Bobby Angel

Pre-Drainage Song
As sung around the campfire

Bobby Angel brings down the house …

With his sprawling masterpiece on the destruction of the Everglades and the power of dreams to both haunt us and inspire a new way.

Keep listening after the song to hear an interview with the artist

If you’re a history buff …

You’ll rejoice in the many references to the pre-drained Everglades, how it changed over time, and the quest with hydrologic restoration to get it right. As an alternative to listening to the song, you may also be interested in River of Interest (2012) by Matthew C. Godfrey and Theodore Catton, or David McCally’s The Everglades an Environmental History (1999) or Michael Grunwald’s The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise (2006). However, if you are in a pinch for time, I recommend this song which was only written after extensive study of the books listed above. All of Bobby Angel’s song are similarly deeply researched as you’ll discover in the post-song interview.

Bobby Angel may not have all the answers …

But boy can he sing a Nature Folk ballad!

Canal plug at work
Go plug! Go!

Ask any canal …

It’s goes is plain and simple is to drain the swamp.

Can you see the plug and culvert?

What the canals didn’t bargain for …

Was the strategic addition of earthen plugs.

We added those plugs primary built in the higher-ground pinelands.

That allows water to pool up behind the plug.

And discharge under the road through the culvert just upstream.

editorial

Technological breakthrough
Always arriving in the nick of time

Can we rely on technology …

To guarantee future water resources?

The S-12A helps deliver water into Everglades Nat’l Park

Answer:

The answer is yes, but not an absolute yes of our forefather’s forefathers – rather it’s a tentatively stated and probabilistically defined, “let’s hope so.” At this point it would be pretty fool hearty to go back to the dousing rod or hand pump, and truly, why would anyone want to try.

Technology has become a double edged sword of sorts, in a way that makes me ask – “is it too late for technology, or is it too late for us because of our technology? We have it now, for good and for worse, as our answer and curse. It’s our fate and the facts, but we need it now more than ever, and I don’t think that is a hope misplaced. What haunts me is the question – “if we knew then what we know now, would the world and its waters be different today?”

I am buoyed by the prospect that technology, if properly harnessed, can save us heartache down the road. Ecosystems and water ways have been pillaged for economic gain, but would the calculations that created those messes – so long ago – have been different if our grandmother’s grandfathers had better technology at their fingertips? What if the original drainers of the Everglades didn’t “dig first, and ask questions later?”  What if they had the tools to tell them what unintended consequences lay ahead? Unfortunately, the one thing that technology has never invented (despite a legion of prognosticators who claim its powers), is a crystal ball.

Pump grave yard, as see at John Stretch Park at the southern shores of Lake Okeechobee. The Herbert Hoover Dike is visible in the background.

Thus, I can make no guarantees, only hope – on a wing and prayer – that technological solutions await, always in the nick of time.

Hole in the Donut (in reverse)

It’s not always possible …

To restore a wetland to exactly how it was before.

Hole-in-the-Donut now (i.e. a few years after rock-tilled
soil was scraped away, pinelands in the background)
Hole-in-the-Donut (immediately following scrape down)
Hole-in-the-Donut after fallow rock-plowed farm fields
went feral and became infested with Brazillian Pepper 
Artists interpretation of what Hole-in-
the-Donut used to look like when it
was active rock-plowed farm fields
Hole-in-the-Donut prior to rock plowing

Hole in the Donut is the case point.

Once upon a time it was pine flatwoods. That was before it was rock plowed for farming, and before those fields went fallow and filled in with Brazilian pepper, and before efforts were made to get pines to grow back.

The eventual solution was to scrape out the makeshift soil.

That turned it into a herbaceous marsh.