Creek-sized River

Have you ever wondered …

How a local creek got its name?

Or why it’s called a river and not a creek?

Case in point is the creek-sized Turner River in south Florida.

Mountains of Miami
And why they're biggest at dawn

Miami is known for many things …

Just not its mountains.

Firelight Radio presents (as seen on YouTube)

Or are its mountains its most iconic trademark?

To be sure the highest land elevation in Miami is 20 feet above sea level. That’s located in Coconut Grove where the original settlers made their domiciles. Then there are the high-ground hardwood hammocks in the Everglades. They are a whopping 1-3 feet above the summer water line. Or in other words, not high at all. To most people, high ground in Miami looks pathetically low.

Why is it then from fifty miles away …

In the Big Cypress Swamp, looking east toward Miami, gargantuan mountains is all you see?

Not your ordinary morning cloud

Read more

Waterman Speech
The first step is believing

Enough of the status quo …

When it comes to protecting our waters we need to be bold.

Art of selling a water vision

That’s where the Water Man steps in the fill the void.

Technical details be darned, the Water Man knows the first step is convincing the audience that there’s a better way.

We take the water for granted, until it needs our help.

Or could he already have the master plan in hand?

We’ll let you be the judge.

Flood meets Fire
And they cordially shake hands

Let’s just say …

It wasn’t love at first site.

As presented at the 2021 Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration (GEER) conference

But over time we’ve come to learn that water is fire’s best friend, and not matter how much you restore the water you can’t have a healthy ecosystem if you don’t get the fire right.

Or in other words …

So goes flood and fire, so goes the swamp.

Walking in the rain
The silver lining of a rainy day

Remember when you were a kid …

And you hated rainy days?

Fire Light Radio presents: The Big Rain Day

The last thing I wanted to do was be stuck inside. And why did it always seem to rain on weekends? Fast forward a couple decades later and I was thrilled by the recent rain. Yes, it hadn’t rained in months. And this one was a real soaker, so it helped beat back our regional descent into drought. But what I think I liked about it best was going for a walk after the storm had mostly passed, but it was still drizzling a good amount, under the cover of an umbrella and listening to the drops, and yes, also getting a little wet.

Rain can be fun for all ages

It reminded me of when I was a kid …

Only this time loving the rain.

Old drop learns new trick
And why fire is waters best friend

If you get the water right …

You get the swamp right.

Water is still the foundation for a healthy swamp

Water is the center of the universe …

Around which the entire ecosystem revolves, right?

But it takes flood and fire to get the ecosystem right

More correctly stated:

The swamp is a flood and fire ecosystem in which every square inch of flora and fauna depend on a regular dosage of flood and fire.

Ideas creep up on you slowly, and then pop

So goes flood and fire, so goes the swamp.

Technological Breakthrough
Always arriving in the nick of time

Can we rely on technology …

To guarantee future water resources?

As problems get tougher, technology gets better

Answer:

The answer is yes, but not an absolute yes of our forefather’s forefathers – rather it’s a tentatively stated and probabilistically defined, “let’s hope so.” At this point it would be pretty fool hearty to go back to the dousing rod or hand pump, and truly, why would anyone want to try.

Technology has become a double edged sword of sorts, in a way that makes me ask – “is it too late for technology, or is it too late for us because of our technology? We have it now, for good and for worse, as our answer and curse. It’s our fate and the facts, but we need it now more than ever, and I don’t think that is a hope misplaced. What haunts me is the question – “if we knew then what we know now, would the world and its waters be different today?”

am buoyed by the prospect that technology, if properly harnessed, can save us heartache down the road. Ecosystems and water ways have been pillaged for economic gain, but would the calculations that created those messes – so long ago – have been different if our grandmother’s grandfathers had better technology at their fingertips? What if the original drainers of the Everglades didn’t “dig first, and ask questions later?”  What if they had the tools to tell them what unintended consequences lay ahead? Unfortunately, the one thing that technology has never invented (despite a legion of prognosticators who claim its powers), is a crystal ball.

Pump grave yard, as see at John Stretch Park at the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee. The Herbert Hoover Dike is visible in the background.

Thus, I can make no guarantees, only hope – on a wing and prayer – that technological solutions await, always in the nick of time.

Hydrologic President’s Day
Two presidents who saved the swamp

“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 upby a metropolis springing up aroundthe 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.

Share Nature Folk Flyer

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 and Gerald Ford

Did he do more good than harm?

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

Water Drop running the old Fort Thompson falls in his canoe

The water Room
With watershed-wide window views

The Water Room

Dear readers (and listeners),

As you’ve probably discerned by now, I’m really not one for waiting around to get things perfect. My mantra is rather to get things done. But don’t mistake that for impatience. Rather, I’m more of an iterative learner, and doer. I learn as I go and go as I learn, usually groping my way through the darkness until I find a new dawn. And then in leaps and bounds I advance to whatever higher ground I can scurry before dusk arrives. And on that perch I light a campfire and contemplate what might be next. Or in other words, yes, the secret it out – I’m making it all up as I dead reckon down an ill-defined path.

Master plans are overrated in my mind.

Highways to nowhere if you know what I mean.

I read once that it’s not how you act, but how you react, that determines your success in life. At its core that’s probably the number one premise of my iterative approach. Go bravely and boldly down a path, but also be a person that can listen to good advice, whatever its source, whether it be from somebody else or from inside your own heart.

On my good days I can conquer the world.

On my bad days, I struggle to survive. Or maybe that’s over reacting. Treading water is probably a more appropriate analogy.

The water cycle is easily broken

My point on all this?

I’m really just experimenting on a number of fronts.

Today, or rather this week, it’s been creating The Water Room.

What is The Water Room?

Let’s just put it this way: If you’re a Floridian, it has a really good view of the water cycle. It may not answer all your questions, but it will approach each major water way and watershed from a unique view, and whether you’re a technical expert or an inquisitive novice, it will dial you in to the heart of the matter, in a way that maybe we can all start to see things from a new view point.

Until next time …

Thank you for tuning in!

Water Cycle Trivia
Deepest, highest and largest?

Dear Water Enthusiasts,

Can you guess south Florida’s highest, deepest, and largest lakes in the correct order?

a. Lake O, Lake O, and Lake O

b. Lake O, Lake Trafford, and Deep Lake

c. Lake Titicaca, Lake Baikal and Lake Superior

d. Lake Trafford, Deep Lake and Lake O 

e. Kissingen Spring, Chekika Pond, and Lake Flint

f. Impossible to exactly measure

And remember, until next time …

Go out and give your local water cycle a hug,