Mr Mike Knepper is a force. His passion? Changing the way Florida state agencies such as FWC and the SFWMD approach aquatic vegetation removal. Mike feels strongly that agencies should manage waterway aquatic vegetation mechanically, rather than with chemicals. Mike has become a regular voice at the SFWMD Governing Board meetings and people are listening….
Mike is a 1979 graduate of Martin County High School, a grandfather, a well known and respected home builder (Knepper Construction), and an environmental activist.
On August 5, 2022, Mike contacted me.
“Jacqui, I would like for you to meet me at the end of boat ramp road so you can see the spray job the district just did. It will make you sick. All of these dead plants will end up in the St Lucie River.”
As it was my mother’s 83rd birthday and my 40 year high school reunion, I replied:
“Mike, aggg. thanks for letting me know. Why don’t you call Executive Director, Drew Bartlett?”
“I just left him a message, I bet he won’t reply…”
Not only did Drew Bartlett return Mike’s call, Drew Bartlett, SFWMD Executive Director, decided that the vegetation in C-23 at the S-97 structure should be removed MECHANICALLY.
-C-23 Canal prior to removal of vegetation, photo Mike Knepper, 8-5-22By the time I spoke to Drew Bartlett later that afternoon the plan to mechanically remove the vegetation was in motion. I was ecstatic and yes, a bit surprised. “This could be the beginning,” I thought. What made me most pleased was that I was told this decision was made on behalf of the St Lucie River…
AND SO THE WORK BEGAN!
SFWMD’s Mr Rich Virgil, Division Director Field Operations, informed his men of a change of process. The men would be working through the weekend to remove the vegetation.
“The Okeechobee Field Station has a long reach backhoe at the S-97 structure and C-23 Canal performing mechanical removal of the floating vegetation. This is the location that was reported by Mr Knepper yesterday. The crew will work today and tomorrow to address the issue.”
Vegetation is being mechanically removed and a towboat has been deployed from S-65 (Kissimmee River) to assist. Mr Virgil says this will decrease response time to remove the vegetation an the towboat will remain on site through the duration of the wet season.
“The crew is done for the day, they will be back in the morning to finish. The picture is from the S-97 structure looking east plus the pile of removed vegetation.
A good days work!!! ” ~Rich Virgil
“Task Complete: C-23 Canal at Structure S-97 Mechanical Vegetation Removal Efforts-the crew has completed the vegetation removal in the C-23 Canal at the S-97 Structure.”
WOW! A GOOD DAYS WORK! EVEN A GREAT DAYS WORK!
-Thank you to those who worked through the weekend to clear the C-23 canal:
Robert Prescott crew chief
Jack Theriault excavator OPER
Joey Conroy transport OPER / barrier remover
Jonathan Spooner boat OPER
Brody Lamb transport OPER / barrier remover
-Thank you Mike Knepper for inspiring the removal!
-Thank you Mr Drew Bartlett, SFWMD Executive Director and Mr Rich Virgil, Division Director of Field Operations, for showing leadership and thoughtfulness working for the health of the St Lucie River.
SFWMD: “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.”
Captain’s for Clean Water – why not to spray!