FORCE - Friends of The Rivers Coalition eNewsletter
September 2007~ P.O Box 2627, Stuart, FL 34995 ~ 772-225-6849

Special Presentation!
See You at the Blake for a fascinating Program!

Next Public Meeting September 28, 2007
The next public meeting of the Rivers Coalition will be held on Friday, September 28, 2007 at 11:00 a.m in the Armstrong Room at the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Rd Stuart, FL 34996

Business Matters
• Chairman’s Comments, Leon Abood
• Special Guest/Presentation, Mark Perry
“Oysters: Signaling the Health of Our Estuary"
• Legal Update, Karl Wickstrom
• Special Events, Jamie Burns/Helen Harralson
• Fundraising, Lisa Wigley
• WRAC, Ted Guy/Ed Fielding

Coalition Committee Reports
• Water Quality, Mark Perry
• Local issues, Mark Perry / Ed Fielding
• State / Federal Issues, Kevin Henderson / Paul Gray
• IRL / CERP, Kevin Henderson / Paul Gray

Oysters: Signaling the Health of Our Estuary
The vital role of oysters in maintaining life in the St. Lucie estuary will be highlighted Sept. 28 in a special presentation sponsored by the Rivers Coalition.

The public is invited at no charge to attend the program at 11 a.m. in the Blake Library auditorium in Stuart.

“This will be a fascinating program revealing how important oysters are to this estuary and community,” said Rivers Coalition Chair Leon Abood. “Citizens should realize that when we lose the oysters, we lose an extended family of marine life with severe consequences for everyone.”

Mark Perry and staff of the Florida Oceanographic Society will explore the lives and value of oysters and exhibit the animals and present little-known facts about them.

Virtually all remaining St. Lucie oysters, an estimated 69 million of them, were wiped out in 2005 due to prolonged freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the manmade St. Lucie Canal and then into the south fork of the St. Lucie River.

Scientists report that oyster colonies not only provide essential habitat for fish and tiny organisms, the bi-valve shellfish act as natural filters that remove vast amounts of pathogens and particles from the water.

Prior to the periodic freshwater releases from inland, which have been especially high in the past decade (303 billion gallons in 2005), oysters covered more than 400 acres in the St. Lucie and were considered important “cleaning machines.”

In an effort to restore oyster populations, Florida Oceanographic is conducting an “oyster gardening” program that will be featured at the Rivers Coalition meeting.

Baby oysters (pea-sized spat) are hatched at FOS and placed in mesh cages under homeowners’ docks and allowed to grow to half-dollar size, ready for release to traditional oyster grounds.

Perry will announce latest data on the oyster project progress and other factors.

The Rivers Coalition is made up of 49 organizations from Martin and St. Lucie Counties, dedicated to restoring and protecting the St. Lucie estuary and Indian River Lagoon.

Your Name on Honor Roll?
Now, more than ever, your funding support is vitally needed for the federal lawsuit to restore and protect the St. Lucie estuary from another slime and lesion job.

Please, will you be a sponsor? The Rivers Coalition Defense Fund is creating a special Honor Roll to name citizens and firms that help out, by category:

Platinum $10,000 or more
Gold $5,000 to $9,999
Silver $1,000 to $4,999
Bronze $500 to $999
Grassroots $20 to $499

Honored sponsors will be listed on the website and in the community. We hope you'll want to be recognized for taking part in this historic battle.

The Defense Fund is preparing detailed (and costly) evidence to show how the Army Corps discharges from Lake Okeechobee are ruining the estuary in most years nowadays. It's truly shocking, as you may read about in accompanying documents on the Rivers Coalition website.

Will you act today?

DVD Shows What We Lose!
Lots of river advocates are talking about Dr. Grant Gilmore's extraordinary presentation about what makes the St. Lucie Estuary so special.

So now we've put together a 26-minute DVD on this amazing program that the noted fisheries biologist put on for the Rivers Coalition membership.

Among other facts, Gilmore showed how the St. Lucie is home to more species of fish than any estuary in North America! The fisheries experts have counted 800 different species, far more than in Tampa, Miami, Jacksonville, the Bahamas or anywhere else. And yet the discharges of turbid excessive freshwater wipe out the estuarine character.

(This year, of course, the river is much better off because the discharge gates have been shut tight, but you can be sure the the onslaughts are coming back. Only court action can stop it, from all indications.)

The DVD's are available to donors and for group showings, so let us know if you'd like one.

Contact us to request your DVD.

Fun For the Children!
Hey Kids, Here are some of the guys living in our St. Lucie estuary. Want to color and name them?

Give your name and age (12 and under). We'll show some of your work with credit in color next month! Send your entry by snail mail or email attachment (contact info above).

Click here to download your coloring page.

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Editor: Jessica Briske

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