Tag Archives: Florida Everglades

Taylor Slough,”The Great Water Disconnect,” SLR/IRL

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Road Trip Series, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon-Taylor Slough

Happy New Year to all of my readers!

We begin 2017 at the southern most part of our state, the Florida Everglades. Over the holidays my husband, Ed, and I continued the Road Trip Series further south to gather insights, one that I will share with you today: the great water disconnect of Taylor Slough. We have too much water and it doesn’t have enough. Could we help?

Before we begin, what is a “slough?” What a strange word!

For years I drove along a road in Port St Lucie, north of Stuart, named “Cane Slough.” I wondered to myself what that meant considering the area was paved over. When my mother told me Cane Slough was once a marshy shallow river, I thought how odd that was considering there was not trace of it today. The same thing, but on a much larger scale, has happened in the Florida Everglades and in both instances it is a great loss.

“Slough,” pronounced “slew,” is not just a river, but a river that is made for Florida’s dry and rainy seasons.  It is a slow-moving river whose grassy shores expand and contract. During the dry season when rains are scarce, the remaining water in the deepest part of these depressions is where plants and animals hold on to life-giving water until the rains begin anew…

Before South Florida was developed there were two main sloughs running through the Everglades to Florida Bay. Named, the Shark River, the largest, and Taylor Slew, smaller and further to the east. We must note that Florida Bay the past years has suffered from algae blooms and seagrass die off due to high salinity because Taylor Slew cannot flow southeast. This lack of water affects both land and marine communities.

It is easy to see the great “disconnect” for Taylor Slough on this National Park map. A park ranger informed me that “all water” received into Taylor Slew now comes via canal structures controlled by the South Florida Water Management District.

Yes, some great things finally are happening such as the recent construction of elevated bridges along Tamiami Trail designed to deliver more sheet flow into the park and a  future where  the “Chekika” public access area off 997 could be closed year-round so water could be flowing south. Others too I’ve no room to mention…

One can visually note that restoring this flow is tricky as Homestead’s agricultural and rural development zones abut the old water shed and Broward County north of this area has communities literally in the Everglades (C-11 Basin) that were once part of Taylor Slough as well. Crazy!

But, if we sent men to the moon 50 years ago, shouldn’t we be able to accomplish reconnecting the flow of water “today?” Now, when the Everglades and Florida Bay need it?

How can we along the St Lucie River help speed things up?

…Learn about Senator Negron’s proposal for 60,000 acres of storage, cleaning and conveyance in 2017. Learn about pressuring our government to “face the facts.”

…One thing is certain, we can’t allow the Everglades to die on our watch, and we have exactly what she needs…

Water.

Taylor Slough https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Slough
ENP C-111: https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/c111.htm
C-11(1) Basin: http://c-11.org
C-111: http://palmm.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/fiu%3A3643#page/FI05030101_cover1/mode/2up

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Senate President Joe Negron’s proposed land purchase map, 2017

Okeelanta Corporation, Mapping Out the Future of Water, SLR/IRL

file-page1-2.jpgToday I will continue my series “Who Owns the Land South of Lake Okeechobee? Mapping out the Future of Water.” Hurricane Matthew caused a slight interruption, but now we shall continue. 🙂

Here we go!

Number two on the TCRPC map (above) is Okeelanta Corporation. “Okeelanta is a division of Florida Crystals, the word is a combination of two made into one. “Okee,” coming from “Okeechobee,” and “lanta,” coming from “Atlantic.” Cleverly named for a location between Lake Okeechobee and the Atlantic Ocean. Okeelanta was a historic town founded by writer and politician Laurence E. Will’s father. The town stood about one mile below South Bay. It was destroyed in the 1928 Hurricane: http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/okeelanta

I’m not sure if the company Okeelanta is named after the town, but I believe it was bought, and I know it is now owned by the Fanjul family of Cuba who owns Florida Crystals. As many of us know, the Fanjul family came to South Florida because of Fidel Castro’s 1959 Marxist Revolution. The family moved to Florida along with other wealthy, dispossessed families. Here with the support of the US Government the Fanjuls rebuilt their fortune as the US grew to be a leader in the world sugar trade, at the expense of the Florida Everglades.

In regards to the map, it must be noted that compared to US Sugar Corporation, the Fanjul family are relative”newcomers.” This is why their land holdings are further south of Lake Okeechobee. They acquired lands as the industry expanded after 1960.

Sometimes I say “until the Cuban Revolution there were only 100,000 acres of sugar cane in the EAA.” This is probably off, but you get the point. As Laurence E. Will in his historic book noted in a previous post: “After the Cuban Revolution, for a short time our government permitted the unrestricted panting of sugar cane…”

Again I stress that the expansion of these lands by the US Government is what allowed this area to be convered from Everglades to sugar fields, and it is only our state and national governments that can encourage and fairly compensate land owners for lands purchased in the EAA to allow water storage in an area that should never have been 100% developed in the first place. We have to encourage land owners to please be a part of the solution of allowing storage of excess water and helping more clean water move south…

According the TCRPC map Okeelanta owns 86,793 acres of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA.) A lot!

I have colored in the #2s  with orange highlighter so you can see these lands more clearly and how the intersect with Senator Joe Negron’s circles for possible proposed land acquisition. Remember that 9 days ago I colored in United States Sugar Corporation’s (USSC) lands in purple crayon. They are #1.

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So now we can clearly “see” what lands are owned by USSC and by Okeelanta.

“Okeelanta Corporation, a sugarcane company, engages in farming, milling, packaging, and distributing sugar cane. It has a 67,000 acres facility that includes cane fields, a mill, refinery, packaging and distribution center and a power plant. The company was incorporated in 1984 and is based in West Palm Beach, Florida. Okeelanta Corporation operates as a subsidiary of Florida Crystals Corporation.”

As we shall see in future posts, the Fanjul holdings have various names, thus they own more land than noted in the map above. Like them or not, the family is clever just like the name “Okeelanta” and infamous for their political influence. The two most well known brothers are noted for ties to different political parties:  Alfonso Fanjul, Democratic Party while Pepe, contributes to Republican Party. For the record the other brothers names are Alexander and Andres. And they have a sister. Her name is Lillian Banjul Azqueta and she is president and founder of New Hope Charities.

As controversial as the family is, they do a lot of good for the poor Glades communities and they own what we want. We must work together for a better water future for Florida that includes our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Vanity Fair article IN THE KINGDOM OF BIG SUGAR: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2001/02/floridas-fanjuls-200102

New Hope Charities: http://www.newhopecharities.com.

Okeelanta Corp.: http://broward.jobing.com/florida-crystals-okeelanta-corporation

Florida Crystals: https://www.floridacrystals.com

Fanjul Bros. WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanjul_brothers

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Senator Negron’s proposed land purchase map 2016/17