Historic map of the three major watersheds of the Big Cypress Basin, as defined by Klein (1970).
That’s what happened to me with the above map.
It wasn’t until Jack Meeder clued me in to its tie in to (as Jack calls it) “Immokalee Mountain” (i.e. max elevation 42 ft above sea level) and the Caloosahatchee’s Fort Thomson Falls (no longer in existence), that the pivotal role the Big Cypress Swamp played in the pre-drainage Everglades finally snapped into place.
Ft Thompson Falls were located about 2 miles east of LaBelle and formed the headwater source of the Caloosahatchee River, with a 4-10 ft drop.
Sometimes A-HA Moments take time (and a little help!).
The green out of the cypress is a big swamp’s milestone:
The second half of the winter dry season has now begun.
The above bar chart reports the annual duration (in months) that the floor of the pond apple forest has gone dry in Big Cypress National Preserve, from 1992 to present. The years 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011 also coincided with major wildfires.
The cooler temperatures of the first half (Nov-Feb) put evaporation on hold.
Look for it to heat up now that the second half (Mar-May) has begun.
That means water levels will start dropping faster and — more and more — surface water will be harder and harder to find. The place you find it last is in the center of the cypress domes and strands where the pond apple trees call home.
The surest sign that deep drought has hit the swamp?
Late March 2011
Answer: That’s when the pond apple roots become exposed. Last year it happened just for just two weeks. Two years before that (see photo above) over four months.