Tag Archives: Town of Sewall’s Point

“New Turf” –Scotts Phosphorus and Nitrogen Free Fertilizer/Adapting to an Educated Public, SLR/IRL

Scotts
As all fertilizer companies, Scotts has traditionally developed many products heavy in phosphorus and nitrogen, they are now producing products with no nitrogen and phosphorus. Amazing. (Public photo)

It is a good thing when one sees the market adapting to an educated public rather than fighting it.  For me, this is especially rewarding when it comes to adapting to a public educated on fertilizer use, and how it  negatively affects the health of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

In 2010 the Town of Sewall’s Point passed the first “strong fertilizer ordinance” with a black out period on Florida’s east coast. A blackout period is a period when no fertilizer using phosphorus or nitrogen is allowed during a designated time frame that corresponds with South Florida’s rainy season. Due to fertilizers role in the destruction of waterways and increased harmful algae blooms, this idea first took shape on Florida’s west coast in 2007.

Although local governments can affect residential fertilizer, farmers are dealt with separately through the Dept. of Agriculture. So anyway—–

After Sewall’s Point, Martin County a much bigger player,  soon followed with a black out period and the domino effect ensued. River advocates worked tirelessly, and within about one year St Lucie, Indian River, parts of Brevard and Volusia counties, also along the lagoon, had jumped on board. The public showed they were willing to put “skin in the game” to achieve clean water. Many are rethinking “green lawns” in general…and becoming ever MORE EDUCATED.

Recently, Dianne Hughes, who works for Martin County, sent out an email announcing that Scotts Fertilizer would be launching a new “Florida-Friendly Lawn Supplement in Key Test Markets.” I would image this will include “us.” Dianne has worked very hard on promoting the BE FLORIDAN, a program thats model includes fertilizer education and a summer black out period. (http://befloridian.org)

A photo from DEP showing a yard along the North Fork of the SLR. In instances like this it is easy to see the negative effects of fertilizers.
A photo from DEP showing a yard along the North Fork of the SLR. In instances like this it is easy to see the negative effects of fertilizers on area waterways.

Dianne’s email read:

Scotts® Launches New Florida-Friendly Lawn Supplement in Key Test Markets

Scotts® Smarter Solutions for Cleaner Waterways Initiative Brings New Lawn Response™ Nitrogen and Phosphorus Free Product to Florida

West Palm Beach, FL (July 15, 2015) – As part of it’s Smarter Solutions for Cleaner Waterways initiative, ScottsMiracle-Gro, announced the launch of Scotts ®Lawn Response™, a nitrogen and phosphorus free lawn nutrient supplement that will help residents in communities with local fertilizer restrictions support the health of their landscapes. This new product is the latest addition to the Scotts® portfolio in Florida and is a lawn nutrient supplement that replenishes essential micro-nutrients for improved plant health. Produced in Florida and specifically for Florida lawns and gardens, Lawn Response™ is currently available in select areas of the state.

Designed to use on any grass type, outdoor plants and trees, Lawn Response™ is nitrogen and phosphorus free and is compliant for use throughout the year, even during the summer for communities that have localized fertilizer restrictions in place.

Interesting!

In 2013, Scotts also created a phosphorus free fertilizer: (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/business/2013/05/10/scotts-drops-phosphorus-from-lawn-fertilizer.html)

Kudos to Scotts for these changes. Kudos to Scotts for listening and adapting to the public. Kudos to Scotts for realizing you can still find a market and make money and protect the environment. I  won’t tell them though that I have not put any fertilizer on my almost grassless yard for over six years and it’s still green. 🙂

_________________________________________________________

FULL PRESS RELEASE:
For Immediate Release
Contact: Molly Jennings; (561) 681-7683
molly.jennings@scotts.com

Scotts® Launches New Florida-Friendly Lawn Supplement in Key Test Markets

Scotts® Smarter Solutions for Cleaner Waterways Initiative Brings New Lawn Response™ Nitrogen and Phosphorus Free Product to Florida

West Palm Beach, FL (July 15, 2015) – As part of it’s Smarter Solutions for Cleaner Waterways initiative, ScottsMiracle-Gro, announced the launch of Scotts ®Lawn Response™, a nitrogen and phosphorus free lawn nutrient supplement that will help residents in communities with local fertilizer restrictions support the health of their landscapes. This new product is the latest addition to the Scotts® portfolio in Florida and is a lawn nutrient supplement that replenishes essential micro-nutrients for improved plant health. Produced in Florida and specifically for Florida lawns and gardens, Lawn Response™ is currently available in select areas of the state.

Designed to use on any grass type, outdoor plants and trees, Lawn Response™ is nitrogen and phosphorus free and is compliant for use throughout the year, even during the summer for communities that have localized fertilizer restrictions in place.

“Last year we publicly committed to help create solutions for Florida’s one-of- a kind environment and the launch of Lawn Response ™ is part of that commitment. Several Florida communities concerned with excess nitrogen and phosphorus in local waterways have restricted the use of lawn fertilizers during the summer season. We recognize that nitrogen is an essential building block for all plant life and while there is no substitute, Lawn Response ™ gives residents a new lawn care option that will help to keep plants healthy, hearty and drought resistant“,” said Mark Slavens, ScottsMiracle-Gro Vice President of Environmental Affairs.

ScottsMiracle-Gro along with leading academic institutions have long agreed that by naturally filtering and storing water before it reaches stormwater treatment centers and local waterbodies, a healthy lawn promotes cleaner waterways. Lawn Response™ features a micro-nutrient packet that includes Iron, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium, which can enhance greening and increases water efficiency.

Last year, ScottsMiracle-Gro’s “Smarter Solutions for Cleaner Waterways” initiative included a three-year, $5 million commitment to in-state water quality research, habitat restoration, consumer education and green infrastructure improvements. The company is supporting local independent research to determine the sources of pollution in the Indian River Lagoon; results from which will help create solutions to improve the lagoon’s water and wildlife, and create a model that can be replicated for other sensitive waterways. Through its partnerships with additional local partners, Scotts is helping to restore more than 20 acres of salt marsh plants will be restored in Tampa Bay, and supporting research on the Bay’s long-term environmental resiliency. Grants to community gardens, farms and greenspaces throughout Florida have protected more than 47,600 square feet of land. The addition of Lawn Response™ nutrient supplement is an extension of that initiative and demonstrates ScottMiracle-Gro’s continued commitment to Florida’s waterways.

The development of Scotts® Lawn Response™ is consistent with the company’s long history of innovation. Over the past several years, ScottsMiracle-Gro has developed products designed to preserve and protect the local water bodies by removing phosphorus from their Turf Builder® lawn maintenance products, and reducing the amount of total nitrogen while also increasing the amount of slow-release nitrogen in fertilizers. Additionally, the company has developed a SNAP® lawn care system that eliminates product pouring and possible spills and continues to make advances in product applicators, like EdgeGuard®, that help consumers apply the product correctly and on-target.

For more on the product launch and additional information on the Florida Smarter Solutions for Cleaner Waterways initiative, visit http://www.scotts.com/Florida.
About ScottsMiracle-Gro

With more than $2.8 billion in worldwide sales, The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company is the world’s largest marketer of branded consumer products for lawn and garden care. The Company’s brands are the most recognized in the industry. In the U.S., the Company’s Scotts®, Miracle-Gro® and Ortho® brands are market-leading in their categories, as is the consumer Roundup® brand, which is marketed in North America and most of Europe exclusively by Scotts and owned by Monsanto. In the U.S., we operate Scotts LawnService®, the second largest residential lawn care service business. In Europe, the Company’s brands include Weedol®, Pathclear®, Evergreen®, Levington®, Miracle-Gro®, KB®, Fertiligène® and Substral®. In 2015, the Company ranked in Forbes 100 Most Reputable Companies in America. For additional information, visit us at http://www.scottsmiraclegro.com.

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Molly Jennings ·
This email was sent to DHughes@martin.fl.us.

Why A 4-Year-Old Can Tell You That Our Fertilizer Ordinances are Working, SLR/IRL

"Be Floridian. Don't Fertilize." Photo adapted from Beauty of Nature photos sent to me by Anna Marie Wintercorn, 2015. (http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MjM5MjE0NTQ4Mw==&mid=200115697&idx=6&sn=74ffa17c3f3374553c6261be656fbb15&scene=1&from=groupmessage&isappinstalled=0#rd)
“Be Floridian. Don’t Fertilize.” Photo adapted from “Beauty of Nature” photos sent to me by Anna Marie Wintercorn, 2015.*

The “Be Floridian” program was born over a decade ago of the Tampa Bay area. This program has many elements, but most noteworthy is that “strict” fertilizer ordinances evolved collaboratively along the counties and cities of Florida’s “southerly” east coast.

Today, Tampa Bay has more seagrass than it did in the 1940s. This is in spite of the area’s high population. Certainly, they have different issues than we, and “no Lake O,” but the goal is clear: “if they did it there; we can do it here…improve our waters.”

On Florida’s east coast, in 2010,  the peninsular Town of Sewall’s Point, my community,  was the first to implement in a strong fertilizer ordnance. With the 2011-2013 melt down of the Indian River Lagoon due to super-algae blooms killing approximately 60% of the northern/central lagoon’s seagrasses, and the toxic “Lost Summer” of excessive dumping from Lake Okeechobee and area canals along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, communities all along the Indian River pushed their governments to implement strong fertilizer ordinances. —Making a statement that they were “fed-up” with dead waters, and were willing themselves to put “skin in the game.”

In case you don’t know, there are variations, but basically a “strong fertilizer ordinance” is one that does not allow fertilization with phosphorus and nitrogen during the summer rainy/hurricane season.

Recently there was an article in the “Stuart News” asking the question of whether or not these strong fertilizer ordinances are “working” along the IRL. The expert on hand replied it is “too soon to tell…”

I beg to differ, and here is why.

Of course they are working.

A four-year old can tell you they are  working.

Ad in Stuart News. Martin County has a strong fertilizer ordinance and is now promoting the BE FLORIDIAN program here in Martin County. Dianne Hughes and Deb Drum deserve applause for these great ads, 2015.
Ad in Stuart News. Martin County has a strong fertilizer ordinance and is now promoting the BE FLORIDIAN program here in Martin County. Dianne Hughes and Deb Drum deserve applause for these great ads, 2015.

I use this analogy a lot when discussing Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades Agricultural Area’s 700,000 acres south of the lake blocking the natural flow of water from the northern estuaries to the Everglades.

In spite of the sugar and vegetable empires south of the lake trying to convince us that it is water from Orland and the Kissimmee River killing our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, any four-year old studying the River Kidz program will point to the area directly south of the lake as biggest problem forcing the water up and out the estuaries rather than allowing it to flow south as nature intended…We need a third outlet south of the lake. There is too much water to hold it all north. End of story. I don’t need a study to tell me this. I know it. A four-year old knows it. You know it.

Back to fertilizer….last night it rained hard here in Sewall’s Point. My rain gauge says two inches. Seemed like more than that. If my yard had been fertilized of course that fertilizer would have gone into the gutter and down the drain and into the Indian River Lagoon. You can go out and watch this from my driveway.

It must be noted that until the ACOE and SFWMD (collaborating at the direction of our government) stop dumping from the lake and out over expanded canals, we will never know our “area’s” levels of phosphorus and nitrogen.

For example, the ACOE began releasing into our SLR/IRL this January and just stopped a few weeks ago, so if a scientist had done her or her study recently, they would be measuring nutrients that came into our river from “other places” too.

But we, here, are doing our part and can feel good about this…keeping our house in order will help push order in the houses of the state and federal governments that are presently quite un-orderly.

Enforcement? Let’s focus on education. As we can see. It’s working! Five years ago people weren’t even aware that fertilizer was an “issue.”

As a sidebar before I close, I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mr Woody Woodraska who headed the SFWMD in the 1980s before it was  under the anvil of the governor and the state legislature. The topic of visiting Cuba arose. My husband Ed and I will be visiting Cuba this fall with our church, St Mary’s.

Mr Woodraska said: “Oh, you are going to love it..”

In the course of telling his story visiting as a competitor in the Ernest Hemingway competition, he alluded to Cuba’s long repressed economy and how this kept fertilizers, via the agriculture industry, from ruining  Cuba’s waters, fish and wildlife. Thus overall, Cuba’s waters are healthy and beautiful today.

We here in Florida, on the other hand, have developed every piece of land right up to edge of every river, some with septic tanks, and torn out the native plants and replaced with plants that we must fertilize; agriculture is a corporate producer going through literately tons of fertilizer every day; canals not only to drain our land, but  we build houses along them; a turf grass industry flourishes in South Florida that sells 25% of all turf-grass in the WORLD; wonderful universities, like my alma mater and family connected University of Florida, do research and watch the industry’s back to “keeping our economy rolling!”

Yeah…rolling right over our fish, and our wildlife, and over ourselves as we see our own economy suffering from dirty waters.

Whew. I need a cup of coffee.

Sorry to be so opinionated, but I just can’t stand it. Fertilizer that is. In fact I have a file on my computer called DEATH BY FERTILIZER. Here are some pictures; thanks for reading my rant, have a good day, and I will not say “happy fertilizing!”   🙂

Grass going right over edge of canal....photo DEP.
Grass going right over edge of canal….photo DEP.
Ag runoff DEP photo.
Ag runoff from fields into canals DEP photo.
An ad running on the west coast of Florida in the area of Lee County, put together with the collaboration of interested parties and local governments, 2014. (Shared by former council lady Marsha Simmons, Bonita Springs.)
An ad from the west coast of Florida, 2014.
When it rains hard all runoff from yards goes into the SLR/IL taking fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides with it. This kills seagrasses and animal life. (JTL)
When it rains a lot all runoff from yards goes into the SLR/IL taking fertilizer, pesticides and herbicides with it. This kills seagrasses by supporting algae blooms Animal and fish suffer. (JTL)
Ad west coast near springs.
Ad west coast near springs.
Ad on bus west coast or Gainesville.
Ad on bus west coast or Gainesville.
River Kidz protest Florida legislature's trying to outlaw local governments from creating stricter fertilizer ordinances than the states. 2012. (Nic Mader)
River Kidz protest Florida legislature’s trying to outlaw local governments from creating stricter fertilizer ordinances than the states. 2012. (Nic Mader)

 

RK artwork  2011. Save the dolphins. Fertilizer is not good for their skin or for the fish they eat.
RK artwork 2011. Save the dolphins. Fertilizer is not good for their skin, or seagrasses needed by the fish they eat.

BE FLORIDIAN: (http://befloridian.org)

MARTIN COUNTY’S FERTILIZER ORD. (http://www.martin.fl.us/portal/page?_pageid=73,4448073&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL)

The National Research Council’s book “Clean Coastal Waters, Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution,” National Academy’s Press, 2000, is the best book I have read on this subject. It can be ordered on line.

*Photo of Flamingo, source: (http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MjM5MjE0NTQ4Mw==&mid=200115697&idx=6&sn=74ffa17c3f3374553c6261be656fbb15&scene=1&from=groupmessage&isappinstalled=0#rd)

Blog Break, Wild Turkeys, and Happy Thanksgiving! St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Wild turkey, taking a rest, Sewall's Point, 2008. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch)
Wild turkey, taking a rest, Sewall’s Point, 2008. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Taking a break under the American flag. (Photo jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2008, Sewall's Point)
Taking a break under the American flag. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2008, High Point, Sewall’s Point.)

In 2008 there was a flock of about seven wild turkeys that would fly over from Hell’s Gate across the St Lucie River and visit my street, Riverview, as well as others right here in Sewall’s Point.

The first time I saw them, I thought they were peacocks as there were peacocks here at the time, before the mail man ran over the male and the rest got eaten by bobcats.

At closer look, the tailless peacocks or very brown peahens were skinny, nervous,  running wild turkeys! Ed had seen them too, very early in the morning on the way to work,  and sent me a photo from  his phone.  We really enjoyed seeing  them!

Over about the course of a year, I really came to like them, and began to feel bad about eating their fat, farmed cousins for Thanksgiving…Since about 2011 they have not visited. I wish them, wherever they may be, as well as  you, and your family, a very Happy Thanksgiving this week. In spite of life’s difficulties,  there is so much to be thankful for…

On a river note,  we have the attention of of government for the Indian River Lagoon, and things may get better, if we keep pushing and calling attention to the river’s plight and how important it is in our lives.

Wild turkey,  Sewall's Point,
Wild turkey, Sewall’s Point, 2008. (Photo JTL, 2008.)

For the Thanksgiving week, I will be taking a “blog break” to spend time with my local family, visiting relatives,  and celebrate Ed’s birthday; he turns 58 today! 🙂

See you next week! And if you see a wild turkey, wish it a Happy Thanksgiving and tell it we’d love to have it and its family back in Sewall’s Point!

 

 

I’d Rather be an Eagle Than a Turkey, St Luice River/Indian River Lagoon

The Bald Eagle, (Public Photo)
The Majestic Bald Eagle, (Public Photo)

Benjamin Franklin preferred the wild turkey as our national bird, as he felt the bald eagle, that sometimes steals food from other birds of prey, had “bad moral character…” Even so, one has to wonder if the United States of America would have ever reached its “greatness” if our national bird had been a turkey.

Wild turkey displays its fanned tail. (Public photo)
A beautiful but not quite as stately, wild turkey displays its fanned tail. (Public photo)

Just recently during the Stuart Air Show, my brother Todd, sent me some photos he took of an eagle soaring over the St Lucie River in North River Shores. About three weeks ago, I was pulling into Cedar Point Plaza in Stuart, I looked up and saw the unmistakable white “bald” head, large body enormous wing span of a bald eagle. Incredible! Inspirational! It made my day!

Bale Eagle flying over North River Shores. (Photo by Todd Thurlow, 11-14.)
Bale Eagle flying over North River Shores. (Photo by Todd Thurlow, 11-14.)

Today, in our Indian River Lagoon Region, birds of prey are by far more prevalent than when I was a kid growing up in Stuart in the 1970s and 80s. Even if the Indian River Lagoon system was healthier then, than it is now, in the 70s and 80s, rarely did one see the great eagle soaring or the abundant ospreys one sees today.

The reason? Of course DDT, (dichlorodiphenyltrichhloroethane), a powerful chemical used to control mosquitoes and as an agricultural insecticide. Once it became widely known that DDT was a threat to both bird and human health, primarily due to the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson, in 1962, DDT’s use was eventually outlawed in the United States.

So in spite of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon’s extensive decline, there are more eagles about today than before. In Florida, after being designated as “endangered” since 1972, in 1995 the bald eagle was reclassified as “threatened.” The birds and their habitat remain protected.

Eagles mate for life and a pair has been reported in the area of Sewall’s Point for about four years. The photo below was taken by Greg Braun and shows one of the eagles sitting on a rock by Bird Island. Apparently, the pairs may leave each other for many months when traveling great distances, and then return to their nesting sites. There are accounts of their “mating sky dance” where the eagles lock talons hundreds of feet up in the air and then tumble, almost hitting the earth, only to release and regain their flight at the last-minute!

 

Eagle sitting near Bird Island just off of the Town of Sewall's Point. (Photo by Greg Braun, 2012.)
Eagle sitting near Bird Island just off of the Town of Sewall’s Point. (Photo by Greg Braun, 2012.)

An eagle can stand three feet in height, and its wing span can be up to 8 feet! Their eyes are just larger than human eyes and of course, their eye sight is superior, approximately 3 and 1/2 times better than a human with 20/20 vision. For instance, they are able to see another eagle flying 50 miles away and a rabbit moving over the ground a mile away. They love fish and are outstanding hunters. Females are larger than males and dominate the nest, often killing the smaller male sibling. Nature does not sugar coat the eagle’s drive to dominate and survive, especially the females….

Another strong instinct is “pruning” which chicks mimic even before they have feathers by accessing an oil gland at the base of the torso using  their curved beak to pretend they are coating  each feather.  Baby eagles must grow for about five or six years to be sexually mature and attain their white head feathers. Parents take care of the young for many months even though the young start flapping their wings around 8 weeks and are encouraged to take flight.  I was lucky to experience this wonder, when a few years ago, Dr Dale Hipson, a friend of the family, took me to his camouflaged hide out in the Corbett Wildlife Management Area to watch eagle parents dutifully feeding and teaching their young. It was an experience I will never forget. 

Dr Hipson taught me that the  word “bald” is an archaic word for “white” and this is how eagles got their name. Juvenile eagles are brown in color and often mistaken as ospreys or hawks.

Reading about eagles, it is hard to understand their migration patterns and perhaps scientists  do not really know as they can’t fly with them, but it seems some eagles in Florida migrate thousands of miles to Alaska (Snow birds!) and some are “resident” eagles remaining here. Florida is  the second most eagle-populated state in the nation other than Alaska.

Eagle nests are the largest nests known.
Eagle nests are the largest nests known. (Photo Harbor Ridge reporting/video taping  of nesting site, 2011.)
Eagle in area of Rio, as taken last week by wildlife photographer,
Eagle in area of Rio, as taken last week by wildlife photographer and Facebook friend, Rebecca Fatzinger, 11-14.)

In closing, I am happy that some birds are doing well in spite of the poor health of the Indian River Lagoon. And I have to say that with no disrespect to the turkey, I am glad the eagle is our national bird!

Benjamin Franklin preferred the turkey to the eagle as he felt the eagle was of "bad moral character" as it sometimes steals food from other birds of prey and other eagles.
Benjamin Franklin preferred the wild turkey to the bald eagle as our national bird  as he felt the eagle was of “bad moral character…”

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Florida Wildlife Commission: Managing Bald Eagles: (http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/bald-eagle/)

Florida Nature: Bald Eagles: (http://www.floridiannature.com/eagleandospreyraptors.htm)

J.W. Corbett Wildlife Area, Palm Beach County, FL: (http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/lead/jw-corbett)

 

 

Tomorrow’s Public Educational Forum, Be an Educated Voter Along the Indian River Lagoon

Be an Educated Voter
Be an Educated Voter…

If there is one thing that government likes best, it’s an uneducated public. It is so-o-o-o much easier for the government to “do its job,” if no one knows what’s going on…

The best tool to fight being taken advantage of as a citizen, is to educate yourself. I have watched this at work over the past three years with the Indian River Lagoon. Through social media, the Stuart News, and other sources the public has become VERY educated on St Lucie/Indian River Lagoon issues and thus our Florida state legislators and even the governor could no longer ignore us. We even educated our children thorough the River Kidz…..

An educated public is a very threatening thing to the status quo….

My friend Scott Dudley at the Florida League of Cities said it best:

“The power of the government is derived from the consent of the governed. Consent can be granted through apathy or approval…”

I invite everyone, of all cities and counties, to continue their education tomorrow in my hometown of  Sewall’s Point.

Tomorrow we will fight apathy and share opinions in a public forum. Please join us tomorrow, October 16th, from 6:30-8:30 PM at the Sewall’s Point Town Hall, located at 1 South Sewall’s Point Road. Richard Geisinger will present along with others on behalf of the Martin County Taxpayers Association. Richard is a Sewall’s Point resident of many years, whose family goes back to our early days.  He is an amazingly dedicated servant for the public and truly cares.

Topics covered will be:

1. The Water and Land Legacy Amendment, known as: Amendment 1.

2. The Proposed 1 Cent Sales Tax Referendum for Martin County and local municipalities.

3. The Children’s Services Council Reauthorization that is on the ballot this year, its first in many.

4. An All-Aboard Florida update.

Even if you already “know” how you are going to vote on these issues, please attend.

In historical times the Town Hall gathering was a time when the people would come together and discuss TOGETHER proposed ideas and laws that would affect their town. We rarely have this kind of discussion any more and that is a great loss. In spite of technology the best way to communicate is “face to face,” “person to person.” Communication experts explain that 85 percent of communication is non-verbal. The important nonverbal element is often missed today as we often do not communicate face to face…

Town Hall gatherings are also fun. They make you feel American! Involved! Educated! Non Apathetic!

Please come out and learn. Come out and share. See what others are thinking and tell others what you are thinking yourself.

We don’t always have to agree but should all fight apathy and work hard at being  informed because then we are less likely for our government to run us over with a train…

Hope to see you there. 🙂

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Martin County Tax Payers Association: (http://mctaxpayers.org)

Town of Sewall’s Point: (http://sewallspoint.org) 

 

What Are “Rain Gardens” and How Can They Help Our Indian River Lagoon?

Farmer Fred, Mr Fred Burkey stands in front of the entrance of the new  rain garden at the Hoke Library in Jensen. (All photos by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 9-27-14.)
“Farmer Fred,” Mr Fred Burkey, stands in front of the outlet of the new rain garden just installed by Martin County at the Hoke Library in Jensen. (All photos by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 9-27-14.)

Recently, I kept hearing about “rain gardens,” and how they could be used in the Town of Sewall’s Point to help the Indian River Lagoon. I kept nodding my head, but I really had no idea what they were.  A “garden for rain” obviously, but nonetheless, no image would  crystallize in my mind.

After a field trip with UF IFAS extension office representative (http://martin.ifas.ufl.eduMr Fred Burkey to the Hoke Library, I now know. So today, I am going to share with you about a very cool, beautiful, and useful thing Martin County and others are promoting to help our ailing St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and waterways across our nation.

The idea of a rain garden is to hold water and filter it before it enters our waterways and if everyone held just a “little bit” of water it could make a very big difference. In most circumstances today’s drainage is designed to “roll off the land” as fast as possible, and is directed to a  gutter or pipe which leads to a body of water. There is little filtration so all the pollutants go directly into the “river.”

Mr Burkey is an expert and professional on the subject of water,  but still it was amusing to be working with him on water ideas for the Town of Sewall’s Point, as in the early years of my life he was my neighbor….

He and his wife Jackie, live across the street from my parents in Indialucie, Sewall’s Point. I lived across from the Burkey family from 10 years old until I was 18. The Burkeys  have four kids and we all grew up together.   Mr Burkey was always “Mr Burkey.” But the day of the rain garden  it was “adult to adult.”

My morning went something like this:

“Ding dong” went the door bell and Mrs Burkey answered the door.

“Hello Mrs Burkey . Is Mr Burkey here please? We are supposed to look at a rain garden…”

“Call me Jackie please. Fred! Jacqui’s here!” she yelled into the kitchen.

He came to the door.

“Hello Mr Burkey.”

“By gosh, Call me Fred! You are making me feel old…”

So after a quick conversation and being  told to call Mr and Mrs Burkey by their first names, something I was trained never to do as a kid, “Fred” and I got in my car and made our way to the Hoke Library in Jensen. As I mentioned, Fred works for IFAS, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and in coordination with the Dainne Hughes at Martin County, he is promoting rain gardens. He was my guide.

Once we arrived and I got out of the car, it all finally made sense because I “could see.”

Fred explained that a rain garden is meant to filter water coming from impervious surfaces.   In the case of the Hoke Library, they took an area that had very heavy gutter runoff, put rocks  right at the base of the gutter, dug out the earth for a distance of about 50 feet, to hold and filter the water, planted native and Florida Friendly plants  to help with filtering , and then put a berm  around the area.

Here are some pictures of the Hoke’s rain garden to help you envision what a rain garden  can look like.

The area
The area to the west side of the Hoke library shows surrounding berm.
gutter and rocks
Gutter and rocks where heavy rains caused erosion and water would just quickly run into parking lot.
Runoff area of gutter.
Runoff area of gutter.
Middle area of rain garden.
Middle area of shallow rain garden.
Western edge of rain garden.
Western sloping edge of rain garden.
Native plants inside rain garden. Firebush.
Native plants inside rain garden remove pollutants. This firebush attracts butterflies.
Native grasses.
Native grasses.
Black eyed Susan.
Black eyed Susan.
Magnolia.
Magnolia.
Fred Burkey and the librarian from the Hoke.
Fred Burkey and  head librarian Emma Castle from the Hoke who gave us the grand tour.
Rain Garden
Rain Garden: Bioretension and Infliltration site: (http://www.greeningthegray.org/gi-features/gi-features/bioretention-infiltration/)

A rain garden is a relatively easy and inexpensive thing to do.

When I got home and started looking at Sewall’ Point  I could now see there are many areas where the water just runs off houses and buildings onto driveways and dirty streets  into the river.  Could we create a shallow area with native plants to hold, clean and filter that water? I’m sure we could.

We can all help in little ways to improve our rivers. Together, it  is a big way.  Take a look at your yard please. Hopefully,  you see a rain garden in your future!

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Story TC Palm Rain Garden Hoke Library, Jensen: (http://www.tcpalm.com/news/local-news/martin-county/news-briefs/rain-garden-installed-at-hoke-library_84402096)

Hotels at the Tip of Sewall’s Point along the Indian River Lagoon?

This aerial photograph is from Sandra Henderson Thurlow's  book, "Sewall's Point, the History of a  Peninsular  Community on Florida's Treasure Coast." The photo was taken by Dillon-Reynolds Aerial Photography in 1968, ten years after the "bridges to the sea" were built for transportation and development.
This aerial photograph is from Sandra Henderson Thurlow’s book, “Sewall’s Point, the History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast.” The photo was taken by Dillon-Reynolds Aerial Photography in 1968, ten years after the “bridges to the sea” were built to aid in  transportation and development of the area.

Imagine yourself a developer in Florida’s early days along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.  Land is cheap, people are coming, you can dredge and fill, you can create a marina, or bulkhead spoil islands filling and building on top of them, you can cut canals into the land creating more waterfront, and while you are smoking your cigar, you see the peninsula of Sewall’s Point. “Location! Magnificent! A perfect place for a series of hotels right at the tip of the lush pennisula surrounded by water…this would be, simply marvelous!” “Chi-$-Ching!”

Believe it or not, in 1957-1970  that scenario was very much the fate of the Sewall’s Point and the two islands off its tip. The 1957 zoning map, the year the town was incorporated, designated High Point, and the two islands at the southern tip of the peninsula as a “Business-2 Zoning District.”  This zoning designation permitted “hotels with not less than 25 rooms, clubs, multiple apartments, and municipal buildings.” (Historic legal documents referenced in Sewall’ s Point, Sandra  Henderson Thurlow).

Sewall's Point zoning map  1957.
Sewall’s Point zoning map 1957 shows the tip of High Point and two islands zoned for “business.” (Map, Sewall’s Point, Sandra Henderson Thurlow)

So why did not this developer’s dream come true?

“In 1970, a proposal to build multi-family dwellings on Sewall’s Point fell through when the members of the High Point Homeowners Association, working through the town government, defeated the the plan of Bessemer Properties.” (Thurlow)  This was a feat, in that Bessemer was controlled by the Phipps family with wealth from steel manufacturing; they were very powerful.

In 1970, after the confrontation, the town’s zoning map was changed to permit only R-1 residential zoning.

So, if you ever feel discouraged about the state of the Indian River Lagoon or other things,  think of the story of Sewall’s Point, and remember, a small group of determined people can certainly change their world!

 

Aerial of Sewall' Point, 1960 by Dillon-Reynolds Photography, showing new roads in Bessemer's High Point.
Aerial of Sewall’ Point, 1960 by Dillon-Reynolds Photography, showing new roads in Bessemer’s High Point sub-division.