Tag Archives: St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Twilight Flight Over the St Lucie River, SLR/IRL

Last night’s twilight flight was a first for me, but not for my husband Ed. Usually, we fly in daylight chasing algae blooms or black Lake Okeechobee water…

Last night was just for fun, but one still feels the pull to protect this sacred place.

The beauty of the lands lighting up beneath us was almost as inspiring as the sunset. Humanity, such promise.

We do live in a beautiful place. A place to protect and call home…

Aerials of Our Rain Stained Lagoon, SLR/IRL

Recently, it seems to rain almost every day!

TCPalm’s Elliott Jones reported this morning that Stuart has received a whopping 11.30 inches of rain just so far this month! (The average being 7.14.)

Although due to the recent drought, the ACOE/SFWMD are not dumping Lake Okeechobee through Canal C-44, canals C-23, C-24, C-25, and areas along C-44, as well as our own basin, are draining right into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Very little of this water is cleansed before it enters and thus is damaging to the eco system. Next time you see water draining through a grate in a parking lot, think about this. Remember too that before the major canals were constructed the 1900s, the river received less than half the water it gets every time it rains today.

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SLR at “Hell’s Gate” looking at Sewall’s Point, Sailfish Point and the St Luice Inlet
photo drainage basin
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.)

The aerials below were taken 6-13-17 by my husband Ed Lippisch and pilot Dave Stone. It is important to monitor the river all of the time so we can view changes.

“Rain stained” we are; please remember not to fertilize during the rainy season. The birds on Bird Island will appreciate it! (http://befloridian.org)

Canals

TC Palm, Elliott Jones, 6-19-17
Bird Island, IRL east of Sewall’s Point
Bird Island
IRL St Lucie Inlet and Sailfish Point
Sailfish Flats, IRL
Crossroads, confluence SLR/IRL off Sewall’s Point
Spoil Island off Sailfish, bird also roosting here!
Sick looking seagrass beds in IRL looking south towards Jupiter Narrows
SL Inlet near Sailfish Point, no black plume but darker colored waters
Jupiter Island’s state park at St Lucie Inlet
Sailfish Point
St Lucie Inlet looking south
inlet again
Clear ocean water at jetty, St Lucie Inlet
Looking back to St Lucie Inlet mixed colored waters but not black as with Lake O water releases
St Lucie Inlet between Jupiter Island’s state park and Sailfish Point
inlet again
Looking north to SL Inlet
Jetty
Hutchinson Island and Sailfish Flats in IRL. Sewall’s Point in distance.
Parts of the Savannas near Jensen , IRL and Hutchinson Island in distance
Savannas State Preserve Park

Canals draining water into SLR/IRL after rain events:

C-23 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c23.pdf

C-24 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf

C-25 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c-25.pdf

C-44 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf

Road Trip to the Glades, Canal Point, SLR/IRL

My “Road Trip to the Glades” series is meant to be an experience of exploration. Exploration into a world many of us from the Coast have not seen. It is my hope that through learning about the Glades communities we can forge insights and hopefully friendships that assist us in our journey for a solution to Lake O’s discharges, Senate President Elect Joe Negron’s land purchase proposal for 2017, and a restored Everglades including a healthy St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

At this point, as river advocates, we must make clear that we wish to attain these things, not at the expense of the communities of Lake Okeechobee. The best way to begin this conversation is to educate and visit there ourselves, because yes, #GladesLivesMatter.

We begin first our journey driving west from Stuart on Kanner Highway, named for Judge A.O. Kanner. “A.O.” had an accomplished legal and legislative career, and in 1925 was chosen to move to Martin County by longtime friend and colleague, Governor Martin, to get newly founded Martin County “off to a good start.” A note of interest is that “Abram” and his wife Mary were one of Martin County’s few Jewish families.  At the time,  Jews were not allowed to buy in certain subdivisions. But thankfully Kanner was embraced by the Martin County community, and became one of its most respected citizens. He lived in Stuart until his death in 1967. As a legislator, Kanner fought for roads. State Road 76, was the result of his effort to get good roads to the Glades. It is on his legacy that we will drive forward.

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FullSizeRender 2.jpgDriving west about twenty miles outside of Stuart, we pass Indiantown. We see train tracks, agricultural fields, and wonderful open natural lands such as DuPuis Wildlife Area. All the while the C-44 canal is to our right. An eagle flies overhead. The blue and white clouded sky seems bigger here.

Just a few miles before reaching the Lake we see the looming Port Mayaca Cemetery. In this cemetery are buried in a mass grave 1600 of the 3000 dead from the horrific 1928 Hurricane. A stark reminder of the past, the power of Mother Nature, and how we live dangerously so in a drained swamp. There are graves of others not associated with the hurricane too. Old families. People whose blood and sweat laid the ground for South Florida’s development.  Many of the family plots go back to the 1800s. IMG_6492.JPGIMG_6496.JPG

Getting back into the car and back on Kanner Highway, we drive past sod farms and sugarcane fields. King Ranch has a sign with their brand atop. After about 10 minutes, slowly and with caution we approach Port Mayaca. It is impossible to see Lake Okeechobee herself as a gigantic berm and structure surround her. We do see the ACOE’s S-308, the structure that allows water to enter the C-44 from Lake Okeechobee that eventually flows and destroys the St Lucie River. Strangely, we notice an “advisory” blue-green algae sign prominently displayed while at least four people are fishing in the canal. IMG_6432.JPGIMG_6437.JPGPulling onto the once famous toll road of Connors Highway and going south, we see the berm of Lake Okeechobee. We leave Martin and enter Palm Beach County. Large trucks fill the road. It is nerve-wracking but exciting. Some beautiful old homes stand amoungst thickets of royal palms and tropical vegetation. Roses and honey are for sale if one has the nerve to pull over. IMG_6440.JPG

After about twelve miles we reach Canal Point. Canal Point is not incorporated, but part of Palm Beach County. At this location is S-352 built in 1917, today’s SFWMD’s structure allowing water into the West Palm Beach Canal, Water Conservation Area 1, as well as being used for irrigation.

We take a sharp turn into the Canal Point Recreation Area praying not to get rear ended. Here we can drive on top of the dike and take a look at Lake Okeechobee and across the street. Fishermen fish near the structure. An alligator waits nearby. It’s nice to see some wildlife.

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A beautiful Baptist church stands among tidy homes. A U.S.Department of Agriculture Research Service Sugarcane Station also sits along the Connor Highway that hugs the lake not too far from S-352.

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Sugarcane fields
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Connors Hwy. allowed the Glades to develp
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Homes with dike in background

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Canal Point has about 525 people and the town is very small located between Lake Okeechobee and sugarcane fields.  From what we can see there is also a post office, one elementary school, and a store. Larger, Pahokee is just a few miles away.

This little town has a rich and important history. In the coming days we will learn about Canal Point’s mark on the Northern Everglades of which we are part.

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Judge A.O. Kanner: http://historicpalmbeach.blog.palmbeachpost.com/1999/12/19/most-respected-judge-of-the-treasure-coast-ao-kanner-nov-2-1893-april-13-1967/

Dupuis Wildlife and Management Area: http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/cooperative/dupuis

Canal Point: http://canalpointfl.com

USDA Sugarcane Field Station Canal Point: https://www.ars.usda.gov/southeast-area/canal-point-fl/sugarcane-field-station/

“Death by a Thousand Cuts,” Time to Stop the Bleeding, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

SLR/IRL St Lucie Inlet 207-16 by Ed Lippisch.
SLR/IRL St Lucie Inlet 2-7-16 by Ed Lippisch.
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44’s S-80  is the canal most southerly in the image.
SFWMD 1955-2015 discharges at S-80.
SFWMD 1955-2015 history of discharges at S-80.

The idiomatic expression “death by a thousand cuts” has been used by many people in many situations…but the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is the expression’s poster child…

Idiom: Death of a thousand cuts
Idiom Definitions for ‘Death of a thousand cuts’

“If something is suffering the death of a thousand cuts, or death by a thousand cuts, lots of  bad things are happening, none of which are fatal in themselves, but which add up to a slow and painful demise.”

The St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has been dying, has been “being killed” by our local, state, and federal governments since before I was born. Since the 1940s when the 1915 “slice” between Lake Okeechobee and the South Fork of the St Lucie River was deepened, widened and made permanent by the ACOE as requested by a state protecting agriculture and development interests.

Does this make it “right?” —That it has been happening for so long? Does this mean we should have nothing to say about  the present very high level discharges killing our estuary? Absolutely not.

As in most instances righting cultural wrongs takes time. It takes many years of pain and realization. And then it takes people rising up for change.—- It takes bravery, determination, and exposure.

For instance, it wasn’t until the first TV stations in the 1960s showed black Americans displaying non-violence in the face of attack dogs and beatings; it wasn’t until a few brave women spoke out publicly and were arrested as displayed in the first newspapers of the day that these hundred year old issues began to change.

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For Florida, we are that new issue. Our river is that “new issue.” Without  the advent of social media and Go Pros allowing a pilot, like my husband Ed, to attach a camera to his plane and share formerly unseen  images with the world, the cuts of Lake Okeechobee and area canal discharges at S-80 would happen again and again and again. But since 2013 images have been shared, social media has ripped through the hearts of people who want something different. Not just here but on the west coast and all across our state. The River Warriors, the Rivers Coalition and thousands of others have stood up. We are primed to do this again but even more effectively. Film it. Share it. Expose it.

The SFWMD chart below, found by my brother Todd, shows the Lake Okeechobee and C-44 area canal releases from Structure-80 displayed from 1955-2015. Dr Gary Goforth has shown us in a blog I wrote in 2013 that in the 1920s the release levels were even higher. We can see the  destructive releases have happened many times at horrific levels. They are going down. Now they must stop.

These red lines are the historic destruction that is driving our actions today. Each line a new cut causing a weaker estuary. ——-We are the chosen generation to change this. We are the chosen generation to save the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Yesterday, after the vocal encouragement of the River Warriors and others our Martin County Commission unanimously voted to send a resolution to Governor Scott asking for  a “State of Emergency.”

In my opinion, this means that not some, but every commissioner must support the purchase of land south of Lake Okeechobee.  Because the propaganda of “finishing the projects” as the answer— just isn’t going to cut it.

River Warriors protesting before the MCBOCC 7-9-16. Photo JTL.
River Warriors protesting before the MCBOCC 7-9-16. Photo JTL.
SFWMD 1955-2015 discharges at S-80.
SFWMD 1955-2015 discharges at S-80.
With SFWMD info on bottom
With SFWMD info on bottom of slide.
Plume, Ed Lippisch 2016
Plume, Ed Lippisch 2-7-16.
SL Inlet
SL Inlet, 2-7-16, Ed Lippisch.
Plume, Sailfish Flats discharges, photo Ed Lippisch 2016.
Plume, Sailfish Flats discharges, photo 2-7-16 Ed Lippisch 2016.

Glimpses of Cuba Two Generations Apart, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Ed and I at a bus stop for tourists east of Havana.
Ed and I at a bus stop for tourists east of Havana.
A new bridge. Wild royal palms were scattered across the hilly horizon.
A new bridge at the tourist stop. Wild royal palms were scattered across the hilly horizon. The ocean to the east…

It has been awhile since I have blogged; a lot has happened. I think I’ll start with Cuba.

One of the stories my father relays to me with great relish is his 1954 Stuart High School senior trip to Havana, Cuba. Can you imagine that? A senior trip to Cuba? My dad grew up on Riverside Drive in Stuart, Florida, in the 1950s, on the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

With a broad smile and sparkling eyes, he tells of magnificent buildings, music, art, restaurants, and night clubs around Port of Havana, and having “lots of fun.” “In fact one of the students had so much fun, he was sent back to Stuart!” My dad laughs out loud, with thoughts of the “good old days.”

My father’s Stuart High School class traveled with chaperones before Fidel Castro’s 1958 rise to power over Batista and later the embargo and tumultuous history that the world has watched unfold for over a half century.

My husband, Ed and I, traveled for a very different reason during a very different time. Two weeks ago we left on a journey with the Episcopal Diocese of South East Florida and we were classified by the government as”pilgrims.”

Stuart High School senior trip 1954. My father, Tom Thurlow, is standing in the back row far right.
Stuart High School senior trip 1954. My father, Tom Thurlow, is standing in the back row one from far right.

Our journey was led by Bishop Leo Frade of Miami and his wife.

The trip took about fifty people, including other priests, to Havana, Cardenas, Lemonar, Bolondron, Metanzas and back again to Havana. We visited churches that were rebuilding since the communist government allowed them in the 1990s to once again worship. They have few resources but great spirit.

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Group in Old Havana square.
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It was a great education for me. If I had to describe the experience in one sentence I would say: “Government is corrupt, not its people.”

To see the smiles and hear the appreciation of those we met along the way, to think about all they have endured, to realize more than ever before how much I take for granted.

I have visited  poor countries before. I lived and taught in Berlin, Germany in 1990 just after the Berlin Wall came down and East Germany was emerging from the brace of communism…I think what was so different for me about Cuba, is that it is so close to home and I know some people who lost everything.  Also, the flight took less than an hour. Cuba’s climate is much like Florida; it is geologically considered part of North America.

Although most of the buildings were falling apart, it is a beautiful, beautiful country…So here are some photos. May the next generation of Thurlows see something better, but may the smiles and the warm spirits of the Cuban people stay the same.

With our guide.
With our guide.
Church in Limonar
…Limonar’s church.
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…..There was no roof.
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….The priests.
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…School kids in uniform. Cuba is highly literate.
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…Old American cars still running…
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Sugarcane has a long history in Cuba that is very ties to the U.S.
Sugarcane has a long history in Cuba and  is very tied to South Florida in the U.S.
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Havana
Havana.
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…Fixing up old buildings
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Last night dad and I take out his souvenirs from his 1954 senior trip to Cuba.
Last night my Dad and I took out the souvenirs from his 1954 senior trip to Cuba.
School bus from 1954 senior trip.
Photograph my dad saved of the school bus taken from Stuart to Miami in 1954.

Cuba: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba

Flight Over the Shifting Inlets of Hutchinson Island 1515-1900, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Hutchinson Island 1947, via archives of Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
From bottom  to top: Atlantic Ocean, Hutchinson Island, Indian River Lagoon, Sewall’s Point, St Lucie River, Stuart…1947. One notes here Hutchinson Island– so thin… (Fairchild aerial survey ca. 1940s-photo courtesy of Sandra H. Thurlow)
My mother's business card shows a map with the St Lucie Inlet right across from mid S. Sewall's Point. This area is not an inlet today as it was in the 1800s. (Sandra Thurlow)
Look closely–My mother’s business card shows an historic map of the mid 1800s with an Inlet across from Sewall’s Point at today’s A1A and SP Road. This area is not an inlet today as it was in the 1800s. (Sandra H. Thurlow)

Inlets, the shifting sands of time on our barrier islands. Fascinating, and a reminder of the power of Nature and the limited control of human endeavors….

Recently I looked closely at my mother’s business card and asked “Why is the St Lucie Inlet so far north?” Looking closely one can see it once was located midway across from South Sewall’s Point. “It looks like it was there, because at that time, it was,” she replied.

Such is the matter-a-factness of coastal change…

Today, I am going to feature one of my brother Todd’s amazing flight videos incorporating historic maps and today’s Google images to show the changing sands of time, our barrier islands, in a way you may never have seen before. Todd has a talent for this rare communication format and he will be teaching us more before the end of the year!

This is his write up”

This video is a time capsule review of the inlet of Hutchinson island that appeared on maps between 1515 and 1900.  It is a rough draft of a larger project that I wasn’t going to post yet.  I planned to drop the music and break it down into 5 shorter videos which were kind of the chapters of the long one: 1.  1515 to 1871 Freducci, Jeffreys and Romans 2.  St. Lucie Sound 1763 to 1834 – 5 maps 3.  Gilbert’s Bar 1850 to 1861 – 4 survey maps 4.  Hurricanes and The Gap 1871 to 1882 – hurricane tracks and 2 maps 5.  Digging the St. Lucie Inlet 1887 to 1900 – 2 maps   I believe there was an inlet, referred to on the old maps as “The Gap”, that reappeared in the mid 1800s.  It was in the general area of today’s Florida Oceanographic Society and probably opened and closed many times like the other inlets.  Coincidentally the area was struck by back-to-back Cat 2 and Cat 3 hurricanes around that time (sound familiar?).  “The Gap”  will be the topic of another project the I would like to post some day on Jonathan Dickinson because I believe that it could be described in his journal.   I will update this summary later… Todd Thurlow

Don’t lean too far out of the airplane; enjoy!

 

Link to video: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhYQz4P1ELM&feature=youtu.be)
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Todd Thurlow PA: (http://www.thurlowpa.com)

FCIT Changing Coastlines, Florida: (http://fcit.usf.edu/florida/teacher/science/mod2/changing.coastlines.html)

The Intertwined History of Stuart and Belle Glade, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Bridges across the St Lucie River, ca. 1920. (Photo archives Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Bridges across the St Lucie River, ca. 1920. The swing span (metal span) of the auto bridge was moved to Torry Island, Lake Okeechobee in 1938. (Photo archives Sandra Henderson Thurlow)
Location of Torry Island, Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee where the St Lucie Bridge was moved to ca. 1940.
Location of Torry Island, Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee where the St Lucie Bridge was moved to in 1938..

Few people realize that a little piece of Stuart history sits on Torry Island near the City of Belle Glade. Belle Glade of course sits south the man-made southern shore of Lake Okeechobee….I didn’t know about the bridge connection either, until I visited my mother last week.

When I got to her house, she handed me what appeared to be a gold leaf yearbook, but when I looked closer it read: “Florida Trails to Turnpikes 1914-1964, Florida State Road Department.” Page 216 was marked:

“The old original bridge across the St Lucie River had been built by E.P. Maule in 1917 with a twelve-foot-wide roadway swing span across the navigation channel. We moved that swing span of barges down the St Lucie Canal and down Lake Okeechobee to Torry Island. Should you cross from the mainland over the canal onto Torry Island today, you would cross on the old swing span of th abridge that originally went across the St Lucie River.”

“Wow that’s cool mom. Like you always say, we’re all connected.”

“Your father and I visited not too long ago. The Corbin family has been manning the bridge for generations. It’s a fascinating story that you should know about.”

A short history is explained here:

“The story of the bridge’s origins flow smoothly from Corbin… The 1928 hurricane that ravaged the Glades set in motion the chain of events that would bring the bridge to Belle Glade. The storm destroyed the original dike that surrounded the lake. To build the replacement dike, the federal government spooned out a canal, separating Torry Island from Belle Glade, and used the dirt for the dike. The new canal, called the Okeechobee Waterway, needed a bridge. In 1938, state contractors built the Point Chosen Bridge, replacing a pontoon bridge with a swing bridge that was built in 1916 and relocated from the St. Lucie River near Stuart. The bridge consisted of the movable portion and wooden trestles on each end.” Associated Press article, 2009.

The Corbin family has manned the swing span for many generations. Photo of a photo shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.
The Corbin family has manned the swing span for many generations. Photo of a photo shared by Sandra Henderson Thurlow.

“Very interesting. Do you have any pictures of your and dad’s field trip ?”

My mother disappeared and was back within minutes:

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….Torry Island, Belle Glade, Lake Okeechobee.
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…..the bridge at Torry Island
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…plaque
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….Bridge at Torry Island with swing span
I took this of your dad with Lake Okeechobee behind him but it was not taken at Torry Island. The Lake just blended with the sky." Sandra Thurlow
I took this of your dad with Lake Okeechobee behind him but it was not taken at Torry Island. The Lake just blended with the sky.” Sandra Thurlow

“Thanks mom”…..as I read more about it, I learned that the bridge’s name, “Point Chosen Bridge,” was chosen because there used to be town named  “Chosen” located there. Chosen was one of the original towns along the shores of Lake Okeechobee. It was destroyed in the 1928 hurricane. So the bridge swing span from Stuart was chosen to rest at Chosen. Wow. An intertwined history  indeed….

Chosen:(http://www.pbchistoryonline.org/page/chosen)
Ghost Town (http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/fl/chosen.html)

Florida Trails to Turnpikes, 1964.
Florida Trails to Turnpikes, 1964.
Transcription via Sandra Thurlow from Florida Trails and Turnpikes 1964 about the St Lucie swing span being moved to Torry Island.
Transcription via Sandra Thurlow from Florida Trails and Turnpikes 1964 about the St Lucie swing span being moved to Torry Island.
Article, undated via Sandra Thurlow.
Article, undated via Sandra Thurlow.

Associated Press article on the Point Chosen Bridge at Torry Island and the Corbin family who has worked the bridge since 1938 : (http://www.tbo.com/lifestyle/states-oldest-swing-drawbridge-spans-history-72863)

City of Belle Glade (http://www.bellegladegov.com)

Belle Glade: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belle_Glade,_Florida)

Historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow:(http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/08/06/the-contributions-of-the-history-lady-sandra-henderson-thurlow-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

A 10 Year Olds’ Winning “Save Our River” Toilet Seat, Visionary School of the Arts, SLR/IRL

Winning art by 10 year old Aiden Serafica, Save the River toilet seat, Visionary School of the Arts, 2015.
Winning art by 10-year-old Aiden Serafica, “Save the River” toilet seat in acrylics, Visionary School of the Arts, 2015.

Art has always been political. It is by nature. It makes us think. It makes us feel—whether we want to or not. Our reaction to art is ancient and deeply programmed into our innermost being….

Today, I  say “Kudos!” to 10-year-old Aiden Serafica, a student at Lynn Barletta’s “Visionary School of the Arts,” in Stuart. As you probably know, the school is doing a wide range of amazing things with area youth. (http://www.visionaryschoolof-arts.org)

So this past Sunday, I was at Carson’s Tavern having dinner with my husband, Ed,  and friends Anne and Peter Schmidt, when an adorable ten-year old boy walks up to me and says: “My grandmother told me I should show you this…”—he was smiling from ear to ear! He reaches out and shows me a phone, and this is what I saw:

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“Aiden Serafica age 10 is in Miss Robyn’s Thursday class. Aiden was commissioned to paint a toilet seat in a “SAVE OUR RIVER” theme by local business owner Susan of Palm City Farms. Aiden received $100.00 for his beautiful rendition in acrylics. In addition this piece won first place in a contest at Martin County Fairgrounds as part of the best booth of the fairgrounds! Congratulations to Aiden on a completely unique and daring project of creativity. Art is indeed everywhere!”

I was so excited by what I saw and read, and that this young man, Aiden, would share this with me.

“This is wonderful Aiden! Congratulations! Very powerful! So proud of your artwork and expression. Thank you for speaking out on behalf of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon! ” Aiden and I  shook hands. He was beaming; he even winked…

I think the Army Corp, the South Florida Water Management District, the state legislature and the Governor’s office are going to have to have a lot of pressure from future generations to  “get the water right….” —-perhaps they too, if they see Aiden’s toilet art, will come up with some daring and creative ways to speed up fixing our rivers.

Robin Mendez's phone image.
Robin Mendez’s phone image.

You can learn more about Visionary School of the Arts on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Visionary-School-of-Arts-231642403558562/ or on their website:
http://www.visionaryschoolof-arts.org

Recycled Inspiration, The Words of Ernest F. Lyons, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

What a wonderful world. Sunset on the St Lucie River, photo by Jenny Flaugh, 2009.
What a wonderful world! Sunset on the St Lucie River, photo by Jenny Flaugh, 2009.

The words of Ernest F. Lyons, famed fisherman, environmentalist, and veteran editor of the Stuart News, can be used over, and over, and over again…

Lyons grew up in Stuart in the early 1900s and witnesses first hand the destruction of his beloved St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. In the 1940s and 50s, for “flood control” and EAA interests, he watched St Lucie Locks and Dam, C-44, and S-80 be “improved,” by the ACOE and SFWMD—-destroying fishing grounds that will never be replaced…He witnessed canals C-23, C-24 and C-25 be constructed to scar the land and pour poisonous sediment from orange groves and development into the North Fork and central estuary.

But even amongst this destruction, Lyons never stopped seeing the miracle of the world around him. And no where did life continue to be more miraculous than along his beloved river.

This week so far, I have written about things that bring light to the destruction of our rivers, I must not forget that in spite of this destruction, beauty and life still exist….To do our work as advocates for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon we cannot become negative, we must be inspired….one of the best ways to achieve this is to recall the work and words of our forefathers….to “recycle inspiration.”

Although Ernie Lyon’s work was first read on the pages of the Stuart News, my mother historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow, has clipped old pages, been in touch with Ernie’s children, and transcribed many of Lyon’s columns as part of the work of Stuart Heritage. Stuart Heritage helps keeps our rich “river-heritage” alive. After all, our founding name was “Stuart on the St Lucie.”

Recycle symbol.
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Ernest Lyons copy of column, ca 1950.
Ernest Lyons– copy of column, ca 1950.Copied from old Stuart News paper. Sandra H. Thurlow.

“What a Wonderful World”

I get an indescribable “lift” from the habit of appreciating life.

All of us, even the most harried, have moments when we are fleetingly aware of the glory that surrounds us. Like moles that occasionally break throughout their tunnels, we infrequently  catch a glimpse of the natural beauty and awesome majesty outside the corridor within which we have bound ourselves.

And pop back into our holes!

The habit of appreciation—–the cultivation of the sense of awareness—are forgotten roads to enrichment of personal experience. Not money in the bank, or real estate, or houses, or the exercise of power are true riches. By the true tally, the only value is “how much do you enjoy life?”

All around each of us are the wonders of creation—the shining sun, a living star bathing us with the magic mystery of light…we look to the heavens at night and wonder at the glittering  panoply of suns so distant and so strange,  while accepting as commonplace our own.

We live in a world of indescribable wonder. Words cannot tell why beauty is beautiful, our senses must perceive what makes it so.

What we call art, literature, genuine poetry, and  true religion are the products of awareness, seeing and feeling the magic which lies beyond the mole-tunnel view.

One man, in his mole-tunnel, says he is inconsequential, a slave to his job, of dust and to dust going. Another, poking his head our into the light, realizes that he is a miraculous as any engine, with eyes to see, a mind which to think, a spirit whose wings know no limitations.

The mole-man is bound to a commonplace earth and a commonplace life. He lives among God’s wonders without ever seeing them. But those who make a habit of appreciation find wonder in every moment, and every day, by the sense of participation in a miracle.

They see the glory  of the flowers, the shapes and colors of trees and grass, the grace of tigers and serpents, the stories of selfishness or selflessness that are written on the faces men and women. They feel the wind upon their faces and the immeasurable majesty of distances in sky and sea.

And in those things there is the only true value. This a wonderful  world. Take time to see it. You’re cheat yourself unless you appreciate it.—–E.L. 
Ernest F. Lyons: (http://www.flpress.com/node/63)

Stuart Heritage Museum: (http://www.stuartheritagemuseum.com)

Truck Farming in the Everglades, and the “Original Florida Farmer,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Early rendition of the Everglades area including the rivers of the SLR/IRL. (Painting in my parents home, Tom and Sandra Thurlow.)
Early rendition of a portion of the “Everglades” (Painting in my parents home, Tom and Sandra Thurlow.)
Cover of book, 1910 by Walter Waldin.
Cover of book, 1910 by Walter Waldin.
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This past Friday, I attended a Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council meeting and was treated to a wonderful presentation entitled: “A Brief History of Florida Water Management 1800-2000 Ponce to CERP.” The talk was given by Mr Bob Ulevich, president of Polymath Consulting Services, L.L.C. ” (http://polymathconsultingservices.com).  Bob” is a beloved man who has a long history himself  as senior water resources project manager for the South Florida Water Management District. Bob is considered the “father of water farming.”

His presentation left me speechless, once again being reminded of the history of agriculture in the state of Florida and its deep intertwinement with the state’s government and politicians….basically they are one in the same. This is how it is….St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and every inch of the rest of the state. “We” may not like this, but we must accept this…

With rumor that Adam Putnam, the Commissioner of Agriculture, could be our next governor, it is critical to refresh our memory on this historic relationship. Today I will share a book a from my historian mother’s shelf and also post the raw iPhone footage of Bob speaking before the council. It is my belief that we have got to learn to understand this historic relationship along with the power agriculture yields and “work with it,” in our quest for better water quality. They too are “naturalist” at heart….they are. Some of them in our South Floirda region have just “morphed,” and need some help getting back to their roots. 🙂 They hold the key to Florida’s water future.

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Now for the book!

Full book link here thanks to my brother Todd!
(https://books.google.com/books?id=kMVBAAAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=editions:ISBN3955807630#v=onepage&q=editions%3AISBN3955807630&f=false)

The first page of the booklet talks about “getting back to nature” as farming is deeply intertwined with nature. Unfortunately today many of the intense practices of farming destroy nature and our water resources.

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This is an another excerpt from the book:

….the independent countryman’s life must appeal, for he is a free man, master of himself, is conversant with nature in its many moods, enjoys the first fruits of the earth with the gleam still on them, and all its first impulses and pleasures….”

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“No wonder, then, the cry of today is, “Back to the back and nature.”  And back we must and will go, for this threatening catastrophe is too appalling to be passed by unchallenged.”

The catastrophe Mr Waldin is speaking of is that so many people were leaving America’s lands to go to the cities, that the “vitality of our nation was being drained proportionately…” Mr Waldin feared the lands would be empty and all would move to the cities…..It basically has happened, hasn’t it!

Below are the links to Mr Ulevich’s presentation, his presentation does not encompass the little book. I added that. Bob speaks on “A Brief History of Water Management 1800-2000 and although my “Jacqui home videos” are poor quality, you can hear the message. I had to break the videos  up into 15 minutes sections as my You Tube account is not set to post anything over 15 minutes…Bob’s presentation is excellent. For those of you who have time to listen, you will enjoy it very much and learn a ton!  Bob will finish his presentation next month covering approximately from 1910 to today.——– And that’s where we get to hear “the rest of the story….” 🙂

Bob Ulevich:
1. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CabomrwfJ0I)
2. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2worMiHyvx0)
3. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0BIY-arLhE)
4. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8D3vAK1aXbo)
5. (http://youtu.be/acP_ri2vElc)

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Nature....
Nature….is intertwined with farming of the original Everglades….

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TCRPC: (http://www.tcrpc.org)

Foam on the Water, C-24 Canal, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Foam floating on water at C-24 Spillway. (Photo Dr.Dave Carlson, September 9, 2015)
Foam floating on water at C-24 Spillway. (Photo Dr.Dave Carlson, September 9, 2015)

FOAM!

Just a few days ago, friend, and sometimes vet to our dogs, Dr Dave Carlson, sent me some unusual photographs of foam pouring out of the St Lucie River’s C-24 spillway, managed by the South Florida Water Management District.

Dave wrote: “Hi Jacqui, was out this am and shot these on the C24 canal. “Iceburgs” in the canal! Real time follow-up to your blogs on these canals.”

“That’s really weird,” I thought. “Foam everywhere!”

I remember foam building up along the shoreline at Stuart Beach periodically when I was a kid. We would pick it up in our cupped hands and throw it at each other; it was great fun. I never knew what formed it though. Was it pollution? It looked kind of gross….

I wrote Dave. “Where is it; and what is it?” I asked.

He replied: “At the spillway going into the North Fork. Are a result of decayed plant and animal protein according to SFWMD. Tyler Treadway did a piece on this after tropical storm Fay, 2008.”

Hmmm? I thought. Decaying plants and animals?…Bizarre. I looked up the TCPalm article, it had one quote regarding foam:

Foam C-24 photo by Dave Carlson, 9-9-15.
Foam C-24 photo by Dave Carlson, 9-9-15.
Form at C-24 spillway. (Photo Dave Carlson 9-9-15)
Form at C-24 spillway. (Photo Dave Carlson 9-9-15.

“What you’re seeing is denatured protein,” said Boyd E. Gunsalus, lead environmental scientist for the South Florida Water Management District’s office on the Treasure Coast, “which is the result of decaying plants and animals.”

That’s nice, and Boyd is awesome. But what does that mean? What are “denatured proteins” and how do they get “denatured?” So I looked them up too. You have to put on your eighth grade science cap! Basically, I think, a denatured protein is an unfolded protein that can then bond with other things to form something else…..in this case causing foam.

(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denaturation_(biochemistry)

What? But how does that happen?

Now we have to learn, or remember, yet another odd word…. 🙂

In order for the foam to form, and the proteins to “denatureate,” there has to be a “surfactant,” in the water.

Yikes! This sounds like a project for the River Kidz! My science skills are rather rusty! Please share more if you know how this all works!

A surfactant is something that lessens the surface tension on the surface of the water….

According to my reading, the natural surfactant is called DOC (dissolved organic carbon). DOC comes from the decomposition of a wide variety of plant material including algae, decaying animal protein, and aquatic plants…

So to summarize:  the surfactant effect caused by decaying protein bonds and agitation of wind and rain forms foam. This is the basically same phenomenon that happens with detergents and “dirt.” Detergents are also surfactants. There are natural and man-made surfactants. What’s occurring in the SLR is “natural.”

Well that was fun. Leaning about something that looks like pollution in the St Lucie River but isn’t, what a rarity. Nonetheless, I would think all the pollution in the water really helps “stir things up!” Read about it here, these DEP reports are “old” but nothing has changed much so they still apply:

DEP C-24 Eco-summary: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/c24.pdf)

Thank you Dr Dave! Great citizen’s report! Good work for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!


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SFWMD (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

A Passion for Nature: (http://winterwoman.net/2008/12/01/foam-in-the-creeks/)

TCPalm, 2008, Tyler Treadway, (http://www.tcpalm.com/news/no-headline-26tstuff)

Town of Skaneateles, NY:  (http://www.townofskaneateles.com/assets/wave.reviews.pdf)
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Video shared on Facebook 9-24-15 by Trena Merendino. C-23 canal with lots of foam: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHyh9wpXrD0)

“No-ing” Your Canals, South Florida, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

1909 map of South Florida from the 1909 State of Florida report “Report on the Drainage of the Everglades of Florida, By J. O. Wright, Supervising Drainage Engineer." (Courtesy of Dr Gary Goforth.)
1909 map of South Florida from the State of Florida report: “Report on the Drainage of the Everglades of Florida, By J. O. Wright, Supervising Drainage Engineer.” (Courtesy of Dr Gary Goforth.)

Just say “No!” To wasteful canals that is….

There are over 2000 miles of canals draining precious fresh water off South Florida; it’s a good idea to know the main ones. I started thinking about this after going through some old files and finding this awesome 1909 Map Dr Gary Goforth shared with me showing a plan in 1909 to drain the Everglades and Lake Okeechobee WITHOUT killing the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

1909 map of South Florida from the 1909 State of Florida report “Report on the Drainage of the Everglades of Florida, By J. O. Wright, Supervising Drainage Engineer." (Courtesy of Dr Gary Goforth.)
1909 map of South Florida from the 1909 State of Florida report on the Drainage of the Everglades of Florida, By J. O. Wright. (Goforth)

Well as they say: “The rest is history….”  As we know, the C-44, or St Lucie Canal, was later built.

So when I was looking on-line for a good map to show the canals of South Florida today to compare to Gary’s canal map of 1909, believe it or not, I could not find one! One that was well labeled anyway. So I made my own.

It’s pretty “home-school” but its readable. From left to right, below, you will see canals Caloosahatchee, (C-43); Miami, (L-23); New River, (L-18); Hillsboro, (L-15); West Palm Beach, (L-12); L-8 that never got a name as far as I am aware; and St Lucie, (C-44.) I do not know why some are labeled “C” and others are “L,” but you can follow them to see where they dump.

I believe the first two built were the Miami and the New River— by 1911, as I often see those two on historic maps prior to 1920. Today our state canal plumbing system is outdated and wasteful sending on average over 1.7 billion gallons of fresh water to tide (to the ocean) every day. (Mark Perry, Florida Oceanographic.)

Even though I grew up in Stuart, I was never really taught about the canals. As a young adult and even older, I drove around for years not knowing about these canals and others like C-23, C-24, and C-25. If I “saw” them, I did not “recognize” them. I knew the land had been “drained” but really had no conception of what that meant or the extent thereof…

I remember my mom used to say if we were driving around in Ft Pierce in the 80s, “And to think there used to be inches of water covering all this land at certain times of the year….” I just stared at her but didn’t really “get it.” The pine trees flashed by and it seemed “impossible” what she was saying…

In any case, the young people today should be learning in detail about these canals so they can be “updated,” “refreshed,” “reworked,” and “replugged.” Say “no” to old-fashioned canals, and “hello” to a new and better South Florida!

South Florida major canals: L to R. Calloosahatchee, Miami, New River, Hillsboro, West Palm Beach, L-8 and St Lucie. (SFWMD canal map 2013)
South Florida major canals: L to R. Caloosahatchee, Miami, New River, Hillsboro, West Palm Beach, L-8, and St Lucie. (SFWMD canal map 2013)

Below is a history of the South Florida canals as written in an email to me by Dr Gary Goforth. It is very enlightening. Thanks Gary!

Hi Jacqui

As you know, plans to manage the level of Lake Okeechobee (by discharging to tide) in order to develop and protect the agricultural lands south of the lake were developed before 1850 and evolved through the mid-1950s.

1. Buckingham Smith, Esq. in 1848 proposed connecting the Lake with the Loxahatchee River and/or the San Lucia (report to the Sec. of the US Treasury; copy available).

2. In 1905, Gov. Broward rejected a proposal to lower the Lake with a new canal connecting to the St. Lucie River.

3. Attached is a 1909 map of South Florida from the 1909 State of Florida report “Report on the Drainage of the Everglades of Florida, By J. O. Wright, Supervising Drainage Engineer”. The importance of this map and report is the recommendation to manage the water level in Lake Okeechobee via drainage into multiple canals from the Lake to the Atlantic Ocean – but NOT the St. Lucie Canal. The primary canal for moving Lake water to the Atlantic was to be the Hillsboro Canal which would connect the Lake to the Hillsboro River in present day Deerfield Beach / Boca Raton. Note the recommendation is to construct what is now called the “West Palm Beach Canal” and route Lake water into the Loxahatchee River and then out to the ocean via the Jupiter Inlet – this is actually being accomplished as part of CERP and the Loxahatchee River restoration program.

4. In 1913, the State accepted the recommendation of an NY engineer (Isham Randolph) to construct a canal connecting the Lake to the St. Lucie River (report available). The Everglades Drainage District was formed the same year, and was responsible for the construction of the canal and associated locks/water control gates. (historical construction photos available). Construction lasted from May 1915 through 1924, and the first Lake discharges to the St. Lucie occurred June 15, 1923 (ref: Nat Osborn Master’s thesis 2012, copy available)

5. After the 1928 hurricane, the State asked for and received federal assistance. The canal was enlarged by 1938; new St. Lucie Locks was rebuilt in 1941; the new spillway was constructed in 1944. —Dr Gary Goforth (http://garygoforth.net)

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The canal systems of South Florida are managed by the SFWMD:(http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page) and the ACOE: (http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm) Their future will be determined by the people and the Florida Legislature.

Blog Break, June Review 2015, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

River, unlabeled. 2007.
River, unlabeled. 2007.

Sometimes  you just need to take a break! I will be “blog-breaking” to spend time with my husband; I will return 7-15-15.

In review, before I stop blogging, thus far 2015 has not been a particularly rewarding year for river advocates— mostly because of  the state legislature’s tumultuous session, their interpretation of Amendment 1, and their refusal to consider the purchase of the US Sugar’s option lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

To top it off, the  ACOE began releasing from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River very early this year, starting January 16th and continuing  until just recently–the end of May. There may be more coming this rainy season….

The ACOE and the SFWMD decided to “dump” because the lake was “too high” to be safe for the Herbert Hoover’s Dike and its surrounding farms and communities.  This is “understandable,” but at great expense to our SLR/IRL economy and ecosystem.

Ironically, ample water supply is now a concern for “users,” such as agriculture, with Lake Okeechobee down to 12.20 feet and rapidly evaporating….((http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml))You may have heard that Miami is already in a drought…on top of this, the Caloosahatchee needs some lake water right now to keep its salinities from going too high but they are not getting it…

It always seems more likely that South Florida will  have a hurricane, and that Lake O could fill up quickly with 3-4 feet in one week, too much to dump fast,  so the agencies prefer the lake lower during summer’s rainy season… There is that chance though—that it won’t rain, and dry conditions will parch our state as occurred in 2006/2007.

DEP drought: (http://www.protectingourwater.org/transcripts/18/))

Wouldn’t that be something? After all that water being released?  South Florida going into a drought? The farm fields dying? The ecosystem and its animals in danger? And people not having enough water?

It  may seem an odd thought, but it is one that is not the “stuff of science fiction”— that one day,  in the future, after an extended drought or a climatic shift, people could be fighting over the billions of gallons of fresh water that is wasted to the Atlantic Ocean through the C-44 basin, the St Lucie River, and Caloosahatchee during storm events…

We need to prepare for this. We must not give up our advocacy. We must keep more of this precious water on the land and going south for the Everglades.

On a positive-personal note regarding the year thus far….

You may have noticed—-

I am enjoying collaborating with my family. To have my mother’s history and most recently my brother’s “flying time capsule maps” to share is very rewarding. I have linked some  of Todd time capsule flights below. They have been very popular!

My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson's dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)
My brother Todd and I on Ronnie Nelson’s dock, Martin County, FL, IRL, ca 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)

Todd is six years younger than me as you can see from the photo above. My sister, Jenny, is four years younger. Growing up, Todd and Jenny  were more together, and I was kind of “old.” I was out of Martin County High School where as they attended during the same time. Now, the years seems fewer in between…. 🙂

In closing, thank you very much for reading my blog; I wish you a good couple of weeks enjoying the Indian River Region, and I’ll see you soon!

River, unlabeled. 2007.
“Tranquility”…..Unlabeled photo, Thurlow Files, dated 2007.

Todd’s Videos:

1. The Inlets at Peck’s Lake and Jupiter Narrows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yO650JyADwQ)

2. Hal-pa-ti-okee Swamp: Port St Lucie and Western Martin County. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2f-e0ul1mY)
3. Bog and Ponds of Martin County, 1940s. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvH5H0TiG5c)
4. The Spoil Islands of the Indian River Lagoon, Martin County (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sODqzQ8EW9o)
5. Capt. Henry Sewall’s Dock, Sewall’s Point, Where Was it Located? (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFkL9YgPSmI)

*6. Where did the South Fork of the St Lucie River and the St Lucie Canal Connect? EDD/ACOE 1915-1923 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYI34XZUNYs&feature=youtu.be)

Above: Google Earth/Historic Maps Overlay Flights shared on my blog, created by my brother Todd Thurlow, (http://thurlowpa.com) These flights using Topo and other historic maps combined with today’s Google Earth images flashing between “yesterday and today” give tremendous insight into the water and land changes due to drainage for agriculture and development that have occurred in our region. JTL

 

The Tidal Waves of Lake Okeechobee, “Seiches,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

NASA aerial Lake Okeechobee, Florida, with text, JTL.
NASA aerial Lake Okeechobee, Florida, with text, JTL.

A tidal wave….always a scary thought, and usually associated with the ocean, however, tidal waves or “seiches,” can occur in enclosed bodies of water as well, such as a lake— like that of “big water,” or Lake Okeechobee.

As we have entered hurricane season and live in Florida, the most vulnerable state in the nation for strikes, it is important that all of us in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon/Lake Okeechobee region know our evacuation plan should one be necessary….

(http://floridadisaster.org/PublicMapping/index.htm)

A while back, I wrote about my frightening experience with a storm in the proximity of Lake Okeechobee and my friend, Dr Gary Goforth, wrote me back. Today I will share his thoughts on the subject of “tidal waves” in Lake Okeechobee.

Since “we” first walled the lake for agriculture in the 1920s, “white man” has changed the dynamics of both water and of storms….Recently, the ACOE has spent over 65 million dollars to repair the aging dike. As you know, nature evolved so Lake Okeechobee’s overflow waters would slowly flow south to the Everglades. This is no more, and her overflow waters are directed with great destruction through the Northern Estuaries…

So now about seiches…..or tidal waves…..

EAA below Lake Okeechobee, public image.
EAA A.K.A. Everglades Agricultural Area, below Lake Okeechobee, public image.
S-308 as, the structure that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to enter the C-44 canal, SLR/IRL.
S-308 as, the structure that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to enter the C-44 canal, SLR/IRL.(JTL, 2015)
Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size. One cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S.Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)
Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size, 730 square miles. It was once closer to 1000 aware miles before it was diked for agriculture use around and south of the lake. When looking across, one cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S. Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)

History & Today/Herbert Hoover Dike: (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil/Missions/CivilWorks/LakeOkeechobee/HerbertHooverDike.aspx)

Tidal wave art public domain, altered JTL.
Tidal wave art public domain, altered JTL.

 

FROM DR GARY GOFORTH (http://garygoforth.net)

Jacqui–

Your comments on the “tidal waves” within the Lake inspired me to chart the fluctuations in water levels in the Lake resulting from the 2004 hurricanes Frances and Jeanne…

The attached images below show two charts and a reference map.

The first chart shows the fluctuation in Lake stage as Hurricane Frances slowly moved through the area and the 2nd is a similar chart for Hurricane Jeanne. An interesting feature is that as the storm approached the Lake, strong north winds blew the water to the southern rim against the HHDike (as reflected by the rising red line: water level along the south shore) and simultaneously moved water away from the northern sections of the Dike (as reflected by the descending blue line: water level along the north shore). This phenomenon contributed to the catastrophic flooding south of the Lake in the 1926 and 1928 storms as the muck dike failed. For Hurricane Frances, the water level along the south shore rose by more than 5 ft as the eye approached!

As the eye of the storms passed over the Lake, the wind quickly changed direction and the water that was piled up along the south shore moved to the north rim of the Dike (rising blue line). For Hurricane Frances, the water level along the north shore rose by 10 ft or more when the winds shifted! For Hurricane Jeanne, which was moving faster than Frances, the water level on the north shore rose by more than 4 ft per hour – I suspect it looked like a slow-moving tidal wave coming towards the Dike!

For both storms, the water levels overtopped the stage gauges at both stations – so the fluctuations were actually greater than depicted in the charts!

For more information, you can read up on Lake seiches  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seiche) which are large waves sloshing back and forth in large bodies of water. 

—Gary, Dr Goforth 4/15

 

Chart Dr Gary Goforth, 2015.
Chart 1 Dr Gary Goforth, 2015.
Dr Gary Goforth chart,, 2015.
Dr 2 Gary Goforth chart, 2015.
Dr Gary Goforth 2015.
Dr Gary Goforth, 3. 2015.

Thank you Dr Goforth for an interesting lesson. Let’s all be safe and smart this hurricane season.

My niece Evie stands at the manicured edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)
My niece, Evie, stands at the edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)

A Lifetime of Loving Wildlife, “Shady Refuge,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

A baby rabbit in my mother's hands, Sewall's Point, 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)
A baby rabbit in my mother’s hands, Sewall’s Point, 1974. (Thurlow Family Album)

I grew up in both Stuart and Sewall’s Point, not on, but close to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.  My mother named our second home, “Shady Refuge,” because of the tremendous oak trees arching over the property. Many animals visited, and we welcomed them. Some even lived with our family for short periods of time. Early on, there was no Treasure Coast Wildlife Center like today, so we took animals that needed care to the vet or tried to help them ourselves. My mother was an expert at this. We were taught not to fear animals, even poisonous ones, but to respect them, and to learn from them. It was a great childhood; a great lesson for life.

The  photos I am sharing today were taken at my parent’s home in Indialucie over many years.

I still live in Sewall’s Point today, 30 years later. Of course with continued development of the Treasure Coast, population growth, and continued degradation of our waterways, wildlife is not as plentiful. But it is still here!  When I see an any animal, it is one of my greatest joys. Right now, a hawk is living in my and Ed’s yard. I always feel that  having one of God’s wild creatures visiting me is a gift.

Thank you mom and dad for keeping this family wildlife album and know that siblings, Jenny, Todd, and I, are “passing it on….”

Raccoon family in our driveway.
Raccoon family in our driveway.
Sister, Jenny, with baby squirrel.
Sister, Jenny, with baby squirrel.
Mom with Bandit, who lived with us for a long time until released back into the wild.
Mom with Bandit, who lived with us for a long time until released back into the wild.
A blue heron we took to the vet due to hook in its leg. It was returned to the wild.
A blue heron we took to the vet due to hook in its leg. It was returned to the wild.
A mole. Such soft fur! Returned to dirt.
A mole. Such soft fur! Returned to dirt.
A large native grasshopper who lived in our yard.
Me holding  large native Lubber grasshopper who lived in our yard.
Me holding rat snake that was returned to the bushes.
Me holding rat snake that was returned to the bushes.
Foxes and raccoons that came to food put out. In the 70s we did not know how "bad" this is to do as the animals become dependent and may learn not to fear humans as they should. This practice was stopped but enjoyed while it lasted!
Foxes and raccoons that came to food put out and we took pictures.  In the 70s we did not know how “bad” this is to do as the animals become dependent on human food, and may learn not to fear humans as they should. This practice was stopped but we enjoyed while it lasted!
The Three Stooges.... :)
The Three Stooges…. 🙂
Ping and Pong who we raised after they fell out of a nest.
Ping and Pong, who we raised after they fell out of a nest.
Screech owl in our yard.
Screech owl in our yard.
A bobcat, just walking by...
A bobcat, just walking by…
A lizard shedding its skin.
A lizard shedding its skin.
A Zebra butterfly and a butterfly plant planted to attract them.
A Zebra butterfly and a butterfly plant planted to attract them.
A box turtle in the bird bath.
A box turtle in the bird bath.

 

Secret Garden tour write up by my mother, in 2005.
“Secret Garden Tour” write-up by my mother, Sandra Thurlow, 2005.
Secret Garden Club page 2.
“Secret Garden Tour” page 2.

Treasure Coast Wildlife Center:(http://tcwild.org)

Florida Wildlife Commission: (http://myfwc.com)

The Mechanization of the Sugar Industry as a Metaphor for Change, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Historic postcard, ca.1900 sugarcane in Florida, from the Thurlow Collection.
Historic postcard, ca.1900 “Cutting Sugarcane in Florida,” from the Thurlow Collection.

This week, due to the inspiration of small book my mother handed me, I have been exploring the history, and political change encompassing the sugar industry. Monday, I wrote about Cuba; Tuesday, I wrote about the Calusa Indians, pioneers, and workers; and yesterday, I wrote about  the pond apple forest that used to border the southern rim of Lake Okeechobee.

Today, based on chapter 29 of Lawrence E. Will’s 1968 book, “Swamp to Sugar Bowl, Pioneer Days in Belle Glade,” I will briefly write about the evolution of labor practices in Florida’s sugar industry and how public pressure led to the mechanization of the industry. For me, the mechanization of the sugar Industry is a metaphor for change for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

The point of this journey is to learn our history and to remind ourselves that even the “worst of circumstances” can be improved. I believe, that one day, we too, will see improvement of the government sponsored destruction of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon from Lake Okeechobee. Our relation to the sugar industry? For those who may not know.. .Their location blocks the flow of Lake Okeechobee’s waters flowing south to the Everglades. 

The delay of CEPP, the Central Everglades Planning Project may end up symbolically being the beginning of Florida's  4th Seminole War.
The Everglades Agricultural Area is just south of Lake Okeechobee, it is composed mostly sugar farming and block the flow of waters flowing south from Lake O so they are directed to the northern estuaries. (EF)

Before I start, I must say that “everyone has a history,” and the history of the world is mostly “not a pretty one.” This goes for me as well. Parts of my family have been here before the American Revolution, and a few of  my ancestors owned slaves. I have read the wills these relatives handing down their slaves from one generation to the next like these souls were pieces of furniture. It is retched. It is uncomfortable. It is immoral. But to forget, is not the answer. It is important to know our own history and the history of businesses in our state no matter how difficult. As is said, we must “Never Forget…” Slavery and the extermination of Florida’s native peoples “is the ground we sit on,” and our job today is to continue to make this world, and our living waters a “better place.”

Back of postcard.
Back of postcard.

So, let’s begin.

The history of sugarcane has “roots” all over the world, but in our area it is connected to the Caribbean. I recommend a book entitled: “History of the Caribbean,” by Frank Moya Pons.

The basis of this book is the extermination of the Arawak Indians due to colonization and the bloody wars on both sides of the Atlantic over control of the region’s lucrative sugar market . The Arawaks were native to the Caribbean. When they were unwilling slaves for the Europeans, and died as a race due to european-brought diseases, African slaves were brought in to replace them.

After centuries involving  world political struggles for “sugar dominance,” and with the rise of the United States and the horrible world wars, sugar came to be seen as “national security issue,” not just a food source as it can be used for the making of explosives/weapons.  As we know, over the centuries, through political strategy, the United States rose as a power in sugar production, as Cuban dominance declined.

The apex of this shift in our area was around 1960. For reference, my husband, Ed, came to this county when he was four, with his family from Argentina, in 1960, the Perons had been in power; and I was born in California, at Travis Air Force Base in 1964. It was the Vietnam Era.

The Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee where the sugar industry resides expanded the most it ever has around this time. To quote Mr Lawrence E. Wills:

“when Fidel Castro took over Cuba, (1958) the Everglades reaped the benefit. For a short time our government permitted the unrestricted planting of sugar cane …and before that time, under the U.S government’s regulations, the state of Florida was permitted to produce only nine-tenths of one percent of the nation’s needs.”

The US government helped the sugar industry grow and for “a reason:” Power. Influence. National Security. Food Source. Weapons. This is heavy currency in world politics and it is achieved at any expense….here in south Florida, it was achieved at the expense of the uneducated and poor worker.

Chapter 29 of Mr Will’s book is entitled, “Harvest of Shame.”

(http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Documentary+Harvest+of+Shame&FORM=RESTAB#view=detail&mid=D9218CAC685FC8880984D9218CAC685FC8880984)

Mr Wills writes about a television documentary that was released on Thanksgiving Day in 1960. Mr Wills says the piece is “sensationalized.” It was produced  by the Columbia Broadcasting System, presented by Edgar R. Murrow and sponsored by Philip Morris Cigarette Company. Certainly the piece was “sensationalized,” but undoubtedly there was also truth regarding the difficult conditions for migrant workers.

What is important here, is that the explosive public reaction to the documentary pressured the sugar industry to move towards mechanization, which they achieved just over thirty years later around 1992.

As the industry moved towards this goal, other problems ensued, such as H-2 program changes.  With claims that the local labor force “could not,” or “would not” do the back-breaking work of cutting the sugar cane with machete, the H-2 program allowed the sugar industry to hire foreign workers, mostly from the Caribbean, especially Jamaica, who as we already know had a history with this difficult work.

The rub for labor activists was that these workers could be deported if they did not “produce.” They could be shipped out and replaced. Some called this a form of modern slavery. An award-winning documentary, on this subject, H-2 Worker, was produced by Stephanie Black in 1990. She points out that although the sugar industry had basically achieved mechanization by this time, others had not. (http://www.docurama.com/docurama/h-2-worker/)

The sugar industry moved to mechanization because of public outcry. Of course it is more complicated than that and is driven by economics, nonetheless, it was a huge factor. With more outcry regarding our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, the same thing could happen. Change. More water flowing south. A flow way. A reservoir. Lands to clean, store and convey water south….fewer, or no more polluted/toxic releases into the St Lucie River/IRL…

To deviate just a bit before I close, we may ask ourselves, how could this happen? Slavery? Mistreatment of workers? Destruction of the environment?

Well, the answer is the same today as it was in 1500; it happens because government allows, supports, and encourages it. The U.S. Department of Labor, the United States Department of Agriculture and others. Some right under our nose.

USDA: (http://naldc.nal.usda.gov/download/20644/PDF)

Remember, today’s state and federal agencies are made up of people; people are hired by government entities;  government entities are directed by politicians, and politicians are voted for by the people. It all starts with us.

Make sure your voice is heard, and vote accordingly.

History is in the making, and somewhere out there, there  is a better water future for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!

Inside page of Stuart News, US President Obama meets with Raul Castro, Fidel Castro's brother, 4/2015.)
Inside page of Stuart News, US President Obama meets with Raul Castro, Fidel Castro’s brother, 4/2015.)

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Another source for this post and excellent reading is “Raising Cane in the ‘Glades, The Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida,” by Gail M. Hollander. (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/R/bo5704198.html)

Public Information on H-2 Lawsuit: (http://www.leagle.com/decision/19951403660So2d743_11274.xml/OKEELANTA%20CORP.%20v.%20BYGRAVE)

Toxic Real Estate and the Loss of “Full Market Value,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Toxic real estate is not real estate at its full market value. (Google map of Stuart, Sewall's Point, and Hutchinson Island area of Martin County, words JTL)
Toxic real estate is not real estate at its full market value. (Google map of Stuart, Rio, Sewall’s Point, and Hutchinson Island- areas of Martin County, words JTL.)

Real estate taxes are paid in arrears, so one learns about the property values of a calendar year, a year later. In the Town of Sewall’s Point, the 2014 (really 2013) tax value increased .14%. This seemed low compared to other similar areas of the state. During this time,  I contacted Laurel Kelly, our Martin County property appraiser. She had her staff research the issue, and assured me that the answer to my question: “Did the toxic St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon of 2013 have anything to do with lower property values?” was a negative– or at least could not be verified.

Rather, data showed it had to do with other things like the number of homesteaded properties and a limited commercial district….I saw the picture and understood, but I was still unconvinced.

As someone who has worked in the real estate industry, as a commissioner of Sewall’s Point, as a home owner,  as someone with more than three brain cells in my head, I know that, of course, a clean, beautiful, waterway is more desirable than a toxic one. Also I know that numbers “right away” don’t show the big picture….

South Sewall's Point, January of 2015. Releases began Jan. 16th, 2015 from Lake O as lake of is"high."
South Sewall’s Point, January of 2015. Releases began Jan. 16th, 2015 from Lake O as lake of is”high.”

Yesterday, a report entitled: “The Effects of Water Quality on Housing Prices” was released by Florida Realtors, and the Everglades Foundation. The study focuses on Lee and Martin Counties with estuaries St Lucie (Martin) and Caloosahatchee (Lee) running through their boarders. These once life-filled, property-value-enhancing estuaries have reached a tipping point as the conduits for polluted water from Lake Okeechobee compounded with area growth, put them “over the edge.”

Some may say any report attached to the Everglades Foundation is biased. Here, I think not. In this case the report reflects a simple reality. People don’t pay full market value for real estate on rivers that “go toxic.” The greatest contributor to that toxicity is Lake Okeechobee’s fresh and dirty water released by the Army Corp of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District that destroys the salinity and visibility within these water ways.

An article today in the Palm Beach Post about the study states:

“The study found that “as water quality degrades, home values decrease and could potentially cost Florida’s real estate market nearly $1 billion in Lee and Martin County alone,” said 2015 Florida Realtors® president Andrew Barbar, in a statement released Tuesday. Barbar is a broker with Keller Williams Realty Services in Boca Raton.

The loss is attributable to polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee, according to the release put out by the Foundation and Florida Realtors® – the largest professional trade organization in the state.” (http://www.floridarealtors.org)

The 48 page study can be found here: (http://www.floridarealtors.org/ResearchAndStatistics/Other-Research-Reports/upload/FR_WaterQuality_Final_Mar2015.pdf) 

I do believe water quality affects home values. Don’t you? I believe the releases by the ACOE and SFWMD, overseen and directed by our governor, state legislature, and Congress, destroy our property values. Don’t you?

The state and federal government don’t  want to admit this openly as truly fixing the Lake Okeechobee issue is costly beyond human proportion and requires going against the seats of power and influence.  I imagine they are probably thinking “tourism is doing just fine in the great state of Florida…”

Well guess what? Florida can’t be a “great state” and America can’t be a great county with an environmental disaster on its hands for almost 500,000 people every few years. And 500,000 people won’t tolerate repeditive losses on their greatest investment. The river has reached a tipping point and its coming for the people. This problem needs a BIG FIX. Best to address the problem before it gets worse.

Releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows out of the St Lucie Inlet next to Sailfish Point, one of the areas most exclusive communities. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2013.)
Releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows out of the St Lucie Inlet next to Sailfish Point, one of the areas most exclusive communities. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2013.)
The plume from releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows south of the St Lucie Inlet in Martin County along Jupiter Island one of the most exclusive communities in the United States. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch,  2013.)
The plume from releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of area canals flows south of the St Lucie Inlet in Martin County along Jupiter Island one of the most exclusive communities in the United States. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2013.)
St Lucie River middle estuary, February 2015.
St Lucie River middle estuary, February 2015.
March 18, 2015 photo of SLR/SIRL flying north over St Lucie Inlet and the east side of Sewall's Point. (JTL)
March 18, 2015 photo of SLR/SIRL flying north over St Lucie Inlet and the east side of Sewall’s Point. (JTL)

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

DO THE ACOE AND SFWMD RELEASE TOXIC WATER INTO THE SLR/IRL? (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/07/28/do-the-acoe-and-srwmd-release-lake-okeechobee-into-the-slr-when-there-is-toxic-algae-in-the-lake-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)

Ramifications of Murphy’s River Message to President Obama, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Congressman Patrick Murphy greets President Barack Obama giving the president a bottle of polluted St Lucie River water. (Photo, Congressman Patrick Murphy's Facebook page 3-18-15)
Congressman Patrick Murphy, along with Ft Pierce mayor, Linda Hudson, greet President Barack Obama. The congressman gave the president a bottle of polluted St Lucie River water briefly explaining the plight of the SLR/IRL. (Photo, Congressman Patrick Murphy’s Facebook page 3-28-15)

Two years ago, in 2013, when the toxic waters of the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon, stagnated under the baking sun of summer, and every man, woman, child, and dog was told by the Martin County Health Department, “not to touch the water,” there was a dream…

News clip Channel 12: Congressman Murphy/Pres. Obama: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNVgfGMRswc)

A dream that even the president of the United States of America would know that the polluted discharges by the ACOE and SFWMD from Lake Okeechobee “tip our rivers over the edge” turning them into a toxic soup, killing “protected” seagrasses, nearshore reefs, wildlife, property values, tourism, and every child’s summer. (A “lost summer” that may happen again with the government agencies discharging since January 16th, 2015.)

Toxic algae, photo by Mary Radabaugh of St Lucie Marina.)
Toxic algae, photo by Mary Radabaugh of St Lucie Marina.)
Photo of plume from Lake O and area canals in 2013, Jupiter Island. Our present pulling system constraints unless changed will promote this indefinitely. (JTL)
Photo of Lake O plume and area canals having gone over estuary seagrasses and here near shore reefs–as seen  in 2013, over Hutchinson Island/Jupiter Island. (Photo JTL)

In 2013, the situation was so dire, that multiple schools along the Treasure Coast organized writing letters, by the hundreds, to the president of the United States, Barack Obama, asking him to help to SAVE OUR RIVERS.

Ms D'Apolito's class at the Montessori School was one of many schools that wrote the president for help to save the SLR/IRL in 2013. (Photos JTL from the book the class sent to the White House, 2013.)
Ms D’Apolito’s class at the Montessori School was one of many schools that wrote the president for help to save the SLR/IRL in 2013. (Photos JTL from the book the class sent to the White House, 2013.)
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Letter and photo sent back from White House staff, 2013.
Letter and photo sent back from White House staff, 2013.
Letter send to students for their polluted river booklet, 2013.
Letter sent to students for their polluted river booklet, 2013.

Those letters and art work did get to the White House and were surely hedged-off by White House staff,  who read the letters, but then neatly filed them away, sending a nice packet back to the students and teachers “thanking them for the drawings of their dying rivers.”

This is  just reality and no fault of the president or staff—today we  live in an evolved bureaucracy, a system that perpetuates itself, that holds one at bay, that protects power and influence, that stagnates—-just like the waters of Lake Okeechobee flowing into our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….

But bureaucracies can be penetrated; walls can come down; dreams can come true..

For that to happen, you have to push very, very  hard, and someone with some influence has to help you break through, someone has to cut you a break, someone has to stand up, someone has to stick their neck out….a champion….a champion, like Patrick Murphy.

Good job Congressman Murphy! (River Kid Keile Mader, 2013)
“Good job Congressman Murphy!” (River Kid Keile Mader, 2013)
Newly elected Patrick Murphy holds River Kidz signs in 2013.
Newly elected Patrick Murphy holds recycled River Kidz signs in 2012. The flag sign went to DC.

Kudos to Congressman Patrick Murphy, our Treasure Coast congressman soon to be running for US Senate,  who must have had to make a decision “quickly and under pressure” as to what message he would bring  President Barack Obama on the tarmac.

When the president arrived along the Treasure Coast for a weekend of golf at the famed “Floridian” this past Saturday, Congressman Murphy could have spoken about anything, but chose a message that had to do with everyone, a message that is neither “democrat” or “republican,” a message about the future….and today:

“the wish for clean water”….

Close up.
Mayor Linda Hudson, Congressman Murphy and President Barack Obama, 2015.
Our flag.
In America, clean water is taken for granted–we no longer have it here…

Will President Obama go back to Washington and everything with our rivers will suddenly change?

Of course not.

But the president  will know the name of the river he likes to play golf on, and he will know it has problems. He will talk to other people about his trip over a beer, and he will say:

“You know, that young Congressman, Murphy, he greeted me with a bottle of toxic water. Can you believe it? It surprised me. He spoke up for those people. I looked the St Lucie River up on the internet on the flight home…unbelievable…”

These words, and others spoken over time,  will make great headway for our dreams of a better water future. History has been made.

(Files Congressman Murphy's Facebook page.)
(President Obama walks down the stairs of Air force One with no idea he will receive a bottle of polluted St Lucie River water…. (Photo from Congressman Murphy’s Facebook page.)

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MORE ART WORK:

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