Save the Halpatiokee Nature Trails! Move the Bridge! Stop destroying us!

Many kudos to Shari Anchor who leads us in this fight to save this important piece of land.

http://www.tcpalm.com/opinion/shari-anker-lessons-from-our-battle-to-save-two-preserve-state-parks_67688320

The story of the Port St. Lucie Crosstown Parkway Bridge tells how we lose Florida’s natural beauty, resources and ecosystems, even if they exist in our preserve state parks. It’s the story of a battle that must be fought if we are to save any of them.

In 1990, the city surveyed federal, state and regional natural resource/regulatory agencies about building a bridge through the North Fork of the St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve using two potential routes. All agencies commented both routes crossed very environmentally sensitive lands and waters, impacting important wetlands, but of the two, they were firmly against what is now known as Route 1C.

Undeterred, the city manager stated that since there was unanimous disapproval, the next step was to go “political.”

Then-Sen. Ken Pruitt was enlisted to lobby for the cause. Engineering consultants were hired for millions of dollars to make the case that Route 1C was the “most beneficial.

In 1996, the city began purchasing properties along the Route 1C corridor, even though the National Environmental Policy Act dictates an objective Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Impact Statement be completed prior to route selection. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection demanded, unsuccessfully, that an environmental-impact statement be performed for the entire proposed Crosstown Parkway from Interstate 95 to Hutchinson Island. Project segmentation does not accurately assess impacts.

By 2006, the bridge project was being reviewed by the Department of Transportation, which solicited input from reviewing agencies such as the DEP. Many agencies “red-flagged” the proposed bridge crossing because of impacts to parks, wetlands and wildlife. No matter, the environmental impact statement declared a road piercing the heart of important public lands was the very best possible route.

If the city chose any other route, the bridge would likely be built by now and for tens of millions of fewer dollars. What’s holding it up is that pesky irritant called the law, at least according to the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County and the Indian Riverkeeper. We filed a federal lawsuit in 2014, arguing the Federal Highway Administration and the DOT violated Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act when they approved Route 1C.

Section 4(f) states there shall be no taking of parkland for incompatible uses such as road infrastructure if any other route exists which would have less or no impact to parklands. Route 1C would take the most parkland, from the aquatic preserve and from the Savannas Preserve State Park Buffer Preserve.

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Taking no parkland, another route, known as Route 6A, would fully comply with this law.

Likewise, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act dictates every effort must be made to avoid the destruction of wetlands. Other less-impacting routes must be chosen. The Army Corps of Engineers states that Route 1C “is the most ecologically damaging” route, with the most impact to the most acreage of the highest functioning and quality wetlands, thereby likely not in compliance with the act.

The South Florida Water Management District has requested a “formal finding” as to whether a bridge through the aquatic preserve is compatible with state law. Of the 10 types of activities permitted in aquatic preserves, none of them involve bridge construction.

Another sleight of hand at work here is the strategy to mitigate for the “worst-case scenario,” suggesting that was what was intended from the get-go. A big, expensive mitigation package was supposed to make it OK to take highly ecologically valuable preserves. Nothing in the law absolves the parties from choosing the least impacting route.

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The Overton Park decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 established that park land must receive priority status in law, otherwise the economic and social factors at play in highway construction would always prevail and no park lands could survive.

It’s up to us to make sure the laws designed to protect park lands count.

Shari Anker is president of the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County.

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Here is a link to the lawsuit.

http://www.conservationallianceslc.org/uploads/5/0/3/6/50361177/lawsuit_to_move_bridge_location.pdf

Thank you so much Shari, Marty, the Conservation Alliance of St Lucie County and the Indian Riverkeeper.

This must be saved.

The thought of having a bridge crossing over to the Island and all the construction that will come after that just slays me. People will not be happy with a bridge. They will want giant apartment buildings, places to eat and that whole of the Island that is just beach will destroyed. People complain it’s hard to get there. It should be. It should be hard. No one’s asking anyone to hike in. Just drive in the comfort of their car for an extra 15 minutes.

Let’s get this part done first.

Here is a video I put together of the area last year. You don’t have to sign that petition any more but you should watch to see what we are talking about.

Oral arguments on Oct. 6th at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building Courthouse in West Palm Beach. More info on time when we get it.

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ACOE and the Herbert Hoover Dike: We should be up in arms together!

To the people of Clewiston, Florida

ACOE and the Herbert Hoover Dike: We should be up in arms together!

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Let’s take a moment to remember when the discharges came back in 2013 and we all went to Phipp’s Park. 7000 of us together in true Solidarity. The day most of us met each other.

That day we all heard this speech from the Indian RiverKeeper Marty Baum.

For many of us this was a call to action. For the people of Clewiston it was a call to flood them and make them float away. Of course, that’s not what Marty said. He didn’t say flood the houses. He said flood the fields and he was referring big sugars ability to keep their water at the exact height needed.

I posted that video of Marty on my old video blog on UVU which was part of WPBT2. I’m not sure what happened to UVU but I posted a lot of content there.

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I posted Mark Perry, the video of the march to the locks, and others that got a decent amount of views. Marty’s video got 2400 views which is huge.

After the Sugarland Rally, when the people of Clewiston were accusing us of wanting to flood them I realized that probably every person in Clewiston probably saw that video. There was no explaining to them what the intention was. Their minds were set.

We heard that we HAD to have to discharges to protect the people that live south of the lake. Most of us understand that. That was 2 years ago and many millions of dollars.

Are the people south of lake any safer today than they were then?

This is from 2013

http://www.hurricaneanalytics.com/2013/02/three_levee_fact

. The levee is expected to fail. I know that sounds bad, and it is. FEMA is apparently planning to update flood assessments this summer and redraw flood maps for Palm Beach and Martin counties. These flood maps are expected to be drawn as if the levee around Lake Okeechobee didn’t exist. In other words, they are not counting on the levees to protect against flooding.

2. The Herbert Hoover Dike is in the highest failure category of the Army Corps risk scale. Current efforts are being directed at reducing the risk category, but as it stands (and even after millions of dollars worth of improvements) the levee protecting the area still carries the highest risk classification (DSAC 1) of any dam in the United States.

3. There is no emergency spillway, nor is one planned to be built. There is no good, controlled way to drain off excess water from the lake should a large amount of rain fall in a short amount of time. Lake Okeechobee fills six times faster than it can be drained, and a foot of rainfall would result in 3 to 4 feet of water rise in the lake. Current levees will start to fail when the lake rises above 18.5 feet above mean sea level (it’s at roughly 14 feet currently), and significant levee problems are almost certain to occur when the lake reaches 20 feet over MSL.

This is from 2015.

http://www.constructionequipmentguide.com/Improvements-Continue-for-Herbert-Hoover-Dike/21625/

“In what appears to be a never-ending task, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers crews in Florida continue working on the outdated Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee — the state’s largest freshwater lake. Since 2007, teams have performed various tasks to reduce the risk of dike failure due to flooding from high water levels.”

Because of the construction methods used in the 1930s, the dike is susceptible to erosion of the earthen embankment,” said John Campbell, public affairs specialist of the Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). “Over the past six years, we have installed a 21.4 mile concrete barrier known as a cutoff wall into the southeast quadrant of the dike. The cutoff wall is designed to reduce seepage and prevent erosion.”

The cutoff wall extends from roughly 6 ft. (1.8 m) from the top of the dike through the foundation to several feet beyond the limestone bedrock, averaging between 60 to 80 ft. (18.3 to 24.4 m) below the crest of the dike. It’s considered crucial to the rehabilitation effort, although is by no means a solution to a complex problem. Despite a multi-million dollar effort by USACE, the dike remains on a national shortlist of unsafe class 1 dams, with a category defined as either “almost certain to fail under normal operations” or at “extreme risk of failure with high fatalities and economic losses.” Campbell said progress has been made, but there is a long way to go.

“The $200 million invested so far made it possible to install the cutoff wall in the southeast quadrant of the dike between Port Mayaca and Belle Glade,” said Campbell.

TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS and the people are no safer than they were two years ago.

Anyone say Big Dig?

People of Clewiston you should be up in arms!

Up in arms

We should be up in arms because as long as this is the case our discharges will never stop.

We should be up in arms together.

I feel  like Danny Kaye in this clip.

Here are some photo’s I took from the car as Julie and I whizzed by last weekend.

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There was one spot that looked like a giant sand bag. Not a lot of confidence going into hurricane season.

The reason I bring this up is because our campaign to build a reservoir ended with discharges and toxic green algae sightings and it felt like what went around came around and we were back to square one with the ACOE. The people south of the lake are still in grave danger.

Don’t you think that having a reservoir south of the lake would take some pressure off those dikes and help to keep those people safer?

It felt like ring around the rosey.

It felt like deja vu all over again.

So just a note to the folks out in Clewiston. If you want to be upset with someone be upset with the ACOE and be upset with your bosses at big us sugar corp who are against anything that will keep you safe.

gumbe

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