Tag Archives: jacqui

Finding the “Long-Lost,” Long-Leaf Pines of Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

A piece of long-leaf virgin pine from the windowsill of my Grandfather Henderson’s house in Gainesville, FL

Historic post card(s), long-leaf pine logging, courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

Grandaddy Russell Henderson as a young man, late 1920s Madison, FL. Family archives.
Like hard resin, stories of long-leaf pine and towering Florida forests are in me. Since my earliest days, I remember visiting my mother’s family and hearing tales around the dinner table:

“In the 1930s your Granddady and Uncle Gordy dove down to the bottom of the Swanee River, chained those sunken water-logged giant trees, pulled them out with mules, put them on a train to Gainesville, milled them, and built this house by hand. Virgin long-leaf pine that had been on the bottom of that river for 90 years became our home. This house is history.”

At the time, the stories were just part of a lifestyle I did not lead living “down” in Stuart, Florida with the Yankees. In Gainesville we ate boiled peanuts, okra, gigantic breakfasts of bacon, eggs, toast, and homemade jelly. In Stuart, I ate Lucky Charms.

Now that I am becoming an old-pine myself, the story of the long-lost, long-leaf pine is more  interesting to me. And “lo and behold,” although public records show the famous long-leaf forest stopping just north of Lake Okeechobee, recently my mother and I learned that they were, indeed, further south, right here in what today is Martin County!

This observation is bases on a 1st hand account of 1910 by J.H. Vaughn in an Abstract of Title for Indiantown, Florida.

Florida State Geological Survey 1927 belonging to my grandfather who worked for IFAS and UF in soil science.

This public photo off the internet gives scope of the size of the long-leaf pines.
In the early days of our country, long-leaf pine forests covered approximately 90 million acres and stretched across the entire southeastern United States. These trees are documented to have stood from 80 to 175 feet tall and many were up to 400 years in age. Of course multiple animals were dependent on the forest for shelter and food and there were massive benefits to the watersheds. The cleanest waters in the world run off of forests. These amazing trees evolved to completely withstand forest fires, actually thriving in such conditions. Imagine if you would these remarkable trees of our Creator, cut to the ground with the same state of mind as today when mowing one’s lawn….By the 1920s only 3% of the forests remained.

Digital Forest documentation of forest loss in the U.S.
So where were these trees in Martin County? Where do we fit into the incredible history of these magnificent conifers? J. H. Vaughn, a lumber man of the 1800s, negotiating a sale states in the abstract of title below:

“…there is an average of 2000 feet of Long Leaf Yellow Virgin pine per acre.. being on the eastern side of Lake Okeechobee…”.

(The Townships and Ranges listed are today’s Indiantown.)

I think it is incredible that we are part of the long-leaf pine odyssey. As today, the Nature Conservancy and people like M.C. Davies have dedicated their fortunes and lives to bringing back this magnificent species and the animal life that comes along with it.  The situation is a  lot like St Lucie River and Lake Okeechobee restoration. It’s a generational goal done so that our stories and our lives are remembered, and not “long-lost.”

No 12386

Page 5, original land survey 1855

Today’s map, as printed on-line August 2, 2017.

Newspaper article in about cutting of trees and lumber in Indiantown area, 1927. (Thurlow Archives)

My mother looking through a book on trees of Florida. 7/17 JTL

Kelly Morris, 2017
Links/sources:

M.C. Davis Devotes Life and Fortune to restoring Long-Leaf Pine forest near Pensacola, FL: http://www.npr.org/2015/06/17/415226300/gambler-turned-conservationist-devotes-fortune-to-florida-nature-preserve

NFWF: http://www.nfwf.org/whoweare/mediacenter/Pages/longleaf-gallery-16-0520.aspx

Green Meadow Project: http://greenmeadowproject.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_22.html?m=1

Digital Earth Watch, Old Growth Forests: http://dew.globalsystemsscience.org/activities/investigations/what-is-a-digital-image/investigation-measuring-old-growth-forest-loss

Appalachian Woods, History:http://www.appalachianwoods.com/Heart-Pine-History.htm

NWF: https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Plants/Longleaf-Pine.aspx

West of Eden, SLR/IRL

“Eden,” the name says it all. Wouldn’t it be cool to say you lived in Eden?

Today there is a historic sign, but there is no longer a town. In 1879 “Eden” was named by Captain Thomas E. Richards who decided this spot along the high ridge of the Indian River would be a good place to grow pineapples.  According to historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow,  “Richards felt he had arrived in a tropical paradise, and named his new home Eden.”

In Sandra’s book, “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River,” she talks about how today’s Jensen Beach evolved from both the historic communities of Eden and Jensen, but over time, while Jensen had room to grow, Eden faded, as it was hemmed in by the wet, fragile ecosystem of the savannas. This marshy savannas system once stretched along the lagoon for over a hundred miles, but today, the only remnant lies right behind the lost town of Eden, and to the north and south of close-by extending lands.

This very special photo was given to my mother, historical Sandra Henderson Thurlow, by Capt. Thomas Richards’s great-granddaughter, Mary Simon.
The town of Eden was located between the IRL and the wet savannas, Ruhnke/Thurlow Collection. “Historic Eden and Jensen on Florida’s Indian River,” by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

These rare lands known today as Savannas Preserve State Park, “encompass more than 5,400 acres and stretch more the ten miles from Jensen Beach to Ft Pierce containing  the largest, most ecologically intact stretch of freshwater marsh in southeast Florida.” Remarkable!

If you haven’t ever seen it, I can promise, “Eden awaits you…”

This past weekend, my husband Ed and I put on our wet weather gear, and walked from Jensen Beach Blvd to “west of Eden. ” It is amazing to have this treasure right in our own backyards, a study in plant and animal life that “used to be.” ~A study in what we can bring back, if we want to…

Website, Savannas Preserve State Park: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Savannas

Where Jacqui and Ed walked, “west of Eden,” Google maps
Savannas Preserve State Park, photos 6-10-17, JTL.

Savannas from the air in 2013, JTL 

Eden, St Lucie Co.: https://sites.google.com/a/flgenweb.net/stlucie/history/old-communities/e

Eden Ghost Town: http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/fl/eden.html

Jensen WIKI: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jensen_Beach,_Florida
Jensen Chamber of Commerce: http://www.jensenbeachflorida.info

The Long Forgotten Wetlands of East Ocean Boulevard, SLR/IRL

 

 

4th Street/East Ocean Blvd 1957, Stuart, Florida, Arthur Ruhnke. Courtesy archives of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.  
“See that white strip just below the wetland? That is the extension of Flamingo Drive that skirts the pond behind the old car wash. They just dug a retention pond and conducted the water to it. All of that pineland is covered with condominiums today.” (Cedar Point, Vista Pines, and Kingswood)~ Sandra H. Thurlow


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Today we drive over the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River surrounded by “civilization,” and forget that once it was once a wetland and pine forest full of wildlife. In the course of a lifetime, these things are long forgotten.

The above 1957 photograph hangs in my brother’s law office. When I visit him, I find myself staring at it for long periods of time. It is one of those rare photos that really puts things into  perspective. The road construction through the wetlands, (note it going through the pond, and pine forest) was all taking place around the same time that the “Bridges to the Sea,” from Stuart to Sewall’s Point, and Sewall’s Point to Hutchinson Island, were completed. It’s amazing to see what the landscape once looked like. The road in the photograph, Fourth Street, was renamed “East Ocean Boulevard” in 1960, and is a major thoroughfare to the  beaches today.

Jenny, Todd and I 1973, alligator in background.
I remember early East Ocean Blvd, although it was already quite changed by the time I was born in 1964. My family lived at 109 Edgewood Drive in Stuart, a short distance away from these wetland ponds under development. I recall Scrub Jays in our back yard and feeding them peanuts. By 1974 the family moved across the river to Sewall’s Point “growing and improving” with the changing landscape.

By 1979, when I was fifteen  years old, riding my bike over the bridge to Stuart to work at the Pelican Car Wash, the beautiful wetland pond had been relegated to a retention pond for run off.  Over the next two decades, you didn’t see wetlands and ponds anymore, or wildlife, just condominiums, office buildings, and shopping plazas. The state four-laned East Ocean Boulevard and built higher bridges to the ocean too.

Believe it or not, the pond in the aerial is still located behind a gas station that used to be the car wash. It is not even a shadow of its former self. Two days ago, I drove by and noticed that there was an extensive algae bloom in the pond backed up to the  parking lot and gas pumps; the water reflecting a sickly shade of green.

I sat there thinking about the long forgotten pond in the middle of East Ocean Boulevard in the photo I love in my brother’s office, wishing the developers had figured out a way to go around the pond. As the shortest distance between two points, over time, is not always a straight line.

East Ocean Blvd 1957, courtesy historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow

Flamingo and retention pond at Flamingo and East Ocean 2017, once a wetland.
Google map of East Ocean Blvd. through what was once wetland and forest, 2017.
1940s Dept of Agriculture photographs of Martin County showing wetlands. Courtney Todd Thurlow and UF archives.
Overlay 1940 aerials over Google map today, Todd Thurlow.
USDA History of Wetland Development in Florida: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detailfull/fl/newsroom/features/?cid=stelprdb1252222

Bridges to the Sea, Luckhardt Vignette TCPalm Series: http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/historical-vignettes–martin-county-bridges-and-bridge-tenders-ep-306449407-342336761.html

The New River, A Personal Story, SLR/IRL

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Ed and I along the New River, 2017

The best way to learn to is to live-it.

This weekend a series of coincidences allowed me to personalize and learn the story of Ft Lauderdale’s New River, a neighbor in the water system of the Everglades and the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. It is good to know about your neighbors, as you know, we are all in this water quandary together.

So my husband’s friend Dr Juan Savelli organized an evening at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. We went to see the former lead singer of Men at Work, Colin Hay. After dinner along Los Olas, we walked across the street to the show.

And there I saw her, the river. Seawalled and controlled, no longer able to freely form a “new river” what made her reputation as told by some of the state’s earliest surveyors; her brown waters were no longer clear and teaming with wildlife as noted in some of the earliest accounts by pioneers and Seminoles; the river had been connected to canals and drainage waters of Lake Okeechobee long ago; nonetheless, she certainly remained beautiful, staring back at me with the city lights of mankind, her lion-tamer, shining behind her.

I stared at the water daydreaming, putting my day of coincidences or “serendipity,” as my mother calls it, together. I had spent the day reading UM student Zach Cosner’s incredible thesis paper, and one part came to mind:

“The trustees of the Internal Improvement Fund… would use this money to build five major canals-the North New River, South New River, Miami, Hillsboro, and Caloosahatchee, all connecting from the southern portion of Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic Ocean…these canals reached completion towards the end of the 1910s…

Also this day I had visited my neighbor,  Mrs Kelso, who was amazingly celebrating  her 107 birthday! Remarkable. “Sharp as tack,” as they say. Half way through our conversation I asked,”So you were born in…”

“1910” she replied smiling…

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Mrs Kelso my neighbor turned 107 today! The New River Canal was completed around 1910, the year of Mrs Kelso’s birth.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, looking at the river. “Mrs Kelso is exactly as old as some of these first Florida Canals! Impressive.”

“Jacqui!” my friends called. “Let’s go! ”

I tuned and at looked at my friends. I turned and looked at the river…”

“Can I get a picture?” I asked.

Ed and I posed.

A flash in time of a river and a story. Hopefully a story that in the future will consist of men and women even more diligently at work for the New River’s complete and full restoration, and that of the entire Everglades system.

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Canals complete towards end of 1910s, Florida Archives.
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Spanish Land Grant map New River, Florida Memory Project
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1932 canal map. Ray Winkelman, Broward Co.

History

The New River was one of the earliest rivers to be connected to Lake Okeechobee. Highway 27 runs parallel to the canal all the way from the lake to 175. The North Fork of the New  River is attached to the New River Canal; and the South Fork of the New River is connected to the Miami Canal. (see above map) Today it is almost impossible to see the connection of the canals to the river amongst the tangle of development surrounding the river.

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Google map New River and Ft Lauderdale, canals attach near I95
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West of I95
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Overview Lake O is just north…

.

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Video Men at Work Who Could it Be Now> (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SECVGN4Bsgg)

Wikipedia History of New River:

According to a legend attributed in 1940 to the Seminoles by writers working in the Florida Writers’ Program of the Work Projects Administration, New River had appeared suddenly after a night of strong winds, loud noises, and shaking ground, resulting in the Seminoles calling the river Himmarshee, meaning “new water”. The report of the Writers’ Project attributed the noise and shaking to an earthquake which collapsed the roof of an underground river.[1] Folk historian Lawrence Will relates that the Seminole name for the river was Coontie-Hatchee, for the coontie (Zamia integrifolia) that grew along the river, and that the chamber of commerce tried to change the name of the river to Himmarshee-Hatchee during the Florida land boom of the 1920s.

The English name is derived from early explorer’s maps. The mouth of the river was noted for its tendency to continuously change its entry point into the Atlantic Ocean through the shifting sand of the barrier island. Each time the coast was surveyed and charted the entry point would have shifted. So the location of the mouth would not be on any previous maps, and from off the coast would appear as if it had just developed. With each charting, the location would be recorded with the notation “new river”. Since that was the name used on the maps, that was the name by which the first settlers came to know it, so the name stayed.

From Broward County.org, “The River’s Decline”

Today the New River is in desperate need of repair. This once crystalline waterway has deteriorated under the strains of immense growth. Water quality has been adversely affected from debris, sedimentation, storm water runoff, and other pollutants. Inappropriate land uses near the water have also contributed to the decline of the River and its tributaries. This degradation of water quality and habitat represent a negative impact on the environment, health, and economy of the Broward County metropolitan area.

Video New River, Florida Memory “Then and Now:”

https://www.floridamemory.com/exhibits/floridamaps/ft_lauderdale.php

History New River, Broward Co.

https://www.broward.org/NaturalResources/Lab/Documents/pub_newriver_1.pdf

New River FDEP: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/N_new_river.pdf

Everglades Agricultural Area Land Ownership, The Few That Do…, SLR/IRL

“Who Owns the Land in the EAA? Mapping Out Florida’s Water Future.”

Today I will complete 1-10 listed on the  Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council’s map of Everglades Agricultural Area land ownership. As I did not go into the great detail as I did with 1-7 previously, I have included informational links to 8-10.

My husband, Ed, told me my multi-colored map showing land ownership was getting confusing with parts 1-7, so I have tried to simplify and re-color code it below. This hand-made map is by no means perfect and certainly has errors, but gives an idea.

What have we learned in the past seven posts? Well it appears the Fanjul Family owns at least 2, 3, 7, 8 and 9 on the map and U.S. Sugar Corporation owns 1 and 6. #4 is King Ranch; #5 is Wedgworth Farms. They are independent. #10, New Farm Inc., was not listed on Sunbiz, but I did find it listed in law suit regarding contamination of lands from 1985. I will try to learn what is the status of these lands, and if I am missing something.

Below you will find each corporation 1-10 linked to SUNBIZ listing officers and the 1985 law suit of New Farms Inc. As you go through the links you will start to recognize some of the names. Through recognizing the names you will see who owns what and the connections.

Names aside, it is clear that most of the 700,000 acres in the EAA is owned by only a handful of corporations and powerful families…

This entire series was started because of Senate President Elect, Joe Negron’s proposal for land purchase to store, clean and convey waters south the Everglades (the circles on bottom image). This controversial subject will come up during the 2017 legislative session. Land ownership will be important information to have on hand. Purchasing lands in the EAA is not a far-fetched idea. A third outlet south of the lake and moving water south is the only way to truly alleviate the destruction of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. We must advocate for this goal!

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TCRPC EAA map
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color coded map of landownership JTL

1. United States Sugar Corporation (USSC): http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=UNITEDSTATESSUGAR%208038790&aggregateId=forp-803879-06bef4db-0feb-469e-ba23-3f2147d91a1f&searchTerm=united%20states%20sugar&listNameOrder=UNITEDSTATESSUGAR%208038790

2. Okeelanta: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=OKEELANTA%20P043840&aggregateId=forp-p04384-ee043bd3-b794-4ca2-ae09-211c05e3ec48&searchTerm=okeelanta&listNameOrder=OKEELANTA%200065250

3. New Hope Sugar Co.: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=NEWHOPESUGAR%202486740&aggregateId=domp-248674-74190f46-1014-4027-89fb-78bffb22106a&searchTerm=new%20hope%20sugar%20corp&listNameOrder=NEWHOPESUGAR%202486740

4. King Ranch Inc.: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=KINGRANCH%20F130000028730&aggregateId=forp-f13000002873-07eb1012-40df-444b-9bb1-1b35c2f43a67&searchTerm=king%20ranch&listNameOrder=KINGRANCH%208183400

5. Wedgeworth Farms Inc.: http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=WEDGWORTHFARMS%201862360&aggregateId=domp-186236-65082899-6949-4338-be01-cf89b105e43b&searchTerm=wedgworth%20farms%20inc&listNameOrder=WEDGWORTHFARMS%201862360

6. SBG Farms Inc. : http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=SBGFARMS%206834482&aggregateId=domp-683448-93ceb6fc-2d8d-4267-90ca-bfd54e7816bf&searchTerm=SBG%20farms&listNameOrder=SBGFARMS%206834482

7. Stofin Farms Inc. :
http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=STOFIN%201856420&aggregateId=domp-185642-9100e283-b064-4a5f-8083-da9865fd09e3&searchTerm=stofin%20&listNameOrder=STOFIN%201856420

8.Closter Farms Inc. : http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=CLOSTERFARMS%202508760&aggregateId=domp-250876-79fb7957-038f-4096-a343-495fa054c721&searchTerm=closter%20farms&listNameOrder=CLOSTERFARMS%202508760

Sun Sentinel Article: http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1986-01-08/news/8601020253_1_pahokee-farms-everglades-agricultural-area-bidder

9. Sugar Cane Growers:
http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=SUGARCANEGROWERSCOOPERATIVEFLO%207908250&aggregateId=domnp-790825-cddfd255-2b6a-40f1-9b5c-a1662cd054bb&searchTerm=sugar%20cane%20growers%20ass&listNameOrder=SUGARCANEGROWERSCOOPERATIVEFLO%207908250

(Website: http://www.scgc.org) It appears that George Wedgeworth founded the Sugar Cane Co-op in the 50s but it is associated with the Fanjuls today.
(http://www.asr-group.com/about-us/our-owners/)
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sugar_Cane_Growers_Cooperative_of_Florida)

10. New Farms (Not active on Sunbiz)
1985 SFWMD Law suit: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/F3/84/402/568666/

*10/25/16 addition: Thank you to reader Bob Washam who sent me the following link after reading my post whose officers show New Farm Inc to be a Fanjul property as well: (Jacqui here is a possible link to the officers of New Farm, Inc.

http://search.sunbiz.org/Inquiry/CorporationSearch/SearchResultDetail?inquirytype=EntityName&directionType=Initial&searchNameOrder=NEWFARM%20F393840&aggregateId=domp-f39384-e8cc8894-5dd0-436a-922b-8f2b597397d2&searchTerm=new%20farm&listNameOrder=NEWFARM%20F393840)

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Senator Joe Negron’s land acquisition map 2016

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fanjul_brothers#Various_business_holdings_and_ventures

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Posted 10-27-16 after blog reader and friend, Bob Washam, sent in the Sunbiz info for New Farms Inc. that shows this too is a Fanjul property. JTL

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Updated Lake Okeechobee Discharges to the Estuaries and Everglades, October 2016, Dr Gary Goforth, SLR/IRL

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Post Hurricane Matthew,  I am sharing Dr Gary Goforth’s “Updated Lake Okeechobee Discharges to the Estuaries and Everglades,” dated yesterday, October 10, 2016 as sent to state and local officials, as well as the press. Many helpful visuals are attached.

Dr Goforth continues to lead in documenting the destruction of what was once lauded as North America’s “most biodiverse estuary,” our beloved St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon…

Through shared knowledge, we advocate for a better Florida water future.

_________________________________________________

Gary Goforth (http://garygoforth.net)

Updated Lake discharge information attached.

More than 204 billion gallons of polluted Lake water has been discharged to the St. Lucie (25% of total Lake discharges); more than 456 billion gallons of polluted Lake water has been discharged to the Caloosahatchee (55% of Lake discharges). By contrast, only 20% of Lake discharges has been sent to the south, with only 6% sent to the STAs/Everglades.

Ag runoff continues to contribute significant amounts of flow and pollution load to the St. Lucie: 39% of flow, 53% of total phosphorus and 42% of total nitrogen.

Gary

I added a chart comparing monthly Lake flows to the STAs – 2016 releases to STAs has been significantly less than 2014 and 2015.

DRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_01.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_02.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_03.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_04.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_05.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_06.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_07.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_08.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_09.jpg

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DRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_12.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_13.jpgDRAFT - CY 2016 Summary_Page_14.jpgDraft - lake event update - CE_Page_1.jpgDraft - lake event update - CE_Page_2.jpgDraft - lake event update - CE_Page_3.jpgDraft - lake event update - CE_Page_4.jpgDraft - lake event update - CE_Page_5.jpgDraft - lake event update - SLR_Page_1.jpgDraft - lake event update - SLR_Page_2.jpgDraft - lake event update - SLR_Page_3.jpgDraft - lake event update - SLR_Page_4.jpg

Guest Column, Gary Goforth, TC Palm: http://archive.tcpalm.com/opinion/guest-columns/gary-goforth-after-93-years-of-state-sponsored-pollution-our-estuaries-are-besieged-again-34247a41-1-384127921.html

Are Lake Okeechobee’s Drained Lands Really Ours to Navigate? SLR/IRL

Lake O has been drained and lowered so that it is 250 square miles smaller than it was in the mid 1800s.
Lake O has been drained and lowered so that it is approximately 250 square miles smaller than it was in the mid 1800s. (SFWMD) Florida became a state in 1845.

“Navigable waters of the state” are protected under Florida law. They cannot be sold–they cannot be owned. They belong to the public…

Although the Swamp Lands Act of the 1850s allowed for drainage of Florida’s swamp lands, in some instances the drainage and claims may have been overdone. In accordance with state law “you can’t convey what you do not own.” This is part of what is known as “The Public Trust Doctrine.”

Hmmm? In all the excitement to develop, did the state break its own rules in conveying lands south and around the lake? Certainly powerful entities own those lands today.

—–That would be a bite wouldn’t it?

Let’s look a bit closer….

It is common knowledge that Lake Okeechobee has lost a tremendous amount of its former self, and that large portions of the lake have been drained and diked for agriculture and development.

Just recently while attending a  University of Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute presentation in Clewiston, Jeff Summers of the South Florida Water Management District gave a Power-Point presentation using the slide below. It shows the natural vs. altered conditions of the lake going from approximately 1000 sq miles in the 1850s  to 750 square miles today. –Thus the approximate water stage has gone from 20 feet to 14 feet. Definitely a loss of navigable waters–don’t you think? Today those lands around the lake are used for growing mostly sugarcane. Today most of those lands are “owned.” How could this be as they were once under water enough to be “navigable waters of the state?”

Slide from Jeff Summer's power point presentation SFWMD, 2016.
Slide from Jeff Summer’s power point presentation SFWMD, 2016.

The excerpt below is straight out of the “Florida Bar Journal” as shared by my brother Todd. After reading the paragraph, click on the link below to read the entire article. It is certainly worth thinking about…The maps below show land ownership.

Florida Bar Journal’s article conclusion:

The Public Trust Doctrine imposes a legal duty on the state to preserve and control title and use of all lands beneath navigable water bodies, including the shore or space between ordinary high and ordinary low water, for public use and enjoyment. The people of this state have raised the protection afforded by the doctrine to constitutional stature. In the most recent challenge to this doctrine, the Florida Supreme Court relied upon this constitutional provision in reconfirming longstanding Florida law that swamp deeds do not create a private property interest in sovereignty lands. Attempts to use swamp deeds as a justification to legislatively redefine the ordinary high water boundary and thus transfer all or part of the shore to the adjacent private owner are similarly inappropriate and unconstitutional.

Full article Florida Bar Journal, April 2001: http://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNJournal01.nsf/Articles/8D98D298C0060C0785256B110050FFB7

Map of land ownership TCRPC 2016
Map of land ownership south and around Lake O TCRPC 2016. Key below.
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Key to above map, 2016 TCRPC.
The bigger picture. Lake O used to flow to the Everglades. Google Earth map 2016.
The bigger picture: Lake O used to flow to the Everglades but is now directed to the northern estuaries St Lucie/IRL and Caloosahatchee causing great destruction.  Google Earth, 2016.

 

Navigable Waters of the State: http://www.floridageomatics.com/publications/legal/submerged1.htm