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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our seventh calendar year
    PCR #310  (Vol. 7, No. 9)  This edition is for the week of February 27--March 5, 2006.

The Tampa Bay Watershed and Its Importance To You -- Part One....President Bush Proposes Selling Off Portions of the Ocala State National Forest  by William Moriaty
"16 Blocks"  by Mike Smith
It Begins Again  by Mark Terry
MegaCon 2006: Redux....Carpe Diem....Pessimism is Killing You....Arrogance is Killing Me....Slushpile of Comments  by Brandon Jones
Great Work....What A Sad Week....And One More....A Sticky Problem....Now This Is Truly Karma....My Favorite Films -- Chapter 9: "The Exorcist"  by Mike Smith
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William Moriaty's Florida
More tales from "La Floridiana" await you in "William Moriaty's Florida"! For more information simply click the book cover above!

The Tampa Bay Watershed and Its Importance To You -- Part One

Saturday in the Park:
It was a gorgeous, warm, breezy, and sunny Saturday morning at Pinellas Point Park in south St. Petersburg, Florida on that 25th day of February, 2006.

I, along with numerous other volunteers, was participating in a healing process of sorts - - the healing of the land and the healing of the water. For on that sunny Saturday morning we were planting native trees and shrubs at a formerly forested site in order to restore a bit, albeit small, of a natural balance and cleansing that was removed for the sake of human development.

Led by Florida Folk Hero Ray Wunderlich III, a lifelong St. Petersburg resident who grew up adjacent to the park, South Florida Slash Pines, Coco Plums, Persimmons, native grasses and a plethora of other forms of vegetation indigenous to the coastal communities of West Central Florida were installed by concerned citizens who were instrumental in not only beautifying and restoring the natural character of their community, but in enhancing the water quality of the park's abutting neighbor, Tampa Bay.

All Roads Lead to Rome and All Streams Lead to Tampa Bay
When I decided to undertake the writing of this article several months ago, I never dreamed the knowledge gleaned in my research would have such a profound effect on me.

You may have heard the phrase "Think globally, act locally" - - believe me, there is incredible power and truth in those words.

For over three decades of my life I have been committed to championing the natural systems of this state. and the Tampa Bay area in particular, but as you will later read, I found such a wealth of information about these systems by simply taking on this article that I found myself amazed at how little even I knew about the complex and astonishing interconnectedness of the elements and activities that constitute the life and function of Tampa Bay.

My initial inspiration for writing this article was due to another Florida Folk Hero that I have known for close to a half decade named Julia Moseley. Ms. Moseley is a genteel and articulate lady who resides at a homestead built by her ancestors in the Brandon, Florida area. Like myself, Ms. Moseley has an intense interest in Florida's history and heritage, both natural and man-made. Julia authored a fascinating book about her ancestors who pioneered the Florida wilds of Brandon before they became parking lots and shopping malls titled "Come to My Sunland". "Come to My Sunland" is available through the University Press of Florida and can be purchased for $29.95 by linking to http://www.upf.com/book.asp?id=MOSELF98. In a conversation with her in late December 2005, she told me about how she was instrumental in helping assist in an incredibly comprehensive web site called The Hillsborough County Watershed Atlas.

After taking in this incredible site, I found myself drifting from lakes to streams, then from streams to rivers, then from rivers to a seemingly ultimate destination - - Tampa Bay. This journey of the imagination led me to yet another set of complex and comprehensive web sites, these focused primarily on Tampa Bay itself - - The Tampa Bay Estuary Atlas and Tampa Bay Environment.

Now Our Own Journey to Tampa Bay Begins
We are about to enter into a journey as a drop of rain that is proportionately the one in a billion that reaches Tampa Bay in short order after falling to earth in a summer thunder boomer. In order to better understand the importance of the Tampa Bay Watershed and your own role in keeping it and its contributory water bodies as healthy and as clean as possible, it is important to know certain key words that describe what elements the journey of the rain drop might take to Tampa Bay. Those key words are in bold underlined letters.

Where Does The Point of a Rain Drop Start?
In a never ending cycle, a rain drop falls from a cloud in the sky.

This rain drop then falls earthward where it may fall directly into a water body or directly onto the land. In this instance, our rain drop is falling directly onto the land - - in this case, your own back yard. Fortunately, enough rain drops fell before ours at this point of impact so that our rain drop bounces a little and then joins a stream of other rain drops that move across the surface of your back yard being drawn by gravity to your yard's lowest spot. The area of land across which our rain drop travels to the nearest low spot where more accumulated water has gathered is known as a watershed.

Our rain drop has now exited your yard and gathered in a low spot where more water has accumulated. Both gravity and now velocity force our rain drop to move more quickly across the land. This accumulation of rain water is known as storm water run-off and the shallow column of water moving quickly over the lower land is called a sheet flow.

Suddenly the sheet flow that our rain drop has been thrust upon falls by inches into a roadway's gutter. The velocity of the rain drop moves even faster as the gutter channelizes the water down the street to a hole in the side of the road known as an inlet. Our hapless rain drop falls several feet into a dark and foreboding subterranean world where it is placed in a pipe along with storm water from several other locations nearby. The poor rain drop is moving even faster but has no way to know where it traveling due to the inky blackness of the buried pipe. Slightly, ever so slightly, the pipe is pitched downward to facilitate the conveyance of the water flow.

After what seems like an eternity to our now terrified rain drop, it ends up in a lake. Here there is an accumulation of water unlike any other place the rain drop has been in this particular journey. This accumulation of standing water, whether it be a pond, a puddle, a river or an ocean, is known as a water body. At the lake, the rain drop takes a breather as the flow rate is reduced significantly. After spending a week relaxing amongst the cattails, bass, cypress trees and occasional swimmer, our rain drop is drawn to the lowest point of the lake where it tumbles over a weir that is designed to be used to impound the water in the lake. When the lake overflows due to the addition of storm water, its water simply tumbles over the weir into the next lowest point, in this case it is a rather non-descript man-made ditch.

Our rain drop travels along at a moderate rate amongst chest high weeds. The ditch has steep earthen sides known as slopes. Above the slopes are the back yards of houses where the receding water sheet flowing from their back yards due to last week's rain event trickles down the slopes and joins our rain drop on its journey. After several boring miles of this straight line ditch, the ditch reaches its lowest point where it empties into a creek.

Now the rain drop is happy again. Although the creek meanders lazily amongst the towering cypress and maple trees, our rain drop notices that the water looks different than it did in the initial part of its journey. Here the other water it has joined is not clear, but brown in color. This is due to a chemical substance that fallen leaves and roots of the cypress trees give off called tannin. Nevertheless, our rain drop floats along slowly seeing water birds such as herons and anhingas searching for a fish dinner. There are amphibians such as frogs and turtles frolicking in its water. Above the water's surface the rain drop notices deer and black bear taking drinks from the waters that the creek has to offer. Yes, this is nice! Along the way smaller streams join the creek, and with more water being added, the creek begins to become wider.

After several miles the creek rounds a bend and ends up in the biggest water body yet - - a river! For quite a few miles the river makes slow bends along cypress tree communities. But then another type of community appears. Our rain drop has lost track of how long it has been traveling on this journey - - two weeks, a month? Who knows! Suddenly there are houses and industry abutting the river. Pleasure boats with fisherman and powerboats with recreational boaters slice through the water's surface. The river grows ever wider. Now gigantic boats called ships ply the water taking their cargo to man made berths called docks. What was once a clean column of water in its earlier journey has been tainted by natural and man-made pollution. Our rain drop notices several dead fish bobbing at its surface. The oxygen level of the water is not as plentiful for the rain drop as it once was.

Suddenly bridges transporting vehicular traffic above the surface of the river appear. The houses give way to enormous skyscrapers. The rain drop knows that it is arriving to a very special place in its journey - - a city! Here a multitude of pipes filled with storm water from city streets and from industrial wastes appear plentifully, but our rain drop can't help but notice all the pollutants moving out of these pipes.

Now even the water in the river that our rain drop is drifting down is taking on a whole new character. It is changing from freshwater to saltwater! This mixing area of fresh water and salt water contains what is called brackish water. Things begin the change radically. The fish and birds here look different from those upstream, the water smells different and the trees growing along the shoreline have strange aerial prop roots covered with small shells.

Suddenly our rain drop reaches an area that has the largest water body yet that it has ever witnessed on its fascinating journey. A water body so large that for the first time the rain drop can not see the other side of the water body for it has none. Our rain drop has reached its final destination in this journey - - for our rain drop that fell from the sky a little over a month ago just now reached Tampa Bay! Next week a little more terminology followed by where in the scheme of things that you might be in relation to Tampa Bay and what you can do to protect its health and water quality if you are!

President Bush Proposes Selling Off Portions of the Ocala State National Forest

Not surprisingly, as this President has the most blatant disregard of the environment in American history, "dubya" intends to sell off portions of the Ocala National Forest in order to "raise money for rural communities" (yeah, right). Please read the following forwarded to me by Florida Folk Hero Dot Carlson

Front Page of the Orlando Sentinel...."973 acres in Ocala forest may be sold"..."the sale would be part of a Bush administration plan to raise money for rural areas"..."The Bush administration plans to sell nearly 1,000 acres of forest - much of it waterfront property - alarming environmental groups who fear it could become prime land for vacation homes and other developments. The sale of 973 acres in Ocala National Forest is part of a proposal to sell up to 300,000 acres in national forests in 35 states to raise up to $800 million for a federal program that helps fund schools and roads in rural counties."

"This is a dumb idea all around." said Charles Lee, senior vice president of Audubon of Florida...Lee further states..." the state can't afford to lose any public lands, especially considering its rapid pace of development. Lee called any selloff in the Ocala forest, a "slippery slope, that could lead to further land sales".....US Rep. Ric Keller vowed to fight it (the plan does require congressional approval) and Senator Bill Nelson said he opposes the proposal.

For more information on this, link to the Orlando Sentinel story.

Please contact your elected U.S. Representative and let them know that this lame brained proposal is totally unacceptable!

"La Floridiana" is ©2006 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.