Tag Archives: Carl Hiaasen

“Blocking the Water North,” While the People Scream “Send the Water South!” SLR/IRL

IMG_2170
ACOE Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project 2016

 

Sometimes I feel like I’m living  in a Carl Hiaasen novel….

On June 16th,  I attended a Water Resources Advisory Commission meeting of the South Florida Water Management District.

Of course, by this time, a 33 square mile algae bloom, parts toxic, had been documented in Lake Okeechobee by the Department of Environmental Protection. The St Lucie River, having been discharged into since January 29th, was looking pretty disgusting. Tempers flared.

At the WRAC meeting, water advocates, not just from Martin County, but from around South Florida were once again pleading with the SFWMD Board of Directors to “endorse buying land south of the lake in the EAA for storage, cleansing and conveyance to the Everglades in order to stop damaging discharges to the estuaries and restore freshwater to Florida Bay.”

“Send the Water South!” rang through the rafters. “Send the Water South!” As usual, the Board looked straight ahead….

And then the presentations came, and a well spoken District scientist started taking about the “The Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project,” and how it is tied into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan form 2000. —-It’s time had come…

A slide appeared showing pink, green, brown, and blue— representing the watersheds of Fisheating Creek, Indian Prairie, and Taylor Slough northwest of Lake Okeechobee.

IMG_2170
ACOE Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project

According the Army Corp of Engineers who also attended the WRAC “the objectives of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed, or “LOW Project, “are to improve the quality, quantity, timing and distribution of water entering Lake Okeechobee, provide for better management of lake water levels, reduce damaging releases to the Caloosahatchee, and St Lucie estuaries downstream of the lake, and improve the system wide operation flexibility.”

You can read about the project here: http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/Environmental/Ecosystem-Restoration/Lake-Okeechobee-Watershed-Project/

It is a probably good project… No doubt. Do you wonder more about what goes on behind the scenes? Surely….

It is ironic that when the message of the people is “Send the Water South!” the government is finally getting around to “Blocking the Water North!”

Maybe one day we will all be on the same page so our lives don’t seem so much like a characters in a Funny Farm.

Life’s ironies abound.

Here’s the meeting information. A drive from Stuart to Okeechobee is about 40 minutes.

A “Lake Okeechobee Watershed Project NEPA Scoping Meeting will be led by ACOE’ Gretchen Ehlinger, Ph.D. Senior Biologist in the Okeechobee Auditorium, 3800 NW 16th Boulevard, Suite A, Okeechobee, FL 34972, on Tuesday, July 26 with an open house beginning at 6 p.m., followed by an official presentation at 7 p.m.

As this meeting is run by the ACOE, this meeting will only be able to address the LOW Project.

Let’s all attend the meeting even if Dr Ehlinger has to focus on the northern watershed. Maybe we should invite Carl Haaisen?

 

IMG_2172
First page of letter ACOE dated June 28, 2016
IMG_2175
Page 2.

 

 

The Magic of a Kid’s First Fish, “Lines in the Lagoon” Youth Fishing Tournament, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

My "first fish", a puffer, Indian River Lagoon. (Family album, 1968.)
My “first fish,” a puffer, Indian River Lagoon. (Family album, 1968.)

Some things never change, like the wonder of a kid catching his or her “first fish.”

I still remember mine.  A puffer fish! It was 1968, and my parents took me fishing along the Indian River Lagoon…

Fishing is a powerful  experience for a young person. There is no better way to teach youth how to appreciate and protect the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon than by “taking a kid  fishing.”  It is well documented that hunters and fishermen/women are some of our county’s most outspoken and powerful conservationists.

In keeping with this Treasure Coast fishing legacy, on October 18th, 2014, something really remarkable is happening.  Kids in our area have organized a fishing tournament for kids! The event is called “Lines in the Lagoon.” (http://www.linesinthelagoon.com/#!about/mainPage)

This fishing tournament is meant to turn kids on to fishing; raise awareness regarding the pollution problems of the Indian River Lagoon; and raise money for two great organization that help the river: ORCA (http://www.teamorca.org/cfiles/home.cfmand the Everglades Foundation, (http://www.evergladesfoundation.org).

Vero Beach freshman high school student, Quinn Hiaasen and his friends organized the event. Quinn is obviously on his way to “stardom” himself, but it must be mentioned that his father is none other than satirist and writer Carl Hiassen, (http://www.carlhiaasen.com/bio.shtml), a well-known proponent of our rivers and Everglades. Quinn’s mother, Fenia, has also been working for the event and assisting her son for months– “spreading the word” and communicating  with River Kidz momz  here in Martin and St Lucie Counties. Martin, St Lucie, and Indian River counties are one, as the lagoon knows no county lines or political districts; it is a Tri-county tournament.

Early on, Mrs Hiaasen let us know that pre-fishing/fishing tournament events included:

September 6th: LAGOON CLEAN UP DAY
October 27th: INDIAN RIVER SCIENCE FAIR DAY
October 1st: CHIPOTLE IN STORE PROMOTIONS 3-7pm 50% DONATION TO ORCA AND EVERGLADES FOUNDATION
October 18th: FISHING TOURNAMENT AND AWARDS BANQUET AT THE BACKUS MUSEUM IN FT PIERCE

From what I am told by River Kidz mom, Nicole Mader, the group is also working on displaying  a “responsible fishing tent” to teach children care with fishing line and hooks, as careless discarding of such is a serious threat to wildlife and of course the tournament is primarily “catch and release.”

"Lines in the Lagoon" fishing tournament, Oct 18, 2014.
“Lines in the Lagoon” fishing tournament, information, Oct 18, 2014.

Isn’t this a great thing?

So sign up…

Support the kids; support conservation; and support the Hiaasen family!

And remember, by taking a kid fishing, you are creating future advocates for our Indian River Lagoon.

______________________________________________

Sign up here/ “Lines in the Lagoon” web site: (http://www.linesinthelagoon.com/#!about/mainPage)

Planet Vero Radio show with Quinn Hiaasen and his friends who organized Lines in the Lagoon:(https://rcpt.hightail.com/2610147407/e64dac6d43eaba05f8070e639940c2e7?cid=tx-02002207350200000000&s=19104)  (In time, this link will expire.)

TC Palm article on event: (http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/indian-river-lagoon/registration-now-open-for-hiaasen-youth-fishing-tournament-on-the-indian-river-lagoon