Tag Archives: saving the indian river lagoon

Dr Van Lent–Why an EAA Reservoir Will Help to Save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Slide 1. (Dr Thomas Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, 2015)
Slide 1. Everglades Foundation, 2015.)

Today, I am going to try to simplify and share the idea of an “EAA reservoir.” You probably have been hearing a lot about this, but you may not know how it fits into a an option lands purchase and the “sending more water south” concept that will help save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and the Everglades.

This is not fully understood by me either, so I contacted Dr Thomas Van Lent of the Everglades Foundation; he sent me some information that today will share with you.

For me all of this is part of a “flow way concept,” though some may disagree.

Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation. (Photo 2015.)
Dr Tom Van Lent, Everglades Foundation, (EF). (Photo 2015.)

(http://www.evergladesfoundation.org/about/staff/)

First things first.

LAND PURCHASE: In order to do anything that will actually take a significant amount of water off of Lake Okeechobee, so the ACOE doesn’t have to discharge to the SLR/IRL and Caloosahatchee, there needs to be land to “store, clean and convey that water south.”

Because over the past 95 years, the EAA took up all the southerly land to create their Everglades Agricultural Area, 700,000 acres of land south of Lake Okeechobee, we are “forced” to purchase lands in the EAA to move any water south. Thankfully, land is for sale; although US Sugar rather not sell it.  (Long drama….let’s just leave it at that–the land is for sale; I believe the state should buy it with Amendment 1 monies and /or “bond it.”) This Option 1, the brown lands below, runs out in October of 2015.

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)

So after getting the land purchase necessity out-of-the-way, let’s look at Dr Van Lent’s write-up and slides:

Jacqui, I’ve attached a graphic that I hope will help explain.

I think everyone can agree that the best solution to the estuaries’ problems is to send more water south. But the major limitation to doing that today is (1) the water is polluted and would irreparably damage the Everglades and (2) the dams in the Everglades prevent you from getting the water out, so adding more water would drown tree islands and other habitats. So, the bottleneck to flow is actually further south, in the Everglades, and not in the EAA.

The solution is to clean the water and then remove the dams. But if you just pull out the dams so water flows when it’s wet, then the Everglades will dry up and burn when it’s dry. So an essential step to pulling out the dams is to add water supply reservoir so that you can keep the Everglades wet during droughts.

The Central Everglades Plan started to open up the dams in the Everglades, but was limited because it did not build any storage. With storage, you can open up the Everglades even more, sending more water south.—–Dr Van Lent

—-I have to say I don’t know much about the dams in the Everglades, but that’s OK, let’s move on….

 

Slide 1. EF.
Slide 1. (EF, 2015.)

(Refer to above slide.) Discharges to the Everglades are limited because the STA’s (Storm Water Treatment Areas) (1.) are too small and cannot clean enough water. Also, dams in the Everglades (2) limit the flow through the Everglades. This leaves the St Lucie/S IRL and Caloosahatchee (3) as the primary outlets for Lake Okeechobee.

Slide 2. (EF, 2015)
Slide 2. (EF, 2015.)

(Refer to above slide.) The “*Restoration Strategies” expansions to STAs (1) and water quality features in *CEPP (2) expanded the ability to treat Lake water going to the Everglades. Moreover, CEPP and Tamiami Trail (3) bridging opened up the Everglades to take more flow, improving conditions in the national park and Florida Bay. The means that significantly less water could be discharged to the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries (4). The EAA Reservoir (5) supplies water during dry periods so the Everglades remains set seven when the dams are removed. That is why a reservoir is critical to sending water south; it allows the dams in the Everglades to be breached.

Thank you Dr Van Lent!

__________________________________________

In case you are wondering, I have added the following below, to explain Dr Van Lent’s slide explanation.

*Restoration Strategies is basically making the STAs larger due to a long going law suit of the federal government against Florida that was finalized in the past few years under Gov, Scott. The lawsuit occurred because of the dirty water from Lake O polluting the Everglades: This IS happening and the state has to pay for it, 880 million.(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/rs_waterquality_plan_042712_final.pdf)

*CEPP the Central Everglades Planning Project of part of CERP (the Central Everglades Restoration Project.)(http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Portals/44/docs/FactSheets/CEPP_FS_September2013_508.pdfThis is a project that was “fast tracked,” by the ACOE and SFWMD. Congressman Patrick Murphy helped a lot with this. It was not taken on as part of WRDA the Water Resources Development Act that funds projects so it is still on the burner really and will have to be approved the next time a WRDA bill is passed by the US Congress. So right now it is NOT happening but hopefully will in the future…

___________________________________________________

Whew!

In closing, I hope these slides, and the explanation from Dr Van Lent helped you in your journey of understand all this. I believe all these things are part of a greater whole. I am very appreciative to Dr Van Lent for sending the slides. What an honor to correspond with him.

When one looks at such, one certainly realizes we are planning for a far off future…and nothing is guaranteed. This can be discouraging, but don’t let it be!

It is our responsibility to the children of the future.

Please write a short email to the Florida Senate in support of purchasing Option Lands this 2015 Legislative Session: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc) Thank you!

____________________________________________

Everglades Foundation: (http://www.evergladesfoundation.org)

How About a Toll Bridge to Raise Money for the Indian River Lagoon?

The Jensen Bridge was completed in 1927. (Photographer unknown, photo courtesy of Bob Washam.)
The Jensen Bridge was completed in 1927. (Photographer unknown, photo courtesy of Bob Washam.)

The idea of a toll bridge over the Indian River Lagoon is not a new one as there were toll bridges in Jensen and Stuart in Martin County’s early days.

Toll Tickets for the Jensen Bridge. Courtesy Bob Washam.
Toll Tickets for the Jensen Bridge. Courtesy Bob Washam.
Cover of toll ticket packet for Jensen Bridge. Courtesy Bob Washam.
Cover of toll ticket packet for Jensen Bridge. Courtesy Bob Washam.

As my mother says in her Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River book:

“People fishing on both side os the Jensen Bridge made it necessary for automobiles to cross the narrow wooden bridge with extreme  caution.” 

Over time, we have had caution for people, but not for fish.

This morning the Tyler Treadway’s article in the Stuart News states there has been a catfish kill along the Indian River Lagoon Ft Pierce north; it is not yet reported to be in Martin County; in the 1920s no such virus or water quality issues prevailed and fishing was the sport of the day, some of the best in the nation, along the bridges, in the forks, in the St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon, along the clean and sparkling Atlantic Ocean…

Unidentified man with Goliath Grouper caught in area. Photo courtesy of Bob Washam.
Unidentified man with Goliath Grouper caught in Jensen area. Photo courtesy of Bob Washam.

Mrs Thurlow writes in her book:

The Jensen Bridge was instrumental in the development of Jensen with its numerous tourists camps. In the 1930s, the Pitchford, Gideon, and Wade camps sprang up at the western end of the bridge. Other camps, including the massive Ocean Breeze Park, soon followed. The Jensen Bridge was given so much publicity that it became a nationally famous fishing pier.”

"the Jensen Beach Bridge was advertised in the Martin County Chamber of Commerce Fishing Guide, published in 1935. (Courtesy of Robert McClinton Pitchford, Thurlow archives.)
“The Jensen Beach Bridge was advertised in the Martin County Chamber of Commerce Fishing Guide, published in 1935. (Courtesy of Robert McClinton Pitchford, Thurlow archives.)

Today the Indian River Lagoon is still famous for fishing, but also for its seagrass loss and declining fish stock. Yesterday, my father gave me an issue of Florida Sport Fishing, the lead article was entitled “Gator County, Florida ‘s Famed East Coast Lagoon System May No Longer Be the State’s Premier Destination for Giant Trout,” by Jerry McBride.

The beginning of the article reads:

“Two miles of previously lush green vegetation dotted with sandy potholes and carved by narrow channels–once home to monster gator trout–has been reduced to a single acre of sparse seagrass, I fished the entire stretch in less than an hour and paddled home… The estuary’s south end is losing its 80 plus year battle against polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee, while the rest of the 156 miles long waterways faces an even more insidious adversary—a multi-source nutrient-fueled brown algae scourge that virtually overnight reduced 43,000 acres of rich seagrass habitat to a sandy desert…”

Most of this seagrass loss may have happened north of us, but it is here too. Also, the lagoon is one waterway, whether it is Lake Okeechobee and local canal releases here in Martin County,  or brown tide in the central and north lagoon, we are all affected.

Usually on Friday I try to post something positive and happy.

I have been wanting to share friend Bob Washam’s Jensen Bridge photos,  today was the day.  Nonetheless, I could not ignore the slow and now pronounced losses to our Indian River Lagoon, especially in light of Mr Treaway’s article this morning.

If the tin-can tourist who hardly had a nickel in their packs could be raised from their graves to see what has happened to the Indian River Lagoon,  I am certain they would say:

“You may have more money, but you sure lost a piece of Heaven…and which would you rather have?”

One good thing is that nature is programmed to heal itself, may we have the strength to continue to fight for some semblance of the “good old days,” and should we need to exact a toll on our bridges to start an IRL Fund, I’ll vote “yes.”

___________________________________________________________

Courtesy SCRIPPS NEWSPAPERS/PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT

Stuart News announcement 10/10/14:

Catfish die-off hits lagoon
By Tyler Treadway

tyler.treadway@TCPalm.com 772-221-4219

Thousands of dead hardhead catfish are floating in the Indian River Lagoon from Palm Bay to Fort Pierce.

Because only one species is affected and all the dead fish are juveniles mostly from 4 to 12 inches long, a local marine biologist believes the cause is a specific virus rather than poor water quality in the lagoon.

Weve had die-offs like this in the lagoon before, where only sea cats and nothing else was dying,said Grant Gilmore, lead scientist of Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science in Vero Beach.

The cause was a viral infection back then, so I would assume its the same this time. Kelly Richmond, a spokeswoman at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission laboratory in St. Petersburg, said the agencys hotline has received 16 reports of dead catfish beginning Monday.

Staffers collected three live catfish and water samples from the lagoon for analysis.

Results should be available early next week, Richmond said, and the agency wont guess at a cause until then.

Paul Fafeita, a Vero Beach fishing guide, said he saw dead catfish Wednesday morning in the lagoon from the Barber Bridge in Vero Beach to the North Causeway bridge at Fort Pierce.

Im talking hundreds, if not thousands of dead fish,Fafeita said.­They werent sporadic, one here and one there. They were steady, up and down the lagoon. Mike Peppe, a Sebastian fishing guide, reported seeing dead catfish Wednesday in the lagoon from Wabasso to the Sebastian Inlet.

They were everywhere,Peppe said.There had to be thousands. Look down and youd see a bunch of white things in the waterthe catsbellies.

The Comeback of the Snowy Egret and its Inspiration for the Comeback of the Indian River Lagoon

This snowy egret was visiting the retention pond across form Indialucie in Sewall's Point. This plume bird was the most hunted during the 1800s and lost up to 95 percent of its population. They have made a comeback. (Photo Sandra Thurlow, 2014.)
This snowy egret was visiting the retention pond, across from Indialucie, in Sewall’s Point. The bird exhibits some of the most excessive foraging behaviors and has what is considered the most  beautiful mating plumage of any wading bird and bright yellow feet!  It hunts in wetland habitats.  Plume hunters decimated its population by up to 95% but since protected, the birds have made a comeback. (Photo Sandra Thurlow, 2014.)

Every day, I look to nature for inspiration, hoping for a model of success to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

One of the “greats” is the little snowy egret. All wading birds were almost hunted to the point of extinction during the feathered ladies hat craze of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and because the snowy egret was the most desired of all birds for its beautiful nuptial plumes, it, more than any other wading bird, was hunted.

There was great motivation to hunt birds as at the time, their feathers were worth more than gold.

It is well documented that the plume hunters shot birds by the thousands in rookeries through out Florida, especially the Everglades, during breeding season when the birds’  feathers were most beautiful.  The birds were shot right off their nests with the baby birds left to die. Entire rookeries disappeared.

After witnessing such, many hunters reported feeling sick at the “sight of thousands of little hanging necks over the nests” and “repented,” refusing to go back after being part of such cold blooded carnage.

But times were tough and there were alway more men behind them to take their place. In the late 1890s the Ornithologists’ Union estimated that five million birds of all kinds were killed annually.

Snowy egret family. Parents in full plumage. (Public photo.)
“Little Snowy” was most hunted for its “nuptial feathers” that grow during mating and baby bird season. During the late 1800s and early 1900s the birds were commonly shot off their nests. (Public photo.)

The story of what birds remain and have rebounded is  yet another story of American inspiration though everyday people demanding more of their government.

In 1886, Forest and Stream editor, George Bird Grinnell, was “appalled by the negligent mass slaughter of birds.” Based on studies of painter John James Audubon from Ornithological Biography, he created an organization devoted to the protection of wild birds and their eggs. Within a year the the Audubon Society had over  39,000  members including very prominent figures of the day and eventually a US  president. Their numbers and financial support grew and the organization evolved throughout many states. Letter writing campaigns ensured, many from churches, state laws were passed starting in New York, banning the sale of plumes, and by 1920 similar laws were passed in other states. In 1918 US Audubon lobbied for the Federal “Migratory Bird Treaty Act” and convinced the US government to support the National Wildlife Refuge system, the first being Sebastian, Florida’s “Pelican Island.” Today migrating and resident birds are protected, or at minimum, regulated, by hunting license in all communities.

 

Snowy egret in breeding plumage and colors. (Public    "wallpaper" photo.)
Snowy egret in breeding plumage and colors. (Public “wallpaper” photo.)

So again, the stories are many of mankind’s propensity to kill the world around “him,” and then to pull back from the brink of total destruction by the intervention of a small group of people.

The story of the Indian River Lagoon will hopefully be a similar tale to tell. So when you are around town and see a little snowy egret, feel inspired!

__________________________________________________________________________

US Federal Migratory Bird Act: (http://www.fws.gov/laws/lawsdigest/migtrea.html)

FWC 2011 Report Snowy Egret: (http://www.myfwc.com/media/2273400/Snowy-Egret-BSR.pdf )

FWC Bird Regulations: (http://m.myfwc.com/hunting/regulations/birds/)

Birds of North America/Snowy Egret:(http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/489/articles/introduction)

Wikipedia’s History of Plume Hunting in the US: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plume_hunting)

The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative’s Power to Save the Indian River Lagoon

Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative can help save our Indian River Lagoon. (Photo Jenny Flaugh)
The Florida Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1, is more than just hope. It will help save our Indian River Lagoon. (Photo Jenny Flaugh, St Lucie River sunset.)

Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment is the voice of generations of people, people who have been diligently working to restore and protect the natural water and land resources of Florida. These same people were, in essence, robbed by their government. The Land Acquisition Trust Fund, Florida’s conservationists, ethical business people, and protectionists, are not going to allow this to happen again.

Over many years, governors and legislative bodies have taken or “swept” trust fund money from multiple interests. This was done by the Bush administration and more recently by the Scott administration. Through out the years, Democrats have done it too. It is a long standing, accepted way of  “ruling.”  And yes, there are a hundred “good” reasons to do so, if one is a politician,  like the financial crisis of 2008, and the fall out afterwards.

Nonetheless, it is wrong. Immoral. Governments should not  call the hard collected, established, monies of special interest groups TRUST funds if they are legally allowed to take them when times get tough. This mode of operandus  takes advantage of and confuses a public that has purposely been uninformed by its leaders. It simply is not good government.

This is where Amendment 1 comes in. To restore a program for lands and now waters in our state, one that cannot be taken away.

On April 16th at 2pm, at Indian Riverside Park, supporters of the constitutional amendment,  #1, FLORIDA WATER & AND LAND CONSERVATION INITIATIVE (2014) will hold an educational forum to educate on why it is critical  that we all vote yes on this amendment in November.

I have provided the formal wording below so you can read the document, but I will summarize why it is a good thing:

1. First, it does not allow future monies to be commingled with the General Revenue Fund of the state. (taken/stolen/redirected by the state legislature)

2. Second, it supports a committee that has the ability to use funds collected from 33% of documentary tax stamps (real estate charges the state collects form homebuyers) to purchase lands across the state including the Everglades Agriculture Area, (EAA) the Everglades Protection Area, (EPA),  water areas, conservation easements, wetlands, forests, fish/wildlife habitat/management areas, drinking water lands, lands protecting water quality and and quantity for springs, rivers, streams, spring sheds, recharge areas for groundwater/aquifers, recreational lands, open spaces, rural landscapes, farm and ranches, and historic or geologic sites.

Here is the legal language:

SECTION 28. Land Acquisition Trust Fund. —

a) Effective on July 1 of the year following passage of this amendment by the voters, and for a period of 20 years after that effective date, the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall receive no less than 33 percent of net revenues derived from the existing excise tax on documents, as defined in the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, as amended from time to time, or any successor or replacement tax, after the Department of Revenue first deducts a service charge to pay the costs of the collection and enforcement of the excise tax on documents.
b) Funds in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund shall be expended only for the following purposes:
1) As provided by law, to finance or refinance: the acquisition and improvement of land, water areas, and related property interests, including conservation easements, and resources for conservation lands including wetlands, forests, and fish and wildlife habitat; wildlife management areas; lands that protect water resources and drinking water sources, including lands protecting the water quality and quantity of rivers, lakes, streams, springsheds, and lands providing recharge for groundwater and aquifer systems; lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the Everglades Protection Area, as defined in Article II, Section 7(b); beaches and shores; outdoor recreation lands, including recreational trails, parks, and urban open space; rural landscapes; working farms and ranches; historic or geologic sites; together with management, restoration of natural systems, and the enhancement of public access or recreational enjoyment of conservation lands.
2) To pay the debt service on bonds issued pursuant to Article VII, Section 11(e).
c) The moneys deposited into the Land Acquisition Trust Fund, as defined by the statutes in effect on January 1, 2012, shall not be or become commingled with the General Revenue Fund of the state.

The local forum on April 16th is sponsored by the Treasured Lands Foundation and the Martin County Taxpayers Association, the event features a host of elected officials and environmental experts, including U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy; Eric Draper, executive director of Audubon Florida; Mark Perry, executive director of Florida Oceanographic Society; Sarah Heard, chair of the Martin County Commission; Troy McDonald, mayor of Stuart; Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, commissioner of Sewall’s Point; Eve Samples, Stuart News columnist; John Nelson, president of the Martin County Audubon Society and Maggy Hurchalla, leading environmentalist.

I hope this blog has been helpful as sometimes all this can be convoluted and confusing.

I encourage you to attend the forum on April 16th as I will be speaking along with others. More important, in November, please vote for Amendment 1, the Florida Water and Land Legacy.

This amendment is the voice of the people and  is truly tailor made to, over time, help our ailing St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

Reference links:

Official site, VOTE YES ON 1: (http://voteyeson1fl.org/sections/page/about)

General information: (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_(2014))

Article, 10 News Tampa Bay,  2011, “Florida’s Sweeping of Trust Funds:” (http://archive.wtsp.com/news/florida/article/194649/19/Florida-sweeps-trust-funds?odyssey=mod)