June 18, 1998 Jay, The following concerns about the 101 Ranch ERP are not a :finished product. We still need the Federal wetland delineations, which I think will agree more closely with my estimates of wetland impacts than those of the SFWMD----giving more weight to our arguments. I am still cogitating on this and will send more comments ifl get inspired by something new. If any of these points need elaboration please let me know and I'll get right on it. As I mentioned on the phone, this ERP has problems, but I think if 101 Ranch would agree to amend the 1984 agreement to allow our two 30" culverts to stay where they are, and how they are, we could live with this ERP (this also assumes Lefty Durando's drainage ditch will be engineered to drain the 8.5 square mile area). The complaints below are intended to either: scare them enough with our complaints to get them to agree to amend the 1984 agreement to our satisfaction, or get a better ERP for them and we will get appropriate drainage another way. You have to decide how to work that. 101 Ranch was purchased in 1983 and since then, they have done major digging, diking, and draining, without permits. One of the great problems with this ERP is these questionable wetland drainage actions are being allowed by granting this ERP. This is a fundamental problem. Page 14 has a section called ENFORCEMENT ACTMTY which states essentially that the SFWMD has not examined recent works to see if they were even legal. Now they are being permitted. Another global concern I have about this permit are the pumps. The SFWMD has forced 101 Ranch to install small pumps but it still concerns me that they can pump water off the land. It is drainage, just as much as ditches are. Pumping lowers the water table and shortens the hydroperiod of the wetlands. In the Everglades, we have lost 90% of our wading birds but only half our wetlands. The reason appears to be the remaining wetlands are messed up. Specifically, many are drained just enough that fish and other wetland food items for wading birds cannot persist in the shorter hydroperiods of the remaining wetlands. If 101 Ranch shortens the hydro periods, we may see similar effects on our wading birds. Audubon is very concerned about wetland protection on 101 ranch. BULLETS and BOMBS 1. The ERP was not put on the SFWMD Governing Board agenda, preventing us from expressing our concerns to the Governing Board (we're in litigation for Christ's sake!) 2. the Federal Agencies are delineating wetland boundaries on 101 Ranch now and the SFWMD did not wait to consider this extra information 3. Audubon has at least three wading bird rookeries on our property and the entire 101 Ranch is within the feeding radius of the rookeries (We have 4 "Species of Special Concem"-Snowy Egret, Tri-colored Heron, Little Blue Heron, Limpkin). We are very concerned about any wetland loss. In my opinion, the wetland delineations in the
ERP were conservative-there are more wetlands than identified. Table 1 shows that the SFWMD acknowledges 399.3 wetland acres within the project site and Audubon finds about 591 acres. The 591 acre figure is conservative because almost all the acres in basin 2 are recently drained wetland sloughs (since 1983}-and most of these have not been counted in Audubon's estimates. The Federal agencies will soon give us their wetland acreages and I think their estimates will be closer to my numbers than SFWMD's. For example, wetland number 30 is a recently drained wetland and Audubon objects to allowing 101 Ranch to have that drainage permitted now-the ditches across it were dug between 1986 and 1990-which appears to violate wetland protection laws. That wetland basin is twice the size they give it credit for, and the ERP allows the drained half to remain drained. This is one of many questionable works by 101 Ranch in the past 15 years that should not be allowed to be grandfathered into this plan. 4. The proposed dike along Fish Slough that will form the southwestern boundary of Basin 3 is unacceptable. The dike is being constructed in a location that destroys 5.4 acres of wetlands for the purpose of keeping water out of more than 156.3 acres (wetlands #6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15) of Fish Slough depressional wetlands (238.1 acres by Audubon estimates). Destroying 5.4 wetland acres for the purpose of dewatering 156 more acres is not appropriate and violates the "avoidance" principle of wetland mitigation sequencing procedures. Of additional concern, the mitigation proposed to compensate for the direct losses is "preservation" only, the least desirable form of mitigation. Ifwe were to accept preservation credits, the present ratio of 9:1 (49.7: 5.4) is too low. Preservation in this instance leads to wetland losses, which adds to 'cumulative wetland losses," which were not addressed in the ENVIRONMENTAL SUMMARY section. Construction of this dike forces water in Fish Slough to move southward more quickly, potentially creating "secondary impacts," which also were not addressed in the ENVIRONMENTAL SUMMARY section. The Conservation Easement is inadequate to protect the integrity of the wetlands within. The water in these wetlands should flow toward Fish Slough but have been blocked by 101 Ranch whose recently-built road impounded the wetlands. 101 Ranch's action gave these wetlands an unnaturally long hydroperiod which leads to muck accumulation, fire exclusion, proliferation of relatively unproductive vegetation types such as pickerelweed, arrowhead, and primrose willow, and damage to the fish community (i.e., this is a damaged wetland right now). With 101 Ranch impounding these wetlands on the east, the J-5 Ranch, to the west, controls the hydrology of these wetlands through their drainage works. These works have not been engineered to give a "natural" hydrology to the wetlands, or protect the wetland hydrology in any manner. If J-5 Ranch alters their drainage in manners damaging to these wetlands, it is unclear how 101 Ranch would be able to "conserve" them. In order for 101 Ranch, ''to retain land or water areas in their natural, vegetative, hydrologic, scenic, open, agricultural or wooded condition and to
â€¢ retain such areas as suitable habitat for fish, plants or wildlife" they will have to have better control of the hydrology of these wetlands. We can't just let these wetlands sit and think they will function as a healthy ecosystem. Lastly, the wetlands are protected by laws right now anyway. The easement is a farce. 5. Page 14. SAVE OUR RIVERS: The Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary IS under consideration as a Save Our Rivers project, contrary to what the ERP notes. See page 44 of the 1997 SOR five Year Plan. 6. The present ERP constricts Fish Slough with dikes on both sides such that Audubon is concerned that we will not be able to run our water down it ( this ties to the Grasshopper Sparrow problem). 101 Ranch water may be filling the canal, thereby impounding Audubon water. (Jay, We may not want to bring this up because 101 Ranch might use this argument to stop our 30 inch culverts from staying-saying we will damage 101 Ranch's ability to release water. I think our water will indeed inhibit 101 Ranch from getting as much drainage as they want, and we will get about as much drainage as we want-but I'm not sure about this yet.) 7. Page 5-"for basins 1 & 3, the applicant's consultant demonstrated that one-inch of water quality treatment is provided within on-site depressional wetlands when the pump reservoir system is not used." Therefore, unless we forbid 101 from using the pump, the one-inch rule is violate .... 8. page 10 Endangered species section is inadequate: ''No adverse impacts to wading bird species are anticipated as a result of the construction." I disagree, the wetlands on the property were not adequately identified, therefore not properly considered for protection. Additionally, this section does not mention other listed species that definitely occur on the 101 Ranch and stand to be affected by this ERP. They need to specifically address impacts on: Crested Caracara, Sandhill Crane, Snail Kite, Burrowing Owl, Bald Eagle, Limpkin, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Florida Water Rat, Indigo Snake, Gopher Tortoise, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tri-colored Heron, Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (there is no provision in this entire ERP to address the problem we have right now with 101 Ranch water management problems). 9. page 13-"Levees, some of which are existing, will be constructed to isolate the pastures from excessive inundation from the adjacent slough." Translated, this means they will block the natural sheet-water flow into their wetlands. Once again, Audubon maintains that many of these levees were constructed recently, without permits, and are of questionable legality. If they were constructed inappropriately, they should be removed, not permitted.
â€¢ 10. Page 14 enforcement activity section-there has been none in spite of questionable works, the Governing Board at the April meeting instructed staff to look into violations in the Fish Slough area. I've not seen any reports on potential violations on 101 Ranch.
Comparison of SFWMD Wetland delineations and Audubon estimates. Wetland# SFWMD Audubon W5 3.4 acres 10 ( contiguous with #6) W6 4.9 50 (contiguous with #5 and #14) W7 6.4 6.4 W8 15.4 20 (contiguous with #14 and #13) W9 10.1 3 (mostly impounded uplands) WlO 3 3 Wll 0.5 0.5 W12 2.3 2.3 W13 43.3 70 (contiguous with #8 to NE) W14 90 90 ( contiguous with 6 W15 1.7 1.7 W16 22.6 30 W18 5.2 5.2 W20 36.2 36.2 W22 62.7 62.7 W23 2.3 10 ( contiguous with 22) W24 0.8 0.8 W26 9.1 13 W27 1.4 1.4 W30 76.2 140 ( recently drained) W31 1.8 4 Total 399.3 560.2 Additionally, several wetlands were not identified including: E of #27 .25 miles 0 4 E of#28 .1 mile 0 2 between #28 and #30 0 10 S end of Reservoir #3 0 15 Total 399.3 591.2 SFWMD wetland delineations were based on aerial photograph interpretation and my delineations were done the same way (I used a 1994 map with 1 m pixel resolution, they may have used a different year/resolution). Wetland #30 personifies much of the differences in delineation that Audubon has with the SFWMD. Photos of 101 Ranch in 1986 show this wetland extending from the Fish Slough ditch southward one mile to the present entrance road (south edge of section 7). Photos in 1990 show this wetland with a new, large drainage ditch running east-west across its center and a new, large ditch running north-south along its eastern border. These ditches were never permitted, have served to unnaturally drain this wetland, and
should not be allowed to persist. The ERP allows this ditch to remain around the core of the wetland and block water from filling the perimeter areas. The soils in this entire region are Bassinger sands, Felda/Pompano sands, and Okeelanta peat-all wetland soils, listed as ''ponds or sloughs" (Okeechobee County Soil Survey, McCollum and Pendelton).