As the year 2017 comes to a close, we had a special guest sighted in our offshore waters. On December 17th, a Humpback whale was seen breaching in the Atlantic off of Stuart!
Although these mammoth creatures do migrate, and thus navigate our seas, this is a special and rare site.
Perhaps this is time for reflection…
Just as with the Biblical story of Jonah and the Whale, the Native People also give whale sightings and experiences special significance.
According to native lore, “whales visitors/spirits were used to convey a message of power and might, representing the need for strong, silent deliberation.”
In the story of Jonah, having turned away from responsibility, and being thrown as “bad luck” from a ship, Jonah is swallowed by a giant whale, reflects, repents, is renewed, is given a second chance, is ejected, and fulfills his responsibilities….
Perhaps there is a lighter message from our visiting whale, like “Happy Holidays,” and “Merry Christmas,” or a fun breach-splash saying “Yahoo! Keep up the fight for clean water!”
For me, the whale visitation made me reminisce on Ed and my visit to Baja, in 2013, to visit the Grey Whales once slaughtered, and now a great tourist attraction, and how this experience of seeing these huge mammals adapt to our human world, especially the mothers with their calves,–the controversy, and alteration in both human and whale actions—– changed my life, and my outlook forever.
In any case, the season is upon us and I am grateful for all of the work done this year for our waters and for our Florida. Thank you River Warriors! Thank you Bullsugar! Thank you Captains for Clean Water! Thank you people of Florida! Thank you President Negron! Thank you all, so many others across our great state! And in closing, thank you visiting whale!
Sometimes it is hard to stay motivated, but like Winston Churchill said: “Never Give Up.” Our work is so important!
…Yes, in 2018, in spite of the difficulties, we will continue to be the strong, silent or screaming giant that dominates the conscience of Florida…
Mattanza Charters, based in Pirates Cove Resort and Marina in Port Salerno, posted video taken Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017, of humpback whales breaching near Eight Mile Reef in the Atlantic. VIDEO PROVIDED BY CAPT. MIKE MURRAY Wochit
If you are like me, sometimes you read the headlines and ask yourself, “what is going on here?” Florida Forever? Amendment 1? Senate Bill 10? House Bill 761? And today? Representative Matt Caldwell, probably running to replace Adam Putnam’s cabinet position in the Dept. of Agriculture, (certainly friendly with the wishes of US Sugar Corporation) proposing “more land funding” for Florida Forever? Hmmmmm? What does that mean? Is there a trap here? What’s the right thing? What’s going on anyway? How does all this work?
In order to try to answer some these questions, one has to take some time and study history….
In 1963, through the will of the people, the Florida Legislature began the Land Acquisition Trust Fund; in 1972 the Florida Legislature passed the Land Conservation Act for Environmentally Endangered Lands; in 1979 there was a major scandal as the Executive Director of the Department of Natural Resources was convicted of taking kickbacks from a land acquisition transaction and thus emerged the Conservation and Recreation Lands Program with “broader administration and oversight of land acquisition activity; ” “CARL” as it came to be known, expanded in 1981 with Governor Bob Graham’s “Save Our Rivers” and “Save Our Coasts” programs; all the while the citizens of Florida demanded such; Governor Bob Martinez continued the tradition by appointing a “Commission on Florida’s Future” that spawned the 1990 “phenomenal success” of the Preservation 2000 Act; the successor to Preservation 2000, through Governors Lawton Chiles and Jeb Bush was a name we all know and recognize, “Florida Forever.”
Florida was on a roll supporting the wishes of the citizens to preserve the state’s natural beauty before it was plowed down for more agriculture and development. Florida’s population was increasing exponentially…
So…..things are going “well.” The economy was growing. Florida was growing and the monies for land acquisition programs had evolved over the years to “tax the development that was causing a loss of open space in Florida.” Thus ironically the destruction of the state became the source of funds for conserving it. (Doc-stamp tax on the deed for real estate transactions ….) So when real estate was selling there were funds, when not there were not…
Fast forward to 2008. Some call it the Financial Crisis, some call it the Great Recession. Any of us who worked and lived through it, called it scary. During this time real estate values fell drastically. My husband and I in Sewall’s Point, Martin County, lost 40% of the market value of our home almost overnight. In St Lucie County it was as high as 65%.
So even though at this time in 2008 right before/during the giant crash, the state legislature “promised” funding to Florida Forever at former levels, but they did not give it as they couldn’t. So instead they raided trust funds like Florida Forever to “keep the State’s doors open….” and funding for Florida Forever stopped flowing with the drought of Doc Stamp monies.
After a long dry spell, as the economy slowly improved, and people realized things were bad, but that it would not be a repeat of the Great Depression of the late 1920s and 30s, some confidence returned and once again the people of Florida rose up and spoke out to their political leaders about what was important to them.
By 2014, Amendment 1 (Florida Land and Water Legacy) was put on the ballot and eventually the Florida Constitution by a citizens’ initiative with a whopping 75% plus approval calling for 33% of doc stamp money towards land and water conservation. Palm Beach County, the land of the Everglades Agricultural Area and more commissioners gone to jail for land fraud than all the rest, was one of the highest voting blocks. The message was clear. “We are back on our feet, we want to protect Florida, fund land acquisition as before!”
The state legislature did not do this, the numbers go up and down, but never near pre 2008, and never close to 33% of doc stamp money as the intention of the initiative, so now there is a law suit by the Florida Wildlife Federation and others to force implementation thereof. Continually, the legislature cries “separation of powers” and their right to interpret as “they know best….”
It is understandable that the recession has made us all more mindful, but this doesn’t mean we should forget about the environment, especially the St Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon.
Matt Caldwell? Yes, give more money to Florida Forever. But what is really behind your bill?
Joe Negron? He’s the real deal.
When I was a kid, one of my favorite commercials was Chiffon margarine. The message was that Chiffon tasted so much like butter it could even fool Mother Nature. When she found out she was mad and called on her powers with the animals surrounding her saying: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature….”
I say the same.
Stop fooling around state legislature and give us the butter. #SupportJoeNegron #SenateBill10
Evan Miller grew up in Stuart, Florida, not far from the St Lucie Locks and Dam. He attended Crystal Lakes Elementary School, Hidden Oaks Middle School, South Fork and Martin County High Schools, graduating in 2002.
As a kid, Evan would ride his bike down to the St Lucie Locks and Dam with his friends. He knew the sad story of the lake and St Lucie River. He knew about the long history and steady destruction of the waterways he loved that one day would come to a head. But little did he know, that it would happen in his lifetime, and he would lead the message.
The story is this—
After graduating, Evan was sponsored as a professional surfer and lived in Costa Rica, and came home in 2012. Upon his return, he saw the river’s decline and innocently put a message on his Facebook page during the “Lost Summer os 2013,” when the river was posted by the Health Department as “off-limits.” Evan’s message read: “Who wants to meet me at the locks?”
Believe it or not, this request turned into a rally of over 5000 people!
Two weeks later, Evan organized a beach rally, putting down stakes and having a surveyor friend help him create the letters–over 2000 people came and spelled out in the sand SAVE OUR RIVER.
Destiny had found its man…
Now in 2016, under even worse conditions, after the St Lucie River and area beaches turned into a toxic-soup from an onslaught of releases from Lake Okeechobee since January—- that in time were dumping toxic algae from the lake into the river—- Evan has used his Facebook talents again.
This past Saturday, on July 3rd, the Martin County Sheriff’s Department reported that over 3500 people, from every walk of life, came out to spell in the sand the message of the masses to fix the lake and river debacle: BUY THE LAND.
This event played out over the 4th of July weekend on national media outlets. People in Martin County were getting phone calls from people in other states they had not spoken to in years. My father got a call from a man in his wedding from 1962 who lives in California. They had not spoken in years…
“What’s going on down there?”
Yes, the world has “seen” the peoples’ message thanks to Evan.
We all know that Martin County has been fighting against the ACOE and SFWMD’s Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon since the 1930s. But if someone asked, “when did the modern river movement REALLY get going?” Without a doubt, the answer would be: August 3rd, 2013, at the “Save the St Lucie River and Wildlife Protest,” St Lucie Lock and Dam, organized via Facebook by at the time, 29-year-old Evan Miller.
In the year 2013, Evan along with friends, not only put together THE protest at the locks, but also other memorable events such as the “Sandbar Party” where hundreds of attendees wore toxic radiation suits in light of the toxic river waters of 2013, as well as the rally at the beach also bringing thousands where the people spelled out in human form SAVE OUR RIVER!
I spoke with Evan about a month ago as he was organizing this Saturday’s event “Save Our Rivers, Restore the Everglades, March to Buy the Sugarland!” and in the course of the conversation he told me that “Facebook had changed, and that it has become more difficult to reach as many people as were reached in 2013.”
I found this really interesting, especially that Evan knew such, (the young people are so much wiser to social media), and it got me thinking that this “would make sense” as the Arab Spring overseas and all that was happening with social media on a world level from 2011-2013 did in fact become an issue for governments world-wide trying to “keep order…”
Perhaps “the government” did somehow get Facebook to change its logarithms so that crowds/protesters would have a more difficult time “organizing”…sometimes against their own governments….I do remember hearing something about all this on the news….then it went quiet…..
Anyway, Evan is a local “genius” at organizing events and helping to put pressure on elected officials and agencies thus inspiring support of clean water for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Evan and good friend Clint Starling, also a great organizer, have represented Citizen’s for Clean Water on the Rivers Coalition since 2013. (http://riverscoalition.org)
We river “ancient ones,” are thankful to this younger generation that has turned up the volume and is using new tools for riding our ancient river protest wave to a better water future!
To really add to the event, reports are out that a VIP, maybe President Obama, will be flying over on Saturday on his way to play golf…..SO COME OUT this Saturday, March 28th, at 11:00, fly the flag—bring your parents! bring your kids!—-to Stuart Beach and participate in Evan’s newest rally, a march from Stuart to Jensen Beach: SAVE THE RIVER. RESTORE THE EVERGLADES. MARCH TO BUY THE SUGARLAND!
Let’s support Evan and our rivers once again by the thousands! Let’s demand clean water for today and for the future!