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Rivers Coalition Mtg July 28, 2022 11:00 A.M.


 Our Mission is to stop discharges into the St. Lucie River from Lake Okeechobee and to fight for a safe, healthy and ecologically balanced St. Lucie River Estuary and Indian River Lagoon, and the natural resources that are vital to the economy and quality of life of Martin County and the Treasure Coast

July 2022 Newsletter
Friends of the Rivers Coalition E-Newsletter
Rivers Coalition Meeting 
   Thursday, July 28, 2022
   11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m.
Stuart City Hall Chambers
121 SW Flagler Ave, Stuart, FL

This meeting is in person and via Zoom, and is open to the public, with plenty of free parking available.  Email for Zoom link.
“Our elected leaders simply don’t have the political will to solve the problem,” Karl Wickstrom, a former Rivers Coalition Legal Defense Fund board member said in 2013 as we entered into the “Lost Summer.”  Fast forward nearly ten years and not much has changed, but there are signs of hope regarding political will.  Unfortunately, it has been at the expense of a few more “lost summers,” but locally we have a few elected leaders who have made clean water a priority.  We don’t have them at every level of office, but we have a few.  It’s progress. 
Charles Grande, Vice President of Rivers Coalition and former St. Lucie County Commissioner, will discuss the importance of voting, more specifically the importance of voting down ballot, and how to select the right local candidates if your criteria matches the Rivers Coalition mission.
Blair Wickstrom, Rivers Coalition Board Member and President of VoteWater, will discuss why the primaries may be more important than the general elections.  Also, Blair will help you navigate through a sea of political postcards claiming to be for clean-water.    
But in the end, if we don’t get the right people elected, and our elected leaders continue to side with the polluters and special interests, we have another option--we can change the state constitution. But a signature-driven amendment takes a lot of work. Joseph Bonasia (Vice Chair and SWFL Regional Director of the Florida Rights of Nature Network) will introduce us to his organization and bring us up to speed on its amendment, which creates a fundamental right to clean and healthy waters, clarifies prohibited actions and inactions that harm (or threaten to harm) waters, and defines important terms.  It also allows Floridians to enforce this right through the ability to sue state executive agencies that violate this right, empowering courts to look at the science and truth (and not politics) of what’s going on before awarding equitable relief to the situation. 
Florida Rights of Nature Network (FRONN) was founded in 2020 as a grassroots collaboration of local initiatives across the state and has worked in charter counties to protect nature's rights, people's rights to healthy ecosystems, and Home Rule. 
In 2020, Orange County became the largest jurisdiction in the nation to pass a rights of nature law, and in 2021, using this new legal protection, an Orange County citizen initiated the nation’s first rights of nature enforcement case to prevent the destruction of wetlands.  
We look forward to seeing you on July 28, 2022 at our monthly meeting to keep you informed of how you can make a difference!
Business Matters:
  • Call to Order and Chairman’s Comments: Charles Grande, Vice President
  • Rivers Coalition, Inc. Business matters and Membership roll call 
  • Presentation: 
Charles Grande, Vice President of Rivers Coalition and former St. Lucie County Commissioner
Blair Wickstrom, Rivers Coalition Board member and President of VoteWater
Joseph Bonasia, Vice Chair and SWFL Regional Director of the Florida Rights of Nature Network
Government & Agency Progress Reports:
  • Martin County: Dianne Hughes
  • City of Stuart/LOSOM: Ben Hogarth
  • South Florida Water Management District: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
  • State and Federal Agencies: FDEP, USACE, FWC
  • Lake Okeechobee Update: Dr. Paul Gray
  • State and Federal Legislation: TBD
Coalition Reports:
  • Rivers Coalition Committee Updates: 
    • River Kidz: Nic Mader
    • Speakers Bureau: Todd Weissing
  • Local Issues & Estuary Water Quality
    • Seagrass Update: Todd Thurlow/Jim Moir
  • Riverkeeper Update: Jim Moir (Indian River) 
  • Member Comments and Announcements
  • Adjourn
Recent Photos of St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon
Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch took these photos on July 9, 2022 of the St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon at low tide, showing the slow recovery of the seagrass. "With the seagrass and macro-algae totally exposed, one could see the extent of the recovery; wading birds feasted everywhere -over one-hundred of various species." Jacqui is a Stuart native and is currently on the board of the South Florida Water Management District. She and her husband Dr. Ed Lippisch regularly go up in the "River Warrior" plane and photograph our waterways. You can follow Jacqui and read her blog at

A fighting conch in the flats

Seagrass recovery--slow but steady--a delightful sight to behold!

Blue herons feasting
The below shots were taken from the air by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch on July 10, 2022. 
"The aerials are taken over this same area of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon -between Sewall's Point and Hutchinson Island. One can see the seagrass/macro-algae flats recovering, visible nearshore reefs off the St Lucie Inlet, and the rain's runoff plume, but no Lake Okeechobee discharges."


Nicole Mader featured in Stuart Magazine
Nicole "Nic" Mader, Rivers Coalition Board member and Chair of the River Kidz Committee, was recently featured in the July/August 2022 edition of Stuart Magazine. Nic is a field biologist who currently works with the Dolphin Ecology Project. She has dedicated her life to monitoring and protecting marine life in our local waterways.

                                                                                                      Photo by Steven Martine
Rivers Coalition Meeting Minutes: June 23, 2022
Summary of Comments
Opening Comments: Mark Perry mentioned that the City of Stuart recently hosted the Army Corps of Engineers for a boat tour of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River.
Historic Perspective to Discharges: Mark Perry, Executive Director of the Florida Oceanographic Society, discussed the history of discharges from Lake Okeechobee and their cause-and-effect relationship with toxic algae.
Public Health: Rob Lord, former CEO of Cleveland Clinic Martin Memorial, talked about the health issues related to toxic algae. He discussed the steps Martin Memorial had taken during the past “toxic summers” and the need to improve the system, keep up the momentum, and not become complacent.
Government Response: Merritt Matheson, Mayor of Stuart, spoke about the importance of government getting the “toxic algae danger” message out and how to accomplish this, and also discussed the City of Stuart’s plan of action, including signage.
Public Rally: Blair Wickstrom, publisher of Florida Sportsman, gave a rally call to those present and also the community, emphasizing the importance of being ready as a community with a plan of action.
Media Relations: Gil Smart, Executive Director of VoteWater and former journalist with TCPalm, discussed the media’s role in getting public attention and that of politicians, and also the public’s role in keeping the media informed of events, protests, etc.
Current Lake Status:  Todd Thurlow, attorney and author of the website, discussed the current level of Lake Okeechobee and the relation of rainfall to lake discharges and basin runoffs. He talked in depth about the various charts and satellite images on his site and their significance.

Q&A session followed the presentation. 
The above presentation in its entirety can be seen at
Discussion: (summary of discussion-not verbatim)
Government & Agency Reports:
Martin County: Dianne Hughes gave an update on the southern IRL, St. Lucie River, and Estuary water conditions and gave an update on various projects in the county, including the Living Shoreline projects and the Old Palm City Ripple Project.
City of Stuart/LOSOM- Ben Hogarth gave a brief update on the status of the LOSOM process, mentioning they are currently in a holding pattern while feedback comes in. Ben talked about the City of Stuart being proactive in preparation for possible future impacts related to toxic discharges.
SFWMD: Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch stressed the need to prepare for possible toxic algae threats just as the SFWMD uses hurricane drills to be prepared. She discussed positive items such as the dike being almost completed, a good year for the ecological band in Lake O, and the algae-monitoring app that the USACE and SFWMD use to share data. She emphasized that she is making the EAA Reservoir a priority for her next 4 years in office.
USACE: Not present.
Lake O Update: Dr. Paul Gray said the lake level is currently 12.9’. He praised the Rivers Coalition for leading the charge for a culture of clean water.
State and Federal Legislation: Gil Smart of VoteWater discussed the Clean Coastal Waters Act proposed by Brian Mast and signed by President Biden last week, as well the Water Resources Development Act, recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and which includes NERP.
Coalition Reports:
River Kidz: Nic Mader announced the 37-mile Toxic Trail Run taking place on Saturday, June 25th, from Port Mayaca to Stuart Beach. Proceeds benefit the River Kidz.
Speakers Bureau: Not present
Water Quality Report: Mark Perry gave a water quality update, mentioning the good salinity but poor water quality due to sediment. Also see presentation.
Seagrass Update:  See presentation and also  
Indian Riverkeeper Update: Not present.
Public and Closing Comments: 
Mark Perry discussed the seagrass planting volunteer project that the Florida Oceanographic Society is undertaking. Importantly, both the EPA and US Fish and Wildlife Service are visiting the seagrass nursery tomorrow. 
Rick Hall of the River Warriors reiterated the need to get the message out to the community, stating he is constantly fielding questions from the public about water quality.
Mark Perry thanked the City of Stuart for their efforts to keep the public informed with signage, etc. in relation to the water quality. Mark hopes that that someday we won’t have to have these signs on a permanent basis.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:52 pm.

The Newest Version of the River Kidz Workbook has been published!
The River Kidz workbooks have arrived from Southeastern Printing
The workbooks will be ready to distribution in the
4th grades of all Martin County Schools
Thanks to the generous donations of kind supporters of the River Kidz
If you are a homeschool or a private school
please contact Miki Blumenthal at
to receive your free copies 

Link to River Kidz workbook on RC website
 2022 Meeting Schedule 
All Meetings are at 11:00 a.m.
Stuart City Hall Chambers
121 SW Flagler Ave, Stuart, FL

     July 28 - Thursday
August - no meeting
September 22 - Thursday
October 27- Thursday
November 17 - Thursday
December - no meeting
 For updates, please visit our Facebook page by clicking below:
Rivers Coalition Facebook Page
Check out the Rivers Coalition new and fabulous website
Link to Rivers Coalition Webpage
2021 Rivers Coalition Board Members
Mark Perry, President 
Charles Grande, Vice President 
Jim Moir, Secretary
Darrell Brand, Treasurer
Eve Samples, Director
Nicole Mader, Director
Todd Thurlow, Director
Todd Weissing, Director
Blair Wickstrom, Director
Gil Smart, Director
Rivers Coalition Organizational Members
Members: 1000 Friends of Florida, 27-80 Paddlers, American Association of University Women, Arthur R. Marshall Foundation, Atlantic Point Yacht Club and Marina of Stuart, Audubon Florida, Audubon of Martin County, Ballantrae Anglers Club, Ballantrae Yacht Club, Beau Rivage HOA, Business Development Board of Martin County, Circle Bay Yacht Club Condo Assn. Inc., Citizens for Clean Water, Cocoanut Point Yacht Club, Computer Network Services, Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie Co. Inc, Cypress Lake HOA, Dolphin Ecology Project, Driftwood Motel of Jensen Beach. Economic Council of Martin County, Florida Oceanographic Society, Florida Sportsman, Fort Pierce Yacht Club, Four Rivers Property Association, Four Winds Condo Association, Friends of The Everglades, Friends of Harbor Branch - FAU, Gregor Woods HOA, Guardians of Martin County, Harborage Yacht Condominiums, Harbour Ridge Yacht Club, Humanists of the Treasure Coast, Hutchinson Island Preservation Initiative, Indian Riverkeeper, Indian River Plantation POA, Jensen Beach Chamber of Commerce, Joe's Point HOA, Keep Martin Beautiful, Lake Worth Waterkeeper, Leadership Martin, League of Women Voters of Martin Co., League of Women’s Voters of SLC Co., Lighthouse Point Association Inc., Locks Landing HOA, Lost River Plantation HOA, Marine Cleanup Initiative Inc., Marine Industries Assoc. of Treasure Coast, Marine Resources Council, Martin County Anglers, Martin County Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, Martin County Conservation Alliance, Martin County Democratic Environmental Caucus, Martin County Farm Bureau, Martin County Future Group, Martin County Hotel & Motel Association, Martin Soil & Water Conservation Dist, Miramar POA, Nettles Island Community Action Assoc., North River Shores Prop. Assoc., Ocean Research and Conservation Association, Palm City Chamber of Commerce, Palm City Civic Assn, Palm Cove Yacht Club, Palm Cove HOA, Pierpoint Condominium Assoc., Port Salerno Commercial Fishing Dock Assoc., Port Sewall Harbor & Tennis Club Owners Ass, Port Sewall Property Owners Assoc., Port St Lucie Anglers, President’s Council of Hutchinson Island, Realtor Association of Martin County, Rio Civic Club, River Club Dock Owners Association Inc., River Kidz, River Kidz of St. Lucie County, River Vista HOA, River Warriors, Royal Harbor Homeowners Assn, Sailfish Point POA, Sailfish Point Yacht Club, Sandhill Cove Retirement Living, Savanna Fishing Club, Seagate Harbor Homeowners Assoc., Sierra Club-:Loxahatchee Group, Snug Harbor Yacht Club, St. Lucie Audubon Society, St. Lucie River Yacht Club, St. Lucie Sailing Club, St. Lucie Settlement Inc., Stuart Corinthian Yacht Club, Stuart Flyrodders, Stuart Heritage, Stuart Rod & Reel Club, Stuart/Martin County Chamber, Surfrider Foundation, Teamsters Local 769, The Garden Club of Stuart Inc, The Estuary at North River Shores, The Junior League of Martin County, Treasure Coast Buddhist Cooperative, Treasure Coast Builders Association, Treasure Coast Democratic Environmental Caucus, Treasure Coast Golf Course Superintendents Association, Treasure Coast Rowing Club, Treasure Coast Unitarian Universalist Church, US Sailing Center of Martin County, Venture Three Community, VoteWater, Windjammer Condo Association
PO Box 2627 
Stuart, FL 34995 

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1650 S Kanner Highway
Stuart, FL 34994

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