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.


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!

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Wet boot test
Soggy socks are even a better indicator

There’s basically two ways to know it’s the wet season: (1) You can look at the chart above or (2) go out and see it for yourself. Warning: The second way will probably result in getting your socks wet. Never the greatest feeling. But once you get past the hurdle of full immersion, you almost forget that they are wet at all. About the chart above: The swamp has two solid “wet season” months under its belt, and is working on a third (August). The blue bars show recent monthly rainfall. The horizontal white lines show the long-term average for each month. The “dark gray” and “light gray” bands show the normal and historic range for the month. We had a very dry “dry season,” thus despite the abundant rain, the swamp is a bit slower this year filling up. Final note: To become a true rainfall expert, we highly recommend both the approaches discussed above.

weekly wave banner

Sluggish swamp?
Just ask the cypress domes and strands

Some years the swamp fills up fast, practically overnight.  Other years, the summer rise is a slow slog, taking weeks even months.  

But usually by late July, summer

flooding has reliably returned …

Except this year.

Here’s a closer look:

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Life of a cypress knee
From full to dry in a half year

It’s not often that the swamp drops

From peak flood to deep drought in the span of a half year.

Empty – Late May

But that’s what happened this year …

From November to May.

Same view in February – Half Full

And it just goes to show:

No matter how prolific a late fall rain event, all it takes is a run of dry weeks in April and/or May for the swamp to completely bottom out.

Same view following TS Eta in November – Completely Full

Last time I checked the rainfall tally for May was under an inch which puts us in a bit of a pinch considering the long-term averaged combined rainfall for May and June is 13 inches.

Or in other words, June has its work cut out for it.

How To: Repair a dome
Don't count this dome out yet!

Usually come spring in the swamp …

The view from the center of a cypress dome should be a verdant green.

View looking up in the center of the dome

Not this year, at least for this dome.

The reason?

Three springs ago, during a deep drought, a wildfire sped through the dome when it didn’t have its shield of a protective moat.

But don’t cry for this cypress dome.

Same dome from about fifty feet away

It’s already growing back.

Dead timber on top, at the base new cypress are coppicing out.

It won’t happen overnight, but my guess is that in ten year’s it will start looking a lot like its old self.

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