Tag Archives: titusville

Adrift’s Indian River Lagoon Water Report, June-July 2019

July 5, 2019

Hi. I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July! Wasn’t it exceptional? Exceptional because the St Lucie/IRL’s water wasn’t toxic like so many times in recent years. So nice to be able to enjoy our waterways. No dumping of Lake O. I am grateful!

Today I am a back with an Indian River Lagoon Report for the entire Indian River Lagoon.

During my husband, Ed, and my recent 156 miles trip up the IRL, aboard ADRIFT, I contacted Duane DeFreese Ph.D., Executive Director for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program. I called Duane because I knew why the southern lagoon looked better but was impressed by how good the water in the central and northern lagoon looked as well. No brown tide. No superbloom.

Since am unfamiliar with the waters north of the Treasure Coast, except by books, I wanted a scientific update. Well, boy, did I get it! See Dr. Duane’s comments below. Also included is the invaluable, recent St John’s Water Management District’s “June 20th Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update.”

For visual input as well, I am inserting some of Ed and my photos, with comments, of our incredible journey along what is still considered to be one of the world’s most biodiverse estuaries. What a treasure! From north to south, we must do all we can to ensure a toxic-free future.

Keep up the fight!

Jacqui

IRL map: Researchgate
Ed and JTL start of the trip on “Adrift.”
Location: Jupiter Island near the Jupiter Inlet, as almost always the water here is like the Bahamas, looking great! Near the border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties.
Near Jupiter Inlet, border of Martin and Palm Beach Counties. Wow!

JTL:

Duane, hi. Hope you are having a great summer. At this time, are there algae blooms reported in the IRL near Melbourne, the N. IRL north of Titusville, or anywhere in the Mosquito Lagoon? Thank you for letting me know. Jacqui TL

Duane DeFreese, Ph.D. Exec. Dir National IRL Estuary Program, http://www.irlcouncil.com

Conditions being reported to me by the local guides are consistent with the report and my own observations. Overall water quality looks pretty good, but small, patchy areas of poor water quality continue. The fishing guides tell me one day it looks great and a day later the same area will have color and turbidity (probably patchy bloom conditions). My personal observation is that we have been lucky so far and the system is vulnerable. I would not be surprised to see blooms intensify as we move deeper into summer and the rainy season. Lagoon water temperatures are also really warm. the SJRWMD Report documents that we have had patchy blooms occurring of multiple species. Two confirmed species of concern are Pseudo-nitzschia, a marine diatom and Pyrodinium bahamensis, a dinoflagellate. The worst water conditions continue to be in Banana River and in Sykes Creek. There are boater reports of patchy poor water quality in some areas of the northern IRL. The third species of significant recent concern has been Brown tide (Aureoumbra lagunendis). It was in almost in continuous bloom for most of last year in the Banana River. Bloom conditions have subsided. Aureoumbra thrives in warm, high salinity environments. It is not known to be toxic. Blooms of pseudo nitzschia, a marine diatom, can produce a neurotoxin called domoic acid. Blooms of Pyrodinium can produce saxitoxin. I expect that we will see patchy and flashy bloom conditions of multiple species throughout the summer. If we get lucky, I hope none of these blooms get intense enough to elevate toxin levels, low DO levels and fish kills. I’m very concerned about the slow recovery of seagrasses, even in areas of good water quality. Feel free to call me anytime.  Have a great 4th July!

Indian River Lagoon Conditions Update June 20

JTL:

Dear Duane, thank you so very much for the super informative reply! I wrote because my husband and I are taking our maiden voyage in a trawler. We have gone from Stuart to Jupiter to Vero to Cocoa, north as far as possible in IRL, past Titusville, and today-through the Haul-over Canal into the Mosquito Lagoon. Not being familiar with these waters, all I have seen visually appears quite good compared to the St Lucie and even parts of the S. IRL. Some varying coloration is apparent, but overall seems good and in the north, many baitfish balls are shimmering under the surface and dolphin families are gorging themselves and teaching their young! We have seen many dolphins everywhere. Throughout Indin River County, Ospreys nesting in channel markers. One after the other!  In the Mosquito Lagoon there were many more wading birds than S IRL. Even saw a few roseate spoonbills. I was not expecting it to be so full of life up here… a nice surprise. Not off the chart healthy, but marine and bird life very visible! I really appreciate the info you sent. I plan to blog on trip once home, so I can quote your knowledge. Happy 4th of July to you as well and I hope to see you soon.

 

The confluence of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon off S. Sewall’s Point, Bird Island. Near Stuart, Martin County.
Sewall’s Point and Stuart, Martin County.
Beautiful blue water near the Ft Pierce Inlet, St Lucie County. Ft Pierce rocks!
Waters of Vero Beach, Indian River County.
Old map showing the designated area of famous INDIAN RIVER LAGOON CITRUS. Citrus Museum, Vero Beach, FL
1920 Blue Heron Map shows clearly the area of the Everglades, Heritage Center and Citrus Museum, Vero.
Street sign in Vero Beach, as everywhere ALL canals lead to Lagoon! No trash, fertilizer, pesticides, etc!
Sebastian Inlet, Indian River County, brings blue waters to the area. So pretty!
Approaching Cocoa Village, north of Melbourne in Brevard County.
Waters nearing Cocoa Village in Brevard County
Ed and I visited the Kennedy Space Center along the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River. Surrounded by the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Space & Nature. https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/visit/plan_your_visit.html Such an inspiration!
3-D movie at Kennedy Space Center really took us to the moon, Mars, and beyond!
The ominous Vehicle Assemble Building, NASA, so large it is visible no matter where one is are along the central and northern IRL. It’s like it is following you!
Eau Gallie, Melbourne. The Eau Gallie River, or Turkey Creek,  is a small version of the St Lucie and also impaired due to runoff from agriculture and development.
Like a sentinel, the Vehicle Assembly Building as seen over the Indian River Lagoon north of Titusville.

Baitfish!

Waters approaching Titusville, Brevard County.
Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County.
Train track bridge north of Titusville, Brevard County. Shortly beyond channel turns right through the Haulover Canal and into the Mosquito Lagoon.

Ed navigates through the Haulover Canal, connecting the northern IRL with the Mosquito Lagoon.
Water in the Haulover Canal was greenish.
Entering the stunningly beautiful, peaceful, undeveloped Mosquito Lagoon. This area is flanked by the Scottsmoor Flatwoods Sanctuary and Canaveral National Seashore. Wildlife abounds.

360 of the unforgettable Mosquito Lagoon:

Flora and fauna along shoreline, Mosquito Lagoon
Anhinga twins, Mosquito Lagoon

Incredible footage of 4 dolphins in our wake near Ft Pierce welcoming us home!

ADRIFT is a 2007 Mainship 400 trawler, top speed about 8 knots 🙂

The Indian River Lagoon and Natural Resource Issues of the State, Titusville, SLR/IRL

I am a 2015/16 Fellow for UF/IFAS Natural Resources Leadership Institute:(http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu/)

NRLI stands for UF/IFAS Natural Resouces Leadership Institute.
NRLI stands for UF/IFAS Natural Resouces Leadership Institute.
NRLI. Standing under where the rocket's fire comes out upon take off. (Photo NRLI classmate 2015 at NASA)
At NASA. Standing under where the rocket’s fire comes out upon take off. (Photo NRLI classmate August 2015 at NASA)
Before walking into the building. (selfie 2015)
Before walking into the building. (Selfie August 2015)

NASA Video of Apollo 11 liftoff: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKtVpvzUF1Y)
KSC (http://www.nasa.gov/centers/kennedy/home/index.html)

As part of my University of Florida “Natural Resources Leadership Institute” program, I will be leaving this Wednesday for five days to Apalachicola Bay in Florida’s panhandle where the historic oyster industry is dying due to lack of upstream fresh water from Georgia. Last month, I traveled to Titusville, along the Indian River Lagoon, to learn about NASA, Space Florida, and serious concerns over possible future land use inside the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

I have been waiting to write about my experience in Titusville until now. It was rather intense, and I wanted time to think. Also our NRLI Class XV newsletter came out recently and provides perspective and background on the visit and the program.

NRLI August Newsletter: (http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/Newsletters/NRLIClassXVNewsletter_Session1.pdf)

On the second day of NRLI, after much preparation, our class was driven to NASA to visit the assembly building for the rockets and to take a tour of the grounds.  Nothing would have prepared me for walking into that building. I can only liken it to the cathedrals in Belgium and Germany I saw when I was younger whose Gothic architecture “forced my eye to God.”

Upon entering the building, I was struck by a feeling of awe. It hit me, the creative force of humanity necessary to organize and go into space. The successes and the failures. Lives lost and new perspective of the universe gained….and what about the future?

The image of the Earth from space changed the way the world was perceived. (NASA )
The image of the Earth from space. (NASA )

I felt proud to be American, my eyes teared up, and I turned away from my fellow classmates for fear they would think me nuts. Later on, I learned that many others had the same experience.

Looking up, where the Saturn rockets and Space Shuttles would have been....(Photo JTL)
Looking up, where the Saturn rockets and Space Shuttles would have been….(Photo JTL)
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Signature of those who worked on the shuttle program.
Signature of those who worked on the shuttle program.
NRLI Class VX, newsletter 2015, September.
NRLI Class VX, newsletter 2015, September.
Area of IRL where NASA and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is located...Google Maps.
Area of IRL where NASA and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is located…Google Maps.

It is very difficult in a blog post to get into all the detail of my visit, but I can share that NASA’s Kennedy a Space Center  is presently located in the area where you see Highway 528 on the above map. NASA is recreating itself since the Federal Government basically shut down the space program here just a few years ago, and around 8000 people lost their jobs. According to NASA’s  literature:

“Kennedy Space Center will pursue transformation through consolidation of NASA operations, asset partnering, and agreements development in order to preserve the Center’s and nations crucial launch infrastructure. The transformation to a multi-user spaceport will allow NASA to subsidize costs of expensive infrastructure and facilities and still maintain the country’s ability to push the boundaries of our understand of the universe.

KSC was established in 1962; is a 6 billion $ asset; 140,000 acres; 55,000 acres of submerged wetlands; 3500 acres of development. “

In 1963, NASA realized it had so much land, as only a small part is developed, that they asked it to be managed as a national wildlife refuge… and thus it has been for over 50 years.

“The Refuge, which is an overlay of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, was established in August 1963 to provide a buffer zone for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the quest for space exploration.”

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge(http://www.fws.gov/refuges/profiles/index.cfm?id=41570)

Mario Busacca , Chief Spaceport Planning, NASA before the NRLI.
Mario Busacca , Chief Spaceport Planning, NASA before the NRLI. (From newsletter, September 2015.)

So jumping to Space Florida…

“Space Florida is the aerospace economic development agency of the State of Florida. The agency was created by consolidating three existing space entities into a single new organization via the Space Florida Act, enacted in May 2006 by the Florida Legislature.”

Official website: (http://www.spaceflorida.gov)
Space Florida:  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Florida)

Space Florida is proposing to put a launch pad at Shiloh north of Titusville in an area of the wildlife refuge along the lagoon that is very sensitive as it contains many endangered species, historic cultural resources, as well as Native American historic resources. This area is utilized by fishermen and “recreationalist” today. You can see this location near the red pin in the Google Maps image above. Some say they “couldn’t have chosen a more sensitive area….”

Preliminary Environmental Impact Statement for Shiloh Site 2013: (http://www.spaceflorida.gov/docs/rfps/final-esr-combined-shiloh-for-public_compiled.pdf?sfvrsn=2)

Proposed Shiloh site. Image from preliminary impact statement doc.
Proposed Shiloh site. Image from preliminary impact statement doc.
Image/map showing impacts to wetlands and cultural areas in Shiloh area. Preliminary environmental impact statement.
Image/map showing impacts to wetlands and cultural areas in Shiloh area. Preliminary environmental impact statement.

Daytona Journal: (http://m.news-journalonline.com/article/20150101/NEWS/150109952/1040?Title=Space-Florida-sets-course-on-reviving-cape-launch-pads)

Huffington Post:(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/12/florida-space-complex_n_4770813.html)

I did not go to Titusville to have an opinion on what is right or wrong concerning this situation. But I have thought on it,  and those of you who know me can probably guess where I ended up with my position. But this is only for me personally, not for what I am supposed to learn at NRLI.

At NRLI, I am  there to learn how to be a “leader in collaborative decision-making.”

NRLI puts it like this:

“We are all dependent on Florida’s natural resources. Decisions about natural resources involve complex sets of issues and stakeholders. Expensive and time-consuming disputes often emerge over issues such as endangered species, land use, coastal and marine resources, and water quality and quantity. Effective leadership in managing such issues requires a specialized set of skills, tools, and strategies to build trust and promote collaboration among competing interests. In recognition of this, the Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) was founded in 1998 to bring together professionals in sectors that impact or are impacted by natural resource issues to develop the skills required to work towards collaborative solutions.

Vision
NRLI seeks to impact decision-making in Florida by creating a network of professionals prepared to effectively address natural resource issues through conflict management and collaborative leadership.”
(http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu/)

Well, I hope I gave you enough information to get started on your own opinion.

I am looking forward to my second NRLI session this week. There are great people from many backgrounds in the program and I learn from them just as much as anything…For it is really through building relationships that we will better the condition of our state and our Indian River Lagoon.

 

Florida’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, “Im In!” SLR/IRL

Florida Natural Resource Leadership Institute. (Header from web site:http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu)
Florida Natural Resource Leadership Institute. (Header from web site: http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu)
NRLI list of fellows Class VIX
NRLI list of fellows Class XV

Something very exciting is going to start happening for me this week.

I am beginning  a new journey as a “fellow” of University of Florida’s IFAS Natural Resources Leadership Institute, or NRLI (http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu). Our first of seven “field trips and study sessions” over the next year begins this Thursday right here along the Indian River Lagoon at NASA where our state’s developing space program is eyeing lands in the National Wildlife Refuge for new runways.

NRLI teaches “leadership skills” in dealing with such explosive environmental natural resource issues…it tries to teach you to build a “cohort” to get things done.

NRLI schedule for class XIV
NRLI schedule for class XV

I will be participating as an elected official from the Town of Sewall’s Point. Elected officials in the program are rare and when they invited me to apply last year, I said: “Are you sure? I don’t see many “politicians or bloggers ” on your list of graduates and my town is really small….?” I was assured there had been elected officials before, and if I wanted to apply, I was encouraged to do so….

So I did…

I first came into contact with NRLI, when I was invited to be a speaker. In 2014, a year after the “Lost Summer,” and the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon’s toxic mess caused by releases from Lake Okeechobee and area canals. Area canals mind you that have been expanded to dump agriculture and development water into the river’s basin at five times beyond what Nature envisioned.  So NRLI “Class 14,” was studying the “Indian River Lagoon, —-an Estuary in Decline.” Pretty bleak title isn’t it?

Along with their directors, the fellows met at a room at the Marriott on Hutchinson Island just over bridge from Sewall’s Point. There were about twenty “fellows” from varied backgrounds such as the ACOE, Water Districts, Florida Fish and Wildlife; the Nature Conservancy, the Miccosukee Tribe; the Department of Agriculture; South Florida County governments; etc…some younger, some older, all different…

It was cool.

I sat on a the panel with Jim Brother, a recreational fisherman; Leroy Creswell, University of Florida IFAS Extension Sea Grant Program; Scott Deal, CEO and President Maverick Boat Company; and George Jones,  Indian River Keeper. I spoke about how the releases impacted Sewall’s Point’s peninsular real estate and wildlife as well as the grassroots formation of River Kidz and local advocacy. We the “panel people” sipped our bottled water and answered questions. We listened to ourselves talk and wondered how what we were saying could be happening…loss of seagrasses and oysters, dying and sick wildlife, loss of real estate values, loss of boat sales, kids can’t go in the water….

The fellows were attentive, inquisitive, and ask great questions. They were from all over the state so many were not familiar with the IRL. I always wondered what the fellows said behind closed doors after the session? “Man that’s one big mess! Didn’t they see it coming? Those kids are going to have to save that river!” or maybe not, maybe they had great ideas of how to really start moving in the right direction. Maybe they are doing that now behind the scenes as NRLI graduates? Maybe this is how we change the world?

NRLI states their purpose as the following:

We are all dependent on Florida’s natural resources. Decisions about natural resources involve complex sets of issues and stakeholders. Expensive and time-consuming disputes often emerge over issues such as endangered species, land use, coastal and marine resources, and water quality and quantity. Effective leadership in managing such issues requires a specialized set of skills, tools, and strategies to build trust and promote collaboration among competing interests. In recognition of this, the Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute (NRLI) was founded in 1998 to bring together professionals in sectors that impact or are impacted by natural resource issues to develop the skills required to work towards collaborative solutions.

When I got accepted, I immediately emailed  my Uncle Russell, now retired in Gainesville. My mother’s brother, an Annapolis graduate who served in Vietnam and lived under the ice in the North Pole finding spy submarines or something top secret…..He is my favorite uncle…. My Grandfather Henderson, his father, worked for UF and IFAS so I wanted to share that I would be part of that legacy although it would be in a different capacity different from the “rape and pillage goals” of the 1930s and 40s. IFAS is remaking itself…

He congratulated me and then said: “You know Jacqui, they are probably trying to take the fire out of you…you know….calm you down….make everybody get along….but congratulations! Grandaddy would be proud…”

I laughed and said something like, “you know what Uncle Russ, you are probably right but I’m pretty good at capturing from the inside and keeping my head.”

He laughed…. we laughed….Dead Silence….

All I know right now, is that when I see my name on the list, I am honored, excited, and hoping to be a part of a better natural resources future for Florida and the Indian River Lagoon.

______________

UF IFAS means: University of Florida’s  Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. IFAS has extension offices in almost all Florida counties. My Grandfather worked for IFAS for many years in the 1930s and 40. He taught Soil Sciences at University of Florida and surveyed the Florida Everglades.

IRL An Estuary in Decline, NRLI http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/Newsletters/NRLIClassXIVNewsletter_Session1_IRL.pdf
Article of NASA and Wildlife Refuge debate:
• Space Florida sets course on reviving cape launch pads (Jim Turner, News Service of Florida, January 1, 2015): http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20150101/NEWS/150109952/1040?Title=Space-Florida-sets-course-on-reviving-cape-launch-pads

Historic Descriptions of “Indian River Country,” Sewall’s Point-1891, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Sunset photo, oak hammock, Sewall's Point, 2011. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)
St Lucie River sunset photo, oak hammock, Sewall’s Point, 2008. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

History is a window, a  window into understanding why and where we are today. The Town of Sewall’s Point along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon has some of the most wonderful historical descriptions of its original beauty, and I believe that is why we try so hard as a town to keep remnants of that historic beauty today.

The town is a “Tree City;” a bird sanctuary; and there are very strict fines for cutting down trees with over a two inch across  trunk.  Development rules are supposed to be protective of wooded uplands and wetlands, sometimes this does not seem to be the case.

Nevertheless, today I will quote from a “Description of Indian River County,” as it was called, from a Maine Journal , The East Coast Advocate, April 24, 1891 by Rufus King Sewall. This document was transcribed by my mother, historian Sandra Henderson Thurlow in 2009.

Here we go and remember 1891 was the year before the St Lucie Inlet was opened permanently so the river waters were fresher..

_____________________________

“At the Indian River Hotel, Titusville, we lodged for the night and were lulled with the song of two mosquitoes…at 5 a.m. the Indian River steamers called for embarkation south-bound and all aboard, most comfortable quarters in neat staterooms, spacious saloon and good service are found… The banks of the Indian River are general sops-wood, of cabbage palm, pine and cactus—uncleared because used as a screen against the fierce east winds which whip the orange and banana to death…Fine oysters, big trout, mullet, pompano, with channel bass abound…

The climate is the great charm of travel in the region. Within an hour of Titusville, the heavy, hot depressing , suffocating atmosphere of the interior of Florida suddenly changes to soft exhilarating, and cool refreshing inhalations, which the lungs expand to draw in with gateful sensation.

Cover of book "Sewall's Point," Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Sewall's Point Post Office last 18002.
Cover of book “Sewall’s Point,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow. Sewall’s Point Post Office late 1800s.

It was 2 a.m. when the whistles sounded for San Lucie Landing at Sewall’s Point starting to wing acres of and acres of sleeping ducks whirring, splashing and diving, in dismay, before the lights of the rushing steamer and we rested on shore, while the St Sebastian turned toward Jupiter below. The river scene and surroundings were enchanting , sea and shore burnished with tinted rays of a sunrise and indescribably grand and novel.  The ducks had grouped in shoals on their feeding grounds.

Fish were leaping in the light and the hum of her life stirred the evergreen prospective with a marked absence of bird song. In the east across the sound tree miles away, over Gilbert’s Bar, the broad ocean stretched beyond sight, the pathway of big ships southward bound clear to the naked eye. In front, Mangrove Islands bounded the horizon whose channel fretted the outgoing tides of Jupiter Narrows. Northward and west the broad reaches and pitch-pine plains of the deep and wide San Lucia shut off vision.

Underfoot and around the rock-bound bluff of the Peninsula of Sewall’s point in gorgeous green and gold, of satin-wood, oak, palmetto and rubber forest trees dazed the eye.

All strange and primitive with novel tropical surroundings out of reach the peninsula separating the Indian and San Lucie waters is a  rockbound elevated ridge with bluff frontage on San Lucie shores in L. N. 27 degrees 15 min.

It is crowned with tall  grown palmettos with tufted  tops of palm leaves, naked branchless stems like the mast of a ship.

The water is pure and good…The largest trout I ever saw abound and shoals of mullet.

Sharks and alligators abound in the waters, and turkeys, bear and deer on shore in their season. In the creek opposite Point Manatee the fishermen linger with nets and gun to catch the sea-cow as they feed along the shore….”

The airs and winds are soft and balmy expect the northwest, refreshing, grateful to the lungs with wonderful healing properties and purifying effect exciting to outdoor activity and stimulating to vital forces…The entire atmosphere environment pregnant with healing…

_____________________

Interesting. Like poetry but for me “disturbing” as it talked about people hunting manatees. This at least highlights how we have changed historically, as manatee are protected today.

Sewall's Point, photo by Ed Lippisch, 2011.
Sewall’s Point, photo by Ed Lippisch, 2011.

I hope you enjoyed that reading….

It was a beautiful world, there for the taking and we have taken it. For better or for worse we have. Let’s remember our history and that no matter what this place, this St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is today, it has always been “a place of beauty.”

May we revive her waters and her shores in respect to that which created this sacred place,  and for those who have loved and documented her before us. Thank you Rufus King Sewall.