Tag Archives: topo

Barley Barber Swamp, the FPL Reservoir and its 1979 Catastrophic Failure (Part 1 of 2)

 

Video above and also available here by link: (“Barley Barber Swamp, the FPL Reservoir and its 1979 Catastrophic Failure, Part 1 of 2,” by Todd Thurlow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZvkvCEblfE&feature=youtu.be)

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From the air, Barley Barber Swamp is distinctive. Like a thimble, it sticks out into Florida Power and Light’s reservoir in Indiantown, Martin County. The 6700 acre “man made lake” can hold more than 80,000 acre feet of water. It lies just north of the C-44 canal, and east of the dike from a once sprawling Lake Okeechobee. Barley Barber is the “crown jewel.”

“This jewel of a swamp” is a popular tourist destination and considered to be one of the finest remaining old-growth cypress communities in the country. In 1972, FPL purchased the swamp and surrounding lands to build their 6700 acre cooling reservoir that it operates in agreement with the South Florida Water Management District. An intake canal connects to the C-44 and S-153 to the northwest, contains and drains waters that once naturally flowed into Lake Okeechobee.

It is a wonderful thing that FPL saved the remaining 400 acre swamp! Today it is teeming with plant and wildlife species, including ancient bald cypress tress, one qualifying as the largest in the United States. My brother, Todd, notes that some estimates put that tree at 1,000 years old.  The Wikipedia entry says its 88 ft. tall with a circumference of 33 ft., while the “Lady Liberty” tree in the same park as the late “Senator” is 82 ft. tall and 32.8 ft circumference – and is claimed to be 2,000 years old?

Hmmm? Maybe in south-central  Florida we are really in first place!

Giant cypress tree, Barley Barber Swamp as shared by Modern Mississauga Magazine, 2016.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Liberty_(tree)

http://championtrees.freshfromflorida.com/home.mvc/Index

Cypress are valuable and majestic water trees. It’s so nice to have what’s left, but one can’t help but wonder what the swamp looked like before its ancient branches were cut for lumber, and its massive stumps burned to make way for agriculture?

Well, we can can know…almost… I asked my brother, Todd, historic map expert, if he could show us, and he has created yet another “time capsule flight” video to take us there!

Using 1940 United States Department of Agriculture aerials, a 1953 USGA topographical map, and 1974 Florida Department of Transportation map juxtaposed to Google Earth images from today, we see the swamp in all its glory stretching east with forks, like a “river of trees.” What a beautiful, beautiful swamp it must have been!

Before it was cut down, Todd calculates it at  3076 acres, or 14.81 square miles. Amazing! I wonder what animals lived there? We can imagine alligators, and owls as the images fade in and out. And then we see the swamp’s stately trees replaced by the shape of the reservoir; we see the tree stumps burning, and smoke rising the sky. An offering perhaps…

….as humans we seem determined for the theme of our lives to be “Man over Nature.” Well, sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose…

Today, Todd’s video focuses on the structure and size of the former Barley Barber Swamp, but in Part II, he will share yet another story, the 1979 catastrophic failure of the FPL reservoir that burst through its dike like a tidal wave…


Links:

Todd Thurlow, http://www.thurlowpa.com

To view all of Todd’s incredible Time Capsule Flights of Martin County featured on my blog: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDaNwdmfhj15bmGNQaGhog9QpkQPAXl06
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Take a tour of Barley Barber Swamp with the Treasured Lands Foundation. Ex. Dir. Charles Barraclough gives great tours!

Barley Barber Swamp/Tours: http://www.barleybarber.org

Animals in the Swamp! https://www.fpl.com/environment/wildlife/barley-barber-wildlife.html

Barley Barber? Where does the name come from? Who was Barley Barber? Alice and Greg Luckhardt: http://www.tcpalm.com/story/specialty-publications/your-news/martin-county/reader-submitted/2017/04/14/historical-vignettes-martin-countys-barley-barber-swamp/100118178/

FPL/Barley Barber Swamp: https://www.fpl.com/environment/wildlife/barley-barber-history.html

Florida Rambler, Barley Barber Swamp: http://www.floridarambler.com/florida-bike-hike-trails/barley-barber-rare-cypress-swamp-re-opens-for-tours/

FL Museum cypress trees: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/index.php/southflorida/habitats/cypress-swamps/about/

IFAS, Cypress:http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/environment/cypress.shtml

Spoil Island History, Martin County, A Time Capsule Flight–Indian River Lagoon

Spoil island history, MC, FL
Spoil island history, MC, FL (A time-capsule  “flight” by Todd Thurlow.)

For today’s post, I am partnering up with my younger brother, attorney, Todd Thurlow. Todd, as all members of my family, is intrigued by history and maps. As he is a technology buff as well, he has learned to use Google Earth Pro (in this case a trial version) to superimpose old maps over today’s Google Earth aerials. The effect is amazing in that one can literally “see” the changes over time in land, shoreline, and in today’s case, IRL spoil islands. The islands that one sees in the IRL are not natural, they are dredge fill from the creation of a channel with its government beginnings in 1881. This includes some islands that are now exclusive neighborhoods, such as Island Edition and Archipelago, in Sewall’s Point. Fortunately, the birds got one too–“Bird Island” now a Critical Wildlife Area, (CWA) or MC2. MC2 is located just north, off the Archipelago.

Today our channels are managed by FIND, the Florida Inland Navigation District.

I will provide a summary TIME LINE of Todd’s notes below; nonetheless, be sure to watch the video in the link below, so you can “see!” It is amazing: you will feel like you are taking a time-capsule flight right over our beautiful and ever-changing Indian River Lagoon:

Link to IRL/SPOIL ISLAND TIME CAPSULE FLIGHT 1887-1970, by Todd Thurlow: (http://youtu.be/sODqzQ8EW9o)

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Question: “When Did Spoil Islands “appear” in the Martin County Area of the Indian River Lagoon?”

TIME LINE

1881: Florida Coastline Canal and Transportation Company was formed

1887: Aerial shows no spoil islands in IRL

1890: Dredging complete from Haulover Cut in Merritt Island to Jupiter

1892: Locals dig St Lucie Inlet by hand

1920: No spoil islands east of Sewall’s Point. US ACOE recommends dredging 8 feet deep and 75 foot wide from Jacksonville to Miami

1930: ACOE increases recommended width to 100 feet from 75

1935: Work complete-8 feet deep and 100 feet wide channel

1940: USDA map aerial shows spoil islands deposits on east side of Sewall’s Point (these became Island Edition and the Archipelago developments among other things…)

1945: Congress authorizes ACOE to dredge 12 foot deep 125 foot wide channel

1952: USDA map showing spoil islands DIRECTLY EAST of Sewall’s Point

1958: USDA aerial shows “break through/wash through” at today’s Bathtub Beach

1958: USDA aerial still shows no spoil islands on EAST SIDE of channel near Sewall’s Point (these are new islands, not the ones already deposited off of the near east side of SP)

1958: NOAA chart shows Seminole Shore’s, (today’s Sailfish Point) marina is undeveloped

1960: Due to ACOE determination, IRL portion between Ft Pierce to Miami is dredged to 10 feet rather than the 12 feet wanted in 1945

1963: NOAA chart shows new channel but no new islands still on the EAST SIDE of the channel off of Sewall’s Point

1965:  ACOE work complete– based on 1945 and 1960 determinations

1970: Aerial finally does show spoil islands on EAST SIDE of channel off of Sewall’s Point from dredging/channel projects

1970: Aerial reveals, if one looks closely, that the smallest of the spoil islands to the EAST of the channel off of Sewall’s Point has since disappeared….

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Todd Thurlow has given presentations at Stuart Heritage and Florida Oceanographic (http://thurlowpa.com) Call him if your club would like a presentation. Todd and I will be doing more work together in the future!

*I must also credit my dear river activist friend, Ezra Appel, who recently got me interested in spoil islands all over again.  Ezra got involved two years ago with the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserves (IRLAP), when his company adopted a spoil island in Vero Beach. Now he is involved with  a newly formed group “Friends of the Spoil Islands, Inc, ” a 501 (c) non-profit, Community Service Organization working in partnership with the DEP and IRLAP.  Ezra sits on the board as the Treasurer. They have a Facebook page: (https://www.facebook.com/spoilislands) Check it out! Ezra also shares with me aerial photos from INDIAN RIVER BY AIR; they have some great shots of the spoil islands in their neck of the woods: (http://www.indianriverbyair.com/tagged/spoil%20island)

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Prior blog post on Atlantic and Okeechobee Waterways and FIND, the Florida Inland Navigation District: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/06/11/florida-inland-navigation-district-f-i-n-d-maintaining-the-okeechobeeatlantic-waterways-of-the-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)