The assignment: Get to the bottom of the Turner River. The year was 2000. Parts of the river had been recently restored, and it had become navigable as a result, but there was still a thought that more had to be done. I’m not sure what my boss expected at the time, but I dove into the literature and the file cabinets to try to understand what the Turner River was all about. Keep in mind I’d only been in the swamp for a year. So I was still a rookie as they say.
Looking back it was a fun assignment, and I learned a lot.
You develop a strategy to prioritize and get everyone on the same page and understand the timelines of how things might unfold. A good strategy is flexible to a degree, but also points you in the direction of how and where things should be done.
This report provides the back story to why hydrologic restoration is needed in the swamp, some of the basic principles for applying it, and how and where it was done before. The reason? Everyone wants to go out and help nature. But that’s hard to do if you don’t know where to start or what came before, and most importantly what’s most important. Also critical: Knowing what not to do. Usually we learn those first hand. But we can’t be afraid to fail either. All the best successes are built on a foundation of previous failures. But not “give up” failures. Get up and go gumption, trial and error, and a willingness to learn as you go are necessary for whatever you’re trying to do. And that especially applies with helping nature, or in the case of this report – swamp water.
Another perk to the plan is this: It’s peppered with a lot of good photos and images. That makes it “print worthy” and a good complement to your coffee table.
It’s takes a lot of precision, team work, sweat equity (especially in the south Florida,) and perhaps the biggest chore of all – persistence. Hydrologic monitoring is the light at the tunnel that never ends.
That’s why when it comes to monitoring “milestones” are so important.
They give us a chance to reflect back on the past to see how far we’ve come, to review how the data is currently being used, and to look ahead into the future to refine our vision of where we want to go.
Twenty years ago Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve and the South Florida Water Management District embarked on a partnership with a goal of filling a void a in the hydrologic puzzle of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem where data was sparse or lacking scientific standards required by the water management community.
The results of that partnership are highlighted in this report.
Hydrograph of water depth in Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve
Simply click on the cover page pictured above to read the full report …
Or, if you like, please feel free to print out a paper copy of your very own, which I think you will find to be a worthy addition to any Big Cypress Swamp enthusiast’s bookshelf or better yet for coffee table display. (Note: the report prints nicely two-sided, front and back.)
Thank you to everyone who has been involved from Day One to Year Twenty and now into its third decade ahead:
Baseline monitoring is a long road, but always worth it in the end.