Signs of fall
Fall arrives in many ways, just not temperatures

Signs of fall in the swamp are subtle,

But they are there if you know where to look.

Early October:
Resurrection fern shrinks
to shriveled state indicating
less rain
Late October:
Dwarf cypress prairie
become needle bare indicating
less daylight hours
Early November:
Cold water seeps into boots
indicating lower air temperatures
Late November:
The cypress-pine
swamp mosaic really
starts to “pop”

Can you think of others?

birds eye view

Origin of domes
And how geology controls the show

What came first:

The depression or the dome?

Answer: Cypress domes form in shallow surficial depressions in the swamp’s underlying caprock, but that doesn’t explain why some depressions capped by a cypress dome and others, right next door, form a tree-free herbaceous marsh.

It might have something to do with the thickness of the marl.

Cypress dome and circular marsh

Or maybe fire frequency or flooding depth also factors in.

Mark it down as another mystery of the swamp.

Bobby Angel Campfire

Ballad of a Florida Panther

Bobby Angel’s ballad of a Florida panther …

And the transportation engineer he teamed up with to fix a road.

Bobby Angel is a troubadour of the Nature Folk Movement (NFM)

Stay on after the song …

To hear Bobby Angel dish out the inside scoop on the making of his smash hit, including never before revealed details on his first sighting of (what he thought initially) was a “large dog,” why they used to be more rare than seeing Ivory-billed woodpeckers, the movie magic of he videos opening scene, and how the use of silhouettes make the video pop.

Water editorial

Worth of a pond apple?
Economics of natural resources

I always like say:

“So goes flood and fire, so goes the swamp.”

Big Cypress Pond apple in hand
A pond apple in the hand …

Every square inch of the swamp’s flora and fauna depend on the right dosage and return interval of flood and fire to stay healthy.

Or so my usual mantra goes.

But really economics is the bigger driver.

Markets both create and solve problems.

Big Cypress pond apple in the water in a cypress dome
is worth a pond apple in the water

Loving nature isn’t enough to save it. Getting the economics right is probably the best and only path to success. That means making sure we’re setting up an underlying economic structure (with eco-smart incentives) to move beyond talking about getting the flood and fire right, and actually doing it.

The swamp can’t talk, but if it could and if we did it would say thank you.

And maybe even give us a hug.

Yes, that’s right – trees hug back!

Read more

Cap rock walker
Watch you step!

As dangerous as it may look,

Walking on cap rock has its pleasures.

Watch out for the solution holes!

For the most part, the marine limestone that underlies the swamp is covered by a thin layer of marl and peat, except along this trail …

Where those soils eroded away.

At times it had a vertiginous feel …

Knowing there was three miles of limestone below.

Walking on the aquifer on a path to the clouds

And also a cavernous effect …

Being surrounded by skyscrapers of clouds on all sides.

There’s nothing quite like a wet walk in the swamp.

Caprock, marl and peat

A marine limestone called the Tamiami Formation underlies the Preserve to a depth of 150 ft (Hoffmeister 1974).  At its top surface, the rock formation forms a hard 1-2 ft thick crust called cap rock that functions as the bedrock for the Preserve ecosystem.  The cap rock is irregular, pocked with solution holes, and less permeable to water flow than the underlying rock formation (Duever et al 1979).  Although it can be exposed as a craggy pinnacle rock at the surface, cap rock is more typically covered with a thin layer of sand, marl or peat soils.  Cap rock and overlying soils form a semi-permeable seal that inhibits, but does not eliminate, ground and surface water exchange.  This semi-permeable seal augmented sheet flow and the formation of ground water fed springs in the pre-drainage Everglades (McCally, 1999).  Disruption of the caprock seal has occurred as a result of excavation of canals and borrow ponds. 

Duever, MJ, JE Carlson, JF Meeder, LC Duever, LH Gunderson, LA Riopelle, TR Alexander, RL Myers and DP Spangler.  The Big Cypress National Preserve.  Research Report No. 8 of the National Audubon Society, New York New York, 1979

McCally, David, The Everglades: An Environmental History, University Press of Florida, 1999