Tag Archives: Florida

Remembering the Scrub Jays of Our Childhood Backyard

A Florida Scrub Jay: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Florida_Scrub-Jay/id

When I was a kid, my brother, sister and I lived on Edgewood Drive in Stuart. My parents were great about teaching us to appreciate, respect and love wildlife. Today, many of our actions would be frowned upon. We fed the animals, and at one time or another, had wild pets. It was wonderful!

This weekend unable to garden trapped inside by relentless rain, I started thinking to myself “what did the ecosystem of my childhood backyard really look like?” That was the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Could I find anything that looked like it today? Does my yard, today, resemble it at all? 

So I took a drive to the old neighborhood.

St Lucie Estates looks a lot the same but our family house has been knocked down and replaced by one much larger. Also every lot is developed. When I was growing up, our house was surrounded by a number of empty lots and as kids we roamed freely.  These undeveloped lots allowed my siblings and I to have native nature right in our “backyard.” 

I racked my brain to think of where I might find a comparable lot to the ones in St Lucie Estates. I wanted to see what plants were on it. What trees. The color of the sand.

I drove east on East Ocean Boulevard.

Near Kingswood Condominium I found one lot that looked a lot like the ones I ran around in as a kid. Although drained and full of invasives, the space held a few recognizables: a sand pine, a stand of sand oaks, yucca, palmettos, prickly pear cactus, and other flowering plants and grasses whose names I never learned.  

Seeing the Kingwood lot brought back a lot of memories and I thought about how this once familiar habitat is basically gone. This rare Florida Scrub has  been covered with shopping malls and subdivisions most sporting heavily fertilized floratam along with a variety of ornamentals.

I wondered why developers just cleared the natives. I am realizing that my childhood home must have been a Florida Scrub environment. For goodness sake, one of our favorite wild friends was the very smart Scrub Jay! We never thought  that our house may have destroyed their favorite bushes. We just smiled and lifted our arms strong and high -palms perfectly flat balancing one nut. Always, they came. So smart! So consistent!

Of course Scrub Jays are now a threatened species whose habitat is considered to be one of the most endangered in the world…

~The location of my childhood backyard.

After getting the photos from Kingwood, I decided to drive north to Jensen to visit Hawk’s Bluff off of Savannah Road. Here I could walk and remember the some of the sights of my childhood. This is one of the few places the Florida Scrub Ecosystem has been saved.

~The wind whistled through the trees. I felt timeless. The rain had brightened the usually muted colors. I sat on the bench. Lake Henderson’s grey and purple reflection resembled a Monet. It was beautiful!

I was alone in my childhood backyard…

I raised my arms above my head, hands upright bent -perfectly flat.

Would a Scrub Jay come to visit?

I held my arms up until I could no longer -putting them down- I got up to walk my adult path.

My little sister, Jenny, proudly feeds a neighborhood Scrub Jay, St Lucie Estates, Edgewood Drive, Stuart, ca.1972. (Family Album)
Cousin Drew Hudson and I feed the Scrub Jays 1972, St Lucie Estates, Stuart, FL (Family Album)

Visit #1 one of the last undeveloped lots near Kingswood Condominium, East Ocean Drive, Stuart, Florida, still reveals native scrub vegetation:

Somehow this cactus garden has grown and survived! Prickly pear is a common scrub plant and a favorite of gopher turtles.
Prickly pear.. Ouch!
Scrub oak and palmetto in a remaining lot off East Ocean Blvd.
A rare sand pine of the Florida Scrub was once prolific requiring fire for pine cones to open and take seed.
Flower of the scrub
Prickly pear in sandy soil with other ground cover

Florida Scrub:

http://www.sfrc.ufl.edu/Extension/florida_forestry_information/forest_resources/scrub.html

https://www.worldwildlife.org/ecoregions/na0513

Scrub Jays:

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/florida-scrub-jay

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_scrub_jay

 

Visit #2 Hawk’s Bluff in Savannas Preserve Park is rare gem of the Florida Scrub landscape and it’s wildlife:

New signs including Scrub Jay and Florida Scrub Habitat signs, Florida Park Service, photo album below from Hawk’s Bluff, 11-3-19

 

 

 

Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth Lagoon

Last week, I told my mother that my husband Ed and I were planning on taking the trawler from Stuart to Fort Lauderdale down the Intracoastal Waterway, and that I was most excited about passing through the Lake Worth Lagoon: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/southflorida/regions/lake-worth-lagoon/

“Do you have some history for me?” I asked.

She ran upstairs returning with a little booklet entitled “Under the Cocoanuts, Lake Worth, Dade County, Florida, by Porter and Potter, Real Estate Agents, 1893.”  Mom said her friend and fellow historian, Mrs. Marjorie Watts Nelson, had gifted a copy of the famous little book and that it was cherished.

I carefully looked through it and understood why…

Today, I would like to share this historic booklet. I believe pages 15 and 19 are missing, but it remains a priceless read. The beautiful artwork was created by George Wells Potter, of Porter and Potter, a star citizen and gifted artist whose drawings remain an outstanding record of the day.

Enjoy!

http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/george-wells-potter

 

Mr Nathaniel Reed’s Flowers ~La Florida

On December 8, 2018, I attended beloved environmentalist Mr Nathaniel P. Reed’s memorial service held at the Hobe Sound Bible Church. It was a wonderful gathering for an unforgettable man who is an example for us all on how to best protect our treasured Florida.

After the service, I walked back into the church to say my own private prayer for Mr Reed.  It was so peaceful; and the flowers were the most beautiful I had ever seen. A true “La Florida.” I share my photos today. Mr Reed’s spirit lives on in all of us who fight for Florida and our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Sign on letter that was sent to Gov. DeSantis

Stuart News,”Nathaniel Reed’s Memorial Service” https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2018/11/05/nathaniel-nat-reed-memorial-service-set-dec-8-hobe-sound-church/1895918002/

1000 Friends of Florida Nat Reed: http://www.1000friendsofflorida.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/2010-reed-great-floridian.pdf

Blog Spot, Nathaniel Reed: http://nathanielpreed.blogspot.com

Mr Reed kept fishing journals his entire life. The family shared extras at the memorial.

Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

 

Pin is location east of EAA Reservoir area; Stuart is blue dot, and Chokoloskee is next to Everglades City on lower west coast.

The day began with smoke, smoke off the sugarcane fields.

Yesterday, Ed and I took a flight from Stuart to Everglades City, passing Chokoloskee and photographing the EAA Reservoir lands along the way. It is huge out there in the “Everglades,” seemingly endless. The easiest way to get one’s bearings is to look for the Miami and New River Canals that run south of Lake Okeechobee. Highway 27 parallels the New River Canal; where the red balloon is located above is the area east of where the EAA Reservoir will be constructed. For more specifics see link (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/a-1-aerial/)

For Ed and I the flight, although hazy, was an opportunity to learn to recognize from the air Water Conservation Area 3, just south of the EAA Reservoir Area. The water conservation area lands are not located in Everglades National Park, but water quality is protected.

“To me these are the Everglades,” Ed said looking down.

“They are but they aren’t,” I replied. “They are part of the Central and South Florida Project, they are not natural; they are controlled. When they are too full from EAA water, the water from Lake O is not allowed to go south. If too full, from rain, or otherwise the animals can drown. Trapped on the tree islands raccoon, and deer, and panther together. Terrible.”

“Why can’t the water just flow south,” Ed asked.

“Lot of reasons, people like to say it’s because of an endangered bird, but its bigger than that, mostly because we have chosen to make it that way, and powerful entities keep our legislature from changing it in spite of what the voters say.” (SFWMD Constraints: https://apps.sfwmd.gov/SystemConstraintsDataApp/)

Ed did not reply.

We looked forward to what appeared to be little hills. The cypress domes of Big Cypress National Park reflected in the sunlight, and I could see “end of the earth” Chockoloskee right next to Everglades City in the distance. Pretty…

I can understand why people like to live down there so far away from everything. But they too can not escape our problems ~not with water.

WCAs: https://archive.usgs.gov/archive/sites/sofia.usgs.gov/virtual_tour/controlling/wca.html

Water Conservation Area 3: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Conservation_Area_3

Big Cypress National Preserve: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm

Chockoloskee: https://www.florida-everglades.com/chokol/home.htm

Cape Seaside Sparrow:
http://www.wlrn.org/post/controversial-bird-should-everglades-restoration-hinge-single-species

https://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/atlss/sparrows/ibsemabgeer00.html#fig1

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/seaside-sparrow

Water Conservation Areas
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Smoke rises over sugarcane fields southwest of Martin County near the Palm Beach Canal
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Smoke, canals, sugarcane fields

 

IMG_5880.jpg
Belle Glade, FL south of Lake Okeechobee
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Ed asked what this is. Not sure flooded fields, mining?
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Flowing Highway 27, the A1 on west side begins to show. Now a Flow Equalization Basin this land was once the Tailman Sugar Mill and is located on the east side of where the EAA reservoir is to be constructed.
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Looking west of A1 towards A2 where EAA Reservoir is to be built
IMG_5889.jpg
A1 from another position
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The North New River Canal to Ft Lauderdale now follows Highway 27. It once was in isolation as people used the canal to get to and from Lake O from the mouth of the New River
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Water Conservation Area 3 (WCA3) lies under A1 and A2 area; although not part of Everglades National Park, it’s water quality is protected:

Continue reading Stuart to Chokoloskee; EAA Reservoir Between…

It’s Now a Florida Trend: “Clean Water is Business!”

Florida Trend cover; Southeast; Southwest, Jan. 2019

Since I was a girl, I always saw Florida Trend Magazine on my parents’ coffee table. It represented, and still does, the face of business in Florida. And typically that is all that is reported, of course, straight business. I must say I was ecstatic to yesterday receive my January 2019 issue of Florida Trend and see that water quality issues were reported multiple times. A turning point.

Thank you Florida Trend Magazine, because we all know in Florida, clean water is good business. And when we make it business to clean up our waters, we all win!

Florida Trend: https://www.floridatrend.com/magazine

Customer Services and full cover of Jan. 2019 edition: https://www.floridatrend.com/Customer-services

Very cool – Florida Trend covers 1958-2007:https://www.floridatrend.com/article/7021/50-years-of-florida-trend-covers

Florida Trend Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Trend

Recent editorial on water by editor, Mr. M.R. Howard: https://www.floridatrend.com/article/25910/slimed

Ron DeSantis: Protecting Florida’s Environment on Day 1

Yesterday, I called in for the final conference call of Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment,  chaired by our own, Congressman Brian Mast. It was very, very interesting. Highlights of the call were recorded by TC Palm’s Ali Schmitz:

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/politics/2018/12/28/desantis-transition-work-agriculture-limit-pollution/2424629002/

https://desantistransition.com/governor-elect-ron-desantis-announces-transition-advisory-committee-on-the-environment-natural-resources-agriculture/

As a member of the public, I was able to listen-in on the call ~this one focusing on Agriculture, and make my recommendation.

Having served on the Constitution Revision Commission in 2018, I am especially drawn to the importance of government structure. DeSantis’ originally posted environmental policy statement listed Accountability for Water Quality. Right now, many Floridians wonder “who is charge,” who answers for our present lack of water quality? Some even think, understandably so, that it is the Army Corp of Engineers. It is not. Under the law, the state of Florida is responsible for water quality, but with “three cooks in the kitchen,” (DEP, Water Management Districts, and Dept of Agriculture) this is difficult. So with my time on the call, I asked for centralization of enforcement of water quality standards and a strong Lead Agency:

CENTRALIZE THE ENFORCEMENT OF WATER QUALITY STANDARDS. A Majority of water quality regulation is currently housed at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). However, certain water quality standards and monitoring reside within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) which is overseen by the Commission of Agriculture. DeSantis will work with the Florida legislature to move all components of water quality regulation within the Executive Branch to DEP. This will increase uniformity and ensure that the Secretary of DEP, who is accountable to the Governor, has the tools necessary to meet the water quality standards that Floridians deserve. ~DeSantis for Governor website Sept. 2018.

As we all know, the inauguration is January 8th, 2019. Very exciting! Congratulations Governor DeSantis! And awesome that Congressman Mast is by your side!!

Before we get too excited, let’s not forget…

Today, I will post the website of Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis on the environment so we can remember what was promised and hold the governor and all members of the Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment accountable for next four years. Looking forward to a governor who will protect the environment on day one!

Website links:

GOVERNOR-ELECT RON DESANTIS

https://rondesantis.com/issues/

https://rondesantis.com/environment/

Looking Back, St Lucie River ~Rain and Algae 2018

Even though the water in yesterday’s photo looked gorgeous, lest we forget, here are some images of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon area during a rainy and cyanobacteria ridden 2018.

Ed and I didn’t start taking pictures until were motivated…

In March 2018 there was a tremendous rain event. (https://www.sfwmd.gov/our-work/flood-control/managing-high-water)
My homemade rain gauge showed over 27 inches in just a few days along the coast!

You’ll see that after the rain event, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon looks terrible even with out Lake Okeechobee discharges. This is caused by directed water runoff from C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44 and “local” coastal runoff.  Naturally, the river never took all this water. Humans made it this way, and we must fix it.

SFWMD canal and basin map.

Soon after the torrential rain, the Army Corp of Engineers made things even worse and started dumping from Lake Okeechobee through the C-44 Canal into the St Lucie River by opening up the gates at S-308 and S-80.

My husband, Ed,  first flew over Lake O on June 1st,  just by chance. At this time, he spotted algae on the lake and took a photo.  Ironically, the next day, the Army Corp started dumping from Lake Okeechobee on June 2nd!

The algae or cyanobacteria (http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/bacteria/cyanointro.html)
that was festering in the Lake began to show up almost immediately thereafter in the St Lucie River that has also become  a “nutrient porridge.”

The rest unfortunately is history. 2018  was bad, but in my opinion not as awful as 2016 when the ocean was totally green: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/bathtub-beach-algae/

After another long, hot summer, the Army Corp finally stopped discharging in the fall~October 5th… Take a look at the photos and remember to enjoy the blue water when it is here, but NEVER FORGET! Only though looking back, will we have the determination to change the future.

Major rain event in March 2018.  Rain filled this vile up many times!
SLR IRL following major rain event in March 2018. This is runoff from C-23, C-24, C-25, C-44,  and “locally” from developed areas along the river and uplands made to drain into river. JTL
Following rain event in March 2018. A brown Atlantic.
Following rain event in March 2018, the SLR/IRL ~Scott Kuhns
Following rain event in March 2018 Sailfish Flats between Sewall’s and Sailfish Points ~Scott Kuhns
June 5th. A very dark plume moves south along Jupiter Island, just days after ACOE begins dumping so this is a combination of all pollution/runoff  waters…

LAKE OKEECHBEE DISCHARGES ADDED

Ed in the Cub after plume photo
Algae as photographed/spotted by Ed in Lake O on June 1st 2018.

City of Stuart, June 9 2018.

Rio near Central Marine, week of June 12, 2018

Photographing a manatee in the algae along seawall by Mary Radabaugh
Mary Radabaugh manages Central Marine with her husband. JTL

Mary found a dead baby manatee floating in the putrid water shortly after LO discharges.  MR

LAKE O: Week of June 16th, June 25th, and July 22nd. Cyanobacteria (blue green algae) blooms and then subsides. ~All the while, this water is dumped into the St Lucie River by the Federal Govt.; the water quality is terrible and this the responsibility not of the Feds but of the State of Florida.

Algae is now very visible in Lake O, June 16, 2018 JTL
June 25, 2018 Lake O, near S-308, Port Mayaca.  JTL
C-44 canal leading to SLR from Lake O.
C-44 canal leading from LO to SLR.
Satellite view LO bloom on June 24, 2018. ~At its height.
By July 22, 2018 the bloom in the LO is lessening, JTL
August 29, algae would come and go, throughout the SLR. Here near Overlook Drive JTL
September 4, algae still “coming and going” ~2018 Snug Harbor, Stuart.  Photo by my uncle, Dale Hudson

October 5, the ACOE stops dumping from Lake O. The blooms stop almost right away but the damage remains….

December 8, 2018 the river looks “normal” again near Sewall’s Point but it is not. JTL