Tag Archives: florida audubon

Adding “Wildlife Corridors” to the Florida Constitution, Giving FWC Broader Authority to Protect Wildlife Habitat

Photo courtesy of Sightseeing Miami

“We must prioritize fish and wildlife habitat connectivity in future.” Manley Fuller, President, Florida Wildlife Federation, http://www.fwfonline.org

The Florida Wildlife Commission could have more authority to protect wildlife should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #48 be introduced on the 2018 ballot. This proposal, submitted by Cape Coral environmental legend, former service member, teacher and school principal, Mr Carl Veaux, would amend Section 9 of Article IV of the Florida constitution “to provide that the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission shall exercise the regulatory and executive powers of the state with respect to habitats, including wildlife corridors…”
Full text proposal # 48: http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0048/ProposalText/Filed/HTML

Before I continue, I would like to state that I have sponsored Mr Veaux’s public proposal, #801227, that is one of thousands of proposals, many addressing wildlife and conservation issues, that were submitted to the Constitution Revision Commission, (CRC) and brought to the attention of the commissioners during the public hearings.

Mr Veaux, though, stood out. He was very persistent in his communications with me. I came to learn through his multiple calls and emails something that I had not listened hard enough to hear. When he sensed my fatigue, Mr Veaux informed me, “…don’t you know, I speak for the animals.” I woke up.

I am also supporting this proposal because there is a need to define “wildlife corridors,” and work through the controversial details. We must step up and do this, as a CRC body, because protecting wildlife corridors in our constitution is the most logical and effective way to address and direct wildlife conservation for future generations.

~As the Florida Chamber reports, Florida is twenty million strong, and six million more people are coming by 2030. Florida’s time has arrived. Our land, waters, and natural habitats are “of the essence…” The next CRC will not come for another 20 years. We must now do something for wildlife and the environment. (http://www.flchamber.com/did-you-know-that-floridas-population-could-increase-to-nearly-26-million-by-2030/)

Visit Florida Wildlife Corridor: http://floridawildlifecorridor.org

So just in case you do not know, what is a “wildlife corridor” is anyway…To animals, lands that are not connected for travel, territory, food, shelter, raising young, and “socializing” are not as valuable as those lands that are CONNECTED.

You may have been exposed to this terminology through “The Florida Wildlife Corridor?” In my opinion, The Florida Wildlife Corridor is the most impressive conservation effort happening in Florida today. You can learn about its ambitious goal to connect lands throughout Florida by clicking on the link above.

Years ago, I heard through the grape vine that Attorney General Pam Bondi likes this program. Although I have never asked her about it, every time I walk by her office in Tallahassee I notice the most beautiful eagle painting hanging in her office. A clue!

For larger  image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Now for the Florida Wildlife Commission also known as FWC: http://myfwc.com;

(http://myfwc.com/about/overview/programs/mission-benefits/)

The Florida Wildlife Commission is part of the executive branch; they are an executive agency. Their board members are appointed by the governor; however they are very independent. Their mission is to “managing fish and wildlife resources for their long-term well-being and the benefit of people.”

So how would this work to affect the the constitution?

According to Florida Audubon, (http://fl.audubon.org) the “Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission operates with Florida Constitutional authority to regulate direct impacts to fish and wildlife including protected species. For state Threatened species, they can require minimization or mitigation for impacts to the habitat of species that are designated as state Threatened, but there is no comprehensive way for them to engage on threats to the habitat of not-yet-listed species, or impacts to habitat that individually may not cause take to threatened species, but cumulatively will cause tremendous harm.”

The protection of wildlife cannot be accomplished without protecting their habitat; this amendment would give FWC the authority they need to achieve the work they’ve been tasked with. And that authority would extend to corridors needed by certain species.

So the proposed change would simply allow, but not require, the seven person appointed FWC to establish rules and permits limiting impacts to habitat in the same way they currently establish limits on impacts to individual animals.

Proposal #48 belongs in the constitution. There will be a things to work out, there always are but I think “we’re covered.”  When I asked Mr. Veaux, who is 79 years old, if he could come to Tallahassee to speak on the issue, he said not, “Tallahassee is a long way, but that should not be a problem the wild animals all over the state are spreading the word!”

http://www.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com/page/content.detail/id/611218/Cape-environmentalist-honored-by-Audubon.html?nav=5011

Proposal #48  is sponsored in honor of Mr Carl Veaux

Savannas State Preserve, St Lucie County, JTL
Wildflower, Savannas State Preserve, JTL
A wonderful photo of a Black Bear, public.
Wild turkeys are very important to Mr Veaux. He speaks of the Osceola Turkey and their importance to Florida’s economy as many tourist/hunters come to hunt or see the bird. Of course, land is necessary for the birds’ success. Photo public.
Wildflower Savannas State Preserve, Martin County, FL. JTL
The belle of the ball! A gorgeous snowy egret, a bird once close to eradication during the 1800/1900s bird-feathers/ladies-hat fashion-craze. The thoughtless destruction of birds and leaving the their young to die was the inspiration for Florida Audubon that was founded  in Maitland, Florida and remains one of the major influences in conservation today.
Silver Springs area, Ocala, Florida, JTL
Stillness of nature. Silver Springs area, JTL
Roseate spoonbills and many other water birds feeding! Photo courtesy of Everglades Trust website.
Eagle pair, Martin County, Florida, Dr Scott Kuhns.

FWC is part of Article IV, Executive, in Florida’s constitution : http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?submenu=3

Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner, *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee November 28th. You can support this proposal by writing the Executive Committee here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

The Extinction of “Florida’s Parakeet,” a Sebastian Recollection of This Beautiful Bird, SLR/IRL

Photo of a "Carolina Paraquet," that lived in Florida's swamps and old growth forest until overshooting and loss of habitat led to its extinction. (Photo Palm City County Museum Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Photo of a stuffed “Carolina Paroquet,” displayed in a glass container. “The bird was given to Mrs. Carlin at Jupiter and was owned by her son Carlin White who died at 105.” The birds were prevalent and lived in Florida’s swamps and old growth forest until overshooting, the pet trade, and loss of habitat led to their extinction. (Photo Palm  Beach County Museum, quote by Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

Sometimes on a sunny day, I hear gregarious green parrots in the cabbage palms of Sandsprit Park near Port Salerno. When my husband, Ed, and I recently visited his niece at University of Miami two huge, gorgeous multi-colored macaws swooped down over cars stuck in traffic.

“Holy moly!” I exclaimed. “What was that?”

“Parrots.” Darcy calmly replied. “They got loose from the zoo after the hurricanes. Now they live here; they have chicks in a royal palm tree on campus.”

Pretty cool. Life adapts, unless you go extinct that is…Extinct: “No longer existing or living; dead.”

This was the fate in the early 1900s of a beautiful bird known as the “Carolina Parakeet,” last reported between 1910 and 1920. The “paroquet” as the old timers referred to them, had an expansive range that included much of the eastern United States, west into Colorado, and south into Florida. Their habitat? Swamps and old growth forests… what our state used to be.

As these habitats were cleared and filled for timber and development, especially from the late 1800s into the early 1900s, their range became limited, and their numbers declined. According to documentation, some of the last remaining lived in our Indian River Lagoon region.

The birds were sought after for their bright feathers and friendly voices. People kept them as pets and wore them on ladies’ hats prior to Florida Audubon’s rampage.

Perhaps the most poignant  tale of their story is that the birds were very social, and like people, if a member of their group were shot, all the others would “flock to the injured,” making capture, or shooting of all others, “easy-pickings.” This compassion, an “advanced, evolved trait” sealed their fate in the extinction-book of history.

Ironically one of the most famous reports of the stunning birds occurred in the area of the Sebastian River and its confluence of the Indian River Lagoon.  A local man, Chuck Fulton, whose relation was my principal at Martin County High School, seems to have guided Chapman thorough the areas as a lad when he stayed at Oak Lodge in Sebastian where his great-great grandmother lived. (Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

Mind you Frank Chapman was like a movie star of his day. This would have been very exciting for young Chuck. “Frank Michler Chapman”—scientist, explorer, author, editor,  photographer, lecturer, and museum curator, —-one of the most influential naturalist and greatest ornithologists of his era.

In a book “Letters to Brevard County” shared by my mother, historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow, Chapman accounts his travels of our region:

Frank Chapman
Frank M. Chapman

“The Sebastian is a beautiful river, no words of mine can adequately describe it.” Half a mile wide at its mouth, it narrows rapidly and three miles above appears as a mere stream which at our camp, eight miles up, was not more than fifty feet in width and about fifteen feet in-depth. Its course is exceedingly irregular and winding. The banks as we found them are high and for some distance from the water grown with palms and cypresses which arching meet overhead forming most enchanting vistas, and in many places there is a wild profusion of blooming convolvulus and moon flower…Here we observed about fifty colorful paroquets, in flocks of six to twenty. At an early hour, they left their roost in the hammock bordering the river, and passed out into the pines to feed….

In the “spirit of the day” Chapman goes on to describe how unafraid the birds were of him and then shoots a few birds for “science,” leaving alone those that come to the rescues of their fallen comrades…..

In all fairness, it must be noted Chapman also appealed to President Teddy Roosevelt to establish Pelican Island as a national preserve– which in time became the first U.S. National Wildlife Refuge, (also in Sebastian),  and he is also credited with starting the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, where birds are counted, and not shot. Even today “scientific” specimens must be killed in order to be recorded as a new species. One day perhaps a photograph will be sufficient. 

Quite a story….and so close to home.

So next time you see a brown pelican gracefully flying past, picture a flock of fifty, squawking, colorful parakeets happily trailing behind. What a colorful world our Indian River Lagoon must have been!

Carolina Parakeet drawing 1800s. Public image.
Carolina Parakeet art piece 1800s. Public image.

_________________________________________________________

Thank you to my mother Sandra H. Thurlow for the content to write this blog post.

Carolina Parakeet: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carolina_parakeet)
Extinct birds: (http://www.50birds.com/birds/extinct-birds.htm)

___________________________________________________________

8-25-15 10PM: I am including a photos and comment sent to me by Dr. Paul Grey, Okeechobee Science Coordinator, Florida Audubon. Very interesting!

“Jacqui, thanks for the parakeet story. Look at the tags on these parakeets, these are the skins of the birds Chapman shot that still are in the Museum of Natural History in NY. There is a statue of the bird at the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve that Todd McGrain did for his Lost Bird Project…Worth seeing.” —Paul Grey

*NOTE THE LITTLE CARD THAT SAYS “SEBASTIAN RIVER!”

Chapman's birds, Museum of Natural History. (Paul Grey)
Chapman’s birds, Museum of Natural History. (Paul Grey)
Carolina Parakeet sculpture by (Paul Grey)
Carolina Parakeet sculpture at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve, by Todd McGrain. (Paul Grey)

Lost Bird Project: (http://www.lostbirdproject.org/)

The Secret Lagoon, the Founders of Florida Audubon, and the Town of Sewall’s Point, SLR/IRL

A Lagoon on the Mt Pisgah Property, ca ca. 1950 (Photo Aurthur Ruhnke via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
A Lagoon on the Mt Pisgah Property, ca. 1950.  (Photo Aurthur Ruhnke via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

When I was a young person growing up in Sewall’s Point, things were unlike today. Very few people lived here and some of the old estates sat empty for us kids to explore with out the Sewall’s Point cops arresting us for trespassing.

In the late 1970s and early 80s,  I often rode my bike to what I called “Paradise Found,” or the “Secret Lagoon” which I later learned was part of the north Sewall’s Point Mt. Pisgah estate, last owned at that time, by Mr Louis Dommerich and his wife Margaret. This large parcel was later developed as “Plantation.” It is the northern most subdivision in Sewall’s Point. It is a lush amazing piece with all sorts of palms planted by the Dommerichs and many lagoons attached to the rising and falling tides of the St Lucie River.

After school, I would ride my bike up the long, winding driveway as fast as I could so my skinny 10-speed Schwinn wheels would not sink in the shell-like sand. Upon getting to the top of the hill, lay a veritable jungle, as beautiful a thing as one has ever seen. There were egrets and herons and jumping fish. I could think here; I could wander in the most gorgeous nature ever seen; I could be away from my “nagging” parents whom I now know were just trying to raise a disciplined and productive child.

An empty house sat like a lone sentinel amongst the vines and sweeping palm trees. I never approached the house as it seemed to hold too many memories, but I made the lagoons my second home.

Margaret and Louis Dommerich's Sewall's Point home. (Aurthur Ruhnke via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Margaret and Louis Dommerich’s Sewall’s Point home. (Aurthur Ruhnke via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Shore birds--Florida Audubon photo.
Shore birds–Florida Audubon photo.

In my mind of memories, this area is a sacred place and I feel so lucky that I was able to wander its magical shores. I somehow feel the spirit of the place helped form the person I am today.

A lot has changed since those day, but I still recall it all with great fondness…

Very recently my mother contacted me saying she had a hunch, and had it for quite some time. Her hunch was that the Dommerichs of Sewall’s Point may be related to Louis F. Dommerich and Clara J. Dommerich who founded Florida Audubon.

Wow that would be cool! Why wouldn’t we know this?!

It is well-known and written about recently in “Conservation in Florida, A History of Heroes,” by Gary L. White, that the Dommerichs of the United States became wealthy socialites, and used it for “good cause.”

“On March 1, 1900, in their Maitland, Florida home, near Orlando, they organized with friends the first Florida Audubon meeting.  In time, Florida Audubon changed the world, and the fate of shore birds in Florida. Until the Florida Audubon campaign these birds were being recklessly slaughtered in late 1800s for their beautiful feathers.  Their chirping, starving,  chicks were left to rot in the sun. Thousands, and thousands, and thousands of birds were shot—entire rookeries decimated—all to adorn ladies hats….

Within a decade, through advocacy and education, Florida Audubon had turned this slaughter around. Today we protect birds, and ten percent of what once graced the skies is remaining…

What a legacy….saved by a shoe-string.

So back to our detective work. The couple that owned the Mt Pisgah property were Margaret and Louis Dommerich, Louis died in 1982. The older Louis F. must have died in the early 1900s. Could Louis be related to Louis?

I knew just who to contact to find out, my mom’s friend historian Alice Luckhardt who specializes in genealogy. I wrote her and she wrote back in one day. Mom’s hunch was right!
From: “Alice L. Luckhardt”
Subject: Dommerich Family
Date: August 1, 2015 at 4:31:49 PM EDT
To: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch <jthurlowlippisch@comcast.net>

Hi Jacqui –

As you and your Mom know finding information on families is my special area of research.

I have attached a MS Word document I did up of what I found and attached a photo of Louis Ferdinand Dommerich (1841-1912) – the one with his second wife, Clara who started the Florida Audubon Society – bring together many of the local branches across the state.
In the Blake Library on microfilm are the obits (Stuart news issue dates) for Louis and his wife Margaret, who lived in Sewall’s Point, who both died in 1982.

Alice

Louis Ferdinand Dommerich (1841-1912) photo provided by historian Alice Luckhardt.
Louis Ferdinand Dommerich (1841-1912) photo provided by historian Alice Luckhardt.

DOMMERICH, LOUIS F. November 14, 1982 Pg A8
OB
DOMMERICH, LOUIS FERDINAND November 15, 1982 Pg A5
DA
DOMMERICH, MARGARET WHITEHEAD October 29, 1982 Pg A8
OB

Louis Ferdinand Dommerich born Feb. 2, 1841 in Germany, died July 22, 1912 in NYC

Louis F. Dommerich was born on February 2, 1841 in Cassel Germany. His father was a college professor. In 1858-1859, Dommerich came over to the United States where he worked for as an apprentice in a German factory, Noell & Oelbermann, which served as a direct agent for a foreign manufacturing. He was employed there for ten years before becoming a partner in the renamed E. Oelbermann & Co. In 1889 the company was renamed once again to Oelbermann, Dommerich and Co. His company specialized in dry goods exchange and bank dealing in textile commerce, and became so successful that it had manufacturing companies all across the United States and Europe.

In 1885 Dommerich visited Florida for the first time, and two years later he visited Winter Park and stayed in the Seminole Hotel. In 1891 Dommerich bought 400 Acres of land in Maitland, Orange Co., Florida. His holdings included the orange groves on Lake Minnehaha. It was there that he built his first home in Maitland and called it “Hiawatha Grove” to serve as his winter residence. He kept also a home in NYC. The house constructed was a 30 room-mansion surrounded by 130 acres of landscaped grounds and 72 acres of citrus trees. The mansion was an impressive three-story frame house containing multiple turrets and gables. His wife, Clara J. Dommerich (his second wife, married in Oct. 1884) established the Maitland Public Library in 1896 — started with 360 books and Louis Dommerich was its major contributor. In 1907 he donated $3,000 in memory of his late wife, who died in 1900. From 1897 to 1904, Dommerich served on the Rollins College Board of Trustees. He and his wife founded the Florida Audubon Society in mid-1900 in the their home because of the all the bird feathers being used in fashion hats and served as president from 1901 to 1911. Supporters of the Florida Audubon Society in 1900 were President Theodore Roosevelt, railroad baron Henry M. Flagler, Gov. William Jennings, the presidents of Rollins and Stetson colleges and the editors of leading newspapers in the state. In 1903 Dommerich donated $5,000 towards Rollins College’s first endowment. In 1907 Dommerich donated $500 to help secure Carnegie Library and in 1910 he donated $1,000 to help secure a science building. Back on the Board in 1909, he remained a trustee until his death in 1912.

Louis Ferdinand Dommerich died at the age of 72 on July 22, 1912. His son Alexander Louis Dommerich served on the Board of Trustees as his other son Otto Louis Dommerich helped Hamilton Holt finance the College in 1927. By the time Louis Ferdinand Dommerich died, his company had become one of the most prominent commercial banking houses in the world. Hiawatha Grove stood until 1954, when the property was sold for $420,000, the house was torn down to make way for homes in the area.

 Louis Ferdinard Dommerich and first wife Julie Louise Dommerich (1843-1882) – one of their sons was Otto Louis Dommerich (1871-1938). A son of Otto was Louis Ferdinard Dommerich, born May 4,1906 in NYC, married to Margaret, their had a home first in NYC and later in Deer Park Meadow in Conn. and on Sewall’s Point.

Louis F. Dommerich, born 1906 died in Martin County on Nov. 11, 1982. His wife Margaret died in 1982. This Louis was the grandson of Louis F. Dommerich who with his second wife, Clara started the Florida Audubon Society.

Their son was Louis Alexander Dommerich, born 1929 and died 2004.

Well thank you Alice and thank you mom! And thank you that I was born in a time when I got to experience “Paradise Found”, because so much of paradise has been lost.

The Google Map photo shows the lagoons today just along the curve of North Sewall's Point. If you look closely, you will see them.
The Google Map photo shows the lagoons today just along the curve of North Sewall’s Point. If you look closely, you will see them.
Photo of Mt Pisgah area in 1957 featuring the Langford Estate. the Dommerich's property can be seen in the upper right corner where the vegetation has not been cleared for orange groves. (Photo from
Photo of Mt Pisgah area in 1957 featuring the Langford Estate. the Dommerich’s property can be seen in the upper right corner where the vegetation has not been cleared for orange groves. (Photo from “Sewall’s Point a History of a Peninsular Community of Florida’s Treasure Coast” written by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Geodetic marker at Mt Pisgah. This ancient sandbar rises 57 feet above today's sea level. IT is the highest point in Sewall's Point. (Photo Sandra H. Thurlow.)
Geodetic marker at Mt Pisgah. This ancient sandbar rises 57 feet above today’s sea level. IT is the highest point in Sewall’s Point. (Photo Sandra H. Thurlow.)
Today the lagoon and palm still remain. A 7 acres estate is now owned by friends Jack and C.J. Heckenberg. There home and surrounding acreage is perhaps the most beautiful in the Town of Sewall's Point.
Today the lagoon and palm still remain. A 7 acres estate is now owned by friends Jack and Ceejay Heckenberg. Their home and surrounding acreage is perhaps the most beautiful in the Town of Sewall’s Point.

Thank you my mother’s (Sandra H. Thurlow) chapter on Mt Pisgah in her book Sewall’s Point, a History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast,” form which content and photos come.

History Florida Audubon: (http://fl.audubon.org/timeline-0)
Florida Audubon: (http://fl.audubon.org)
Audubon Martin County: (http://www.audubonmartincounty.org)

Reflections on Conservation, Preservation, and Education, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Fork of the St Lucie River, 2007.
“Reflection.” North Fork of the St Lucie River, 2007.

My mother tells me that when I was a baby she nursed me in Muir Woods, California. My father was in the United States  Air Force, and the family was living in the area at the time. It was 1964. She has joked, my entire life, that this perhaps is the reason I have always been so adamant about protecting the environment and its creatures.

John Muir was part of America’s early conservation movement. He wrote a collection of stories for “Century Magazine” entitled “Studies in the Sierra.” In 1892 Muir joined the magazine’s editor in creating the Sierra Club, an organization with the mission to protect America’s resources and public parks.

There were others who are also famous in the “conservation movement” of that era such as President Theodore Roosevelt. He is most famous for the establishment of many National Parks; Pelican Island, along the Indian River Lagoon in Sebastian,  established in 1903, was actually our nation’s first “national wildlife refuge.” (http://firstrefuge.org)

President Roosevelt said: “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem, it will avail us little to solve all others.”

As the conservation movement moved forward it is said to have split into two modes of thought. The first was to conserve resources for the future and for their use by humans and the second was more to preserve nature for wilderness preservation.

In any case, the foundation of America’s “conservation” movement was established during  this period from approximately 1850 thorough 1920. This movement was bubbling up in Florida as well.

In 1900 Louis F. Dommerich and his wife Clara hosted a gathering of neighbors in Maitland, Florida, just north of Orlando. On this fateful night the group decided to align themselves with other chapters the existing Audubon Society forming Florida Audubon.

In 1900, not only was Florida’s bird population being decimated, by the plume trade and the rage for feathers on ladies hats, the southern part of the state, almost entirely wetland,  was being drained for agriculture and development.

Great egret in the IRL. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.
Great egret in the IRL. Photo by John Whiticar, 2014.

This drainage focused around Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River cutting off waters to the Everglades which for thousands of years had formed one of the world’s most important and productive wet lands for birds, fish and hundreds of other species. We, living along the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, are part of this story.

–You reading this today as people who care about the conservation of our area are the grandchildren of that those 15 people who met in Maitland Florida in 1900…

1850s map of Florida
1850s map of Florida

And for conservationists today, water issues are at the top of this list. Although Florida seems to be full of water, it is not. It is along side with California and other western states in its struggle to conserve and preserve water and its life.

South Florida's southern Everglades, 1950 vs. 2003. (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)
South Florida’s southern Everglades, 1950 vs. 2003. (Map courtesy of SFWMD.)

1.7 billion gallons of water is wasted on average to tide each day through the canals draining Lake Okeechobee and the Kissimmee River. With only 3% of the water on the planet being “fresh” and an exponentially growing population, this is wasteful beyond comprehension.  Right now, just south of Orlando, the Central Florida Water Initiative, a conglomeration of three state water districts, is organizing because this area of the state has maximized its water use. They need more.

This is no knee jerk reaction and wise water use is completely linked to the success or failure of Florida’s future.  Unless we can learn to conserve, preserve and perhaps most important, educate the children of the future there will not be enough clean water for people and for the wildlife that has a right to these resources as well.

River Kidz teaches about water issues in the state of Florida. (Julia Kelly artist, 2013)
River Kidz teaches about water issues in the state of Florida. (Julia Kelly artist, 2013)

________________________

Conservation in Florida, FWC : (http://www.myfwc.com/Conservation/)

Florida Audubon: (http://fl.audubon.org)

River Kidz a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

Florida Oceanographic: (http://www.floridaocean.org/p/233/advocacy-environment#.VSfHAKbRwl8) These presentation links refer to the 1.7 billion gallons of wasted water through canals and are excellent resources.

“War–” US Sugar and The Everglades Trust, SLR/IRL

 

File photo, WWII bomber. (Public photo.)
File photo, WWII bomber, “flying over fields”. (Public photo.)

I must begin by saying  that my recent blogging has been somewhat “uncomfortable” for me, as I was raised to act like a “lady,” and recently I feel more like a fighter pilot.

Politics sometimes makes “being a lady” a difficult goal, so I do apologize to anyone, such as my mother, who may be offended by my relentless “fighting” blog posts recently regarding the importance of  state purchase of the 46,800 acres of option lands for sale by US Sugar Corporation.

As a warning, mom and others, today’s blog post will be more of the same, as a “type of war” has started.

—-A war of information. A war to influence our governor and legislature….a war over how to use Florida’s Amendment 1 monies….a war to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee, Everglades, and drinking water for South Florida, or just to keep the “status-quo…”

In order to explain this, I will share what has happened over the past few days…

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. US Sugar and the state are resisting the purchase of  these lands with Amd. 1 monies…(SFWMD map, 2010.)

On Wednesday, February 18th, Eric Draper, the Executive Director of Florida Audubon, (http://fl.audubon.orgwas quoted in a “Sunshine State News” piece as saying (regarding the flow way south) “—it will never happen, it’s pie in the sky…”

Knowing Mr Draper and knowing that words in news articles often are twisted for effect, I wrote Audubon immediately asking about the situation.  Mr Draper replied with an apologetic email and a letter he had written that day to Governor Scott in support of purchasing the option lands. See below:

Eric Draper, Executive Director of Florida Audubon. (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-06-26/news/sfl-about-eric-draper-south-florida-100_1_land-conservation-florida-house-florida-legislature)
Eric Draper, Executive Director of Florida Audubon. (http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2013-06-26/news/sfl-about-eric-draper-south-florida-100_1_land-conservation-florida-house-florida-legislature)

Dear Ed and Jacqui, (Commissioner, Ed Fielding not my husband Ed!) 🙂

In my effort to promote the idea of an EAA reservoir and distinguish that from the hard to explain Plan Six I unwittingly played into a storyline not my own. I found the story confusing and somewhat unrelated to what I was trying to say. Nevertheless, I am sure that folks are disappointed to hear me discount the flow way and that was not my word or intent. As an 30 year advocate for the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee I feel strongly about moving water south. Audubon will continue to work on getting the US Sugar land purchased for the purpose of establishing a CERP reservoir.

I apologize to both of you and to all the supporters of the idea of Plan Six and a flow way.

Eric Draper
Executive Director

Audubon FLORIDA

Email from Eric Draper regarding article and quote. (2-18-15)
Email from Eric Draper regarding article and quote. (2-18-15)

 

Eric Draper, Florida Audubon's,  letter to Governor Scott. (2-18-15)
Eric Draper, Florida Audubon’s, letter to Governor Scott. (2-18-15.)

I believe Mr Draper did not mean for his words as they were reported. Speaking with the media is sometimes tricky business and anyone who speaks to them long enough will feel that he or she has been “misquoted.”  Mr Draper’s  work is one of the main reasons Amendment 1 passed in the first place, and you can see by his letter above to Governor Scott he supports buying the option lands.

OK, one bomb down…Two to go….

So then on Saturday, Feb 21st, I get an email from my Florida League of Cities colleague,  Teresa Heitman,  who is a councilwoman for the City of Naples. She simply forwarded me an email she had received from US Sugar Corporation. You can click on the image below to read it, but basically it says: “Send the Water South?” “Not so fast”…and gives three articles supporting why the option lands should not be purchased,  why the “enviros”are nuts, and  one of the articles quoted is the one quoting  Eric Draper that I mentioned above!

As an aside, and as an elected official myself, I must say that I find it in poor taste that this email was sent from US Sugar Corporation directly to an elected official. Maybe Council- woman Heitman is on a “mailing list” for US Sugar, but this seems doubtful to me.

How many other elected officials were sent this email and why is US Sugar sending it out?

On the other hand, it kind of made me feel good when I saw it–like they were threatened by the grassroots river movement here along the St Lucie  River/Indian River Lagoon and the Everglades in general. Kind of ironic to think that US Sugar would need to influence elected officials with direct emails; seems like they already do that with everything else they do like spending millions of dollars on lobbying politicians…….sending this “tiny” email makes them look kind of desperate….

—obviously we have more influence than we realize….

Hmmm?

Also, the thought of a “David and Goliath” fight  is very appealing to me, as in that story, as we all know, David wins…

US Sugar email 2-21-15.
US Sugar email forwarded to me 2-22-15.
US Sugar Corperation
US Sugar Corporation heading on email.

Below is part of the email from US Sugar, just so you can see it. I also made sure the hyperlinks worked in case you want to read the “email bombs” being sent out.

Buy the land? Send the water south? Not so fast…

Dear Teresa,

In case you missed it, please find below highlights from a few recent articles discussing the constraints, risks and concerns with purchasing the U.S. Sugar land option to create a flow-way to send water south to the Everglades:

You can access the articles in their entirety by clicking on the hyperlinked titles.
1. Officials to enviros: Buying land, moving lake water south has risks

By: Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post
February 12, 2015

South Florida Water Management District officials made no commitments to several dozen environmental activists who begged them Thursday to buy land south of Lake Okeechobee for Everglades restoration, and for the first time they laid out the hurdles and risks they face in making such a buy. (http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/frustrated-enviros-buy-land-to-clean-everglades-be/nj82R/)

2. Speaker Crisafulli: Don’t buy land south of Lake O

By: Christine Stapleton, Palm Beach Post
February 18, 2015

House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, says he opposes the controversial land deal that would enable the South Florida Water Management District to purchase 46,800 acres of land south of the lake at fair market value. (http://postonpolitics.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/02/18/speaker-crisafulli-dont-buy-land-south-of-lake-o/)

3. Eric Draper: Lake Okeechobee to Everglades Flowway ‘Will Never Happen’
By: Nancy Smith, Sunshine State News
February 18, 2015

Sending water south from Lake Okeechobee to meander naturally through the Everglades — the “flowway” endorsed by the Everglades Foundation as the only way — “will never happen, it’s pie in the sky,” admitted one of Florida’s leading voices on environmental policy. (http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/environmentalist-lake-okeechobee-everglades-flowway-will-never-happen)

——–From an email from US Sugar Corporation sent out 2-22-15.

 

Two bombs down, one more to go! 

 

OK, so tonight, Sunday, February 22nd, a friend contacted me asking: “Jacqui, did you see the commercial? The “buy the land” commercial!” I said I had not, and read the link he sent.

Commercial for Saving Florida's Waters, purchase the US Sugar option lands. (2-22-15.)
Commercial for Saving Florida’s Waters, purchase the US Sugar option lands. (2-22-15.)

See commercial here: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8HmRTY2OI0)

Wow. What a commercial! A very big bomb!

The  60-second TV spot starts airing  2-22-15 and  sponsored by the  Everglades Trust (http://www.evergladestrust.org) is running on cable and broadcast stations in Tampa Bay, Orlando, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach and Tallahassee.

The scrip reads: 

“Decades of uncontrolled pollution in the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee is endangering our health, killing our wildlife and threatening our drinking water.

Four years ago, the sugar industry signed a binding written contract to sell us land to clean up their pollution, and for a reservoir to protect our water.

It’s been called the most critical piece of land ever for Everglades restoration. Last November, 75% of Floridians voted YES to Amendment 1, making vital land purchases for the Everglades a part of the Florida Constitution.

Now, it’s up to the Governor to back it and the Legislature to fund it.

Call the Governor, call your legislator, and tell them to buy the land. Build the reservoir. And save Florida’s drinking water. Now, while there’s still time.

Sign the petition here SAVING FLORIDA WATER: (http://savingflwater.com)

Article Tampa Bay Blog: (http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/a-new-tv-campaign-presses-for-purchase-of-us-sugar-land/2218650)

So I think that this is a war of sorts. Between US Sugar and the Everglades Trust. For most readers of my blog interested in saving the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, our ideology is that of the Everglades Trust….

In closing, when you have some extra time, please write to Governor Scott below, and sign the petition above, asking to support the purchase of option lands. And feel good about the influence you are already having in the war to save the Indian River Lagoon!

Write Governor Scott here: (http://www.flgov.com/contact-governor/)

Colorized version of file photo, bomber WWII. (Public .)
Colorized version of file photo, bomber over farm lands, WWII. (Public .)