South Fork. The canal itself is wider and apparently the “connection is just “above” today’s Four Rivers which lies beyond the I-95 bridge and exchange and All American Marina.

Zooming in and out in time and place,  one can see the cleared lands around St Lucie Locks and Dam and white sand piled high from dredging on the north side of the canal….The picture fades in and out as we view the old locks structure compared to its “new and improved” version today….

I just love this stuff. It makes it all so easy to “see.”

The environmental destruction that is…I guess for others it is the sight of money and making a swamp “useful.” How ever you view it, the journey is an education.

Thank you to Todd for opening my eyes and for allowing me to travel in time and “place.”

C-44 canal Google Earth with St Lucie Locks and Dam. (Todd Thurlow Google Earth)
C-44 canal Google Earth with St Lucie Locks and Dam. (Todd Thurlow Google Earth)
1940 US Gov't map showing C-44 canal cut form Todd Thurlow's video.)
1940 US Gov’t map showing C-44 canal cut from Todd Thurlow’s video. Notice agriculture fields on top of what was a stream.

_______________________________

To see more of Todd’s work on my blog, search his name on my blog’s front page, go to my blog’s “About Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch” page or just google Todd Thurlow bluewatertt3 on You Tube.

Insight For Change, Development and Agriculture, North Fork, Ten Mile Creek, SLR/IRL

Contrasting images: Port St Lucie area along North Fork of St Lucie River, 1958 US Government aerials and Google Earth today. Courtesy Todd Thurlow.
Contrasting images: Port St Lucie area along North Fork of St Lucie River, 1958 US Government aerials and Google Earth today. Courtesy Todd Thurlow.

Link to video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1E8o2TExGs&feature=em-upload_owner)

 

It is an amazing thing to fly through time and space, and this is exactly what I did yesterday with my brother, Todd. He took me on a “flight” over a 1958/Today St Lucie River, North Fork, and Ten Mile Creek. All the while, the images flashing in and out of past and present….Please watch this short video yourself by clicking the link or image above.

At one point along our armchair journey, I said to myself, “Wow, I don’t feel so great,” –just like sometimes when I am with Ed, my husband, in the airplane. I actually got motion sickness having plastered my face right up to the screen to see every moving detail!

A few deep breathing exercises put the feeling off, but next time I’ll take my Dramamine!

Google Earth image at the northern reaches of what was Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County. Algae in agriculture canals is very visible.
Google Earth image at the northern reaches of what was Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County. Algae in agriculture canals is very visible.

This flight, as the others you may have experienced on my blog with Todd, is amazing. It allows one to really see what the lands were originally like and how they have been developed as residential homes and endless agriculture fields.

Towards the end of the video, you can even see algae growing in the agriculture canals, off of Ten Mile Creek, St Lucie County–“bright green,” for all to see on Google Earth. I have witnessed these green canals too from an airplane.

Due to drainage canals— leading to drainage canals—leading to drainage canals, this water from the ag fields, and from all of our yards, ends up in the now sickly St Lucie River. This problem is exacerbated by ACOE/SFWMD releases from Lake Okeechobee and the basin area of C-44 in Southern Martin County. These canals and the expanded engineered runoff from the lands is what is killing our river.

It is my hope that with visuals like the video above, future generations will find a way, and want to be a part of a new water and land management generation “seeing” how to improve St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Our generation seems stuck in a quagmire….

Like they say: “seeing is believing,” and seeing provides insight for change. 

*Thank you to my brother Todd, for this incredible journey using overlays of aerial photographs taken in 1958 by the United States Government, and marrying these aerials over images from today’s Google Earth. (http://thurlowpa.com)

 

Northern reaches of North Fork of St Lucie River, Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County, 1958.
Northern reaches of the North Fork of St Lucie River, Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County, 1958. Wetlands showing multiple small ponds are visible. These lands were drained in the 1950s by canals C-24, and further south C-23 and further north by C-25. These canals were part of the USACOE  and SFWMD’s effort for more flood control and to expand agriculture and development: These canals are part of the Central and South Florida Flood Control Project of the 1950s which allowed more non flooding development and agriculture, but also destroyed our valuable south Florida waterways.

DEP: C-24 as part of the Central and Southern Flood Control Project 1950s:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)

*The yellow lines are today’s roads for reference; 91 is the Florida Turnpike built in the 50s and 60s.