Tag Archives: US Sugar

Who Owns the Land Inside and Outside of the Circles? Mapping Out the Future Of Water, SLR/IRL

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Senate Pres. Elect Joe Negron’s proposal/landownership in EAA, TCRPC 2016

 

Yesterday we talked about the importance of maps and how they allow us to have a vision for the future. For today’s lesson we are going to visually compare Senator Joe Negron’s land proposal map with a map of land ownership. This ownership map was recently created by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and I shared these maps with Senator Negron prior to the choice of land ownership possibilities.

Learning about lands south of  Lake Okeechobee can be dizzying. The first thing you have to do, not to lose your sense of direction, is to familiarize yourself with the canals. Your  landmarks.

From left to right, the largest canals visible running north/south under Lake Okeechobee are the Miami, New River, Hillsborough, and West Palm Beach. You will also notice the Bolles Canal, (L-21), that runs east/west intersecting. When flying over this area with my husband these canals are the only landmarks that guide me in knowing where I am. Otherwise, it is just miles and miles of sugarcane.

map, canals, South of Lake Okeechobee
Canal map SFWMD

 

I love the TCRPC map below with the list of land owners in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). It really makes it easy to “see.” Notice the color coded BLUE: Public (the state or federal government); YELLOW: Private Ownership; and RED: Major Private Ownership.

When I asked the council the difference between private ownership and major private ownership, they said bigger corporations quality as “major private ownership.” One can see by all the red that most of the land under Lake Okeechobee is in major private ownership!

In regard to landownership inside the circles, Isadora Rangel of TC Palm stated in her August 10th article as follows:

“Sugar giant Florida Crystals owns 60 percent of each of those two parcels, Negron said. U.S. Sugar Corp. owns 30 percent of one, and sugar grower King Ranch owns 30 percent of the other. The state and others own the rest of the land. A U.S. Sugar spokesman declined to comment on whether the company will sell. Florida Crystals said it was reviewing Negron’s plan, according to media reports. Negron said he’s “optimistic” the companies will sell and said if the state allocates the money, then negotiations will be easier…”

Well, as we learn about this area (so we can speak in an educated manner to those involved who win on November 8th) let’s look at ALL  of the owners on the map.

1.United Stats Sugar Corporation

2. Okeelanta Corp.

3. New Hope Sugar Co.

4. King Ranch Inc.

5. Wedgeworth Farms Inc.

6. SBG Sugar Farms

7. Stofan Co. Inc.

8. Closter Farms Inc.

9. Sugar Cane Growers

10. New Farm Inc.

We know something about one or two but what about the rest?

In the coming days, we will learn about history of these land owners and the history of what was once the “river of grass.” It will benefit us to review the story of the this area, because it our story too, the story of the slow demise of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

 

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TCRPC EAA land ownership map 2016

 

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Negron EAA land purchase proposal 2016

President Elect Senator Joe Negron: https://www.flsenate.gov/senators/s32

TCPalm, Isador Rangel on Negron’s proposal, 8-10-16:

http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/indian-river-lagoon/politics/joe-negron-announces-plan-to-reduce-lake-okeechobee-discharges-3994eb9f-787b-3082-e053-0100007f3d08-389532591.html

TCRPC, EAA ownership map source:http://www.tcrpc.org

Understanding C-PAC, JTL vs the Political Machine-A Retrospective, SLR/IRL

Part #3, PACS

  1. C-PAC

Today along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I continue my series “JTL vs the Political Machine,” a retrospective for my county commission district 1 campaign loss. I find that hindsight is always 20/20, reviewing everything is helpful, and certainly understanding how things work will make me a better candidate in the future. As a teacher it is an oportunity for me to share the electoral process so others can learn too.

Yesterday we reviewed Write in Candidates, and the Firefighters Union. Today we begin with one of multiple PACs, or Political Action Committees. On the simplest level, a PAC is an organization that raises money privately to influence elections or legislation. PACs must report monies raised to election offices, and the tiers of giving are often multilayered and not easy to trace.

I am going to start with the PAC closest to home, C-PAC. C-PAC is the political action committee for the Stuart Chamber. https://www.stuartmartinchamber.org
I have a lot of acquaintances in the Stuart Chamber, but due to long-standing relationships and other factors the chamber supported my opponent Doug Smith. Thus we study his post card today.

The Stuart Chamber supported Mr Smith by sending out a post card for him. The average political postcard mailing for design, printing, and mailing runs around $15,000, so it is very helpful if a PAC sends out a postcard for you if you are a candidate because then you don’t have to raise the money yourself!

Below is the postcard C-PAC sent out for Doug Smith. Look closely on the back side bottom, it reads: “Paid Electioneering Communication paid for by C-PAC, 1650 S. Kanner, Highway, FL 34994” if Mr. Smith’s campaign had paid for this, it would say that…

IMG_5295.jpgIMG_5294.jpg

For the busy and hardworking public, it is hard to take the time to find out where PACs get their money and thus who is really supporting a candidate so let’s look a bit deeper and see what we find out. It’s fun. Like being a detective!

First of all as C-PACs address is in Martin County, you have to go to the Martin County Supervisor of Election’s website and click on the COMMITTEE INFO, COMMITTEES, C-PAC, and then “Non Election Specific Reporting:”

http://www.martinvotes.com/CFElectionFilings.aspx?elect_id=&comm_id=27

Once clicking around one can see that in 2015 and 2016, C-PAC accepted PAC money from the following : IMG_5298.jpg
IMG_5297.jpg

I know most of the donors in 2015, but who is Florida Jobs Pac in 2016 who gave $25,000 to C- PAC on 7/14/16? According to the StPetersburgBlog: Florida Jobs PAC is a political arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. That makes sense–but let’s look at the donations. As Florida Jobs Pac’s address is Tallahassee we must go to the Florida Division of Election’s website and type in Florida Jobs under “Committees:”
http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/campaign-finance/contributions/

This is what comes up. There are many donors but some stand out like Duda and Sons Inc., Florida Crystals, FPL with so many, and United States Sugar Corporation. IMG_5299.jpgIMG_5300.jpg

Hmmmm?

So although the postcard says C-PAC. There is more to it than that. Good to know! We’ll study some more of the Tallahasse PACs in the coming days. They are very interesting too.

Jacqui

Learn more here: Dept of State: http://dos.myflorida.com/elections/candidates-committees/

Sucking-in the Algae Bloom, Lake Okeechobee’s S-308, SLR/IRL

Lake Okeechobee's S-308 at Port Mayaca, Ed Lippisch, May 13, 2016.
Lake Okeechobee’s S-308 at Port Mayaca, Ed Lippisch, May 13, 2016.

The first time I ever laid eyes on Lake Okeechobee, I was eleven years old. I remember thinking that I must be looking at the ocean because I could not see across to the other side. Just enormous!

In spite of its magnificent size, over the past century, Lake Okeechobee has been made smaller–around thirty percent smaller– as its shallow waters have been modified for human use–pushed back, tilled, planted, diked, and controlled. Today, it is managed by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers. Sprawling sugar fields, the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), canals, highways, telephone poles, train tracks, processing facilities, a FPL power plant, and small cites surround it.

S-308, (the “S” standing for “structure), opens easterly into the St Lucie Canal, also known as  C-44, (Canal 44).  About twenty miles east is another structure, S-80, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam. It is S-80 that is usually photographed with its “seven gates of hell,” the waters roaring towards the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and the City of Stuart, but it is actually S-308 that allows the waters of Lake Okeechobee “in” from the lake in the first place.

Such a fragile looking structure to be the welcome matt of so much destruction…a sliver unto an ocean. So strange…

Today I will share some aerial photos that my husband took on Friday, May 13th, 2016 at about 700 feet above the lake. I asked Ed if from that height he could see the algae bloom so much in the news last week even though over time blooms migrate, “bloom” and then sink into the water column, becoming less visible but still lurking.

“Yes.” He replied.

” It’s harder to see from that altitude, and it depends on the light, but it’s still visible. It’s green in the brown water. The lighting shows were it is. You can see a difference in texture about 100 yards west of S-308. It is not right up against the structure, but further out. Boats are driving through it leaving a trail. It’s appears that is slowly being sucked in to the opening of the S-308 structure , like when you pull the drain out of the sink….”

S-308
S-308 at Port Mayaca, Indiantown, Martin County. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-16
Dike around Lake Okeechobee near S-308
Dike and rim canal around Lake Okeechobee near S-308. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-16
...
…EL
opening S-308
opening S-308 EL
...
…Looking towards S-308 from Lake O, boat going through bloom. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-15
...
Remnants of bloom seen bunched in waves. Ed Lippisch 5-13-16.
...
…EL
...
…EL
...
...
…EL
C-44 or St Lucie Canal
C-44 or St Lucie Canal that is connected by S-308 to Lake Okeechobee.EL
Algae bloom in C-44 near Indiantown just east of Port Maraca and S-308.
Closer view of algae bloom in C-44 near Indiantown “downstream” of Port Maraca and S-308 headed to Stuart. (JTL 5-10-16)
SFWMD basin map for SLR showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
SFWMD SLR basin and canal map showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
This aerial was taken last week by Will Glover and shows a larger bloom not far from Pahokee in Lake Okeechobee. Pahokee is south of S-308 on the southern rim.
Algae Bloom in Lake Okeechobee: This aerial was taken last week by Will Glover as he was flying over Lake Okeechobee in a commercial airplane. It was shared on Facebook.

TC Palm’s Tyler Treadway reported on 5-13-16: “The lake bloom was spread over 33 square miles near Pahokee, the South Florida Water Management District said Thursday. The Florida Department of Health reported Friday the bloom contains the toxin microcystin, but at a level less than half what the World Health Organization says can cause “adverse health impacts” from recreational exposure.”

Map of cities around Lake O and trail you can take to see this area.

Pahokee is south and west of Port Maraca and S-308. (Florida Trails)

Overcoming the Propaganda of U.S. Sugar Corporation in the Stuart News, SLR/IRL

US Sugar ad, Stuart News, May 1, 2016.
US Sugar ad, Stuart News, May 1, 2016.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.

It’s easier to communicate your message when you have billions of dollars, but it is not a limiting factor if you don’t…

Today, I will share a “Draft Report” from Dr Gary Goforth. This report is a response he has created specifically to U.S. Sugar Corporation’s May 1st full- page ad in the Stuart News entitled: “The Water That Ends Up In Our Local Waterways.”

This is one of multiple full-page ads U.S. Sugar Corporation has run in the local Martin County paper over that past months trying to “educate” our citizenry. Why are they spending so much money doing this? Why all the propaganda? Because they know that though our advocacy for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, we are changing the course of human events. For the first time, many people and some important politicians and are looking at South Florida and saying “It needs to be re-plumbed…..”

Dr Goforth (http://garygoforth.net) is no stranger to these water issues, nor to the controversy and ability to manipulate the numbers complicated by the historic and supportive relationship between those doing business in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake and today’s South Florida Water Management District. Thus the intertwined propaganda.

So here we go, each idea is presented on a separate slide. You can click the slide to enlarge if you need to. Thank you Dr Goforth!

DRAFT COMMENTS ON U.S. SUGAR AD—G.GOFORTH 5-4-16

1
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3.
3.
4.
4.
5.
5.
6.
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7.
7.
8.
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Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.
Full page ad 5-1-16 US Sugar, Stuart News.

(http://www.ussugar.com)

1856 pre drainage
1856 pre drainage

Taking the Emotion out of “Clewiston”-UF’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute, SLR/IRL

Clewiston, Scott Kuhns 2013.
Clewiston, Scott Kuhns 2013.
Lake Okeechobee. Google maps as shown in our UF'S NRLI packet.
A developed Lake Okeechobee. Clewiston and the EAA lie south of the lake. Google maps.
....
….

I am part of Class VX for the University of Florida’s Natural Resources Leadership Institute. It has been an incredible journey, and I have learned so much. It has been both exhausting and rewarding. As I am on the campaign trail running for Martin County Commissioner, and a sitting commissioner for the Town of Sewall’s Point, leaving for three to four days every month is difficult. When I get home I am behind and worried I will not meet my fundraising and outreach goals for the month….My husband, Ed,  has been supportive, but it is an additional challenge for our family balance and my responsibilities.

Last year Ed and I really talked it through. “Go!” He said.

“You need to learn what they are teaching, Jacqui. You need to learn how to take out the emotion and deal with these political issues objectively…”

Hmmmmm? OK.

And I have been learning….

I have been learning “leadership.” I have been reading. I have been building relationships with others in agencies and government positions across our state. I have been practicing… And most important, I am learning to apply a “framework for understanding conflict,” to resolve conflict together–collaboratively.

—-I keep my notes on my dresser and look at them every morning. Recently, it has all has begun to make sense.

My notes summary notes from the NRLI program.
My notes summary notes from the NRLI program.

This journey to study some of Florida’s top resource conflicts began almost one year ago and reads like a “Who’s Who”of Florida issues: Titusville, NASA: Indian River Lagoon–Space Port in National Wildlife Refuge; Apalachicola, Water Wars/Dying Historic Oyster Industry; Silver Springs, Aquifer Recharge/Springs Health; Jacksonville, Wildland Interface (where the state burns wooded areas within feet of people’s homes due to rampant development); Key Largo, Sea Level Rise; Crystal River, Manatees/Endangered Species, Recreation/Protections;  and finally our last stop tomorrow before graduation in April: Clewiston, Agriculture South of Lake Okeechobee….

I have been to Clewiston before, but that was a few years ago to protest at the “Sugarland Rally.” Remember the Sugarland Rally that statewide paddle-boarder Justin Riney organized during the “Lost Summer of 2013?” When the St Lucie and Indian River Lagoon were toxic for three months with overflow waters of Lake Okeechobee?

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

This time I will visit not to protest but to study the situation objectively using my new tools. It’s of kind of ironic that Clewiston is my last stop, isn’t it?  The final test. My class will be meeting with stakeholders and touring US Sugar Corporation’s headquarters in Clewiston.

Gulp.

I am excited to learn. I am excited to see it up close and hear their side of the story on their home turf. To be fair, this is a historic issue. But whether I can take the emotion out of it or not….that I’ll have to let you know.

Sugarland Rally, Clewiston 2013.
Speaking at the Sugarland Rally, Clewiston 2013.
....Clewiston
….Clewiston’s Sugarland Rally, 2013.
.....Mayor Roland
…..with Mayor Phillip Roland of Clewiston, 2013.

FLASH FORWARD TO TODAY:

2016 with Class VX NRLI.
2016 with Class VX NRLI. Learning skills to deal with conflict. My classmates are from all over the state. It is a great group!

Read more about UF’s NRLI or apply at : http://nrli.ifas.ufl.edu

Clewiston: http://www.clewiston-fl.gov

US Sugar Corporation:http://www.ussugar.com

Why is it So Hard To Send Water South? SLR/IRL

 

WCAs public photo
Water Conservation Areas as seen below the Everglades Agricultural Area. South Florida is compartmentalized to control water to “protect” farms and people ….this does always work.

We are in rain-year not seen before….

The state is overflowing…..

Our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon is again being destroyed by too much fresh, dirty, water….

Why is it so hard to send this water south?

It is “so hard to move water south” because the state of Florida has been compartmentalized to protect the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee and to keep-dry much of the lands that we live on. And now our waters are polluted…

Imagine, if you would, what would be going on here in South Florida now if modern man had never “conquered” it….Basically it would be a clean free-flowing marsh all the way from Shingle Creek in Orlando through Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades.

Well that it is no longer the case, is it?  Since the 1920s, and more so since the 1940s, these lands have been drained, and diked, and altered, so that humans can grow food, and live here –inadvertently polluting the system. It is an imperfect situation and we must try to understand it, so we can make it better as we all need clean water.

1850s map of Florida
1850s map of Florida
Today's flow from Lake Okeechobee. (Image Everglades Foundation.)
Today’s flow into SLR and Caloosahatchee from Lake Okeechobee used to flow south.

So for the everyday person trying to figure out “what is going on” right now, let’s take a look at “today:”

  1. It has been raining lot. Since the end of January, the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee are being destroyed once again as the state of Florida and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers dump incoming waters out of Lake Okeechobee so that the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake and surrounding communities are not flooded. Drainage and property in our area is part of this too.
  2. A rare situation occurred this past week where Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, issued an order to release water south through a canal into the Everglades. He had to confer with the US ACOE to do this. (Due to poor water quality and safety,  just “sending water south” is not allowed. But now with so much water, it is an emergency.)
  3. The Water Conservation Areas south of the EAA, —these gigantic areas (see bottom slide) that are considered part of the Everglades and full of wildlife and in some places sacred Native American tree islands, are so full of water that they have to be dumped first. If they are lowered, then more water can enter from the Everglades Agricultural Area and hopefully Lake Okeechobee itself. Then, and only then, would there be less dumping into the St Lucie River/IRL and Caloosahatchee. We have a long way to go and its not even “rainy season.”

I commend all those working hard to alleviate the overflowing system and I encourage investment in working to improve this relic as well as investment in the children who must be part of the goal to re-plumb this system. Dr Gary Goforth shows us how it is working right now as I asked for a simple explanation to share with the River Kidz.

Gary Goforth
Gary Goforths’ image to explain “water going south.”

“Jacqui—

Due to increased stormwater pumping from the EAA and surrounding areas and direct rainfall, the water levels in the WCAs are too high. Last week the Gov. sent a letter to the Corps requesting authorization to raise water levels in the Tamiami Canal allowing increased flows into the Park through Northeast Shark River Slough. Yesterday the District began making those increased discharges through structure S-333. Whether or not the District will send additional Lake water south is yet to be seen – lowering the stage in the WCAs should help. See the map above. (from page 2 of the attached).”

Gary (http://garygoforth.net/resume.htm)
______________________________

Here you can read: Press Release Gov. Scott

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 11, 2016
CONTACT: GOVERNOR’S PRESS OFFICE
(850) 717-9282
media@eog.myflorida.com

DEP and FWC Issue Orders to Allow Army Corps of Engineers to Ease Effects of Flooding

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued orders that will allow the U.S. Army Corps to move more water south through Shark River Slough to ease the effects of flooding in South Florida. Click HERE (http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/FFWCC.pdf)
to see the orders.

Earlier today, Governor Scott sent a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to take immediate action to relieve the flooding of the Everglades Water Conservation Areas and the releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Estuaries. To read the letter, click HERE (http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2.11.161.pdf).

South Florida and WCAs
South Florida and WCAs

WCA 3B: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/wca3b.pdf

SFWMD WCAs information sheet: http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_wca_management.pdf

SFWMD: Just the Facts on this rain year: http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xrepository/sfwmd_repository_pdf/jtf_2015-16_dry_season_rainfall.pdf

“All is Fair in Love and War,” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Martin County Fair 2016
Martin County Fair 2016
Since my childhood the Martin County Fair has been one of my favorite times of year. US Sugar was not an advertiser when I was growing up here.
Since my childhood the Martin County Fair has been one of my favorite times of year. US Sugar was not an advertiser when I was growing up here.
First sign displayed upon entering fairgrounds., 2016.
First sign displayed upon entering fairgrounds., 2016

At the chance of sounding like “a sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal,” I would like to share my experience yesterday at the Martin County Fair.

Mind you, for me, the Martin County Fair is as apple pie as a once clean river. Growing up in Martin County the fair was THE event of the year. We waited all year for it to come to town!

It was the one place our parents would set us “free” to run around and visit our friends, go on the ferris wheel and the Zipper!—-Scrunched together in the gravity of middle school, this was about as much fun as could possibly be attained…..I have wonderful memories of the fair.

Most recently, I have gone to the Fair with my nieces, and last night by myself. My husband, Ed, wanted to piddle around at the airport just across the street….Well, yesterday when I walked through the fair’s gate there was a most prominently posted sign that read:  “U.S. Sugar.”

sign
Sign….

This surprised me. This bothered me.

I knew they were a sponsor for the fair but I was taken aback that this was the first sign one would see upon walking into the fairgrounds  from the entrance gate. Thousands of parents and children saw that sign right before they had a ton of fun…

Hmmmm?

I complained to Ed later. “Jacqui are you really surprised?” he asked….”The fair needs sponsorships. U.S. Sugar is marketing…”

Maybe my eyes are not totally opened, but I do find a U.S.Sugar banner prominently displayed at the Martin County Fair odd and ironic.

I find this ironic as at this very moment the gates of S-80 are at “maximum capacity” forcing the polluted waters of the Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. The lands of U.S. Sugar are blocking the flow south to the Everglades.

Often I hear that the fault lies north as those waters are coming from the Kissimmee basin not south of the lake. To me that is like stopping in traffic and blaming a car two miles up the road for the traffic jam.

Last year, U.S. Sugar did not support the purchase of option lands that could have eventually alleviated this problem. I don’t think it is morally right for them to advertise at our fair until they take leadership on this issue…but then…

—-“all is fair in love and war.”

And I will speak for love…

 

The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)
The red colored blocks south of Lake O. are the EAA-700,000 acres of sugar lands and vegetables. South of the EAA are the STAs and water conservation areas .(SFWMD map, 2012.)
Thie big picture...the EAA blocks the water from flowing south into the Everglades. EF.
The big picture…the EAA blocks the water from flowing south into the Everglades. EF. The water is directed to the coasts through the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee.
S-80
S-80
1st area to enter upon entering fairgrounds.
1st area to enter upon entering fairgrounds, with US Sugar banner prominently displayed. 2016.

U.S. Sugar Corp:http://www.ussugar.com/#

M.C.Fair:http://www.martincountyfair.com