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.
Today we explore page three of the historic 1937 Stuart Daily News special edition for the opening of the Stuart to Ft. Meyers Cross-State Canal. Page three shows the first aerial photographs of Mr Lowell Hill featuring celebrated Jupiter Island.
“Jupiter Island is Show Place of Martin County. On the left the Intercostal Waterway between St. Lucie Inlet and Palm Beach pass through Beautiful Hobe Sound with Jupiter Island in the foreground. Hobe Sound Yacht Club has excellent dockage and fine fresh water. “
When I first saw this photograph, it struck me that I did not recognize the area with exposed white sand on the east side of the island. I wondered if that was a remnant fan-like formation from an ancient inlet. Then it struck me that perhaps it was fill dredged from the Indian River lagoon for the golf course – or a combination of both.
I went back and checked my brother Todd’s, Time Capsule Flights, and indeed, seeing the 1800s maps, I do believe it is fill. This is most obvious about 3:24 into the video. Many of our areas marinas and subdivisions are products of dredge and fill that was outlawed in the late 1960s and early 1970s because of its serious environmental ramifications. Ironically, in Florida, dredge and fill as a tool of development was stopped with the help of Jupiter Island’s famed environmentalist Nathaniel Reed whose family developed Jupiter Island. Reed was working for Florida’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction, Claude Kirk – during the 1960s era. (http://nathanielpreed.blogspot.com)
Today we continue our road trip in the Glades atop the Herbert Hoover Dike.
In the short video below you can see my Glades tour-guide, former mayor JP Sasser, driving, –in his hometown of which he knows so much about–Pahokee. On the right lies the city, and on the left is Lake Okeechobee. A precarious position indeed!
Pahokee is actually unusual in that this little town is “high-ground.” According to JP, about 13 feet above ground. This is not the case for most of the Glades.
Interestingly, in the video, JP discusses how the Army Corp recently decided where to strengthen the dike in Pahokee, because if they had extended it out 500 feet as was done along the rest of the eastern shore, the town of Pahokee would have been covered up as it is located right beside the dike.
Lake Okeechobee’s dike and its history are fascinating just as is all our area of the Northern Everglades including the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon that in 1923 became the primary exit point for waters that could no longer flow south after the Herbert Hoover Dike was built.
According to historian and Gladesman Lawrence E. Will:
“…following the floods of 1923 and 1924 water stood over farm lands nearly the entire winter. To protect the farms, the state of Florida had then constructed an earthen dike along the whole south shore. It was some five to eight feet above ground level but this dike was never intended to withstand a hurricane.”
Regarding the expansion of the dike, as the “Herbert Hoover,”after the horrific hurricanes of 1926, ’28 and again in again in ’49, Mr. Nathaniel Reed notes in his writing “Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades: “The Corps of Engineers studied the average size of Lake Okeechobee and designed a dike around it…”
Now this is where things get very interesting.
“The average size of the lake….” what’s that?
Now if we look at this slide taken from a 2016, presented by Jeff Sumner, who was at the time Office Chief State and Agricultural Policy, SFWMD, it shows the size of the lake pre-development. One can see it was about once about 1000 square miles in size and today it is 750.
Of course the size expanded and contracted based on rainfall, but one still gets the point…this lower area was nature’s shoreline, a boggy marsh with rivers leading into a sawgrass “river of grass” bordered by a forest of over 30,000 acres of Custard Apple trees that functioned like mangroves extending up to five miles or more south into what is today’s Belle Glade. As Mr Lawrence Will would have said: “Who wudda thought!” (http://museumoftheglades.org)
His name came before me like sunshine throughout my youth, as someone from little Martin County, who was fighting against the “big guy,” big development, destruction of Florida’s paradise, on a local, state and national level. Someone helping our Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River.
On the other hand, his family developed Jupiter Island so there was a balance or an irony to the big picture. Such is life.
Over time, words like these, written by Mr Reed, in his early career, formed the basis of my world view:
“I suggest to you that the American dream, based as it is on the concept of unlimited space and resources, has run aground on the natural limits of the earth. It has foundered on the shoals of the steadily emerging environmental crisis, a crisis broadly defined to include not only physical and biological factors, but the social consequences that flow from them. The American dream, so long an energizing force in our society, is withering as growing social and ecological costs generated by decades of relative neglect, overtake the economic and technological gains generated by ‘rugged individualism’. The earth as a place to live has a limited amount of air, water, soil, minerals, space and other natural resources, and today we are pressing hard on our resource base. Man, rich or poor, is utterly dependent on his global life-support system.”
Yesterday, at a Rivers Coalition meeting, Mr Reed said he had failed in two things in his long successful environmental career. He said he has failed to limit phosphorus going into Lake Okeechobee, and that he had failed to convince others of the importance of getting the water going south, the basic principal of restoring the estuaries and the Everglades.
He then relayed to a crowd over two hundred that the flow-way south to the the Everglades, Plan 6, was unfeasible because the sugar industry is the richest industry in the U.S. and they would block anything put before Congress to do such and the costs of the project is too much. He recommended working on a plan that would move the water southeast, through canals, into an enormous reservoir, and letting is seep southward…
I adore Mr Reed, and he will always be a hero of mine. He looked down yesterday, and confided, that he is in “the final inning “of his life and wants to resolve this water issue before they take him out “fighting..”
Mr Reed is exhausted; he wants success in his lifetime. Of course he does.
But personally, I think to go “around the sugar industry” is perhaps not the answer as the sugar industry has a moral obligation to help with this whole debacle.
Although I respect Mr Reed’s recommendation, as Americans we must remember that sometimes it becomes necessary to “dissolve the political bands which have connected one to another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, that which the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God entitle us…”