Tag Archives: canal

Loxahatchee Flora and Fauna, River Scenes; Wild and Scenic Rivers, Fred van Vonno

Giant cypress trees, Wild and Scenic River Studies, courtesy archives Fred van Vonno

Loxahatchee Lesson 1

Loxahatchee Lesson 2

Loxahatchee Lesson 3

Loxahatchee Lesson 4

Loxahatchee Lesson 5 

The purpose of this post is to continue to share the slides of the late Fred van Vonno.  I presented charts and aerials yesterday in Loxahatchee Lesson 4. Tomorrow, or later today, I will add structures and people. Today we share my favorite, Loxahatchee Flora and Fauna as well as River Scenes. If you recognize anything interesting let us know! My mother noticed what appears to be old world climbing fern slide #7. A terrible invasive plant that costs millions of dollars for the State of Florida to manage. 

Thank you to my mother for archiving these photos that were once slides in Mr van Vonno’s 1980s slide shows. Thank you to our friend, Nicki van Vonno for sharing her husband’s work. 


Removed from a slide carousel used by Fred van Vonno who was a Planner (GS-11) from June 1978 until 1982 for the Department of Interior National Park Service, Regional Office in Atlanta, Ga. His work involved assessing the “recreational potential of rivers and trails.” The slides were used for presentations when van Vanno was the Study Coordinator for the Loxahatchee and Myakka Wild and Scenic River studies. It is a good idea to make sure these photographs are documented because some of the photos are more than 40 years old. I would think they would have been taken around 1980. 

Sandra Thurlow 8-20




Aerials of Our Rain Stained Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Recently, it seems to rain almost every day!

TCPalm’s Elliott Jones reported this morning that Stuart has received a whopping 11.30 inches of rain just so far this month! (The average being 7.14.)

Although due to the recent drought, the ACOE/SFWMD are not dumping Lake Okeechobee through Canal C-44, canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and areas along C-44, as well as our own basin, are draining right into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Very little of this water is cleansed before it enters and thus is damaging to the eco system. Next time you see water draining through a grate in a parking lot, think about this. Remember too that before the major canals were constructed the 1900s, the river received less than half the water it gets every time it rains today.

SLR at “Hell’s Gate” looking at Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Point and the St Luice Inlet

photo drainage basin
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)

The aerials below were taken 6-13-17 by my husband Ed Lippisch and pilot Dave Stone. It is important to monitor the river all of the time so we can view changes.

“Rain stained” we are; please remember not to fertilize during the rainy season. The birds on Bird Island will appreciate it! (http://befloridian.org)


TC Palm, Elliott Jones, 6-19-17

Bird Island, IRL east of Sewall’s Point

Bird Island

IRL St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point

Sailfish Flats, IRL

Crossroads, confluence SLR/IRL off Sewall’s Point

Spoil Island off Sailfish, bird also roosting here!

Sick looking seagrass beds in IRL looking south towards Jupiter Narrows

SL Inlet near Sailfish Point, no black plume but darker colored waters

Jupiter Island’s state park at St Lucie Inlet

Sailfish Point

St Lucie Inlet looking south

inlet again

Clear ocean water at jetty, St Lucie Inlet

Looking back to St Lucie Inlet mixed colored waters but not black as with Lake O water releases

St Lucie Inlet between Jupiter Island’s state park and Sailfish Point

inlet again

Looking north to SL Inlet


Hutchinson Island and Sailfish Flats in IRL. Sewall’s Point in distance.

Parts of the Savannas near Jensen , IRL and Hutchinson Island in distance

Savannas State Preserve Park

Canals draining water into SLR/IRL after rain events:

C-23 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf

C-24 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf

C-25 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf

C-44 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf

Indiantown, “Air Line,” Connection–St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Post card
Rail Company “Sea Board Airline” marketing the beauty of rail through South Florida. (Public photo)

In the days before air travel, the term “air line” was a common for denoting the “shortest distance between two points”–a straight line drawn through the air, or on a map–unaccounting for obstacles. Therefore, a number of 19th century railroads used “air line” in their titles to suggest that their routes were shorter than those of competing roads…in the 1920s, there was a famous rail company named “Sea Board Airlines” and Indiantown, was to be its South Florida headquarters…

Sea Board Air Lines map 1920s. (Public)
Sea Board Air Lines map showing extension of rail lines in the 1920s. Rail lines have changed since this time. (Public)

Lately, rail travel has been on everyone’s mind here along the Treasure Coast, as the controversy and indignities of “All Aboard Florida” play out. The power and transformation rail brought to the state of Florida is legendary, especially in the history of Henry Flagler’s East Coast Railroad. A lesser known entity that was perhaps equally competitive in its day, is Sea Board Airlines, a rail company whose history had a collision with Indiantown, Florida, in western Martin County, right in the area of Lake Okeechobee. If fate had just tracked a bit in the rail line’s favor, things could be very different today….

Solomon Davies, CEO of Seaboard Air who had a vision for Indiantown beyond anything existing today in our Treasure Coast region. (Public photo)
Solomon Davies Warfield , CEO of Seaboard Air who had a vision for Indiantown beyond anything existing today in our Treasure Coast region. (Public photo)

In 1924, Mr. Solomon Davies Warfield, amazingly related to the soon to be and iconoclastic Duchess of Windsor, became CEO of the Seaboard Air Line. He began building a 204-mile track extension, called the “Florida Western & Northern Railroad,” from the Seaboard mainline in Coleman, Florida,  ( just northwest of Orlando in Sumter County) to West Palm Beach. Previously these locations had been the exclusive domain of the Florida East Coast Railway. The Seaboard extension ran through Indiantown, which Warfield planned to make the new southern headquarters of the Seaboard. 

Many life changing things were happening in our region in the 1920s. The Florida land boom was in full swing, swamps were becoming real estate, and  the connection of the St Lucie Canal from Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River officially occurred forever changing the health of the area rivers. (1923) The canal, although primarily an outlet to control for the “southerly overflow” waters of Lake Okeechobee for farmers,  was also “flood control,” and on a business level, the canal  was meant and “sold” to be a trade route for shipping the riches of the interior of the state. The goal of backers of the canal was to compete with the railroads.

Well the frenzy of dollar signs came to a head and in 1926. The stock market crashed, and the horrors of the Great Depression for Florida and the nation ensued.  A stressed Warfield died in 1927, and Indiantown just kind “faded into history.” Dreams became memories. Life changed. Florida morphed….Nevertheless, Indiantown still sits positioned for a prosperous future. In fact, it’s waiting and ready to relive history. What do they say? “Location, location, location! ” What do you think?

Me? I have a funny feeling history will repeat itself for Indiantown; in fact, I see a train comin’ ’round the track! 🙂

Google map showing location of Indiantown with red pin. Sewall's Point is the blue do. Indiantown is 30 min from the coast and conveniently located along Highway 720.
Google map showing location of Indiantown with red pin. Sewall’s Point, where I live, is the blue dot. Indiantown is 30 min from the coast and conveniently located along Highway 720.

Seaboard Airlines marketed itself "Through the Heart of the South---through Indiantown..." (Public)
Seaboard Airlines marketed itself “Through the Heart of the South–thorough Indiantown…” (Public)

(Warfield’s name still remains on  “everything” in Indiantown today! (road, school. etc.)

Indiantown Chamber: (http://www.indiantownchamber.com/p/4/contact-us)

History Seaboard Air Line:(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaboard_Air_Line_Railroad)

Soloman Davies Warfield history (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._Davies_Warfield)

Understanding Point and Non-Point Pollution, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides "run-off" crops during a rain storm. This is an example of non-point pollution. Lynda Betts, United States Dept. of Agriculture. (Photo, public domain.)
Fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides “run-off” crops into a canal during a rain storm. This is an example of “non-point pollution.” Lynda Betts, United States Dept. of Agriculture. (Photo, public domain.)

There are many types of pollution that affect the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon but two words you will hear over and over are “point” and “non-point pollution.” These are important words to understand especially today as we fight to save our rivers.

Point pollution is basically pollution that you can pin-point coming out of a “pipe.” Point pollution is associated with industry. For instance, a waster water treatment plant that has a pipe releasing into the river is point pollution. In the late 1800s and early 1900s some residences, businesses and industries just let their pollution and or sewage go directly into the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. Yuk!

This practice improved with the advent of sewer systems, septic and organized cities but there were/are still direct pipes releasing very unclean water until very recently. Recognizing the impacts of discharges from wastewater treatment plants, the Florida Legislature passed the Indian River Act (Chapter 90-262) in 1990 requiring waste water treatment plants to cease discharging their effluent, somewhat processed poop,  into the lagoon. Because it was easy to pinpoint exactly where these industrial wastewater points are/were located, it is fairly easy to regulate them.

The lagoon and we have befitted from the Indian River Act 90-262 but we still have problems.

Non-point pollution, unlike point source pollution,  is pollution that is hard to pin-point because it is coming from “everywhere.” On average it rains 50 inches each year along the Treasure Coast. Highways, parking lots, people’s yards, leaky septic tanks, and agriculture all combine to create a cocktail of oils, heavy metals, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, viruses, bacteria and other pollutants that run from flowing rain water into area canals and then straight into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

To complicate things more, cities and counties can regulate residential  applications (for instance many have recently passed strict fertilizer ordinance outlawing the use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer application during rainy season,) but cities are not allowed  to regulate agriculture even if is located in their city or county.

Agriculture is exempt from such laws. Agriculture is regulated and overseen by the Florida Department of Agriculture.

The Department of Agriculture recognizing the need to abate fertilizer and chemical runoff does promote “best management practices,” helping farmers work to lower phosphorus and nitrogen runoff but this is voluntary and not required. Most farmers do comply but it is not easy to judge and measure so agriculture runoff continues to significantly add to river pollution across our nation and state as we know from our C-44 canal that dumps mostly agriculture basin runoff into our rivers.

You will often hear people say, “We must stop pollution at the source!” This is a good idea and our state and federal agencies are doing it with point source pollution but not with non-point source pollution.

Perhaps one day every yard and every agriculture field will have to take a portion of their land to hold rain runoff so the pollutants seep into the earth before they go to our waterways? Perhaps one day the Department of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agencies will become more hard-core rather than coming up with programs like TMDLs and BMP–Total Maximum Daily Loads for phosphorus and nitrogen and Basin Management Action Plans, because although those will help over time, like 30 years, we don’t seem to have a lot of time left.


Point Source Pollution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_source_pollution)
Non Point Pollution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonpoint_source_pollution)
Best Management Practices (http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/agriculture/bmps.html)
TMDL/BMAPS FDEP (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/)
IRL Study Guide, pg. 11 Point/Non Point Pollution: (http://t.co/LqUx4eqxS1)