Tag Archives: St Lucie County

Pesticide Contamination in the Region of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

 

Muck from the SLR/IRL region. Public photo.
Muck from the SLR/IRL region. Muck holds pesticides and other chemical residue. Public photo.

When I got up this morning, I saw a Facebook post by Delta Gamma sorority sister, Katie Schwader. Katie, who runs a page entitled “Love Your Neighbor,” had posted: “As September wraps up, I encourage all to join the Support Peyton McCaughey Facebook page. ” (https://www.facebook.com/PeytonRecovery?fref=ts)

Most of us are familiar with the tragic story…

Peyton McCaughey…the 10-year-old Martin County, Palm City boy who lost 90 percent of his motor skills after exposure to chemicals and pesticides used to fumigate his family’s home for termites. (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/family-alleges-pest-fumigation-left-boy-severely-injured/story?id=33539389)

According to TC Palm reporter Paul Ivice: “...the three-bedroom house was fumigated for termites by Terminix in August 2014, but the termites returned. “Under the direction of Terminix, the home was re-tented and fumigated” on Aug. 14 by Sunland…Zythor was used..Sunland didn’t use the proper dosage…and “didn’t properly ventilate what was pumped into the home to kill the termites…”

Now this 10 year old child is “not able to walk, or even lift his own head,” according to Ed Gribben Jr., the brother of mother and Martin County Hight School assistant principal, Lori Ann McCaughey. 

Is there any greater nightmare than this? I cannot imagine…We all must support this family.

Family photo of Peyton Mc Caughey as shared on the Facebook page for his families' fundraiser.
Family photo of Peyton Mc Caughey as shared on the Facebook page for his families’ fundraiser.

Fundraiser this weekend: (https://www.facebook.com/events/563020633835889/)

 

Ten Mile Creek sits in a passive operating state.
An altered Ten Mile Creek watershed… (JTL 2014)

Chemicals and pesticides are very dangerous. And many of them are lurking in our river…

Image from USGA DEP report, 2003.
Image from USGA DEP report SLR pesticide contamination, 2003.
Cover of USGS/DEP Report
Cover of USGS/DEP Report, 2003.

High levels of pesticides also exist in areas of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and many of us are not even aware of this. Most of the chemicals end up in the sediment or “muck” at the bottom of the river, so even if issues of contamination are addressed, the river bottom remains poisonous.

The following is an excerpt from a the “Water Resources Investigations Report Occurrence and Distribution of Pesticides in the St Lucie River Watershed” prepared by A.C. Lietz, of the US Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, in 2003. I wonder how much has changed in just over ten years? I could not find a follow-up report.

An excerpt reads:

“The St. Lucie River watershed is a valuable estuarine eco- system and resource in south- central Florida. The watershed has undergone extensive changes over the last century because of anthropogenic activities. These activities have resulted in a complex urban and agricultural drainage network that facilitates the transport of contaminants, including pesticides, to the primary canals and then to the estuary. Historical data indicate that aquatic life criteria for selected pesticides have been exceeded. To address this concern, a reconnaissance was conducted to assess the occurrence and distribution of selected pesticides within the
St. Lucie River watershed.” –A.C. Lietz, USGA, 2003

Full report: (http://fl.water.usgs.gov/PDF_files/wri02_4304_lietz.pdf)

If you take a look at this write-up, you will see the pesticide contamination and locations  listed, and the “BMPs,” Best Management Practices, recommended to correct the situation. These pesticides have killed and distorted many fish and other species that used to live at the bottom of this area of the river. As the river bottom remains full of chemicals and grasses can’t grow, many animals and fish never came back. Some that remain have been reported sick and malformed.

The second publication we should all be familiar with is the 1995 DEP report “Pesticide Contamination in 10 Mile Creek” by Gregory A. Graves and Douglas G. Stone. This report is about the agricultural contamination of Ten Mile Creek, the headwaters of the north fork of the St Lucie River, in St Lucie County—- this creek runs south into Martin County. Believe it or not, the North Fork of the St Lucie River is  a state designated “aquatic preserve.”

An aquatic preserve! Sometimes things just don’t make sense, do they?

Conclusion from report:

” Fourteen separate pesticides were detected in the water and sediment of Ten Mile Creek, several at concentrations exceeding applicable water quality standards. Some of these concentrations appear to be the highest found anywhere in Florida surface waters (Storet). ….The true scope of the adverse impact upon the resident biota may be underestimated due to unobserved events. Ten Mile Creek is classified by the State of Florida as Class III waters. As such, these waters are presumed suitable for “recreation, propagation. (FAC 62-302.530). The contamination and resultant biological impairment documented constitutes a loss of Class III function for Ten Mile Creek waters.”

The full report is here:
(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/tenmile_creek.pdf)

 

How was the situation resolved? The report states:

“Several State of Florida biological and chemical water quality standards were violated. Recommendations include application of best management practices (BMP), review of pesticide use within the basin, regional water management and expanded study of the implications of pesticides entering the North Fork St .Lucie River OFW. (Outstanding Florida Waters). A cooperative panel including local agricultural concerns is recommended to resolve this situation with minimal conflict.”

That’s nice they resolved this terrible situation with “minimal conflict,”but I do hope the situation has been resolved; I would like to get my hands on a follow-up report that is easy to access on-line…

 

The History of the “EAA” Along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, St Lucie Gardens

This image shows St Lucie Farms separated from the entire land purchase of reed from Disston. (overlay created by Todd Thurlow)
This image shows St Lucie Farms separated from the entire land purchase of Disston to Reed. IRL east and PSL west.(Overlay created by Todd Thurlow)

 

St Lucie Gardens...overlay by Todd Thurlow.
Lands purchased by Sir Edward J. Reed from Hamilton Disston, as platted in the late 1880s/early 1900s. This land includes areas of Martin and St Lucie Counties…overlay on Google map by Todd Thurlow.

It all started with a recent comment by Bob Ulevich, at a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council meeting.  In the course of his presentation and questioning on the history of the water management districts, Bob noted that the EAA, the Everglades Agricultural Area, was not historically “just located” where it is today, south of Lake Okeechobee, but basically included all of Disston’s lands. Are you kidding me? “Gulp”….

TCRPC meeting excerpt, no video, just sound: (http://youtu.be/acP_ri2vElc)
Mr Ulevich’s powerpoint: (http://www.tcrpc.org/council_meetings/2015/SEPT15/Final_Reports/Water_Presentation.pdf)
 

The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)
The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)

Hamilton Disston. Remember him?  The “savior,” “the drainer” of our state—-who basically bought the entire state from a bankrupt entity, the Internal Improvement Fund? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_Disston)
The more I read and think about it, I think what Bob meant was that almost of all the swamp lands sold to Disston and then others were marketed for people to purchase and farm….basically creating a giant Everglades agricultural area…but it wasn’t always so easy….

Orginal everglades document of the state of Florida. (TT)
Orginal Everglades document of the state of Florida. (Downloaded by TT)
TT
Ddisston’s AGCCOL Co. (TT)

When I was trying to figure all this out, I went back to a map I had seen before, reread a chapter in my mother’s Jensen and Eden book, and contacted my brother, Todd,  to help me answer a question.

Map
Map of Disston’s lands.

“Todd, why isn’t St Lucie Gardens in pink on the Disston map? …And wasn’t this area supposed to be farmland?”

St Lucie Gardens was a huge subdivision in the region of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon including the savannas filed in 1911 by the Franklin Land Company of Jacksonville. According to my mother’s book, “the land was advertised as far away a Kansas and a few families bought land and tried to make a living farming. However land that had been pine flat woods continued to have cycles of flooding a drought and was impossible to farm profitably. The families that came to farm in St Lucie Gardens either gave up or turned to other ways to make a living.”

St Lucie Gardens...overlay by Todd Thurlow.
St Lucie Gardens…overlay by Todd Thurlow.
St Lucie Gardens plat map 1881. MC Property appraiser, via Todd Thurlow.
St Lucie Gardens plat map 1910. MC Property appraiser, via Todd Thurlow.
The Waters family promoting St Lucie Gardens 1910. (Photo Reginald Waters Rice) from Jensen and Eden by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
The Waters family promoting St Lucie Gardens 1910. (Photo Reginald Waters Rice) from Jensen and Eden by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Draining the savannas around St Lucie Gardens, 1911. Franklin Land Co. (Reginald Waters Rice) Jensen and Eden, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Draining the savannas around St Lucie Gardens, 1911. Franklin Land Co. (Reginald Waters Rice) Jensen and Eden, Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Page listing lands of Disston, mind you county boarders were different at this time. Matin was Brevard.
Page listing lands of Disston, mind you county boarders were different at this time. Martin was Brevard. (TT)

Todd and I never found our why those lands of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon were not included on the 1881 Disston lands map, and the people who created it are not around to ask, but Todd did create the awesome visuals at the beginning of this post and he did find the deed of the purchase of the lands in our region. To have this document is an incredible part of our history.

Deed of Disston lands sold to Reed, 1881. (TT)
Deed of Disston lands sold to Reed, 1881, page 1. (TT)
Page 2. (TT)
Page 2. (TT)
Disston 4,000,000 acres from the state of Florida in 1881, which included much of the land within the savannas. ( Public map, 1881.)
Disston bought 4,000,000 acres from the state of Florida then sold half to Reed. Some of those lands included land in the SLR/IRL region. These lands are not shown on this map. ( Public map, 1881.)

And the EAA? With all the water problems we have today, I am glad it does not include everything in pink and green on the map and that something remains of our Savannas along the Indian River Lagoon.

____________________________________

An interesting email from Todd; Thank you Todd for all the research!

Jacqui,

It was fun to go through some of the stuff on my computer tonight. I just downloaded this publication “Disston Lands of Florida”, published 1885. I attached the intro page.

Disston had the pick of ALL the public lands owned by the state. It took three years to make the selection. Perhaps the pink area had been picked as of the date of the map and St. Lucie Gardens had not yet been picked?

Or maybe the St. Lucie Gardens land is not shown in pink on the map because Disston directed that the St. Lucie Gardens property be deeded directly from TIIF to Sir Edward James Reed. The Florida Land and Improvement Company never took title.

The TIIF deed that we pulled up for Sir Edward James Reed (attached) is dated 6/1/1881. In includes a little more land (21,577 Acres) than ended up in St. Lucie Gardens (e.g. Section 1, of T36S R40E is not part of St. Lucie Gardens but is included in the deed.)

Disston Lands of Florida: https://archive.org/details/disstonlandsoffl00flor
St. Lucie Gardens Plat: http://plat.martinclerk.com/St%20Lucie%20County%20Plat%20Books/BK%2001%20PG%20035-001.tif

Todd Thurlow (http://www.thurlowpa.com)

The WWII Beach Horses of the Indian River Lagoon, Yesterday and Today, SLR/IRL

Army horses were used to patrol Indian River Lagoon area beaches during WWII. (Photo untitled: http://olive-drab.com/od_army-horses-mules_ww2.php)
Horses were used to patrol the  Indian River Lagoon region’s area beaches during WWII. (Photo untitled: http://olive-drab.com/od_army-horses-mules_ww2.php)
Men on horseback looking fro enemy invaders, Hutchinson Island. Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida's Indian River, Sandra Henderson Thurlow,. Photo James W Harrington.
Men on horseback looking for enemy invaders, Hutchinson Island. “Historic Jensen and Eden on Florida’s Indian River,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow,. Photo James W. Harrington.
1945 US Coast Guard Station and stables for horses were later converted to the Kensington Club located in the area where Jensen Beaches are today. (Photo Dale Hipson via Sandra H. Thurlow.)
1945 US Coast Guard Station and stables for horses were later converted to the Kensington Club located in the area where Jensen beaches are today. (Photo Dale Hipson via Sandra H. Thurlow.)
US Coast Guard patrol and former snack shop at Jensen Beach. 1943. (Thurlow Collection)
US Coast Guard patrol and former “snack shop” at Jensen Beach. 1943. (Thurlow Collection.)
Jensen residents could hear explosions and see billowing smoke from freighters torpedoed by German U boats. in 1942. (Florida Photographic Archives via Sandra Henderson Thurlow's book "Eden and Jensen."
“Jensen residents could hear explosions and see billowing smoke from freighters torpedoed by German U boats. in 1942.” SHT (Florida Photographic Archives via Sandra Henderson Thurlow’s book “Eden and Jensen.”

I love animals whether they walk, fly, hop, slither, swim, run, or trot…

As a young person growing up along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, one of my very finest memories is riding horses along the beaches of Hutchinson Island. My friend Michelle White whose father still lives on McArthur Boulevard, had horses at their ranch in Palm City and would often bring them to —keeping them under the shade at the “beach house.” Michelle and I would get up at the crack of dawn and ride these horses bareback along the beach. It was wondrous.  Obviously, the laws were not as restrictive then. We even got our picture in the Stuart News!

Stuart News photo ca 1980, Joseph Noble. Michelle White and Jacqui Thurlow ride along the beach Hutchinson Island.
Stuart News photo ca 1980, Joseph Noble. Michelle White and Jacqui Thurlow ride along the beach Hutchinson Island.(Sandra Thurlow’s photo archives)

So horses……

Today, I will share a story sent to me by blog reader Stan Field, A.K.A. Anthony Stevens who is a professional writer who lives in Rio and friend of my family.

When he sent me this excerpt about the beach horses of WWII, I wrote back: “I do hope none of the horses were hurt jumping off the Jensen Beach Bridge.” He assured me all were fine. Here is his amazing story:

Horse Patrols on Hutchinson Island
“Early in the war, it was decided that they needed to maintain regular patrols of the Atlantic beaches. Someone in Washington thought that horse patrols would be a good idea.

“In September 1942, horses were authorized for use by the beach patrol. The mounted portion of the patrol soon became the largest segment of the patrol. For example, one year after orders were given to use horses, there were 3,222 of the animals assigned to the Coast Guard. All came from the Army. The Army Remount Service provided all the riding gear required, while the Coast Guard provided the uniforms for the riders. A call went out for personnel and a mixed bag of people responded. Polo players, cowboys, former sheriffs, horse trainers, Army Reserve cavalrymen, jockeys, farm boys, rodeo riders and stunt men applied. Much of the mounted training took place at Elkins Park Training Station and Hilton Head, the sites of the dog training schools.” – US Coast Guard
One of these horse patrols groups was stationed on Hutchinson Island. What is not generally mentioned is one of those horrible snafus that always happen during wartime.
Well, they arranged for a large herd of horses to be delivered by the Florida East Coast Railroad and a corral and stables was built on Hutchinson Island, near the old wooden bridge in Jensen. Seaman from the Coast Guard base in Fort Pierce would be stationed there and at the House of Refuge and they would patrol the entire island.
Now since there were no roads on the island from Jensen north, this seemed like a great idea. The soft sand was murder on jeeps and mounted riders would be able to cut around swampy areas and investigate in the woods, if needed.
They asked for volunteers for the first herd and there was only one real cowboy in the base. There were only a few more who had pleasure riding experience.
Well, everyone was pretty excited when the big day came and several railroad cars were delivered to the siding just north of Jensen Beach Blvd. A temporary corral had been built there to hold them for inventory and basic tack was in the back of trucks, ready to mount the animals and ride them over to their permanent duty station, on the island.
There was an immediate problem when they opened the doors, however. In its infinite wisdom, the Government had decided that purchasing trained horses was too expensive. And since a lot of wild horses lived for free on Government land out west, they just rounded up a herd of wild ones, packed them onto cattle cars and shipped them to Jensen. Not one of them had ever been in close contact with a man before… much less a saddle.
Riding them to the island was out of the question. So the one loan cowpoke arranged a ‘drive’ and the entire community was drafted into helping with the operation.
Well, things seemed to be going pretty well, until they got to the old wooden bridge that led to the island. This was more than a mile and a quarter long, two narrow lanes wide and the decking has ½” gaps between each plank. The horses did NOT want to cross it!
About half of them were driven over by the shoving, shouting crowds behind. The other half jumped the sides of the bridge and the banks of the Indian River and swam for freedom. Most of the next couple of days was spent with the Pitchfords and other boat owners chasing them around the river and running them down on land. Eventually they all made it to the island and the serious breaking and training started.
The one loan cowhand and the base officers appealed to the locals for help once more and older cowhands, both male and female, volunteered to teach the Coast Guard people how to break and train the wild herd.

There is not a lot of information available on the mounted patrols of World War II. They did setup training facilities in Hilton Head, SC.” —-written by Anthony Stevens, in a letter to JTL August, 2015

Wow.  Can you imagine all those poor horses jumping off the bridge into the Indian River Lagoon? Crazy! And wild ones at that. Wonder what happened to them all after the war?

Well today horses are allowed on the beaches in St Lucie County and horseback riding is a very popular and extremely well rated experience. When my husband Ed flys the cub looking for pollution plumes in the Indian River Lagoon and area inlets, he often sees horseback riders from his plane. There is some romance left in the world…

—–Right here along the Indian River Lagoon…I wonder if any of those horses’ ancestors patrolled the beach? If only a horse could talk!

Horseback riding along the beaches of St Lucie County. Cover photo of website, 2015.
Horseback riding along the beaches of St Lucie County. Cover photo of website, 2015.

Beach Tours on Horseback: (http://www.beachtoursonhorseback.com)

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US Coast Guard: (http://wow.uscgaux.info/content.php?unit=070-05-08&category=1334262365)

Cool blogs on horses and dogs used in WWII: (K9 http://www.k9history.com/WWII-uscg-beach-patrols.htm)
(http://www.navyatcapehenlopen.info/harborentrancecontrolpost.html)

 

Update: Our Deadly Canals, and the “Kiss of Death,” Lake Okeechobee, SLR/IRL

C-25 at Taylor Creek, exits into the IRL near Ft Pierce Inlet. (Photo Ed Lippisch 9-2-15)
C-25 at Taylor Creek, exits into the IRL near Ft Pierce Inlet. (Photo Ed Lippisch 9-2-15)

On Wednesday, my husband Ed and I sat down for dinner. “Did you see my photos of the river? He asked.

“No, I’m sorry, I haven’t looked at them yet…”

“They are pretty dramatic,” he replied, taking a swig of his Lagunitas.

I didn’t think much more about it, but later that evening, when I reviewed his shots, I understood.

Today I will share Ed’s recent photos of the Indian River Lagoon and St Lucie River that he took on Wednesday, September 2nd between 11:30AM-1PM. The first set of photos are from the Ft Pierce area around Taylor Creek where canal C-25 dumps into the IRL near Ft Pierce Inlet. C-25’s discharge can also be from C-24 or C-23 as they are all connected and can be manipulated to flow in different ways by the South Florida Water Management District. C-25, C-24 and C-23 ARE NOT connected to Lake Okeechobee. These photos are just showing rain runoff and all that is carried along with it and brought in by rising ground waters.

Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public)
Canal and basin map SLR/IRL. (Public, SFWMD)
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. (St Lucie River Initiative's Report to Congress 1994.)
Drainage changes to the SLR. Green is the original watershed. Yellow and pink have been added since ca.1920. The watershed has been unnaturlaly expanded to include up to 5 times the amount of water in the natural watershed.LO is the final blow when it comes. (St Lucie River Initiative’s Report to Congress 1994.)
SFWMD chart showing flow into C-25 over past days.
SFWMD chart showing flow into C-25 over past days.

DEP C-25 Eco Summary: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf)

SFWMD link (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/pls/portal/realtime.pkg_rr.proc_rr?p_op=FORT_PIERCE)

I believe there have been recent improvements made at Taylor Creek (C-25), but perhaps there should be more as the outflow still looks like an oil spill. A cocktail of agriculture,  development, residential, and road runoff….a “river of death…”

Once a  reader wrote me saying,” Jacqui I like your blog but when it rains anywhere in the world there are these freshwater plumes….you are being misleading….”

I nicely replied. “I agree there are freshwater plumes all over the world, but I have to say, ours in the SLR/IRL region are beyond freshwater-soil plumes…they are deadly, full of heavy pollution. You can read it on agency web sites if you look hard enough…It is unnatural…and it is killing the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.”

C-25 Canal in Ft Pierce. (EL)
C-25 Canal in Ft Pierce. 9-2-15. (EL)
C-25 discharging into Taylor Creek and the Marina, IRL Ft Pierce. (EL)
C-25 discharging into Taylor Creek and the Marina, IRL Ft Pierce. 9-2-15. (EL)
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15 EL
9-2-15. EL
9-2-15. EL

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This second set of photos is from the same day, but further south along the Indian River Lagoon where it meets the St Lucie River at Sewall’s Point. Here you will see a plume at Hell’s Gate, not so dramatic as the C-25 plume, but a definite plume nonetheless.

The ACOE did recently dump BASIN runoff from around the C-44 canal (see map above) in preparation for ERIKA, but they DID NOT dump from Lake Okeechobee. In fact the canal is higher than the lake. I think this blog makes clear we have enough problems even with out releases from Lake Okeechobee.

Well, hope you learned something.  Have a good Labor Day weekend as we honor the American Labor Movement and the contributions laborers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. —Sounds like just who we need to rework our canals….

ACOE/SFWMD slide showing breakdown of runoff into SLR. (9-1-15)
ACOE/SFWMD slide showing breakdown of runoff into SLR. (9-1-15)
ACOE website shows
ACOE website shows no releases from S-308 or Lake O.

ACOE link to Lake O: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

ACOE website does show releases from S-80. In this case this is from the C-44 basin only. The basin is huge and mostly agricultural. See above chart.
ACOE website does show releases from S-80. In this case this is from the C-44 basin only. The basin is huge and mostly agricultural. See above chart.
Plume at Hell's Gate St Lucie River, west side of Sewall's Point. This water is from rain runoff probably from C-44, C-24, and C-23 unless the SFWMD is dumping C-23 and C-24 through C-25 in Ft Pierce. (Photo EL 9-2-15)
Plume at Hell’s Gate St Lucie River, west side of Sewall’s Point. This water is from rain runoff probably from C-44, C-24, and C-23 unless the SFWMD is dumping C-23 and C-24 through C-25 in Ft Pierce. (Photo EL 9-2-15)
9-2-15 EL Another angle of Hell's Gate and SP, SLR
9-2-15 EL Another angle of Hell’s Gate and SP, SLR
9-12-15 EL
9-12-15 EL
Incoming tide still clear around southern tip of Sewall's Point. 9-2-15
Incoming tide still clear around southern tip of Sewall’s Point. 9-2-15 EL –Hell’s Gate jutting forward far left.
Confluence of SLR/IRL between Sailfish Point and Sewall's Point. St Lucie Inlet in full view. (Photo EL 9-12-15)
Confluence of SLR/IRL between Sailfish Point and Sewall’s Point. St Lucie Inlet in full view. (Photo EL 9-12-15)
EL 9-2-15. Another view.
EL 9-2-15. Another view. Sailfish Point, SLR/IRL This areas seagrasses have still not recovered from 2013 even though water is blue in this photo.
Sailfish Flats in distance SLR/IRLEL 9-2-15.
Sailfish Flats in distance SLR/IRL EL 9-2-15.

South Florida Water Management District: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Army Corp of Engineers, Lake O: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm)

Canal C-23: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf)
Canal C-24: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)
Canal C-25: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf)
Canal C-44: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

Goodwill For the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Gulfstream Goodwill Industires, Inc. Stuart, Fl. The group has been studying the river for months and and advocates for its goodwill. Group photo with guest speaker JTL, photo, Irene Laverty 9-1-15.)
Gulfstream Goodwill industries, Inc. Stuart, Fl. The group has been studying the river for months and now advocates for its goodwill. Group photo with guest speaker JTL, photo, Irene Laverty 9-1-15.)

GULFSTREAM GOODWILLS’ MISSION STATEMENT: “Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, Inc., assists people with disabilities and other barriers to employment to become self-sufficient, working members of our community.”  (http://www.gulfstreamgoodwill.com)

I am certain the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon has a new group of outspoken advocates. And let me tell you, they know their river stuff!

Yesterday, I spoke before sixty Martin and St Lucie County residents with disabilities at Gulfstream Goodwill Industries, in Stuart. The coordinator of “Adult Day Training Services” is Mr Tony Polito; he was fantastic with me and with his group.  My visit was a remarkable experience, one I shall always cherish. —-The river brings all people, yes, all people together for a common good.

Before I got there, I  was nervous. I taught eighth and ninth grade for many years, but never had more than thirty in a classroom and knew I’d be speaking an hour and a half. I never taught students with disabilities. I wondered if they would like me… If they would pay attention…

I awkwardly entered through the back, schlepping in my giant basket full of all my workbooks, maps, markers, pens, paper, giant photographs, and River Kidz FDOT signs. Many came to help me. The group all sat perfectly ready for me. All eyes were upon me….some were in wheel chairs, some had assistants, one lady was blind, others has nerve issues. There were young and old. They were smiling and happy to see me. I waved and introduced myself,  and then it the magic began.

I lectured for a few minutes and then we discussed what they had been learning  the past month studying the River Kidz/Rivers Coalition workbooks. I talked. They talked. They told stories about the river and animal life. They raised their hands. They were the patient. They were opinionated. They were excited to share. We spoke of the impacts to seagrasses and the river due to population, pollution, fertilizer, storm-water runoff, trash, oil from cars, as well as the long-term impacts of canals C-23, C-24,C-25, C-44 and the awful discharges from Lake Okeechobee. We spoke about what we can do to help.

STOP sign, STOP pollution of the River! Created by River Kidz at the Pine School, 2012.
Recycled FDOT stop sign. STOP pollution of the River! Created by Ms. Walker’s art class of River Kidz at the Pine School, 2012.

A young man by the name of D.J. told me the group has been directly affected by the poor state of the St Lucie River in that Tony, their coordinator, can no longer  take the group fishing at the Roosevelt Bridge. They had done this for years. This had been one of their favorite activities. We decided to write Senator Joe Negron letters, and we did. He will receive all sixty in the next few days.

Many told me they had actually waved signs for the river on the Roosevelt Bridge! They were brought before the group and applauded!

Of course, the daycare group at Goodwill Industries are voters, but now they are also advocates.

Together we all memorized the River Kidz mission statement changing one word to fit them: OUR MISSION IS TO SPEAK OUT, GET INVOLVED, AND RAISE AWARENESS, BECAUSE WE BELIEVE ADULTZ SHOULD HAVE A VOICE IN THE FUTURE OF OUR RIVERS!

And they my friends, —they will! 🙂

Fishing poles sitting on the wall, no longer used due the to condition of the fish of the SLR/IRL. (Photo, Goodwill Industries, 2015)
Fishing poles sitting on the wall, no longer used due the to condition of the fish of the SLR/IRL. (Photo, Goodwill Industries, 2015.)
Receiving River Kidz certificate.
Receiving River Kidz certificate.
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Tony Polito,Ann Marie, JTL.
Coordinator, Tony Polito; helper Ann Marie; JTL.
Letter to Senator Negron.
Letter to Senator Negron.
Letter to Senator Negron.
Letter to Senator Negron.

To download River Kidz workbook II: (http://riverscoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/154611_RiverKidz_Workbook.pdf)

*There is signed permission to use all photos.

To contact Tony Polito and Goodwill Industries please call 772-337-0077. They are located at 1101 NW 21st Street , Stuart, Fl 34994.

 

The Lost Artesian Wells of the Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Man next to artesian well, IRL. "Mr Doug Witham allowed me to copy this photograph he purchased over eBay. It is of an unidentified man in St. Lucie Gardens. That is the huge subdivision of land Sir. Edward Reed purchased from Hamilton Disston. Since the notation on the back was written at Walton it is probably some place pretty close to the Indian River Lagoon. Sandra H.Thurlow 8-15)---Used with permission/purchased on Ebay by Doug Whitam and shared via Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
Man next to artesian well, IRL. “Mr Doug Witham allowed me to copy this photograph he purchased over eBay. It is of an unidentified man in St. Lucie Gardens. That is the huge subdivision of land Sir. Edward Reed purchased from Hamilton Disston. Since the notation on the back was written at Walton it is probably some place pretty close to the Indian River Lagoon.” Sandra H.Thurlow 8-15)
Plat map St Lucie Gardens, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Plat map St Lucie Gardens, along IRL. Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

“Artesian well…”

The words hold such poetry for me…something from a time long, long ago when Florida was wild and pure. In all honesty, I don’t know much about artesian wells, but throughout my life I have heard stories that have intrigued, and yet sometimes confused me. It is of these wells that I will write briefly on today.

When I was growing up, my historian mother told me stories of artesian wells made by simply hammering a pipe into the ground right here along the Indian River Lagoon. They would just flow and flow and both people and animals would drink from them. Many of these wells were made for irrigating farmland and for supplying the needs of pioneer families. My brother, Todd, recently told me of an artesian well located in the shallow waters off of Hutchinson Island that the pirates and sailors would stop to drink from to refresh themselves on their long and dangerous journeys…it was created by pressure under the earth by Nature. Not man-made but natural.

So an “artesian wells” can be natural or man-made. Apparently in 1957 the state started capping them as there were so many they were lowering the ground water level, and in some cases allowing salt water intrusion.

Most of them are gone today. I definitely consider myself someone who supports water conservation, and I still have memories when I take a shower of my parents yelling up the stairs to us as kids:  “turn off the water while soaping up!!!!” Nonetheless, the romantic image of a free-flowing well on a wild Florida piece of land is a beautiful image indeed…. 🙂

Artesian well on Bud Adam's Ranch in St Lucie Lucie County. Photo L to R Tom Thurlow, my father, and Dr and Mrs Powers long-time,good family friends. (Photo by Sandra Thurlow, ca early 2000.)
(I added this photo my mother shared on 8-17-15.) Photographed is an artesian well on Bud Adam’s Ranch in St Lucie Lucie County west of Ft Pierce. Photo L to R Tom Thurlow, my father, and Dr and Mrs Powers long-time,good family friends. (Photo by Sandra Thurlow, ca 2007.)

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Document to cap Florida Artesian Wells, 1957

STATE OF FLORIDA
STATE BOARD OF CONSERVATION Ernest Mitts, Director

FLORIDA GEOLOGICAL SURVEY Robert O. Vernon, Director

INFORMATION CIRCULAR NO. 21

FINAL REPORT
ON AN INVENTORY OF
FLOWING ARTESIAN WELLS IN FLORIDA

LEADING TO THE ENFORCEMENT OF SECTIONS 373. 021-373. 061 FLORIDA STATUTES
1957

Mr. Ernest Mitts, Director

Florida State Board of Conservation

Tallahassee, Florida Dear Mr. Mitts:

I respectfully transmit the final report on an inventory leading to the enforcement of Sections 373.021-373.061, Florida Statutes, 1957, prepared by Charles W. Hendry, Jr.

and James A. Lavender of the Water Investigations, Florida Geological Survey.

This report published as Information Circular No. 21, together with the interim report published in 1957 as Infor- mation Circular No. 10, Florida Geological Survey, illus-

trates as completely as possible the situation that now exists among the freely flowing wells of the State.

Submitted,

Robert O. Vernon, Director

An abandoned 8-inch well flowing in excess of 800 gallons per minute. This well is located in section 32, T. 7 S., R. 30 E., St. Johns County,

Florida.

iv

CHAPTER 28253, 1953 LAWS OF FLORIDA SENATE BILL NO. 57, 1953

AN ACT to protect and control the Artesian Waters of the State; providing duties of certain State and county officers in regard thereto; and providing a penalty for the viola- tion of this Act.

Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:

Section 1. Everyperson, stockcompany, association or corporation, county or municipality, owning or controlling the real estate upon which is located a flowing artesian well in this state, shall, within ninety (90) days after the passage of this act, provide each such well with a valve capable of controlling the discharge from such well, and shall keep such valve so adjusted that only such supply of water shall be avail- able as is necessary for ordinary use by the owner, tenant, occupant or person in control of said land for personal use and in conducting his business.

Section 2. The owner, tenant, occupant or person in control of an artesian well who shall allow the same to flow continuously without a valve, or mechanical device for check- ing or controlling the flow, or shallpermit the water to flow unnecessarily, or shall pump a well unnecessarily, or shall permit the water from such well to go to waste, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to the penalties provided by law.

Section 3. For the purposes of this act, an artesian well is defined as anartifical hole in the ground fromwhich water supplies may be obtained and which penetrates any water

bearing rock, the water in which is raised to the surface by natural flow, or which rises to an elevation above the top of the water bearing bed. Artesian wells are defined further to include all holes, drilledas a source of water, that penetrate any water bearing beds that are a part of the artesian water system of Florida, as determined by representatives of the Florida Geological Survey.

Section 4. Waste is defined for the purposes of this act to be the causing, suffering, or permitting any water flowing

v

from, or being pumped from an artesian well to run into any river, creek, or other natural watercourse or channel, or into anybay or pond (unless used thereafter for the beneficial purposes of irrigation of land, mining or other industrial purposes of domestic use), or into any street, road or high- way, or upon the land of any person, or upon the public lands of the United States, or of the State of Florida, unless it be used thereon for the beneficial purposes of the irrigation

thereof, industrial purposes, domestic use, or the propaga- tion of fish. The use of any water flowing from an artesian well for the irrigation of land shall be restrictedto a minimum by the use of proper structural devices in the irrigation

system.

Section 5. The state geologist, assistant geologists, or any authorized representative of the Florida Geological Sur- vey, the sheriff or any deputy sheriff, shall have access to all wells in the state with the consent of the owner.

Should any well be not provided with a valve as required in section one (1) of this act, or should any well be allowed to flow in violation of section two (2) of this act, then and in such event, the state geologist, assistant geologists, or any authorized representative of the Florida Geological Survey, or the sheriff or any deputy sheriff shall, upon being informed of such fact, give notice to the owner to correct such defect, and if the same be not corrected within ten (10) days there- after, shall have authority to install the necessary valve or cap upon such well and control the flow therefrom in accord with the provisions of section one (1) and two (2) of this act. The cost of such installation of such valve and the control of the flow from such wells if made by such officials shall be at the expense of the owner, and for the payment thereof, the agency or party incurring the expense shall have a lien upon the lands upon which such well is located.
duly recorded in the public records in counties wherein such lands are located and may be enforced by foreclosure in the circuit courts of the circuit wherein such lands are located. In such foreclosure proceedings,
reasonable attorney’s fee to the plaintiff for the preparation and recording of such lien and the legal proceedings incident to the foreclosure of same. Such liens shall be assignable.
Full document “LEADING TO THE ENFORCEMENT OF SECTIONS 373. 021-373. 061 FLORIDA STATUTES”
1957: http://aquaticcommons.org/1538/1/UF00001081.pdf

Artestin well program SJRWMD: (http://www.ircgov.com/Departments/IRCCDD/SWCD/AgForumPres/SJRWMD.pdf)

What is an artesian well? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artesian_aquifer)
Hamilton Disston: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamilton_Disston)

“One Nation Under Mosquitos,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Mosquito County was formed from St Johns County in 1824; this was the era of the Indian Wars. Florida became a state in 1845. (Florida Works Progress Administration, courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Mosquito County was formed from St Johns County in 1824; this was the era of the Indian Wars. Florida became a state in 1845. (Florida Works Progress Administration, courtesy of historian, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Mosquito County early map.
Mosquito County ca. 1827. All maps here and below are from University of South Florida’s map website.
Mosquito County early map
Mosquito County early map. USF.
Mosquito County early map
Mosquito County early map. USF.

Since the Lost Summer of 2013 and the super bloom of 2011-2013, the counties from the south and to the north along the Indian River Lagoon have been “coming together.” The more unified we are, the better we can protect, improve, and negotiate with our legislature  for our waters.  The revamped National Estuary Program of the Indian River Lagoon, under the leadership of Martin County Commissioner Ed Fielding, is proof of this and a great hope for a better future. (http://itsyourlagoon.com)

Of course the irony of it all is that the counties along the Indian River were once “one,” under the flag of “Mosquito County…”

Misquito--Mosquito---Musquito----
–Mosquito—Musquito—-

Such a fitting name….Too bad they exterminated the name for tourism. I like it.

I remember mosquitoes well. As I have written about before, one of our great joys as kids growing up in Stuart in the 1960s and 70s was riding our bikes behind the mosquito spray truck as it drove by just about every evening…. 🙂

Mosquito truck Hillsborough County archives.
Mosquito truck Hillsborough County archives.

Mosquito County was formed in 1824 and compromised most of east Florida including Volusia, Brevard, Indian River, St Lucie, Martin,  Seminole, Osceola, Orange, Lake, and  Polk counties.

Apparently from 1500 until 1844 the east coast of Florida was known as “Los Musquitos…”

I think it is important to remember we all have been connected for a long, long, time and that we are still connected today through our waterways, the St Lucie, the Indian River Lagoon,  and really also the St Johns– if its headwaters had not been directed south through C-25…We must also recall that although during rainy times the native peoples and pioneers documented traveling through the St Johns into the Indian River —our waterways were never naturally connected to Lake Okeechobee…

Full counties evolution map
Full counties evolution map, florida Works Progress Administration, courtesy Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

______________________________________________________

 

USF Maps: (http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/maps/pages/4100/f4176/f4176.htm)

Mosquito County history: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito_County,_Florida)

Canals in Stuart, C-23, C-24, C-25 built in the 50s and 60s. C-44 connected to Lake Okeechobee constructed in the 1920s.
Canal C-25 at the top of this image is where the headwaters of the St John’s River– originally west of Vero and Sebastian– were redirected to go south through C-25 into the IRL and connecting canals that exit into the North Fork of the St Lucie River.

Are We Really Living in the Everglades? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Everglades Drainage District Map of 1947Township 40 Range 39is within the District. That was just a section away from the Gomez Grant where the Ashley Gang  lived. Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian.
“Everglades Drainage District Map, 1947, by Alfred Jackson and Kathyrn Hannah’s book “Lake Okeechobee” from the “Rivers of America” series. Note Township 40 Range 39 is within the District. That was just a section away from the Gomez Grant where the Ashley Gang lived”—-Sandra Henderson Thurlow, historian.
here is a map 1920 -- Source: Leslie's New World Atlas (New York, NY: Leslie-Judge Company, 1920) in Univ. of South Florida collection ---- which shows that there was more swamp land. alice Luckhardt, historian.
“1920s map — Source: Leslie’s New World Atlas (New York, NY: Leslie-Judge Company, 1920) in Univ. of South Florida collection —- which shows that there was more swamp land than census notes…” Alice Luckhardt, historian.
Historic map from 1948 book "Lake Okeechobee" written in 1948 by Alfred Jackson and Kathryn Hanna as part of the Rivers of America Series.
Historic map, ca. late 1800s, unknown source. Courtesy of Sandra H. Thurlow, historian.

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!

US Government 1940s aerials show little ponds all over Martin County. (UF)
US Government 1940s aerials show little ponds all over Martin County. (UF)

*Thank you to historians Alice Luckhardt and Sandra Thurlow and Todd Thurlow for sharing their cool old maps!

Todd Thurlow’s flying history video showing the connection of the C-44 canal from Lake Okeechobee to the South Fork of the St Lucie River, ca. 1923: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

SFWMD The Everglades: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20protecting%20and%20restoring/americas%20everglades)

6-8-15 blog post that inspired maps shared today, C-44 original connection to South Fork- an amazing visual journey, Todd Thulow: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/06/08/journey-back-in-time-to-see-the-creation-of-c-44-the-greatest-negative-impact-to-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

6-9-15 blog post, Manatee Pocket route for C-44:(http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/06/09/the-most-logical-route-for-the-c-44-canal-port-salerno-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

How to read township and range in old plat maps: (http://www.jsu.edu/dept/geography/mhill/phygeogone/trprac.html)

Insight For Change, Development and Agriculture, North Fork, Ten Mile Creek, SLR/IRL

Contrasting images: Port St Lucie area along North Fork of St Lucie River, 1958 US Government aerials and Google Earth today. Courtesy Todd Thurlow.
Contrasting images: Port St Lucie area along North Fork of St Lucie River, 1958 US Government aerials and Google Earth today. Courtesy Todd Thurlow.

Link to video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1E8o2TExGs&feature=em-upload_owner)

 

It is an amazing thing to fly through time and space, and this is exactly what I did yesterday with my brother, Todd. He took me on a “flight” over a 1958/Today St Lucie River, North Fork, and Ten Mile Creek. All the while, the images flashing in and out of past and present….Please watch this short video yourself by clicking the link or image above.

At one point along our armchair journey, I said to myself, “Wow, I don’t feel so great,” –just like sometimes when I am with Ed, my husband, in the airplane. I actually got motion sickness having plastered my face right up to the screen to see every moving detail!

A few deep breathing exercises put the feeling off, but next time I’ll take my Dramamine!

Google Earth image at the northern reaches of what was Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County. Algae in agriculture canals is very visible.
Google Earth image at the northern reaches of what was Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County. Algae in agriculture canals is very visible.

This flight, as the others you may have experienced on my blog with Todd, is amazing. It allows one to really see what the lands were originally like and how they have been developed as residential homes and endless agriculture fields.

Towards the end of the video, you can even see algae growing in the agriculture canals, off of Ten Mile Creek, St Lucie County–“bright green,” for all to see on Google Earth. I have witnessed these green canals too from an airplane.

Due to drainage canals— leading to drainage canals—leading to drainage canals, this water from the ag fields, and from all of our yards, ends up in the now sickly St Lucie River. This problem is exacerbated by ACOE/SFWMD releases from Lake Okeechobee and the basin area of C-44 in Southern Martin County. These canals and the expanded engineered runoff from the lands is what is killing our river.

It is my hope that with visuals like the video above, future generations will find a way, and want to be a part of a new water and land management generation “seeing” how to improve St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Our generation seems stuck in a quagmire….

Like they say: “seeing is believing,” and seeing provides insight for change. 

*Thank you to my brother Todd, for this incredible journey using overlays of aerial photographs taken in 1958 by the United States Government, and marrying these aerials over images from today’s Google Earth. (http://thurlowpa.com)

 

Northern reaches of North Fork of St Lucie River, Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County, 1958.
Northern reaches of the North Fork of St Lucie River, Ten Mile Creek in St Lucie County, 1958. Wetlands showing multiple small ponds are visible. These lands were drained in the 1950s by canals C-24, and further south C-23 and further north by C-25. These canals were part of the USACOE  and SFWMD’s effort for more flood control and to expand agriculture and development: These canals are part of the Central and South Florida Flood Control Project of the 1950s which allowed more non flooding development and agriculture, but also destroyed our valuable south Florida waterways.

DEP: C-24 as part of the Central and Southern Flood Control Project 1950s:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)

*The yellow lines are today’s roads for reference; 91 is the Florida Turnpike built in the 50s and 60s.

 

 

The “Pig” of the Indian River Lagoon, SLR/IRL

 

Photo of sow along IRL, by John Whiticar, 2015.
Photo of happy, prancing, sow along IRL, by John Whiticar, 2015.
John Whiticar, sow looking forward, IRL 2015.
John Whiticar, sow looking forward, IRL 2015.
A beautiful photo of the sow enjoying the sunrise along the IRL. John Whiticar, 2015.
A beautiful photo of the sow enjoying the sunrise along the IRL. John Whiticar, 2015.

I have a soft spot for pigs, or any animal related to a “pig.” Pigs, you may remember, sat upright at the table in George Orwell’s classic novel ANIMAL FARM; they became like humans…

For me, pigs are part of my family history as my grandfather Henderson won a scholarship to the University of Florida for his famous 1926 pig “Charlotte.” This launched a very successful career for him as an agriculture man at the University of Florida.  My grandfather’s brother, my uncle, became a wealthy “pig-farmer” in Madison, Florida. I loved visiting there as a kid! The most fun ever! When my family arrived, Uncle Gordy would run out into the fields almost before saying “hello,” and bring back piglets for my brother, sister and I. They were adorable coming in all different colors and patterns. Their small noses scrunching, we were allowed to hold them, and later return the piglets to an irritated, snorting mother. At the time, I didn’t think much about their fate of “becoming bacon….”

My grandfather, Russell Henderson Sr. who became famous as a young man in the state of Florida for his breeding of the best pigs. He received a scholarship for his work and has a long career at UF in soil science and headed IFAS.
My grandfather, Russell Henderson Sr. at 17, in 1926, Madison, Florida. My grandfather became “famous” as a young man in the state of Florida for his breeding of the best pigs. He received a scholarship for his work and had a long career at UF in soil science and worked for the IFAS Extension Office in Gainesville.

As I got older, I realized that often pigs get a “bad wrap”as they are “dirty.” Again, just like humans….They are also very smart, just like humans too. I read somewhere that they are smarter than dogs. Maybe that’s why George Orwell chose them to take over Manor Farm.

Anyway, I have been wanting to write a post on pigs, or wild boars, (males) or sows, (females) since I recently saw marina owner and photographer John Whiticar’s photos of a wild sow he photographed along the Indian River Lagoon.

What great shots and thank you John for allowing me to share! I have seen sows with their piglets on Savanna Road in Jensen at night foraging.  I have also seen wild pigs more recently at Billy’s Swamp Safari in Big Cypress. Here a baby pig got separated from its mother and fellow piglets and it followed the mother’s scent very far zig-zagging perhaps a quart mile to find her. And he did! We followed and all clapped when the family was reunited.

“Wild pigs” were brought to Florida by the Spanish in the 1500s, and today they wreak destruction on the environment, just like humans. We have so much in common! It’s amazing! Seriously though, for me, they are one of God’s creatures, and should be treated humanely as all animals. Popular since the early days of Florida, they appear on many of my mother and father’s historic postcards below.

It you see a sow or a boar, know that you are staring Florida history right in the face, and that some might say that we are even “related.” Also remember, like George Orwell’s satire states, unfortunately: ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS…. 🙂

Historic post card, courtesy of Thurlow Collection.
Historic post card, courtesy of Thurlow Collection.
Postcard back 1914.
Postcard back 1914.
Another historic post card with a wild pig or sow. (Thurlow Collection)
Another historic post card with a wild pig. (Thurlow Collection)
Back of postcard reads 1912.
Back of postcard reads 1912.
Historic post card, Thurlow Collection.
Historic post card, wild boar, Thurlow Collection.

____________________________________________

University of Florida. Hogs in Florida, Ecology and Management: (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw322I)

Animal Farm, a novel by George Orwell, 1946: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Farm)

The Magic of a Kid’s First Fish, “Lines in the Lagoon” Youth Fishing Tournament, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

My "first fish", a puffer, Indian River Lagoon. (Family album, 1968.)
My “first fish,” a puffer, Indian River Lagoon. (Family album, 1968.)

Some things never change, like the wonder of a kid catching his or her “first fish.”

I still remember mine.  A puffer fish! It was 1968, and my parents took me fishing along the Indian River Lagoon…

Fishing is a powerful  experience for a young person. There is no better way to teach youth how to appreciate and protect the St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon than by “taking a kid  fishing.”  It is well documented that hunters and fishermen/women are some of our county’s most outspoken and powerful conservationists.

In keeping with this Treasure Coast fishing legacy, on October 18th, 2014, something really remarkable is happening.  Kids in our area have organized a fishing tournament for kids! The event is called “Lines in the Lagoon.” (http://www.linesinthelagoon.com/#!about/mainPage)

This fishing tournament is meant to turn kids on to fishing; raise awareness regarding the pollution problems of the Indian River Lagoon; and raise money for two great organization that help the river: ORCA (http://www.teamorca.org/cfiles/home.cfmand the Everglades Foundation, (http://www.evergladesfoundation.org).

Vero Beach freshman high school student, Quinn Hiaasen and his friends organized the event. Quinn is obviously on his way to “stardom” himself, but it must be mentioned that his father is none other than satirist and writer Carl Hiassen, (http://www.carlhiaasen.com/bio.shtml), a well-known proponent of our rivers and Everglades. Quinn’s mother, Fenia, has also been working for the event and assisting her son for months– “spreading the word” and communicating  with River Kidz momz  here in Martin and St Lucie Counties. Martin, St Lucie, and Indian River counties are one, as the lagoon knows no county lines or political districts; it is a Tri-county tournament.

Early on, Mrs Hiaasen let us know that pre-fishing/fishing tournament events included:

September 6th: LAGOON CLEAN UP DAY
October 27th: INDIAN RIVER SCIENCE FAIR DAY
October 1st: CHIPOTLE IN STORE PROMOTIONS 3-7pm 50% DONATION TO ORCA AND EVERGLADES FOUNDATION
October 18th: FISHING TOURNAMENT AND AWARDS BANQUET AT THE BACKUS MUSEUM IN FT PIERCE

From what I am told by River Kidz mom, Nicole Mader, the group is also working on displaying  a “responsible fishing tent” to teach children care with fishing line and hooks, as careless discarding of such is a serious threat to wildlife and of course the tournament is primarily “catch and release.”

"Lines in the Lagoon" fishing tournament, Oct 18, 2014.
“Lines in the Lagoon” fishing tournament, information, Oct 18, 2014.

Isn’t this a great thing?

So sign up…

Support the kids; support conservation; and support the Hiaasen family!

And remember, by taking a kid fishing, you are creating future advocates for our Indian River Lagoon.

______________________________________________

Sign up here/ “Lines in the Lagoon” web site: (http://www.linesinthelagoon.com/#!about/mainPage)

Planet Vero Radio show with Quinn Hiaasen and his friends who organized Lines in the Lagoon:(https://rcpt.hightail.com/2610147407/e64dac6d43eaba05f8070e639940c2e7?cid=tx-02002207350200000000&s=19104)  (In time, this link will expire.)

TC Palm article on event: (http://www.tcpalm.com/franchise/indian-river-lagoon/registration-now-open-for-hiaasen-youth-fishing-tournament-on-the-indian-river-lagoon

 

Harbor Branch’s “Our Global Estuary,” World Stage, for the Indian River Lagoon

Intricate islands of central Indian River Lagoon near Vero. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch/Ed Lippisch, 2013.)
Intricate islands of the central Indian River Lagoon estuary near Vero. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch/Ed Lippisch, 2013.)

Recently, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, located in St Lucie County, (http://www.fau.edu/hboi/) released their “Our Global Estuary,” U.S. National Workshop, Draft Report.

The new program founded in 2013, is incredibly interesting. Harbor Branch, right here in “our own back yard,” has taken a world leadership role in one of the planet’s most important issues, one we all know quite well, the anthropogenic pressures that threaten the ecological benefits of estuaries. Harbor Branch is opening scientific dialogue on these pressures and the evolving technology that may help “save” them, by scientists sharing their experiences on such issues, scientists from all over the world. (http://ourglobalestuary.com)

Dr Megan Davis, Interim Director of Harbor Branch, co-chairing with Dr Antonio Baptista and Dr Margaret Leinen, along with other local and world scientists are leading this project.

It is noted in their publication that “comparing and contrasting estuaries and management  approaches worldwide is essential to capturing and a gaining from lessons learned locally.”

The report also notes and I quote that “estuaries are vital to the planet and their extraordinary productivity that supports life in and around them…Nearly 90% of the Earth’s land surface is connected to the ocean by rivers, with much of the water that drains from lands passing through wetlands and estuaries…cleaning species like mangroves and oysters are being limited by stressors caused by humans, such as water withdrawals, hydropower operation, navigation, and the release of fertilizers, contaminants, and municipal wastes. These pressures are increasing and threatening the balance of the systems.”

As one reads on, the report discusses that population growth and land-use choices not only near the estuaries but also many miles upstream can have a significant effects on estuaries. It is noted that “as farm production methods have evolved to increase yields, more nutrients have made  their way to the water causing algae overgrowth to the point of suppressing seagrass. These pressures can cause disease and death in fish, marine mammals, birds, and other animals.” Land development also impacts estuaries with its runoff and diversion or redirection of water.

The largest estuaries in the world are listed in the report are not in the United States. 1.  Ganges, Indian, Bangladesh, Nepal; 2 .Yangtze (Chang Jiang), China; 3. Indus, Indian, China, Pakistan; 4. Nile, Northeastern Africa; 5. Huang He (Yellow River), China; 6. Huai He, China; 7. Niger, West Africa; 8. Hai, China; 9. Krishna, Indian; and 10. Danube, Central and Eastern Europe.

Personally, I had only heard of half of those places and it made me think about the millions of people living around estuaries all over the world and how much I really don’t know. How small we are comparatively…

Although of course the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is not one of the largest river basins in the world, we were listed under “Estuaries are  Receiving More Attention” along with Chesapeake Bay. The section notes water quality is compromised in part by excess nutrients and inland freshwater discharges and diversion of water that historically flowed south through the Florida Everglades. It notes seagrass die offs, manatee, pelican and dolphin mortality, septic, agriculture and lawn fertilizer issues…

About half way down the paragraph under Indian River Lagoon, it says: “Public outcry and accompanying media attention achieved critical mass in 2013, helping convince several municipalities to enact more  restrictive fertilizer ordinances and the state legislature to appropriate over 200 million in support for observation and systems remediation for the Lagoon and Everglades.”

Wow.

Once again, like the Dr Seuss children’s book, Horton Hears a Who, where the residents of Whoville together shout WE’RE HERE, WE’RE HERE, finally to be heard, the Treasure Coast is noted for its  efforts, this time in a document that will be shared around the world!

Thank you to Harbor Branch for its continued leadership and efforts in ocean and estuary research and thank you to the people of the Treasure Coast  or “Whoville” who have been heard and continue to help save the Indian River Lagoon.

 

Finding Out How Much Discharge is Killing Our SLR/Indian River Lagoon and Where it’s Coming From

C-44, C-23 and C-24 basin runoff discolor the waters of the SLR/IRL while exiting the St Lucie Inlet 7-19-14. (Aerial photo, Ed Lippisch.)
C-44, C-23 and C-24 basin runoff discolors the waters of the SLR/IRL while exiting the St Lucie Inlet 7-19-14. (Aerial photo, Ed Lippisch.)
All Photos were taken 7-19-14 and are showing C-44 basin runoff along with C-23 and C-24 runoff into SLR/IRL. (Photos by Ed Lippisch.)
All Photos were taken 7-19-14 and are showing C-44 basin runoff along with C-23 and C-24 runoff off. Pictured are Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point  along the SLR/IRL. Water exits at the St Lucie Inlet going mostly south to Jupiter Island over nearshore reefs. The plume is significant but not as large as the summer of 2013 when the ACOE was releasing from Lake Okeechobee as well. (Photos by Ed Lippisch.)

The river looks awful right now as the photographs taken Saturday, 7-19-14, by my husband show. Why? They are not even discharging from Lake Okeechobee…yet.

We have terrible problems with our local canals and adding the Lake discharges on top of it is a crime. The state, federal and local governments are working slowly to improve the situation through CERP (Central Everglades Restoration Project) projects but improvement is very expensive and cumbersome.(http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/projects/proj_07_irl_south.aspx)

IMG_5593IMG_5597IMG_5604IMG_5610IMG_5631IMG_5649

The C-44 Storm Water Treatment Area/Reservoir the governments are working on now will cost millions of dollars and store only some of the discharges from the C-44 we are getting today. But there must be more. We must learn more. We must keep pushing and helping our governments move along.

The best way to do this is to know how to read the information on water discharges yourself.

Last summer, when the discharges from Lake Okeechobee threw our already ailing river into toxic status, Boyd Gunsalus, one of the the leading scientists (and certainly coolest) at the South Florida Water Management District, showed me how to find the water discharge statistics, and  today, in case you do not know, and are interested, I am going to show you.

FIRST THE LAKE AND C-44 BASIN

This link (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm) of the ACOE at Lake O. will show you the level of the lake, and whether the ACOE is releasing from the C-44 canal, and or Lake O.

Go to the site above and on the right hand side you will see, St Lucie Lock, S-80 Spillway. Click on it. A chart will come up arranged by dates. (The data is always one day behind.) Look for FLOWS CFS (cubic foot per second) in the 3rd column. Today’s is 260 cfs. : 20JUL14  14.46  0.58  260 0. 00  270  0.0 7 30.07  1018. 2 0.00

Now go back to the same link and look at, Port Mayaca Lock, S-308 Spillway. Click on it. Again look for 3rd column, FLOWS CFS.. Today reads “0.” The gates from the lake to C-44 are not open. 20JUL14  13.55  14.40  0 0.00  270 0.0  9 30.04  1017.3  0.33  0.00

Now if both S-80 and S-308 are open you have to add the numbers together to know how much total cfs are coming into the SLR/IRL. And to figure out how much water is coming in just from the lake, subtract the S-308 number from the S-80 number which will always be larger.

To learn how high Lake O. is go back to the link, go to the chart and hit CURRENT LAKE OKEECHOBEE LEVEL. Today it is 13.66 feet. “Current Lake level is: 13.66 (ft-ngvd)”

OTHER CANALS

OK, now for C-23, C-24 and C-25.

Now, go to this link, the SFWMD’s web site: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page) 1. Look for the tab “Managing and Protecting Water;” look under and to the left of this tab for a small title reading “Scietists and Engineers,” click on this and go to LIVE DATA. 3. Go to the top link “Water Conditions-Regional Realtime Data, Status of Water/ Control Gates.” 4. Go to FT PIERCE and click right on the Ft Pierce link. A confusing chart will come up.

Look for these things:

1. S-49. S-49 is the opening for C-24.

2. S-97. S-97 is the opening/gate for C-23

3. S-99. S-99 is the gate for C-25.

Mind you C-23 and C-24 run into the St Lucie River’s north fork and main area and C-25 dumps directly in the IRL at Taylor Creek close to the Ft Pierce Inlet. So C-25 is not coming through the SLR and St Lucie Inlet like the rest of the sludge but it is important to know C-25 too as it is heavily destructive to the IRL.

OK, if you have been able to follow me so far. Once you open the SFWMD pages and get to FT PIERCE and see the weird chart, find the corresponding gate numbers I gave you above, and click on the the second row’s PLOT little box and arrow. Once this opens up, you will see a chart corresponding to discharges that looks like a wave or like boxes. The hight of the box or wave corresponds to a number on the left side of the chart. For instance: Today, S-49 (or C-24) is 450 cfs; S-97 (or C-23 ) is around 350cfs; and S-99 (or C-25) is around 100 cfs.

(I know there are a duplicate gates sometimes but I ignore them and  just read  one. They seem to say the same thing.)

Now to add up the cfs for “today:”  C-23=350; C-24=450; C-44 at S-80 =260; S-308 from lake, 0. Today’s total incoming discharge water is around 1060 cfs cubic feet per second coming into the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon.

Last week it was twice or three times this much. The discharges occur after it rains, long after and then finally slow down like they are now.

I do hope this has been helpful and that your head is not spinning or that you can save the links and instructions and try it when you have time. Call me if you have questions and want to learn, 772 486 3818.

It is important for the public to keep up with this and let the ACOE and SFWMD know we are watching what they are doing, so one day I don’t have to choke when I see the tab “Managing and “PROTECTING” water.

photo

The National Academy’s “Clean Coastal Waters” and the Irony of “More Studies” for the Indian River Lagoon

 

Toxic Algae bloom washes up  along the shoreline, St Lucie River, Riverside Drive, Stuart, Florida. (Photo Jenny Flaugh, 7-13)
Toxic Algae bloom washes up along the shoreline. St Lucie River, Riverside Drive, Stuart, Florida. (Photo Jenny Flaugh, summer 2013.)

RECENT HEADLINE: “FUNDING FOR  82 Million in NEW RESEARCH/CAUSES/CONTROL OF ALGAE BLOOMS IN US AND IRL– SPONSORED BY U.S. SENATOR BILL NELSON D-FL”

As much as I am thankful for the politicians and policy makers who have recently gotten monies allotted to fight the “toxic algae in Florida’s waterways,” I am slightly miffed. From what I understand, and have learned over the past years,  much of the research to understand these problems has already been accomplished, particularly by the National Research Council.

In 2008, when I was just beginning to really plow in and try to understand why the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon issues were happening and basically at the time being ignored publicly and politically, I was recommended to read “Clean Coastal Water, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution,” published by the National Research Council in 2000.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a non-profit organization in the United States. Members serve pro bono as “advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine”. Election to the National Academy is one of the highest honors in U.S. science. The academy was signed into law under the presidency of Abraham Lincoln in 1863. These public documents are available to all and these agencies give presentations to the US House and Senate and have done such on “algae blooms in coastal waters.”

The National Academy of Sciences is part of the National Academies, which also includes:the National Academy of Engineering (NAE); the Institute of Medicine (IOM); and the National Research Council (NRC).

It is an honor to be a member or to do research for a member and nearly 200 members have won nobel prizes. These scientists and their affilliatoins are the “best of the best.”

Locally, Dr Brian LaPoint working in St Lucie County, helped with the publication. He is from Harbor Branch/FAU. Also  Dr Margaret Leinen, the Executive Director of Harbor Branch at the time, now of Scripps Oceanography in California, was invited to speak before Congress on the subject.

Toxic algae, photo by Mary Radabaugh of St Lucie Marina, July 2013.)
Toxic algae, photo by Mary Radabaugh of St Lucie Marina, summer months of 2013.)

So, in 2000, the National Research Council’s book Clean Coastal Waters, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution, was published and it is very clear in its studies, and recommendations. I will quote from the executive summary:

“What common thread ties together such seemingly diverse coastal problems as red tides, fish kills, some marine mammal deaths,  outbreaks of shellfish poisonings, loss of seagrass habitats, coral reef destruction, and the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone? Over the past 20 years, scientists, coastal managers, and public decision makers have come to recognize that coastal ecosystems suffer a number of environmental problems that can, at times, be attributed to the introduction of excess nutrients from upstream watersheds…the driving force is the accumulation of nitrogen and phosphorus in fresh water on its way to the sea. For instance, runoff form agricultural land, animal feeding operations, and urban areas, plus discharge from water water treatment plants and atmospheric deposition of compound releases during fossil fuel combustion all add nutrients to fresh water before it reaches the sea.”

On page 34 the writers note:

” Inorganic fertilizer accounts for more than half of the human alteration of the nitrogen  cycle. Approximately half of the inorganic nitrogen fertilizer ever used on the planet has been  used in the last 15 years… The increased use of commercial fertilizer over the last 50 years has contributed to dramatic increases in per acre crop yields. But it has also brought problems, (e.g., adverse changes in soil properties and offsite environmental problems caused by runoff.)

Later in the book nutrient pollution is recognized as an enormous, complex and difficult issue but the NAS’s advice is to implement policies in a coordinated effort, locally, state and nationally to control nutrient pollution at its sources. Guidance for this is provided in chapter 9 “Source Reduction and Control.”

For me as a  Sewall’s Point commissioner, our commission fought and passed a strong  fertilizer ordinance in 2010, and since that time many others have as well along the Indian River Lagoon.  This is just a start and local governments will have to do more in the future.

NAS states nutrient pollution problems come from “agricultural land, animal feeding operations, and urban areas plus discharge from water water treatment plants and atmospheric deposition of compound releases during fossil fuel combustion all add nutrients to fresh water before it reaches the sea.” We along the coast in cities, etc..qualify as the “urban areas.” And locally that is all we have the jurisdiction to control. The rest, particularly  agriculture issues of “best management practices” and more, has to come from the state and federal governments. 

So back to Senator Bill Nelson, who I admire very much, and who grew up in the Melbourne area along the IRL, spearheaded a recent bill by the US Senate that will “fund research into the causes and control of large algae blooms.” This is terrific, but guess what? “We” basically already know the causes.

Let’s get some nerve politicians, and use this money to help and demand those who are not making fast enough efforts to lower their output of nitrogen and phosphorus. Let’s break the wall of not being allowed to implements restrictive laws on the agriculture industry that is protected by the “”right to farm act;” and let’s assist them in the funding they need to make these changes and find other ways to grow crops or different crops to grow…

Lets continue dealing, moving and helping dairies and animal operations close to waterbodies; let’s implement even stricter laws  on water treatment plants like the one along the Banana River in the Coca Beach area, in the northern central lagoon, where all the Unusual Mortality Events (UME) occurred last year of manatee, dolphin, and pelican deaths, and the majority of the 60% seagrass loss in the IRL since 2009 has occurred.

Atmospheric compounds? Perhaps require /inspire higher emission standards for cars in our Treasure Coast and continue the fight for clean air on a National/Global level through are Congressional representatives. Learn to “make money” for people from this problem rather than limiting people.  No easy task…

“Invasion of government,” you may say. “Yes it is.” And I don’t like it either, but at this point in order to to save the SLR/IRL, is their any other way?

If  we need the local data, then lets get it, but I do believe we already know where to start and I do believe we already know what to do.

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National Academies Press: (http://nap.edu)

National Academies of Science: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_National_Academy_of_Sciences)

Sunshine State News: (http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/bill-nelson-and-bill-posey-team-pass-bill-fighting-algae-outbreaks) 

 

Fresh Water Pollution, a Destructive Force in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Fresh water releases from local canals C-23, C-24 C-44 and polluted fresh water from Lake Okeechobee cover near shore reefs off of Stuart and Jupiter Island, 2013. (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Fresh water releases from basin runoff through local canals C-23, C-24, and C-44 as well as  polluted fresh water from releases from Lake Okeechobee through C-44, cover near shore reefs off of Stuart and Jupiter Island. (Photo MC archives,  2011.)

The concept that fresh water is a “pollutant” is sometimes confusing as we typically associate pollution with heavy metals, nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from fertilizer, and muck accumulation, on the bottom of the river, from sediments running off of lands, through canals. Believe it or not, too much fresh water is just as polluting and has dire consequences for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

This is historically ironic as well, as when the Ais Indians lived in this area,  the St Lucie River was a large fresh water “stream.” Throughout history, most of the time, the “St Lucie,” was not connected to the ocean. The natural inlet at what was later called “Gilbert’s Bar” by the Spanish was  sometimes open, sometimes not, but never for too long, and the inlet opening was much smaller and shallower than today’s St Lucie Inlet.

Yes, we are going back,  before we go forward, but history is important to know!

The “St Lucie Inlet” was permanently opened by hand using shovels, in 1892, by local pioneers who wanted access to the ocean for trade and communication. They had no idea that by doing this they would create “the most bio-diverse estuary in North America.”

As the salt water came in and mixed with the fresh water of the St Lucie and the “fresher than today’s water” of the Indian River Lagoon, one ecosystem, a freshwater ecosystem was destroyed by the salt, and another was born.

Over time, more fish and critters entered the St Lucie/ Southern Indian River Lagoon than at any other time in known history. The forks of the St Lucie, north and especially north, remained more “fresh” as the salt water usually did not go up that high into those areas. Perfect! Salt and fresh water fishing! It was a unique situation and as mentioned in the day before yesterday’s blog, presidents and other famous people swarmed to the St Lucie for its amazing fishing during this era, and all enjoyed.

Then things changed. In the late 1920s and early 30s, due to flooding  of agricultural lands and bad hurricanes killing people living and working in the southern area surrounding the lake, the Army Corp built the C-44 canal from Lake Okeechobee to the south fork of the St Lucie River.  Then in the 50s and 60s they built canals C-23 and C-24 as part of the Central and South Florida Flood System, another “flood protection project.”  Although all of these drainage programs helped agriculture, especially the sugar industry south of the lake, and citrus, in mostly St Lucie and parts of Okeechobee counties, as well as greedy developers, it did not help the St Lucie River. In fact, these drainage canals have been slowly killing the St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon ever since.

How?

Through many things, but believe it or not, mostly through fresh water.

Once the estuary (St Lucie/IRL) became brackish, a mixture of fresh and salt water, this delicate balance was important to the fish, mammals and others critters that made the river/lagoon their home in this new found paradise.

Briefly, I will summarize some of the killer effects of fresh water on its residents:

1. Fish: When there is too much fresh water the fish get lesions. This is from a fungus that only can live and operate in a fresh environment. The name of the fungus is Aphanomyces invadans and its spores get into fish skin when temperatures are low and water is fresh causing horrible lesions. More lesions have been reported over time in the St Lucie River that any other site in Florida according to the FDEP report at the end of this blog. The worst outbreak was in 1998 after the ACOE had been releasing fresh water from Lake Okeechobee in the winter months due to heavy rains. Thousands of fisherman were reporting fish with lesions; it is well accepted in the literature of our state agencies that this outbreak was connected to the gigantic releases of fresh water from Lake O.

Striped mullet with lesions. St Lucie River, 1998. (Photo, DEP State of Florida.)
Striped mullet with lesions. St Lucie River, 1998. (Photo, DEP State of Florida.)

2. Bottle nosed dolphins: Dr Gregory Bossert formerly, of Harbor Branch, has done extensive research into lobo-mycosis, an awful skin disease, in dolphins of the SLR/IRL. The highest number of dolphins with lobo in the entire 156 mile Indian River Lagoon system from Jupiter to New Smyrna Beach, are in the Stuart to Sebastian area. Dr Bossert’s 2009-20014 “Application for a Scientific Research Permit” to NOAA states on page 59:

“Water quality in the central and southern segments of the lagoon, is influenced by infusion of water from flood control drainage canals, e.g., in particular, run-off form agricultural watersheds and fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee. (Sime, 2005.) Discharges from these sources introduce higher amounts of nutrients, metals, pesticides and suspended solids into the system (Woodward-Clyde, 1994). Analysis of spatial distribution of presumptive cases showed that the highs rates occurred in the IRL  segments 3 and 4 confirming our earlier observations.” (Mazzoil, 2003/Rief, 2006).”

(Sections 3 and 4 are the “south central” and “south” IRL/SLR-from-south of Sebastian Inlet, to Stuart’s St Lucie Inlet. IRL dolphins are “site specific” staying usually in a 30 mile range. The St Lucie River is considered part of the southern IRL.)

S. Indian River Lagoon Dolphin with lobo mycosis. (Photo Dr Gregory Bossert.)
S. Indian River Lagoon Dolphin with lobo mycosis. (Photo Dr Gregory Bossert.)

3. Seagrasses: Seagrasses are the basis of health for the entire SRL/IRL. Seagrasses that live in an “estuary” need sunlight and brackish (part salt/part fresh) water to survive. among other problems, the fresh water releases cause turbidity in the water so the grasses can’t get light and they die. Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic states that during the Lake Okeechobee and canal releases from 2013, that lasted five months, up to 85 percent of the seagrasses died around the St Lucie Inlet. All nursery fishes are affected by this and of course it goes right up the food chain. Manatees, an endangered species, that live exclusively off of seagrasses, are very affected and reduced to eating drift algae that in some cases kills them. Dolphins are swimming around saying: “Where are the fish?!”

Unhealthy looking seagrasses coated in algae as seen 6-14 near Sewall's Point at low tide. (Aerial photo, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)
Unhealthy looking seagrasses coated in algae as seen 6-14 near St Lucie Inlet at low tide. (Aerial photo, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)

4. Near shore reefs: The reef system in our area is the northern most of a tropical reef system that goes all the way south to the Keys. It cannot survive with fresh water dumping sediment on its delicate system and altering the salinity of the St Lucie Inlet. Insaine. These reefs are supposedly “protected.”

Freshwater pollution and near shore reef, St Lucie Inlet. (Photo JTL, 2013)
Freshwater pollution and near shore reef, St Lucie Inlet. (MC archives, 2011.)

I could go on and on, but I will stop here. I’m sure you get the point. Salinity is a delicate and important part of a healthy estuary. Generally short lived fresh water releases during heavy rains by our local canals are bad enough, but long term dumping of Lake Okeechobee releases on top of that, is certain death. It must stop. Send the water south.

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FDEP, SLR Impairment/fish lesions: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf )

WETLANDS Volume 25, SFWMD, Estuary in Distress: (SRL/IRL:http://www.evergladesplan.org/pm/recover/recover_docs/cems/cem_st_lucie_irl.pdf)

The Once Florida Black Wolf of the Indian River Lagoon

The black wolf once roamed the shores and surrounding lands of the Indian River Lagoon, becoming extinct in 1883. (Photo public files.)
The Florida wolf or black wolf once roamed the shores and surrounding lands of the Indian River Lagoon and the state of Florida, becoming extinct in 1908. (A photo of a modern, larger, Ontario black wolf,  public files.)

A wolf of the Indian River Lagoon? You’re kidding?

Not too long ago, before 1908, a black wolf known as the “Florida black wolf” was part of the ecosystem of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. One of the best local accounts of this black wolf, can still be found in an historical document  written by a member of the Seminole War party, of Col. Benjamin Pierce, for whom Ft Pierce is named.

Col. Pierce was fighting the Indians in the 1837 Seminole War. According to the Sebastian River Area Historical Society, Col. Pierce and his troops sailed down the Indian River Lagoon on December 31st “in boats filled with baggage, men, and provisions.” Surgeon Mott, of his party, wrote of the journey:

“Nothing occurred to disturb the quiet of the night, except the wolves in the neighboring forest responding with howls as they threatened one another…”

Paining by I.Wesp of Benjamin Pierce and troops sailing down the IRL- (Tales of Sebastian, 1990.)
Paining by I. Wesp of Benjamin Pierce and Seminole War troops sailing down the IRL, 1837. (Tales of Sebastian, 1990.)

This “black wolf subspecies” became extinct in 1908, mostly due to hunting as homesteaders pushed the wolf out of its habitat. It is documented that there was also a more reddish colored “red wolf” that coexisted with the black wolf simultaneously and it went extinct a bit later, in 1921.

These black wolves and red wolves were a related subspecies of the more well known American grey wolf (Canis lupus) and related to today’s Gregory’s Wolf  or Red Wolf that has been recently been reintroduced in North Carolina.

Gregory's Wolf or Red Wolf has been reintroducing into North Carolina and surrounding areas.
Gregory’s Wolf or Red Wolf has been reintroducing into North Carolina and surrounding areas. (Photo public)

For many years, there were intellectual arguments in the scientific community about whether the the black and red Florida wolves were true “wolves” or more closely genetically related to the coyote. Although after years of heated discussion, it was first determined that the black and red wolves were a type of coyote, this was contested and overturned by the  International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature in 1957.

Yes, although they had adapted and taken on a smaller frame than their grey wolf relatives, Florida’s  black and red canines were “wolves.” 

Scientific drawing, 1800s, Florida Black Wolf. I don't quite get the buffalo in the background! But you get the idea!:) (Wikipedia)
Scientific drawing, 1800s, Florida Black Wolf. (Wikipedia)

Hmmm?

The state of Florida still has bears and panthers. Wouldn’t it be amazing  if we still had wolves!

There may always be that element of fear with wolves but there must also be respect, as the wolf is second only to humans in adapting to a changing planet, and of course the extinct black wolf, and the modern grey wolf, are closely related to our very best friends, domesticated dogs.

Just incredible!  The once wild and beautiful creatures of the Indian River Lagoon…..

_______________________________________________________

Florida Black Wolf: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Black_Wolf)

US Fish and Wildlife Commission/Grey Wolf: (http://www.fws.gov/midwest/wolf/aboutwolves/biologue.htm

Wolf facts: (http://www.defenders.org/gray-wolf/basic-facts)

Breathtaking/Historical Indian River Drive Along the Indian River Lagoon

Antique post card of Indian River Drive. (Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, ca. 1940s)
Antique post card of Indian River Drive. (Courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, ca 1940s.)
Writing on back of post card sent to Jensen Beach from Germany as a V.E. Day souvenir.
Writing on back of post card sent to Jensen Beach from Germany as a V.E. Day souvenir.
Indian River Drive today. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)
Indian River Drive today. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)

For six years I have driven north to Ft Pierce from the Town of Sewall’s Point, along Indian River Drive, to attend my meeting as a representative for the Treasure Coast Council of Local Governments.

I love this time. I love this road. It is a meditation, a prayer for me.

I know lots of stories that I heard throughout my childhood and they all seem to come alive as I drive through the cathedral of sabal palms, old plantations, and ancient live oaks;  my car creeps up the rising ridge rolling at the 25 mile an hour speed limit; I gaze over the lagoon itself, sometimes quiet, sometimes moody, but always beautiful. Ospreys keep their high perch or fly in circles over my head, egrets and herons stand along  the shallow shoreline; I pass ancient Indian mounds, and when I wave, the the warriors hold up their right arms in strength and friendship; I see old pioneers like Captain Richards, and Bahamian workers sweating buckets, as they labor to grow pineapples in the heat of the 1800s; I see their graveyards …Every once in a while, I have to stop day dreaming and let a family of sandhill cranes cross the road. Sometimes I think I see a pirate out of the corner of my eye…

The road is an old one, first an Indian trail on the pushed up Atlantic Ridge along the west side of the lagoon; later to become a river road for Florida’s early pioneers as they traveled along its “river highway,” trading supplies and establishing post offices.  After being a military/wagon trail it evolved with the modernization of the post World War II era, and the event of the automobile, into a “modern drive,” and its large parcels were sold off and eventually the “Indian River Freeholder Association” formed in St Lucie County, for its protection and order. (http://rickinbham.tripod.com/TownOfSIRD/SIRD_History_2.html)

Indian River Drive covers more than our shores going more or less the entire 156 mile length of the Indian River Lagoon from Stuart to St Augustine covering  five counties; thankfully it has been designated as a “Scenic Highway” in many areas. (http://www.floridascenichighways.com/indian-river-lagoon-national-scenic-byway/)

It is my favorite drive along our Treasure Coast.

If you have not driven it lately, on a beautiful morning please take a ride,  and if your imagination gets the best of you, don’t be afraid to wave!

IRD

 

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Visit Florida: “Treasure Coast Scenic Highway” Indian River Drive  (http://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/listings/002/a0t40000007qu8nAAA.html)

The City of Port St Lucie, a city along a dying “Aquatic Preserve” of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Aerial of what was to become the City of Port St Lucie, 1957. (Photo Ruhnke/Thurlow collection, courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)
Aerial of what was to become the City of Port St Lucie along the North Fork of the St Lucie River, 1957. (Photo Ruhnke/Thurlow collection, courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

Wow, look at this!  A 1957 aerial photograph of the beautiful North Fork of the St Lucie River and its surrounding virgin lands that would incorporate as the City of Port St Lucie in 1961.

This Aia Indian and Seminole wilderness became spotted with many ranch lands but there was foresight for “protections” for some areas as it was beloved by hunters and fisherman and “just people” that wanted to protect its resources. It was full of wildlife on land and in its waters, which had been considered the best mostly “fresh water” fishing in the area for decades.

Preserve sign in the the area of Pruitt's Fish Camp, near today's Club Med.
Preserve sign in the the area of Pruitt’s Fish Camp, near today’s Club Med, ca. 1960s. (Photos courtesy of  Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

In 1972 local, federal and state agencies led by the Florida Department of Natural Resources cooperated to declare the North Fork of the St Lucie River an “Aquatic Preserve.” And in 1984 the Department of Natural Resource, which merged into today’s Department of Environmental Protection, created a management plan for the area. The plan states:

“The preserve is one of the last remaining freshwater/estuarine wilderness areas in this region of Florida. The major objectives of the aquatic preserve management program are to manage the preserve to ensure maintenance of essentially natural conditions, and to restore and enhance those conditions which are not in a natural condition. Management will also be directed to ensure public recreational opportunities while assuring the continued propagation of fish and wildlife.” (http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CZIC-qh90-75-f6-g57-1984/html/CZIC-qh90-75-f6-g57-1984.htm)

I don’t know why really, but this plan was not implemented and unfortunately the area of the North Fork’s headwater’s at Five and Ten Mile Creek were contaminated by agricultural pesticides in 1995 in a formal document by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/tenmile_creek.pdf) In 2002 the St Lucie River including parts and beyond the “aquatic preserve” was designated an “impaired water body” by the same agency  in 2002. (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf)

All the while the city of Port St Lucie grew and grew…

Growth of City of City along Port St Lucie
Growth of PSL along North Fork of  St Lucie River, 1969 to 2000, from the book, Port St Lucie at 50, A City for all People, by Nina Baranski. photo

According to the US census there were 330 residents in 1970 and 88,769 in 2000. In 2012 there were over 250,000 residents. 

Over the years, the city and agencies did not pay attention to  how developers and people developed their homes along the river, and many were developed go right up the the shoreline of the Aquatic Preserve as this photo by the FDEP shows. This is how fertilizers and pesticieds run right into the water. Not smart.  (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/northfork/description/surroundings.htm)

NF_grass1

 

The State of Florida projects that the City of Port St Lucie is to have have 400,000 residents by 2025. Presently with over 250,000 residents, they are the state of Florida’s ninth largest city.

As odd as it sounds, this population may be a key to turning things around for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Our Treasure Coast area never had enough votes to get much attention until recently and some of the St Lucie city and county commissioners are some of the most vocal in the the Save the Indian River Lagoon movement.

Why the state and federal and local agencies allowed the degradation of lands they spent an enormous amount of time protecting is pathetic. As usual there is only one hope for change, the people pushing government to save what’s left and find ways to let the estuary recover, may be the only answer to saving the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

 

Coyotes of the Indian River Lagoon

Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals on the planet and have made their way to the Indian River Lagoon. (Photos, public, Florida coyotes.)
Coyotes are one of the most adaptable animals on the planet and have made their way to the Indian River Lagoon. (Public photo, ” Florida coyotes.”)

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.

Photo of coyote in south Sewall's Point on River Road. (Courtesy of Sewall's Point Police Department.)
Photo of coyote in south Sewall’s Point on River Road. (Courtesy of Sewall’s Point Police Department, 2014.)

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.

Grey fox. Both grey and red foxes are much smaller than coyotes. (Public photo.)
Grey fox. Both grey and red foxes are much smaller than coyotes. (Public photo.)

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.

Coyote/Dog tracks
Coyote/Dog tracks

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.

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Florida Coyotes: (http://www.floridiannature.com/Coyote.htm)

Florid Wildlife Commission:(http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/mammals/land/coyote/)

History, Eradication of Wolves/Rise in Coyote Population:(http://www.wolfweb.com/history2.html)

Coyote/Native American Mythology:(http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/coyote.html)

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I added this photo from Dr Gary Goforth 8-13-15 that was taken this February in Foxwood off 96 A in Martin County.

Shared by Dr Gary Goforth in Foxwood, Martin County.
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA G. Goforth
 MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA by Dr Goforth.
MOULTRIE DIGITAL GAME CAMERA G.Goforth

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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)
 

 

“Port St Lucie” Originally Planned for “Martin County” Along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Port St Lucie
An ad for the town of “Port St Lucie,” by Sewall’s Point Land Company that ran around 1913. It reads: ” Sewall’s Point Land Company is developing the new town of PORT ST LUCIE  in the northeasterly corner of Palm Beach County at the junction of the St Lucie and Indian rivers, directly opposite the St Lucie Inlet.” At the time, this area was Palm Beach County, today it is Martin. (Ad courtesy of Tom Thurlow)

I have often wondered why Port St Lucie is inland. Where’s the port?  Well apparently the name “Port St Lucie,” had been around before the City of Port St Lucie was incorporated in 1961, as originally Port St Lucie was going to be a town that would have been in today’s Martin, not St Lucie County.

The above ad ran around 1913 and was part of Henry Sewall and Hugh Willoughby’s  Sewall’s Point Company’s original development campaign to develop Port Sewall and Golden Gate as the “Great Port of Stuart.” At the time, this area was Palm Beach County but became Martin County in 1925.

Under the ad’s photo it reads: “Looking across one of the Lakes toward the St Luice River and the Inlet.” I imagine the lake was either North or West Lake, still located in today’s Willoughby Creek area. The ad also states that the location of Port St Lucie will be “directly opposite the St Lucie Inlet.” Viewing  a copy of the 1911 Port Sewall promotional map below, one can see exactly where that is located, Old St Lucie Boulevard, Stuart.

port sewall

The advertisement in the long winded style of the day continues:

“The lands west of the railway is laid out in tracts for FARMS and GARDENS. East of the railway are the business lots and large residence lot for the PORT OF ST LUCIE and the WATERFRONT is divied into lots of about two acres each for FINE RESIDENCES and WINTER HOMES. Ten acres are reserved for a PARK and five acres for a large TOURIST HOTEL on the water front. Situated at the junction of the St Lucie and Indian Rivers and St Lucie Inlet with a climate tempered by the soft breezes from the GULF STREAM and every month in the year a GROWING MONTH and FRUITS, FISH, FLOWERS and VEGETABLES in abundance….TENNIS, FISHING, MOTOR BOAT, SAILING RACES, CRUISING INLAND WATERS.

The kicker phrase: PROFIT AND PLEASURE combined in an IDEAL LOCATION…

Well, the land bust and the Great Depression came to Florida in the mid 1920s so the “Town of Port St Lucie” and its great port were never built, but let’s fast forward to 1961 a bit north in St Lucie County, and the “City of Port St Lucie” surely did!

Believe it or not, today Port St Lucie is the 9th largest city in the state of Florida. With their high population they are a bigger political player than Martin County and I am thankful for their commission’s support of strict fertilizer ordinances and pro river issues in this year’s legislative session. Port St Lucie is a key player today and in the the future for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. The county has also been very supportive!

Back to our history lesson…

Before the 1950s, Port St Lucie was mostly ranch and fishing camp lands as this photo from Bud Adams for the publication Port St Lucie at 50, A City for All People, by Nina Baranski shows.

PSL ranches

The story goes that in the 1950s the wilderness favored by hunters and anglers was discovered by Mike Cowles  whose company published Look Magazine and also had ties to the Ft Pierce Tribune. Cowles was “taken by the beauty of the St Lucie River and the land along its banks” buying eighty-five hundred acres south of Ft Pierce. In 1953 through his “St Lucie River Land Company,” he filed the River Park plat, and began to develop and promote it. (Port St Lucie at 50, A City for All People, Chapter 2.)

Cowles eventually traded  his land holdings for stock in, newcomer to the game, General Development Corporation, (GDC), becoming chairman in 1959. After acquiring more ranch tracks, GDC made plans to incorporate into a city and with “hardly any residents” did so with full support of the legislature in 1961.  And as we know, the rest is history…..

It’s interesting to note that the history of Martin and St Lucie Counties has always been intertwined, and that whether 1913, 1961, or today,  it is the beauty and attraction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon that on a core level connects us all. Our future long-term  job, together, is to save it.

Southern PSL 1957

This photo is not great quality but allows one to see  how undeveloped St Lucie County was…This photo is courtesy of Sandra Henderson Thurlow, and is on the inside cover of “Port St Lucie at  50.” It is a rare aerial of the southern portion of St Lucie County taken in 1957 before its incorporation and development.

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The book Port St Lucie 50 Years, A City for All People, by Nina Baranski, can be purchased at the Historical Society of St Lucie County (http://www.stluciehistoricalsociety.org)