Apr 20, 2018

Water table drops unevenly

Here's a comparison of drought levels in the Big Cypress ...

Relative to the rest of the Everglades.

This chart above shows the level of the water table in the Big Cypress compared to adjacent areas in the Everglades.  The red arrows indicates the current location, the gray arrows a month ago, the yellow arrows a year ago today and the dotted blue lines the long-term average for late April.
The short of it is this:

The swamp has dropped down into "dry as popcorn" mode while most of the rest of the Everglades is still benefiting from a water table that lies at or above the level of its sloughs.  The repressed water table of the swamp is compounded by the fact that the swamp has a much smaller proportion of low-lying slough than the Everglades.

Or in other words, increasingly water in canals is the only place that water can be found. 

The rally cry for hydrologic restoration in the swamp centers on figuring out ways to hold onto the summer bounty of rain, and in doing so keeping the water table in closer communication with our low-lying strands and domes in spring.

The swamp is not just a fire-adapted, but also a flood-adapted ecosystem that depends on a balance of both. 

Apr 17, 2018

"Hill country" mirage

I still remember the first time I flew over the swamp.

"Wow," I said.  "Look at all those hills!"

Don't be deceived,
the swamp is actually
quite flat

Soon enough I learned they were actually holes, i.e. depressions, that mimic the look of hills by way of the parabolic shape of the trees that grow within.

Cypress domes and strands are the swamp's deepest spots.

Can you see the dry season refugia
pool in the center of the dome?

And in spring, the only spots you'll still find your last refuges of water.

Apr 16, 2018

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times"

It was a year of flood,

It was a year of drought.

The calendar chart above shows the history
of flood and drought in Big Cypress Nat'l Preserve
Or in other words,

This year's the same as every other year in the Big Cypress Swamp.

On the other hand I've heard it said we've never had two years the same.

Apr 14, 2018

Baby lubbers on the loose

I was surprised that somebody else was surprised ...

That these black grasshopper were "so big."

Lubbers are rather docile
grasshoppers, and as far as I
can tell they don't chirp.

"Wait in a couple of months," I said.  "--They get ten times the size."

"And turn all yellow!"

Apr 13, 2018

When will the rains begin?

Typically it isn't until Memorial Day ...

That the summer wet season rains reliably start.

The chart above shows the long-term
 of when the swamp's rainy
season begins

That doesn't mean we may not get some rains here and there,

And who knows, maybe even a good few consecutive days.

But more than likely we have another 6 weeks until the rainy season starts.

Apr 10, 2018

How To: Get more water to a river

I've always said:

There's no "one" perfect place to put a culvert.

I'm standing on one of five
new restoration plugs

The rule in the swamp is the more the better.

In this case, the Turner River now has five.

And not just culverts: They are culvert/plug pairs!

Apr 9, 2018

Looking south on Turner River Road

Can you see the strategically-placed
"roadbed-culvert and canal-plug" pair

The goal is to help redirect water
from the canal to the headwaters
of the Turner River

Apr 8, 2018

Prairie view

The swamp is best known for its cypress (background),

But nothing quite beats the view of an open marl prairie (foreground).

Can you see the Tamiami Trail?

During the summer its floods up to the top of your boots.

A week ago it was crunchy but also still moist in spots.

The best chance for standing water is the cypress strand in back.