Tag Archives: future

Ocean, Shore, and Bridges, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

scan0018 (4).jpg
A. Ruhnke, Stuart Nov. 12, 1956. (Courtesy of Sandra Thurlow)

I started the day looking for a quote of inspiration; this is what I found:

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

-Christopher Columbus

There have been some heavy set backs lately, for me and for others. After a year of total dedication and tremendous support, I lost a close race for Martin County commissioner. A race mostly inspired by our river…

Sometimes it may seem that we have fallen overboard and are surrounded by sharks, but we are not. We have just run aground… I believe because of our collective efforts since 2013 there is more wide-scale awareness for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon than in the combined previous 83 years. Progress is being made and will continue. There are always set backs as a goal is being achieved.

Just yesterday, I opened up “Florida Trend Magazine”and right there was the now famous aerial photograph of a beautiful North River Shores peninsula surrounded in fluorescent green algae. The title? Southeast “Bloom Blame, Florida researchers look for links between environmental factors and brain diseases.”

Unbelievable….

As you know, our plight, the plight of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has become a state issue. A national issue.  The sad story of Lake Okeechobee and the St Lucie River is now mainstream, not just for a certain well read group, but for everyone.

Why?

Because we organized, we protested, we taught our youth, we went into schools, we went into churches and synagogues, we spoke at our dinner tables, we created organizations, we exploded on social media, we inspired candidates to run for the river, we inspired incumbents who had not spoken for the river to speak…

We had the courage to lose sight of the shore, this dirty shore that we stand on, and cross the ocean of the unknown. Along this journey, some have been persecuted, others are spreading the word…

This 1956 photo of the City of Stuart nestled in the arms of the St Lucie River was taken eight years before I was born. There were problem with the river then too, but only a few to speak for it, and hardly a way to spread the news…

Such a beautifully composed photograph, isn’t it? With the bridge leading to Stuart and the St Lucie Inlet on the horizon?

–Let’s have the courage to once again set sail…

 

 historic NOV. 12, 1956 STUART FL AERIAL - Version 5.jpg

 

How We See the World–Maps For the Past, Maps for the Future, SLR/IRL

 

1866 map shared by Jim Davis
1866 map shared by Jim Wilson.

I don’t know about you, but I love maps! As a visual person, a map helps me understand  more than words…

In his “Student Guide to Map Making” Ralph Ehrenberg writes:

“Maps are one of the most important types of documents associated with exploration. A map is a graphic representation that facilitates a spatial understanding of things, concepts, conditions, processes or events in the human world. They are used by explorers to help find their way. They are also prepared by explorers to document or record what in fact they discovered.”

It may not be the 1800s, but we are still explorers. We are trying to find a way for a better water future. One of the best ways to achieve this is to study the past. Over the weekend Facebook friend, Jim Wilson, discovered a very interesting 1866 map of Florida and the Everglades:

You can view the 1866 map in full here: http://www.mapofus.org/_maps/atlas/1866-FL.html

I emailed Dr Gary Goforth about it and this is what he said:  “Portions are accurate, but feel that other portions are not accurate, e.g., the southern shore of Lake Okeechobee. Regardless, it is an amazing compilation of “known” information from 1866!”

In spite of perfection or imperfection, the map has the ability to inspire and give us a visual of what the lands and area south of Lake Okeechobee may have looked like—-I have studied many maps, but I had never had a way to envision the rivers/rivulets running south to the Everglades—–yes, the multiple “fingers” so often reported by early explorers. For me the 1866 map, in one form or another, was an “ah-ha” moment. Thank you Jim!

Maps give “vision…”

We are still explorers…

—I think we should create a “map” of what we would like to see in the future for the waters of our state, particularly south of Lake Okeechobee. Not a drawing, or a satellite, but a good-old map.

You can view other old cool Florida maps from 1800-1849 here: http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/maps/1800/1800.htm

Portion of 1845 Florida Military map showing around south of Lake Okeechobee but no rivulets.
Portion of 1845 Florida Military map showing “fingers” south of Lake Okeechobee but no continuing rivulets as the 1866 shows.

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Thank you Jim Wilson for sharing the 1866 map and inspiring this blog post. jacqui

The Many Names of Beautiful Sailfish Point, SLR/RIL

South Hutchinson Island aerial showing miquto ditches through mangroves and other vegetation. 1952 courtesy of Thurlow Archives.
Confluence of St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon at St Lucie Inlet. This aerial shows mosquito ditches through mangroves and other vegetation on today’s Sailfish Point. Due to state and local protections, the  mangroves could not be removed today as they were in Martin County in the late 70s and early 80s. Aerial dated 1952 courtesy of Thurlow Archives.

“A rose is a rose is a rose…”

The “Coral Strand” was a rose; “Seminole Shores” was a rose; “Sailfish Point is a rose…” and whatever Native American name the Indian’s had for this sacred area was also a rose….

In her poem’s famous first line: “a rose is a rose is a rose,” poet Gertrude Stein’s words are often interpreted as meaning “things are what they are”…”using a name of a thing already invokes the imagery and emotions associated with it..”

For me all these names are “a rose” evoking different images and times of Indian River Region history. The Coral Strand being the name given to the land by the McCoy brothers–famous rum runners and wheeler-dealer business men. Seminole Shores the name given by James Rand a wealthy eccentric of our area whose riches founded the Florida Oceanographic Society; and Sailfish Point the name given to the area after its development by Mobil Oil Corporation in the 1980s.

Will there be another name in the future? And if so what will it be? Well–a rose is a rose is a rose, always and forever…..no matter the name.

Picnicking at the Coral Strand 1927, for sale/lease sign in the background. Photo courtesy of Stuart the History of Martin County.
Picnicking at the Coral Strand 1927, “for sale/lease” sign in the background. Photo courtesy of Stuart the History of Martin County.
The Coral Strand was for sale for 25,000 in
According to the History of Martin County the Coral Strand was for sale for $25,000 in the 1920s.
Wider view showing the SLR/IRL in all its former fishing riches.
Wider view showing the SLR/IRL in all its former fishing riches, impacts from regional development agricultural canals, and area development with removal of vegetation have lessened water quality.

Blog Break, June Review 2015, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River, unlabeled. 2007.
River, unlabeled. 2007.

Sometimes  you just need to take a break! I will be “blog-breaking” to spend time with my husband; I will return 7-15-15.

In review, before I stop blogging, thus far 2015 has not been a particularly rewarding year for river advocates— mostly because of  the state legislature’s tumultuous session, their interpretation of Amendment 1, and their refusal to consider the purchase of the US Sugar’s option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

To top it off, the  ACOE began releasing from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River very early this year, starting January 16th and continuing  until just recently–the end of May. There may be more coming this rainy season….

The ACOE and the SFWMD decided to “dump” because the lake was “too high” to be safe for the Herbert Hoover’s Dike and its surrounding farms and communities.  This is “understandable,” but at great expense to our SLR/IRL economy and ecosystem.

Ironically, ample water supply is now a concern for “users,” such as agriculture, with Lake Okeechobee down to 12.20 feet and rapidly evaporating….((http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml))You may have heard that Miami is already in a drought…on top of this, the Caloosahatchee needs some lake water right now to keep its salinities from going too high but they are not getting it…

It always seems more likely that South Florida will  have a hurricane, and that Lake O could fill up quickly with 3-4 feet in one week, too much to dump fast,  so the agencies prefer the lake lower during summer’s rainy season… There is that chance though—that it won’t rain, and dry conditions will parch our state as occurred in 2006/2007.

DEP drought: (http://www.protectingourwater.org/transcripts/18/))

Wouldn’t that be something? After all that water being released?  South Florida going into a drought? The farm fields dying? The ecosystem and its animals in danger? And people not having enough water?

It  may seem an odd thought, but it is one that is not the “stuff of science fiction”— that one day,  in the future, after an extended drought or a climatic shift, people could be fighting over the billions of gallons of fresh water that is wasted to the Atlantic Ocean through the C-44 basin, the St Lucie River, and Caloosahatchee during storm events…

We need to prepare for this. We must not give up our advocacy. We must keep more of this precious water on the land and going south for the Everglades.

On a positive-personal note regarding the year thus far….

You may have noticed—-

I am enjoying collaborating with my family. To have my mother’s history and most recently my brother’s “flying time capsule maps” to share is very rewarding. I have linked some  of Todd time capsule flights below. They have been very popular!

My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson's dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)
My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson’s dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)

Todd is six years younger than me as you can see from the photo above. My sister, Jenny, is four years younger. Growing up, Todd and Jenny  were more together, and I was kind of “old.” I was out of Martin County High School where as they attended during the same time. Now, the years seems fewer in between…. 🙂

In closing, thank you very much for reading my blog; I wish you a good couple of weeks enjoying the Indian River Region, and I’ll see you soon!

River, unlabeled. 2007.
“Tranquility”…..Unlabeled photo, Thurlow Files, dated 2007.

Todd’s Videos:

1. The Inlets at Peck’s Lake and Jupiter Narrows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO650JyADwQ)

2. Hal-pa-ti-okee Swamp: Port St Lucie and Western Martin County. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2f-e0ul1mY)
3. Bog and Ponds of Martin County, 1940s. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvH5H0TiG5c)
4. The Spoil Islands of the Indian River Lagoon, Martin County (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sODqzQ8EW9o)
5. Capt. Henry Sewall’s Dock, Sewall’s Point, Where Was it Located? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkL9YgPSmI)

*6. Where did the South Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Lucie Canal Connect? EDD/ACOE 1915-1923 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

Above: Google Earth/Historic Maps Overlay Flights shared on my blog, created by my brother Todd Thurlow, (http://thurlowpa.com) These flights using Topo and other historic maps combined with today’s Google Earth images flashing between “yesterday and today” give tremendous insight into the water and land changes due to drainage for agriculture and development that have occurred in our region. JTL

 

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)

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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.