Banks overtopping …
And canals intersecting with strands.
The regular summer onslaught of summer showers is nearing its end, but could more tropical rain descent?
Early fall is always an interesting time in the swamp.
About 8 miles west of Forty Mile Bend …
Is another curve in the road.
Tamiami Canal reverse flows at Fifty Mile Bend
Technically, doing the math, it should be called 48 Mile Bend.
But we round up in the Big Cypress Swamp.
Thus it is known as Fifty Mile Bend. Turns out it’s also a hydrologic divide, sending water at that point both west and east, and yes I’ve seen it with my own eyes (as documented in the video above). What a kind-hearted canal to feed water in equal doses to the Everglades and Big Cypress.
Next step: Convince the regional water managers to do the same.
Dotted lines warp our view …
Of how a watershed naturally works
I‘m not saying let’s do away with the lines.
All I’m saying is let’s try to find some common ground.
This National Park Service placard at the trailhead to Big Cypress Bend boardwalk has always intrigued me.
It’s a state trail, part of Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park which was established in the mid 1970s. So the placard predates the dotted lines that eventually went in, but to me – both then and today – it’s a reminder that our modern-day boundaries are not set in stone, nor should our thinking simply stop wherever they start and end.
That’s probably why if felt so good to meet up with Fakahatchee’s long-time biologist at a culvert site on Jane’s Scenic Drive. With great enthusiasm Mike said, “Bob, we need to work more together.”
Enthusiasm across dotted lines is not only contagious …
It’s our best path forward to getting the water right.
Today, we often default to political lines …
When thinking about geography, and hydrology, too.
Historic Phytogeography of South Florida with Present Day SFWMD Features, 2019, by Lexie Hoffart & Nichole Miller, Geographers, SFMWD. View a full scale version of the map here. Find out more about how the map was made here.
But we all know water has a mind of its own.
Here’s a quick tour of the L-28 …
Back from August of 2017.
By my count there were twelve locations that water from the righthand side of the levee (i.e. WCA3A East) was flowing across into the Big Cypress side (i.e. left) of the L-28 divide.
The bigger question is this:
Is the L-28 the true physiographic boundary between the Big Cypress and Everglades?
After careful review, my opinion is the answer is no.
How big is the swamp?
Consider it’s almost the size of a state.
Okay, granted: I picked the smallest state. But still.
Rhode Island is 1,214 square miles compared to the 1,139 square miles of Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve alone. If we add in Fakahatchee and the rest of cypress tree country, the swamp definitely wins.
As for the levees, the L28 South (plus tieback) is 19 miles long. The L28 Interceptor is 18 miles long. The West Feeder another 5. That add up to 42 miles of levee, and about the same length of I-95 in Rhode Island.
The key difference is the traffic congestion and speed.
I-95 is a major high-speed thoroughfare …
While interstate-sized levees are barely traveled at all.
The L-28 isn’t your normal levee.
It’s in the middle of nowhere …
With swamp as far as the eye can see on both sides.
National parks have a reputation …
For being stuck in time in a good way.
Years, even decades, later you can return to a park …
And it mostly looks the same. Same old trees. Same old swamp.
But on the other side of the dotted line …
The landscape has and is rapidly changing.
The same return trip to a spot you remembered as a grove of trees or farm fields in your youth often times has changed to houses, concrete and a maze of roads.
Slowly and steadily, that has made the parks less and less remote.
Driving to town just isn’t as far away as it used to be.