Lines in the Swamp

Best Water Management Logo in Florida?
And the winner is (drum roll please) ...

You don’t know how difficult logos can be …

Until you try to make one yourself.

Florida’s five districts, plus the agency that unites them all

And now imagine having to make one that measures up to four other like organizations, and also resonates with the greater public interest it serves. Such is the challenge for Florida’s five water management districts. Water management logos are a lot like state flags. They contain subtleties and historical nuances that only an student of the genre or a long time local could fully understand. And I would imagine that each logo has evolved over the years. For all I know, as I type, one of the districts may be tweaking (or completely reinventing) its design. If I had to guess, I would say that the Suwannee’s is the most recently modified, in part because it’s such a departure from the rest — it doesn’t have a state map and in general is more minimalistic than the rest.

Things I like about each one: (1) for Northwest Florida it’s the grove of cypress and stand of long-leaf pine, (2) the Suwannee is its simplicity (and clarity) of color and words, (3) the St Johns River has a decidedly nautical feel, which probably makes sense given how far inland (161 miles from its mouth), (4) for Southwest Florida it has to be the background waves of the gulf, and how it reaffirms that the entire basin feeds the downstream estuaries, and (5) for south Florida is has to be the sun rays reaching out into an expansive yet cloudless sky (I can only assume the river is the Kissimmee).

Last but not least is the sixth: the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. It has general oversight over all five districts. As for which logo is the best, I think they are all interesting in their own ways. Which one I like best might depend on the day, or what district I live.

Aren’t our watersheds a little bit like sports teams? They bring us together as a community to root for the same cause and rally around the same logo. What’s your favorite logo, and why?

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Chronology: The South Florida Water Management District is the oldest of the five, forming in 1949, with the others following in 1977 as a result of the Water Resources Act signed into law by the Florida legislature in 1972.

Crossing the dotted lines
How invisible lines shape our thinking

Dotted lines warp our view …

Of how a watershed naturally works

Available on Apple Podcasts and Podbean

I‘m not saying let’s do away with the lines.

All I’m saying is let’s try to find some common ground.

As seen in Fakahatchee Strand Preserve

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.

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This Just In: “Fakahatchee Strand is getting a new visitor center at Big Cypress Bend, which will also lengthen the boardwalk.”

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Ochopee Bound
Same old swamp, always worth sharing

My philosophy when I fly:

Take as many photos (and video) as I can.

Narrated video flying over Western Big Cypress National Preserve

The reason? I think I learn as much from what I see up the air as I do processing the photos (and videos) back on the ground. Yet there’s also the reality that most of the photos (and videos) we take never see the light of day. With so many people taking so many photos, one’s left to wonder if their worthwhile sharing at all?

For me it’s an emphatic yes, but only with this caveat. They say a picture is worth a thousand words (and video possibly another thousand more). But what good is a photo or a video without explanation of what it’s about, why it’s important and the subtleties it hides?

That’s where the narrative comes in handy. Maybe essential is a better word. This film may not win an Oscar, but I guarantee somebody gives it a thumbs up.

Watersheds of south Florida

Overlapping Watersheds
And why one swamp doesn't like to be boxed in

Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve …

Is often described as a “watershed.”

Major watersheds of Big Cypress Nat’l Preserve

Actually, it has four major watersheds in it. And they not only overlap with each other, they depend (in the past, present and future) on upstream flows. We gravitate to simple descriptions, and that’s probably how the simplistic “self-contained watershed” moniker took hold. But a little bit of complexity is not only more accurate, it puts us on a better stewardship path — and it’s more interesting, too.

To be terrific, be specific. Details matter.