This remarkable 1952 historic aerial photograph shows Poppleton Creek and what were once pioneer Hubert Bessey’s lands near Downtown Stuart. Within the bucolic photograph early stages of C-23’s white sands, as seen piled on the land in the upper right hand corner of the photograph, foreshadow the river’s future. This canal divides Martin and St Lucie County and is considered the “most polluting,” excluding C-44 when open for Lake Okeechobee.
Looking across the beautiful St Lucie River we see in the distance the virgin pinelands and wetlands of parts of today’s Palm City. Interestingly, if one continues west one will stumble upon the proposed lands to be developed by the Kiplinger Family, Pineland Prairie.
Go west young man, go west?
Time shall tell…
If we do, we may have more regard for the land than we did in 1952 and bring relief to the river that brought development and love of our area here in the first place.
I am adding additional photos to this blog post for reference to questions posed. The Fairchild photos below are dated 1925 and in them you can see the white sands of the C-44 piled on the land connecting to the South Fork of the St Lucie River. The C-44 canal was built between 1915 and is documented to have opened in 1923. Dates vary by a few years depending on sources and it too was enlarged/deepened in the 40s and thereafter.
“What is that huge white stripe on the horizon??” I said. It’s looks like a giant 20-mile-long spaceship runway.
Well, it’s the spoil from the freshly-dug Okeechobee waterway. See it in the attached comparison from Google Earth.” Todd Thurlow
The blue-green algae, the cyanobacteria–sometimes toxic— that we first saw in aerial photos over Lake Okeechobee weeks ago, is not only here, it is everywhere…our river has been made completely fresh by our government. Now the algae is blooming fluorescent green-blue, dying a putrid brown-green, flowing out of our inlet, and poisoning not only or rivers’ shores but our beaches.
On the widest level, this is a health hazard brought upon us by a “knowing government.” Our state, federal, and local governments have seen this coming for years. The slow and steady destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is well documented.
Now, in 2016, all of Martin County’s beaches and the southern most beach of St Lucie County are closed. Palm City; Stuart; Rio; Sewall’s Point, Jensen. All waters are off limits. “Don’t Touch the Water.” –A health, safety and welfare issue for the people, a nightmare for local government, and a complete environmental and economic disaster for us all.
Included for purposes of documentation– to be added to the thousands of other posts on social media this weekend— I share the following, some that were shared with me…Divided into 8 sections: 1. Algae in the waves at Bathtub Beach, by JTL; 2. algae aerials at C-44, S-80, and S-308, by Dr Scott Kuhns; 3. Lake Okeechobee and St Lucie River’s extensive algae bloom, by jet pilot Dave Stone, and local pilot Ron Rowers; 4. Rio, a residential disaster, Jeff Tucker; 5. Sewall’s Point as seen from the Evan’s Cray Bridge with a river full of algae by walker Tracy Barnes; 6. Rebecca Fatzinger’s duck eating algae; 7. my Uncle Dale Hudson’s lead to Snug Harbor’s Marina “a multimillion dollar disaster,” and 8. Really blue-algae at Central Marina, Stuart/Rio.
The outpouring of the public is immense, and the powers that be, must look our way. Document, call, write, demand, and VOTE.
This past Friday, I attended a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council meeting and was treated to a wonderful presentation entitled: “A Brief History of Florida Water Management 1800-2000 Ponce to CERP.” The talk was given by Mr Bob Ulevich, president of Polymath Consulting Services, L.L.C. ” (http://polymathconsultingservices.com). Bob” is a beloved man who has a long history himself as senior water resources project manager for the South Florida Water Management District. Bob is considered the “father of water farming.”
His presentation left me speechless, once again being reminded of the history of agriculture in the state of Florida and its deep intertwinement with the state’s government and politicians….basically they are one in the same. This is how it is….St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and every inch of the rest of the state. “We” may not like this, but we must accept this…
With rumor that Adam Putnam, the Commissioner of Agriculture, could be our next governor, it is critical to refresh our memory on this historic relationship. Today I will share a book a from my historian mother’s shelf and also post the raw iPhone footage of Bob speaking before the council. It is my belief that we have got to learn to understand this historic relationship along with the power agriculture yields and “work with it,” in our quest for better water quality. They too are “naturalist” at heart….they are. Some of them in our South Floirda region have just “morphed,” and need some help getting back to their roots. 🙂 They hold the key to Florida’s water future.
The first page of the booklet talks about “getting back to nature” as farming is deeply intertwined with nature. Unfortunately today many of the intense practices of farming destroy nature and our water resources.
This is an another excerpt from the book:
….the independent countryman’s life must appeal, for he is a free man, master of himself, is conversant with nature in its many moods, enjoys the first fruits of the earth with the gleam still on them, and all its first impulses and pleasures….”
“No wonder, then, the cry of today is, “Back to the back and nature.” And back we must and will go, for this threatening catastrophe is too appalling to be passed by unchallenged.”
The catastrophe Mr Waldin is speaking of is that so many people were leaving America’s lands to go to the cities, that the “vitality of our nation was being drained proportionately…” Mr Waldin feared the lands would be empty and all would move to the cities…..It basically has happened, hasn’t it!
Below are the links to Mr Ulevich’s presentation, his presentation does not encompass the little book. I added that. Bob speaks on “A Brief History of Water Management 1800-2000 and although my “Jacqui home videos” are poor quality, you can hear the message. I had to break the videos up into 15 minutes sections as my You Tube account is not set to post anything over 15 minutes…Bob’s presentation is excellent. For those of you who have time to listen, you will enjoy it very much and learn a ton! Bob will finish his presentation next month covering approximately from 1910 to today.——– And that’s where we get to hear “the rest of the story….” 🙂
Today our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon Region is referred to as the “Northern Everglades,” back then, it was all the “Everglades”….
Today’s historic photos were shared because of my last two days of blogging featuring my brother Todd’s flying video showing where the dreaded C-44 canal entered the South Fork of the St Lucie River in 1923 connected from Lake Okeechobee.
Alice Luckhardt, friend and local historian, has been trying to figure out where the Everglades actually “started” in Martin County as she is writing a history of Martin County’s infamous Ashley Gang. (They used to hide out in the Everglades.) Alice’s Leslie’s New World Atlas 1920s map, the second from the top of this page, kind of makes Martin County “look” pretty dry….as do the other two maps shared by my mother…
Viewed closely, the old maps show different “Everglades” boarders as seen most clearly in the 1949 Everglades Drainage District map at the top of this page. This map comes from my mother’s files and she notes that it shows “Township 40, Range 39, in Martin “in” the Everglades….
So what determines “the Everglades?”
Of that I am not certain but in my mind it is a swamp. But swamps in Florida “come and go” with the rains. Also the Everglades has many different faces/landscapes that are part of a greater whole–different kinds of micro environments like pine forest, hardwood hammocks, mangroves forests, endless sawgrass prairies, tall ancient cypress forests, marshlands, wetlands, ponds, some higher ridges separating rivulets and standing water, little creeks that come and go, shallow clean fresh water flowing ever so slowly across white sugar sands…Aggg! Did I just say that! 🙂
So anyway, I then went to the US Government maps my brother showed me awhile back and here one can see the “little ponds “of the Everglades right there in Stuart, Jensen Beach, and of course in what is today’s Palm City. They were in today’s St Lucie County too. Wouldn’t this be the “everglades?”
In fact, when I was a kid, there was a large pond near our family home on East Ocean Boulevard across from today’s Fresh Market. Now it’s gone…and the road goes through…”They” moved it….
I think we have really moved just about “everything.” Nonetheless, that doesn’t mean we can’t put some of it back, or start draining and saving water in a new way. Studying old maps and aerials is a good place to start!
*Thank you to historians Alice Luckhardt and Sandra Thurlow and Todd Thurlow for sharing their cool old maps!
Coyotes are here along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
Coyotes were historically associated with the American West, but now they are now in most states and have been reported in 66 of 67 Florida counties, other than Monroe. There is no one to thank for this but humans. With the near eradication of the the American wolf and family of big cats related to the mountain lion since the 1800s, coyotes have no natural predators, other than man, and thus the coyote has flourished.
Most recently, along the Treasure Coast you many have read about Indian River County using cameras to see if coyotes are raiding sea turtle nests, or the controversial trapping and killing of the coyotes at Witham Field in Stuart interfering with plane landings, or the many residents in Palm City or western St Lucie County, who say they hear coyotes howling at night. Coyotes have also, within the past six months, been reported in the Town of Sewall’s Point, in the vicinity of South River Road on the south end, and Castle Hill in the north.
As a long time resident of Sewall’s Point, I love the wildlife and encourage all to live in harmony with these animals. They are God’s creatures and they keep the rat population down! I have seen both grey and red foxes, as well as many bobcats. I have friends who swear in Sewall’s Point’s earlier days, they witnessed panthers.
But I have yet to see a coyote. Unlike native bobcats who are solitary animals, unless mating or raising young, coyotes usually hunt in pairs and belong to a pack of about six members.
Coyotes are in the dog family and are related to wolves, foxes and domestic dogs. Coyotes and dogs can mate although this is unusual as coyotes have specific social ties and mate only once a year. When dogs and coyotes do mate, the hybrid offspring is called a “coydog.” Coydogs are well documented out west and are said to make poor pets, as more often than not, they are very high strung.
The photo below is a grey fox for comparison. Coyotes are taller and weigh more than foxes; in our area sometimes weighing up to 30 pounds, whereas a fox may be closer to 12.
Should we be scared? I don’t think so. We just need to be smart, coy and cautious, like the coyote.
Many Native American myths laud the craftiness of “coyote” and often in Native American mythology, he is so respected, he is portrayed as the “Creator.” He is respected for being “ubiquitous,” as he is so successful, “he appears to be everywhere at once,” or “seems to appear everywhere at the same time.” He is not to be outsmarted.
One thing for certain, now that coyote is here, chances are, he will not go away. We must learn to live with him by keeping our distance, not leaving pets out for long periods unattended, in the evening or early mornings, and by not feeding him. He is smart enough to feed himself.
It is said we all have a bit of fear in our inner most nature, as the collective memory recalls the earlier times of fires and wolves, but then humankind tamed the wolf and hence today, we have “man best friend,” our dogs.
Remember that the coyote is related to dogs if you see him, and if you look him in the eye ask for a sliver of his adaptability and success surviving on an ever changing planet and an ever changing Indian River Lagoon.
I added this photo from Dr Gary Goforth 8-13-15 that was taken this February in Foxwood off 96 A in Martin County.
I added this link on 8-13-15 written by my classmate Angeline Scotten whom I met last week at the UF Natural Resouces Leadership Institute. She is an expert on the subject of coyotes for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. This article was written for Hernando County but certainly applies to us as well. I found it very informative. (http://hernandosun.com/coyotes_in_hernando)
I taught middle and high school for many years, and I still have numerous friends in the profession. Last week, I received a phone call from teacher, Maureen Breslauer, whose son now attends Bessey Creek Elementary School in Palm City. She asked if I’d like to be filmed by the school’s media specialist, Kelly Middleton, creating a River Kidz public service announcement, as the school, headed by outstanding, Principal Defenthaler, has been learning about river issues and were having a T-shirt day. I was grateful to Maureen for the opportunity to share the concept of “River Kidz” through the morning news. The product reminded me of who I am “most,” at heart, a teacher, and very funny in that in “a moment,” I became the “River Lady.” We did it in one take! For any you who watched MrRoger’s Neighborhood growing up, I think you’ll get a kick out of the video.
The Martin County Difference” is an expression that one often hears from locals that means exactly what it says, “things are different here…”
Not only are the different, they are exceptional. We have the beautiful St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, a four story height limit, a strong urban service boundary, great public schools, a strong fertilizer ordinance, public beaches and black bobcats…
When I was a kid growing up in Stuart, one sometimes heard stories from the kids that lived in Indiantown or Palm City about “black panthers.” And someone who had seen them would swear on their mother’s grave this to be true. Supposedly these stories had been around for many, many years coming down from parents and grandparents.
More recently in 2008, my first year on the Sewall’s Point commission, the town had at least three “normally colored” bobcats and multiple kittens. The sightings were very exciting but scared some residents who had moved here from up north so I started reading about bobcats in great detail. Eventually we had Dan Martinelli of the Treasure Coast Wildlife Center speak before the commission and things calmed down but my fascination with these beautiful creatures did not.
I talked about bobcats a lot during this time and in the course of a discussion, one of my husband’s physician friends who lived in Palm City, with great excitement told a story of seeing a black bobcat in Palm City walk across his yard. That same year one of the Guatemalan landscape workers in the town, knowing I loved animals, struggled wide eyes to tell me about the black panther he had seen walking along a fence, close to Lake Okeechobee and the St Lucie Canal, that he had seen while fishing with his son.
According to my reading there have been more reports of melanistic bobcats in Martin County than anywhere else in the country, mostly near the area of the St Lucie Canal, Lake Okeechobee and Loxahatchee.
If you want to find these reports, google “melanistic bobcats martin.” These posts are not entirely scientific but they are documented. They say there have been sightings for the past 80 years.
Although I never seen a black bobcat, popular lore says the exist, I believe it, and it’s certainly better documented than Sasquatch who many of my high school friends claimed to see too.
What an incredible place to live! The “Martin County Difference!”