Birds, Butterflies and Burials at the Ethel Settlement
Join Friends of the Wekiva River at 9:00 am Saturday, May 16, for a hike through a section of the sand pine scrub and pine flatwoods in Rock Springs Run State Reserve. Paul Lammardo, environmental specialist/biologist for the Wekiva River Basin State Parks, will share his knowledge of the ecology, flora and fauna in the area, and Florida history author Jim Robison will provide background information on the settlers at Ethel. Old grave markers are the only remaining signs of Ethel, which started in the later 1800s with sawmills and turpentine stills. Ethel had a church with a school and a railroad flag stop. Sanford’s newspaper covered family dinners, social events, school calendars and burials that took place in this small town west of Sanford. The round-trip hike and talks should take less than two hours. There is no charge, except for the state’s $3-per-vehicle entrance fee. Bring water, sunscreen, hat and snacks if desired. Rock Springs Run State Reserve is near Sorrento. From Orlando, take Interstate 4 to Exit 101C and travel west on State Road 46 for about 10 miles to the park entrance on the left. The park entrance, framed by a tall chain link fence, is about 3 miles west of the Wekiva River bridge on State Road 46. Once inside the park take the first left towards the horse stables. Drive 0.7 of a mile and park on the right at the kiosk that describes the Ethel settlement. Call the park at 407-884-2008 for additional directions. For more information on the hike, contact Jim Robison at email@example.com or 407-677-4004.
Central Florida's Water Agency Roils with Resignations
Yesterday, Robert Christianson, Hal Wilkening, Peggy White, Tom Bartol and Jeff Cole were told to resign or be fired from the St. Johns River Water Management District staff. The deed was done by Mike Register, appointed interim director after Hans Tanzler's unexpected resignation. Odds are that Hans was unwilling to do this dirty deed, effectively disassembling some of the key capabilities and competencies of SJRWMD. Stories are mixed on whether the order for this irresponsible action came from the Governor's office and/or DEP in Tallahassee, or whether District Board Chair John Miklos, an Orlando based environmental consultant, carried this out at the behest of utilities and land development interests. Either way, it is easy to see what is going on. If you take away the institutional memory and competencies Robert Christianson brought to the district, it becomes much more difficult to buy land, and much easier to get rid of key tracts of conservation land by selling them as surplus. Take away the water resources expertise of Hal WIkening, and the possibility that the district will deny consumptive use permits to utilities who want to drain the aquifer even at the cost of drying up our springs becomes highly unlikely. Take away the modeling expertise of Tom Bartol, and the district is unlikely to even know how much water is left in the aquifer to dole out to the utilities and other consumptive users. That is clearly someone's game plan. Hopefully some good investigative reporters will pinpoint "who knew what and when". In the meantime, if there is one ounce of environmental conscience remaining in DEP and the Governor's office, they will order that these deplorable decisions be reversed immediately.
Seasonal changes do occur in Central Florida, no matter what our relatives up north say about their absence. Keeping track of the subtle changes in the natural landscape over the calendar year is instinctive to me, and a process that I plan to share in a series of articles on the website.
BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: HABITAT INFLUENCES — Early May 2015 Edition
WEKIVA BASIN SWAMPS — Early April 2015 Edition
SPRING HAS SPRUNG — Early March Edition