The first thing I noticed flying in to St Petersburg was that they had a lot of seagrass beds…
“How in can a place with so many people have so much more seagrass than Stuart?” I thought to myself. “Well, number one, they don’t have releases from Lake Okeechobee destroying their estuary every few years, and they are known for the state’s most successful estuary restoration program–of Tampa Bay (http://www.tbep.org) something we are trying to emulate for the Indian River Lagoon (http://www.irlcouncil.com).
It was the new year’s weekend and Ed and I had decided to “get away.”
What I had forgotten is that Clearwater, our destination, is home to Winter and Hope, Indian River east coast dolphins who were rescued by Harbor Branch (http://www.fau.edu/hboi/marine_mammals/) based in St Lucie County who were then rehabilitated at Clearwater Marine Aquarium on the west coast. These dolphins could not be released. Winter, an amputee due to a crab trap cutting off her tail, and Hope, an orphan who was suckling on her dead mother when found never learned life skills…
Today these dolphins are alive, friends, inspiring thousands of people including a multitude of veteran and children amputees, have starred in two feature films, and have made Clearwater a favorite nationwide family destination: (https://www.seewinter.com)
The experience of visiting the aquarium, made me think about how connected we all really are. How much we can do together. If Harbor Branch had not saved these IRL dolphins, Winter and Hope would not be the worldwide ambassadors for their species that they are today.
Yes, we are all connected across our great state! Happy 2018 Florida!
If you are from Martin or St Lucie County, I’m sure you remember….how the river movement came to an unexpected raging head during the Summer of 2013. It was after the River Kidz had held a gathering at the locks; and after the public had been screaming the St Lucie River was a putrid mess; it was after the Stuart News had been writing; and it was after organizations that had been working for years continued to bang their fists. Yes, after all this, that something new occurred…a surfer named Evan Miller posted on Facebook to protest the damaging discharges from Lake Okeechobee at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Evan had no idea! Social media was new. Shockingly, over 5000 people attended the event: mothers and fathers, children, grandparents, business people, local city and county politicians, environmentalists, people from afar, long time residents and newbies…..”everyone” was there…even Senator Joe Negron…
Things were never quite the same after this as a true movement materialized, and the seriousness of the matter was exposed. The event was reported across the state catching the attention of Florida’s most powerful and influential.
Shortly after, more protest were called by Miller who with help from Leon Abood, the beloved chair of the Rivers Coalition, reactivated and expanded the local Citizens 4 Clean Water chapter drawing members mostly from the younger generation.
Well, Evan called me yesterday and said “times are calling for a new kind of protest” and the young people of C4CW are calling for prayer and meditation, rather than protest in support of what is called the Negron Bill, Senate Bill 10, that calling for land purchase in the EAA for a reservoir.
“Wow,” I thought. How does the saying go? “God works in mysterious ways…”
C4CW’s Facebook page reads: “Rock painting with Children For Clean Water begins at 4pm at Sandsprit Park. Viral photo of thousands in prayer 5:30 pm. See everyone there to support the SB 10 bill in legislation now. Let’s get that land! #buytheland #senditsouth https://www.facebook.com/events/1874182396131037/?ti=icl
3443 SE St Lucie Blvd
Stuart, FL 34997
C4CW’s Mission Statement: Take the challenge and become a Citizen For Clean Water by becoming part of the revolution to bring forward people who will lead the way for a cleaner and brighter tomorrow. When you become a Citizen For Clean Water you are taking on the responsibility of taking care of your environment teaching others your knowledge and stepping up to make a leading example for the rest of the world by becoming a voice for the voiceless. http://www.citizensforcleanwater.org
History, “being changed,” is always uncomfortable….
—-Kudos to Adam Putnam, and —-Kudos to the River Warriors…
This is not an easy video to watch, and I apologize for the foul language, but I do think it is important we document this movement. Yesterday evening Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, and more than likely our next Governor, stood in a sea of angry River Warriors at an Economic Council dinner at the Elliott Museum in Martin County, Florida.
The crowd angry over the discharges once again killing the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon as well as their way of life and their businesses… –We see here how volatile and political the issue has become.
That Adam Putnam tried very hard to talk to the crowd and remained amongst them for such a length of time is to his credit. It is well-known that in the past politicians have run away. I do believe there is a silver lining here. I do believe this means that someone may have been found who is brave enough and versed enough to tackle this issue beyond “finishing the projects.”
For all involved, this is hard to do, but can be done.
We must find a way to sit at the table together to begin to solve this issue . May this difficult day have been the beginning. —-Hope.
Hope (noun) 1. “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen”. b. “grounds for believing that something good may happen.” 2. archaic “a feeling of trust.”
When looking at the water issues facing the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon, it sometimes appears that we are doomed to an endless repetition of discharges from Lake Okeechobee and regional canals for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. We are not; we must have hope.
I am clearly aware that the Central Everglades Planning Project, (CEPP) will not alleviate all of the waters killing our rivers. In fact, from what I think I understand, it will deal with about 250,000 acre feet of water of a needed at least 200 million. US Sugar Corporation will probably quote 450 million. For me, the number is not the issue right now, the issue is getting started. By getting started, a groundwork is laid for “more” in the future.
Yes, I wish that the state of Florida had purchased the US Sugar option lands and we could have storage and a “flow way south” to the Everglades from Lake O of sorts, but the state did not. We must still fight for this concept, but also for CEPP.
As right now, CEPP is the only thing “on the books” to send water south and thus our only hope for “sending water south” in the future. The last time I wrote about CEPP I was furious because after all of the hard collective advocacy work to get it in the Water Resources Development Act of 2014, it did not make it. Well now we have another chance, and I have hope that it will.
CEPP was intensely reviewed across South Florida by many. It was led by environmental lead Dr Gretchen Ehlinger, ACOE/Jacksonville, and locally, by West Palm Beach’s, project supervisor, Kim Taplin/ACOE. Both tirelessly worked this project. It was truly a miracle in itself that the project was fast tracked. As we know, government is the world of molasses and quicksand….
To review CEPP:
“The goal of the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) is to deliver a finalized plan, known as a Project Implementation Report (PIR), for a suite of restoration projects in the central Everglades to prepare for congressional authorization, as part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The Central Everglades Planning Project will identify and plan for projects on land already in public ownership to allow more water to be directed south to the central Everglades, Everglades National Park and Florida Bay….”
On August 31st, 2015, something big happened. Jo-Ellen Darcy, Assistant Secretary to the Army, finally signed the “record of decision” for the project. Thank you.
So now the project is approved to “move forward” by the Army Corp. The Final Integrated Project Implementation Report and Environmental Impact Statement has been “approved.” (Please read document above.) So what has to happen now? A lot! The project has to become part of the next Water Resources Development Act, (WRDA), that moves through the US Congress only once every 2-7 years….
If CEPP becomes part of the next WRDA bill, then it would have funding to start with, then the funding has to be continued of course….as politics shift and sands sink and rise…. and yes, the project has to be built….and the water has to be there to flow!….Excruciating isn’t it? But we are on our way. ——The business of hope is not for the weak of heart, it is for the strong.
I have decided that we need a flag. The first flags were used to assist military co-ordination on battlefields, and flags have since evolved into a general tool for rudimentary signalling and identification, especially in environments where communication is challenging.
Thus, I have created the “Toxic Flag”of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
I would like to thank friend Toby Overdorf and his father for going to Port Mayaca yesterday around 4:30 PM and taking photos of the toxic algae bloom still there at the gates both east and west S-308, Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee. I have used one of Toby’s photos to create the flag. A dead fish floats in the toxic bloom that was sent into river this morning at 7AM.
I would also like to thank Even Miller and all those who attended the BUY THE LAND and toxic algae protest yesterday at St Lucie Locks and Dam. Also thank you to Katy Lewey for her rally this morning. It is necessary to make a statement against these toxic discharges.
The “flag” I have created in the first image of this blog post is based on the Gadsden flag, one of the original American flags that in sprite of its many associations stands for every American in that we as Americans are not afraid to fight tyranny. That toxic waters are dumped into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is a form of tyranny. It is a practice that is now understood and must be changed.
Below are the webcams as kindly sent by the Army Corp of “Engineers and the Environmental Conditions Report” from the South Florida Water Management District that I could not find the other day. The links to the web cams allow one to see a photo every five minutes from S-80 and S-308. S-308 is at Lake Okeechobee and S-80 is located in the C-44 canal at St Lucie Locks and Dam. I do appreciate these links being sent and I must state that I understand that it is not the individual people of the ACOE and SFWMD that purposefully dump on our waters. It is the bureaucracy of these institutions that have morphed such over the years that they no longer respond to the people or to the voters. Time for a change.
Fly this flag with pride and remember: “Don’t Dump on Me.”
From the ACOE: As promised, following is the URL’s for Environmental Conditions Report of SFWMD (see right bottom under Operational Reports)
All Saints Church is Martin County’s oldest church still in use; it was built in 1898, and still stands today upon a hill overlooking the Indian River Lagoon. Built by area pioneers, from local lumber, it has withstood the test of time through multiple devastating hurricanes…
Last Saturday, I was asked to speak before the ladies of the church about “River Kidz.” They wished to learn about the grass-roots organization founded in 2011 by children in the Town of Sewall’s Point. I found this fitting as my mother states in her book about Sewall’s Point, that the history of the peninsula cannot be separated from the history of the little church.
Captain Henry Sewall, who gave Sewall’s Point its name, was a member of the church and donated its bell that still rings out clearly across the river today. He along with his family is buried there. The window, in memory of his life, bears an anchor, and for me, after my visit to the little historic church, this window is a “window of hope.”
According to Joyce A. Fletcher Menard’s book on All Saints entitled, “Windows, Memorial, and More,” the anchor had great importance in ancient times for mariners (such as Capt. Sewall) as it was regarded as symbol of safety, but later on it became a symbol of hope.
Sometimes there is no safety, but there is always hope. I have hope for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. I have hope through the children, and I have hope through you. Without hope, we have nothing. Hold fast. Hold on, and hold tight. Don’t give up. We are the anchor for our river; we are its “window of hope.”