Swiftmud Board To Discuss Peace Creek Irma Debris Removal

The Southwest Florida Water Management District Governing Board will discuss spending money to remove debris from Hurricane Irma from the Peace Creek Drainage Canal at its regular meeting Tuesday in Brooksville..

The proposal would cost $802,766 and is part of a series of projects that have been under way since last year’s hurricane to clear streams within the district to improve water flow. Swiftmud took over management of the canal system, which stretches from Lake Hamilton to the Peace River in 2010.

Other ongoing hurricane debris projects have involved the Upper Peace River and the Withlacoochee River.

Does Circle B Need A Parking Cop?

There are signs all over Circle B Bar Reserve telling people to park only in parking lots.

People park where they feel like anyway, it seems.

The practice causes some wear and tear on vegetated areas around the parking lot and potentially could lead to some traffic conflicts as people try to maneuver around these scofflaws.

In addition, the illegal parking is unnecessary.

There was plenty of space at the time in another nearby parking lot, which was a shorter walk than the walk to the main nature trails.


Colt Creek Campground Dedication Draws State Officials

State officials and other park supporters cut a ceremonial ribbon Wednesday

Colt Creek State Park’s newest campground, complete with a bathhouse and full hookups opened last month, but Wednesday state officials, parks staffers and local supporters gathered to officially commemorate the opening.

The speaks included Noah Valenstein, secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and Eric Draper, director of the state park system.

Valenstein said partnerships have been key to the success in acquiring the park and improving it since it opened in 2007.

Draper said the park aids the local economy and the success of this and other state parks is aided by a corps of dedicated volunteers.

Park manager Scott Duncan said establishing a campground has been a high priority with the public ever since the park opened.

He said the opening of this campground—it has 27 spaces for RVs and six reserved for tents– followed earlier projects to open primitive campgrounds for individual hikers and for groups such as Boy Scouts and to develop a primitive campground, which has since been expanded, to cater to equestrians.

The campground includes six sites reserved for tent camping

Paula Dockery, a former state senator involved in securing state money for the park, said adding the campground will give more visibility to this park, which is a relatively remote location in Florida. She said initial reports are that its has remained fairly full since shortly after it opened and anyone wishing to camp there should be sure to make a reservation.

Colt Creek State Park is located at 16000 State Road 471 north of Lakeland and is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.

Heading To Circle B? Have We Got A Weather Report For You

One of the questions many people planning to head to Circle B Bar Reserve for a hike may have is what kind of weather they can expect.

Will it be too hot? too cold? too windy? too rainy?

Ancient Islands Sierra Club has taken the guesswork out of that.

We invested $2,500 recently in the purchase and installation of a weather station that will provide real-time online weather information as well as recent weather data if you go to this link.

This is part of our mission to encourage more people to get outdoors and enjoy the natural resources that Polk County offers.

Also, we hope that after you visit Circle B, you might consider visiting the other public and private nature preserves and parks located all over the county.

Polk Whooping Cranes May Be Moved To Louisiana


Whooping Crane in a pasture in Lake Wales

The remaining Whooping Cranes that survived an unsuccessful attempt to establish a non-migratory flock of these endangered birds may be moved from Polk and surrounding counties to Louisiana, according to a draft proposal issued this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The cranes, which have attracted birdwatchers to various locations around Lake Wales, are proposed to be relocated because they are in danger of dying out without reproducing.

Federal and state biologists were involved in the release of 289 birds between 1993 and 2005 in an attempt to create a non-migratory flock. Biologists ended releases because the project was unsuccessful.

Fourteen birds from the original releases survive.

The proposal to capture the birds and move them to Louisiana would allow them to join a non-migratory flock that has been re-established there to replace a similar flock that existed until the 1940s.

Federal wildlife officials are seeking comments on the proposal.

Sierra Gets Update On Soil & Water District

Brett Upthagrove addresses Sierra

The newly reorganized Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District is working to get itself known, but it is still struggling without permanent staff, Brett Upthagrove, the panel’s chairman told Ancient Islands Sierra Thursday night.

The district, which is run by an elected five-member board who serves without pay, was founded in 1945. It had been inactive in recent years and was on the verge of being abolished when Upthagrove persuaded some local people from a variety of backgrounds to run for seats on the board in the 2016 general election. They took office early last year.

The agency traditionally aided farmers and other landowners in improving water use and soil management, reflecting the agency’s origins that date from the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s caused by poor land management.

Even without staff, the Polk district has secured the approval to host the statewide land-judging contest next year, which will bring 280 students from all over Florida to Polk County to compete, Upthagrove said.

He said the board is working on hiring a field technician, which they hope to have on board by this spring.

That technician will offer advice on irrigation efficiency.

That position is funded through a grant, Upthagrove said.

When the board was active, it received some funding from the County Commission.

One service the agency provided was to provide soil maps that showed the location and types of soils on proposed development sites. The soil information is now only briefly mentioned in staff reports and there are no longer any maps.

After the board was revived, the County Commission, led by Commissioner George Lindsey, decided it would not provide any funding for the agency. None had been requested at the time.


Legislature Proposes Sewer To Aquifer To Tap Water Bill

In some parts of the country water managers are already pushing the idea of using highly treated sewage for drinking water.

In Florida, legislators are taking a more roundabout path.

Legislators in Tallahassee are close to passing bills that would allow treated sewage to be pumped underground to supplement the aquifer from which the clean water that later became sewage originated, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

This follows other proposals to supplement the aquifer by pumping stormwater or by creating more wetlands to recharge it.

The bottom line on all of these proposals is that it is a desperate attempt to keep the growth machine going, regardless of the unintended or ignored environmental effects of such measures.

Sierra Club has so far lobbied unsuccessfully to stop this legislation.

The main problem with this approach, according to critics, is that sewage treatment is geared to remove disease organisms so people don’t get sick from drinking the water, but the standards don’t address many other potentially harmful chemicals contained in modern-day sewage streams as a result of the documented increase in pharmaceutical drugs found in water.