Feb 26, 2020

"Dotted line" in the swamp

Maps are full of dotted lines ...

That are all but invisible out in the swamp.

The Pinecrest chain of hammocks
is a linear run of high ground that marks
the transition between the Everglades
and the Big Cypress Swamp,
looking north


That's what makes the Pinecrest chain of hammocks ...

Stand out so much.


The chain of hammocks are not contingous,

But they more or less run along a straight line.

At about the same spot,
looking south


Best of all you can actually see them.

Unlike all those imaginary political dotted lines.

Feb 25, 2020

Lot of water (under the bridge)

Even when there's no traffic ...

Bridges are busy at work.

Can you see the hidden bridge
within the cypress strand?

How so?

They are the gateway for sending water south.


Just ask the estuary.

Feb 20, 2020

The tree that "stayed put"

For over a century ...

The Lone Cypress has stood its ground.

Same tree, then

Or in other words,

The tree has stayed put.


It's the water level that dropped out from under it, some ten feet.

And now

Once a navigational marker,

The Lone Cypress stands today as a hydrologic reminder ...


Of Lake Okeechobee before it was drained.

Feb 19, 2020

The tree that made history

If it weren't for the sign,

I'd probably walk by the tree and not think twice.

This tree originally grew
in knee-deep water along the banks
of an undiked Lake Okeechobee

Or maybe I'd sit on the bench ...

And luxuriate in its shade.


And even possibly take note of the old concrete wall.


Today, it is perched over ten feet above
the water line of the Caloosahatchee River
on the outside of the Lake's perimeter levee

Still, I doubt it would naturally occur to me ...

That the concrete wall was the old lock to the Lake Okeechobee before they built the modern one a mile or three upstream.  Or that the tree once served as the sole navigational marker on the Lake.


And the stories this tree could tell if it could speak.


The title on the sign says it all

Fortunately there's a sign.

Feb 18, 2020

"Lone Cypress"

There are cypress trees,

And there are big cypress trees ...


As seen in along the banks
of the Caloosahatchee near
Lake Okeechobee

And then there is the Lone Cypress.

Feb 17, 2020

"Real" water gate

The S-77 water control structure
as seen from the "Lone Cypress" sentinel tree
along the banks of the Caloosahatchee River
looking east towards Lake Okeechobee

Watergate "follow up"

On vacation this summer ...

I unexpectedly ran into this sign.

The historical placard

The hydrologist in me was intrigued,

So naturally I walked into the parking garage.

The garage
The first thing I noticed was its emptiness.

Not a soul around.

If this drain could speak

The next thing I noticed was this drain.

Not that I hung around all too long.

Inside garage looking out

And just to be safe I covered my tracks on the way out.

Feb 16, 2020

"Hydrologic" Presidents Day

“Do more good than harm.”

That’s what colleague (actually he was quite a few years older than me) told everyone at a group gathering just before he left. There was a tinge of self righteousness in what he said, but it was also about the closest you’d ever hear him admit to any regret. He was a man of action and strong opinions who loved to play Devil’s Advocate ... to the chagrin of quite a few.

Had Nixon not saved the swamp,
it would have been swallowed up
by a metropolis springing up around
the Miami-Dade Jetport instead

Funny how people leave and you never hear from them again.

But for some reason those words with me always stuck.


That brings us to Presidents Day.

I’m old enough to remember when Washington’s Day and Lincoln’s Day were separate holidays. Then at some point they got combined into a single day to commemorate the Presidential office and all those that served from 1 to 45.

Diagram from a Nixon-era study 
that helped save the swamp

Who is my favorite president?

For me it's Richard Nixon without a pause.


What hydrologist can resist picking a president who made water gates, or was it Watergate, a household term.  Or that he has the same birthday as Elvis, American icon behind the meteorologic masterpiece Cold Kentucky Rain.  But most of all there's the fact that he single-handedly saved the swamp.  Well, maybe that's stretching it, but he was the president when the political wheels went in motion to create Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve (even if Gerald Ford signed the establishment of the Preserve into law.)

Thank you Richard Nixon

Did he do more good than harm?

It’s hard to say no if you live in the swamp.

Feb 14, 2020

Return of the river

As easy as the Turner River is to see today ...

Just a few decades back it was obscured from view.

I love this photo: It's a view of Turner River's headwater pools, looking northeast.  Also, in the background, do you see that diagonal line?  That's Turner River Road.  And the large swath of gray trees just behind the road?  That's Turner River Strand, the primary flow way that naturally feeds water to the river ... with a little help from some culverts and infilling the canal.

The reason?

The elevated Turner River Roadbed severed its headwater flows in the 1950s.


As a result the channel filled in with vegetation.

Even worse, people confused the canal with the river.


View of Turner River Road at its southern terminus (i.e. HP Williams Park) with the Tamiami Trail, looking north.  In 1996, the southern 1.5 miles of Turner River Canal that lies south of  the Tamiami Trail was filled it to wetland grade to keep water in the swamp.

The good news:

Thanks to some strategic replumbing of the offending roadbed and canal ...


Turner River is a free-flowing navigable water way once again.

Feb 13, 2020

One of the upstream culverts

Can you see
the pine trees?

"Turnaround" river

Just a few years back,

Turner River's headwater pools were all but clogged.

Let's just say paddling
was a chore

The cause?

Submerged aquatic vegetation had grown too thick.


The good news, and take heart:

Today the channel is clear and paddle friendly again.

The Turner River
is a hydrologic restoration
success story

What was the magic wand?

My current line of thinking is that we got the water right.


Just upstream we added a new series of culverts.

That helped to spread the water out in the form of sheet flow, just like the river likes.