2021 Little River Cleanup & Celebration

2021 Little River Cleanup & Celebration June 5th 8:30am-1:30pm

Neighbors along the Little River will come together to celebrate their community and help clean-up and discover one of Miami’s historic natural waterways. Please join us for the 2021 Little River Cleanup & Celebration!

Safety (including for COVID19), what to bring, and lunch information.

LOCATION:  435 Northeast 82nd Street, Miami, FL 33138

SCHEDULE:

  • 7:30am – 8:30am — 82nd street gate opens and organizers arrive, meet at launch site, sign in, clean-up materials distributed
  • 8:30am — Launch watercraft for the clean-up
  • 11:30am — Return, load trash into dumpster, clean up watercraft
  • 12:00 – 1:15pm — Community lunch and talk on the history of the Little
    River, current planning for sea level rise in the area, local archaeology,
    hydrology, etc. (Lunch will be provided—all are welcome!)
  • 1:15pm — Pelican Harbor Seabird Station new property tour

RSVP:  https://c7riochico.net/lrc2021/

The Historical River

Aerial photograph of the pre-drainage Little River, 1924

When south Florida was first settled—and up until the first canal drainage projects in the late 1920s—the only solid mainland was a narrow string of islands or keys between the Biscayne Bay and the Everglades on the Coastal Ridge.

Rand, McNally, and Co. 1884 (Bloomfields Illustrated Historic Guide) Library of Sandra Henderson Thurlow. via https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/tag/old-maps/

Before the drainage projects of the late 1920s and 1930s, the Everglades flowed south from lake Okeechobee, hemmed in by the coastal ridge on the east. Where breaks in the coastal ridge allowed water to pass to the sea, small rivers formed. Biscayne Bay has four of these original rivers.

The Transverse Glades are clearly visible in this historic flow map—from Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades by Christopher W. McVoy

The Transverse Glades became the Little River at about NE 1st Avenue: a trickle in the dry season and a torrent in the wet season. It was joined by a spring trace that was harnessed to power a coontie mill near Sherwood Forest Park. The river flowed past the Tequesta Indian mound, where there was a bubbling spring in the middle of the river, according to early plat maps of the area.

Water Quality Monitoring Project

Seagrass

About the Project

The Little River Conservancy has started a Citizen Science project on Experiment.com to improve water quality monitoring along the Little River. Nitrogen and phosphorus cause persistent algal blooms in the bay, but current monitoring of the waters feeding Biscayne Bay are insufficient. Two basins effecting seagrass loss will be targeted in this project, Little River and the Biscayne Canal. The goal is to expand the sensing network in an effort to help drive research, local decision making, and community action. All data will become open source.

What is the context of this research?

The August 2020 Fish kill hit Biscayne Bay, killing thousands of fish and hitting the ecosystem hard. I wanted to dig deeper but the data was insufficient.

We have known that nutrient pollution is slowly killing the bay since the 1970’s. Today water quality testing is also in the 1970’s, with monthly water quality tests of a dynamic system which sees changes every tide and rainfall event.

This consistent level of nutrient pollution has led to persistent algal blooms causing extreme seagrass die offs in Biscayne Bay.

New low cost sensor technology is making continual monitoring possible. These sensors allow the community to gain a deeper understanding of the current situation and direct action.

What is the significance of this project?

This project would be the first continual monitoring system of nutrient pollution and water quality measures for the waters entering Biscayne Bay. Continual monitoring creates a much more accurate data for a system where water moves continually especially with every tide and rainfall event.

This level of data is significant because it will help guide new research, social, and governmental action.

Currently, FIU has 4 sensors that test water quality continuously mainly focused on the bay itself. Adding more sensors to this network will give data to support the dynamic nature of the bay and its inflowing waterways.

These low cost sensors can dramatically increase the size of the network at 5-10% the traditional costs.

What are the goals of the project?

The goal of the project is to add a minimum of 3 sensors to the waters entering Biscayne Bay through the Little River and Biscayne Canals. The sensors will measure dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, nitrogen, phosphorus, and/or Chlorophyl A.

This project will generate a new stream of continual open data for citizens, communities, government, and scientists to take action, plan and execute long term projects, and more deeply understand how to care for our water ways.

When implemented this will support line 1B of the Biscayne Bay Task Force Report, which states: Develop, implement and continuously monitor and demonstrate progress toward meeting 1A’s pollutant load reduction goals and interim targets for surface and groundwater and linked biological recovery.

Charles Torrey Simpson

The Big Mangroves at the Mouth of the Little River

At the beginning of 1903, Charles Torrey Simpson, the famous naturalist and shell specialist, retired from the Smithsonian Institution and bought 15.5 acres of land with 600 feet of bay front comprising what is today N.E. 69th Street from Biscayne Boulevard to the bay. Here he built a most unusual house he called “The Sentinels” that survived until 1963. He used this house as a base for exploring the environment of South Florida on this property, he also established Miami’s first botanical garden.

Mr. Simpson Jeft us this description of the land that is now Belle Meade:

” … Little River, a small stream from the Everglades, emptied into it (Biscayne Bay) north of us and had formed a sort of fan-shaped flat, composed of silt, sand and marl to the southward, the entire area having brackish soil.

In this littoral a large variety of trees and plants grew, red mangroves, Rhizophora mangle, the largest and finest I ever saw, some of which were four feet or more in diameter and one hundred feet high, with enormous arched roots springing out from a height of over thirty feet. The white mangrove (Laguncularia) became a lofty tree, sending up its curious quills, and just north of my line there was an immense black mangrove (Avicennia) with perhaps a half acre of strong quills a couple of feet high. Here the Pavonia, which ordinarily is a moderate sized shrub, became a small tree, and two species of large swamp ferns (Acrostichum aureum) and A. excelsum grew in great abundance, the former rare on the southeast coast and the latter reaching a height of fourteen to fifteen feet. On a sandy point along the bay grew a single shore grape, a tree which generally prefers the open beaches. Farther back were many giant buttonwoods, a few of which stood erect like respectable trees but the majority of which had fallen and were sprawling aimlessly over the mud, and on their trunks grew that curious little cryptogram, Psilotum, with scale-like leaves, looking somewhat like a club moss but having an orange colored, berry-like fruit. Here grew in great luxuriance seventeen royal palms, certainly the farthest north of any on the eastern side of the state. South of Little River there was a dense growth of limes and lemons which were perfectly naturalized and to the west was a series of freshwater ponds in which were willows and many low growing things.”

This information collected by Antolin Garcia Carbonell, R. A. at https://www.bellemeademiami.com/history.html

Charles Torrey Simpson’s book In Lower Florida Wilds is available online for free.

2020 Little River Cleanup & Celebration

Date: Saturday, March 14th, 8:30am – 1:30pm

Location: 435 Northeast 82nd Street -Miami, FL 33138

Schedule:

7:30am — 82nd street gate opens and organizers arrive.
8:30am — Meet at launch site, sign in, clean-up materials distributed
9:00 – 9:30am — Launch for the Clean-up
11:30am — Return, load trash into dumpster, clean up watercraft
12:00pm — Pelican Harbor Seabird Station native bird release
12:00 – 1:30pm—Community Lunch and Talk on the history of Little River, current planning for the sea level of the area, local archaeology, etc. (Lunch will be provided—all are welcome!)

Please RSVP here!

2018 Little River Cleanup & Celebration

Date: Saturday April 28th, 8:30am – 1:30pm

Location: 435 Northeast 82nd Street -Miami, FL 33138

Schedule:

7:30am — 82nd street gate opens and organizers arrive.
8:30am — Meet at launch site, sign in, clean-up materials distributed
9:00 – 9:30am — Launch for the Clean-up
10:00am — La Fortuna Singers launch the Serenade!
11:30am –Return, load trash into dumpster, clean up watercraft
12:00 – 1:30pm—Community Lunch and Talk on the history of Little River, current planning for the sea level of the area, local archaeology, etc. (Lunch will be provided—all are welcome!)

Please RSVP here!