Report to Audubon on the status of the Ordway-Whitten Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary's drainage problem in relation to the viability of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow population.

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Report to Audubon on the status of the Ordway-Whitten Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary's drainage problem in relation to the viability of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow population.

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Report to Audubon on the status of the Ordway-Whitten Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary's drainage problem in relation to the viability of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow population.
Gray, Paul N.
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Box 2


Subjects / Keywords:
Ranchers -- Law and legislation -- Florida ( lcsh )
Okeechobee, Lake (Fla.) ( lcsh )
Grasshopper sparrow


The Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary has a neighboring ranch actively blocking all southward water flow and impounding the water on the Sanctuary. This ongoing drainage problem floods the Sanctuary so deeply that the federally and state endangered population of Florida Grasshopper Sparrows have not successfully reproduced in the past 3 years. El Nino weather patterns have produced so much precipitation this year that presently, the Sanctuary is not suitable for the upcoming breeding season in March. For more than two years, Audubon has worked with State and Federal Agencies to re-establish southward water flow but has no on-the-ground results to date. Therefore, Audubon presently has two options: 1) allow the drainage problem to continue this year, probably creating a fourth consecutive failed breeding season, or 2) breach the dike that blocks water flow, releasing excess water, and giving the sparrows a better chance to breed. Option 1 risks the sparrow and Audubon's purpose for having the Sanctuary; option 2 puts Audubon at risk with government agencies and neighbors who will receive this water. A third option-emergency agency intervention-is being vigorously pursued and agencies have been notified of our predicament, with the request for emergency action. In this document, I outline the history of the problem and offer support for a recommendation that Audubon follow option 2 if option 3 does not materialize.

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L41-00059 ( USFLDC DOI )
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Report to Audubon on the status of the Ordway-Whitten Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary's drainage problem in relation to the viability of the Florida Grasshopper Sparrow population. January 16, 1998 by Paul N. Gray, Ph.D. Sanctuary Manager


Abstract: The Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary has a neighboring ranch actively blocking all southward water flow and impounding the water on the Sanctuary. This ongoing drainage problem floods the Sanctuary so deeply that the federally and state endangered population of Florida Grasshopper Sparrows have not successfully reproduced in the past 3 years. El Nino weather patterns have produced so much precipitation this year that presently, the Sanctuary is not suitable for the upcoming breeding season in March. For more than two years, Audubon has worked with State and Federal Agencies to re-establish southward water flow but has no on-the-ground results to date. Therefore, Audubon presently has two options: 1) allow the drainage problem to continue this year, probably creating a fourth consecutive failed breeding season, or 2) breach the dike that blocks water flow, releasing excess water, and giving the sparrows a better chance to breed. Option 1 risks the sparrow and Audubon's purpose for having the Sanctuary; option 2 puts Audubon at risk with government agencies and neighbors who will receive this water. A third option-emergency agency intervention-is being vigorously pursued and agencies have been notified of our predicament, with the request for emergency action. In this document, I outline the history of the problem and offer support for a recommendation that Audubon follow option 2 if option 3 does not materialize. The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum jloridanus) The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow is listed by the Federal Government and the State of Florida as endangered, with an estimated 1996 total population of 600 individuals. The Florida Grasshopper Sparrow population has become endangered mostly because about 88% of its required habitat, native dry prairie, has been destroyed. The Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary is dry prairie and holds one of only 6 extant subpopulations of these sparrows. Recent work indicates the Kissimmee Prairie subpopulation is genetically distinct from at least 4 other subpopulations, creating added concern for their future. In 1994, researchers initiated a breeding biology study pn our Sanctuary and detected reproduction, as had been seen by Audubon staff previously. In 1995 and 1996, Florida had very wet weather, which combined with our drainage problem, created widespread flooding. The researchers detected no successful breeding on their study plots by the sparrows in either year, but observed 3 fledglings elsewhere on the Sanctuary. In 1997, we had less rain during the breeding season, drying the prairie greatly but still observed no nesting, or fledgling sparrows. The researchers also have been working with 3 other populations of Florida Grasshopper Sparrows and concluded flooding was the main cause of reproductive failure on the Sanctuary. The study plots on the prairie cover about one-half the available Sanctuary habitat and observed populations were: 11-16 territories in 1993-199S; 13 territories in 1996; and 6 territories in 1997 (Figure 1 is a CCMail I received from researcher Dusty Perkins from the University of Massachusetts on January 15, 1998). The Sanctuary population is in grave danger of extinction due to the flooding problem, their low numbers, a short life span, three consecutive years of no reproduction, and possible isolation from other populations that could replenish them. The 1998 breeding season will begin in March, and present flooding on the Sanctuary indicates sparrows will not be able to breed. 2


...... History of the drainage problem Appendix 1 has a detailed chronology of events leading up to the present conditions. Appendix 2 has a "structural" chronology that details changes to the Military Grade that increased its impounding ability. The structural events in Appendix 2 also are in the Appendix 1 chronology. A narrative version follows. Audubon bought the first 9 square miles of the Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary in 1980 ( see Maps 1 & 2 for Sanctuary location, adjacent ranches, and water flow patterns). This was a drought period and the Sanctuary had no water, even in wetlands. Audubon knew that the Military Grade to the south could be used to manage our water in an appropriate manner (we could hold water back-as opposed to having the large drainage ditches to our south 'suck us dry') and when the opportunity presented itself in 1984, Audubon purchased land down to the Military Grade from Haynes Williams of the 101 Ranch, Inc. As part of the purchase, we signed the Reciprocal grant ofprivate roadway easement (Appendix 3) and the Reciprocal water use and drainage agreement (Appendix 4). The former gave each party half of the road and allowed each party to maintain the road. The latter agreement had 3 main clauses: 101 Ranch would not draw water from Audubon, Audubon would not drain water onto 101 Ranch, and Audubon would obtain drainage to Fish Slough by connecting to the proposed Carlton Drainage Canal. The proposed Carlton Drainage Canal was rejected by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) leaving Audubon with ~o drainage to the south. Audubon went back to the 101 Ranch and requested drainage across the 101 Ranch. The 101 Ranch made several 'offers' but as can be seen by the chronology, has steadily increased the impounding ability of the Military Grade. As of 1998, the 101 Ranch has unilaterally and completely sealed the Grade to any possibility of flow. The actions of the 101 Ranch, combined with those of other neighbors, have created a situation where one 24 inch culvert east of Audubon is all that is presently draining a six-mile-wide slough system (about 8 square miles of land). The water that accumulates upstream of the Military Grade now becomes so deep that it flows elsewhere. Our Sanctuary has an elevational range of about 4 feet; 71 feet at our highest, driest spot, and 67 feet at the bottom of our deepest wetland. The Fish Slough water now flows northwestward across this flat terrain and exits the Sanctuary down Sevenmile Slough (Map 2). Historically, only half our Sanctuary drained to Sevenmile Slough (and the other half to Fish Slough). Presently, all of our Fish Slough water is forced to Sevenmile Slough, plus, most of the Fish Slough water from our neighbor to the east, the Box Ranch, also is forced across our property to Seven.mile Slough (see map in Appendix 2). Our neighbor on Sevenmile Slough, Triple A Ranch, became so exasperated with this extra water that on March 3, 1995, he trespassed on the Sanctuary with a trackhoe and cleaned out an abandoned canal. We hauled him into the SFWMD and he said he had to clean our canal for his own protection-and very correctly explained the water we were (unjustly) allowing to flood him. Our water was so deep it was flowing upstream onto his property. His neighbors to the north, the Harvey Ranch and Pennewaw Ranch, had previously confronted him saying that as long as the Triple A Ranch had deep water, they could not drain their ranches. The three Ranches had to remove cattle from their lands (no forage), were losing income, Triple A was losing oak trees, and they were preparing to jointly to sue Audubon. I took them to see the Military Grade in 1995, and explained Audubon was tying to fix the Military Grade problem because we did not want flood damage for th~ or us. We went to the SFWMD and asked them to intervene, thus beginning years of meetings with all parties involved. Meetings stressed the need to do some short term actions until more study could lead to long term solutions. Unfortunately, no short term actions were ever implemented and planning for them ceased, in spite oflandowner desires. For the long-term, we agreed to do a basin study-to determine how much water should properly go where, and to avoid unjustly flooding any party in the final solution. The SFWMD appointed John Fumero, Counsel, as their mediator and the landowners hired Len Lindahl, 3


from an independent engineering firm, to be the engineering mediator. Audubon has invested about $8,000 to date, and more work needs to be done. As of January 15, 1998, Lindahl has surveyed the Sanctuary but bas not completed work on the Box Ranch. Box Ranch surveys are needed to determine the total area of the Fish Slough headwaters so calculations about southward water flow can be made. With those calculations, engineering solutions (the right configuration of culverts and flow-ways) will be suggested and once approved, installed. This will not happen before the March breeding season. Indeed, the 101 Ranch presently complains that a single 18" culvert floods them excessively in spite of the fuct that in a "natural" condition there would be 3 sloughs, of 550, 1275, and 1275 foot widths, respectively, flowing across our border. I am unsure how much water would flow through a total of 3,100 foot-width of sloughs, but it will probably be an order of magnitude larger than an 18" culvert. I do not predict the 101 Ranch will accept their fuir share willingly, especially in time for the sparrow breeding season. Action items 1. Ifwe wait for government action, this year's breeding season will be a complete failure and the sparrow may be extirpated from our Sanctuary. 2. If we breach the dike, the water levels will lower ( our water level in Shinn Hammock Marsh is about 34 feet higher than 101 Ranch) and the sparrows will have a better chance to breed. Audubon could bear liability to downstream landowners if the dike is breached. I have informed Mike Slayton, Deputy Director of the SFWMD, and other SFWMD and USFWS staff, that the above 2 choices are my present options. We have discussed that for Audubon, both have peril. I told Mike that March 1 is our drop dead date for action. The sparrows start setting up territories in mid March so we may be able to dry the prairies in time with a breach. However, even if we dry the prairies by mid-March, food items such as seeds and insects may have not recovered from the flooding and the sparrows may still suffer-who knows? So, March 1 is a compromise date for the sparrow that may give agencies time to act and allow Audubon to avoid choosing between two undesirable options. I told Mike I would love another option~ergency SFWMD intervention--and he said he will try. Lastly, I emphasized the Audubon has exercised due diligence in resolving this issue and we consider the inaction of the SFWMD to be their failure, so far. I also am involving the USFWS biologists and special agents to see if they will take emergency action-or at least get their consent. They are already fumiliar with this problem and considering our mounting evidence they may take action now. What I plan to do from here on out is up to Audubon. I seek everyone's input, my present plans is .... jf we follow the 'breach the dike' approach, I will: --bring in sparrow experts Mike Delaney (Florida Game and Fish) and Dr. Peter Vickery, University of Massachusetts/Massachusetts Audubon, to certify expertly and independently, that there is a critical problem -inform all surrounding landowners of what we are going to do and why we have to do it. --talk to the Governing Board of the SFWMD at their February meeting and tell them what the problem is (photos of dead trees, crushed culverts, dead palmettos, grasshopper sparrows, aerial photos of water and dead trees on our side and dry land and healthy trees on 101 Ranch). I'll tell them the sparrows cannot wait for the government because, for whatever reason we still have no results and we are at a critical juncture. The press will take great interest. --use this as a publicity event to bring out the issues of endangered species, property rights, water management issues, agency responsibility , and most important, how Audubon is fighting for wildlife --meanwhile I will increase pressure for decisive emergency agency action. 4


Questions and answers please submit mote on CCMail (Pgray@Audubon.Org) for things I omit Why wasn't the drainage agreement broken long ago? We had some water problems in the 1980's, right after we signed the agr~ent, but the periods around 1984-5 and 1989-90 were fairly dry and the severity of our drainage problem probably was not so apparent. Audubon started a hydrology study and collected about 2 years of data, but the lead investigator was laid off ( about 1993?) when Audubon's science staff was reduced. The results were not written up. When Scott Hedges was manager (1991-1995, until I replaced him) he was contacting attorneys and others to try to break the agreement. He had detected the early part of the tree mortality and other associated problems. More recently, Glenn Olson authorized me to retain an attorney (November 20, 1995), pending funding, to have the drainage agreement declared invalid. We did not proceed immediately because we thought the Sanctuary might be bought by the State along with the Maxcy purchase and we feared if we were in litigation we would not be able to complete a sale. The Sanctuary sale is still pending and avoiding litigation still is a goal. We also had the SFWMD getting involved and I thought they would solve this rather quickly without us having to hire attorneys. This was a straightforward case of impoundment and State water law says it is illegal to impound water on anyone (Appendix 5). Even though Audubon and 101 Ranch had a drainage agreement-it was damaging other parties and I thought the SFWMD would quickly force us to break the agreement. Can we prosecute 101 Ranch for endangered species violations and break the agreement that way? I took Federal biologists out August 1, 1996, with SFWMD staff and the USFWS Vero Beach Office Director wrote a letter to the SFWMD on August 13, 1996 encouraging them to solve this problem. That letter had little effect so I took two USFWS special agents out with the SFWMD on September 23, 1996. The agents noted how difficult it is to prosecute these cases and said they could intervene, only as a last resort. I am contacting the Federal people again, especially with the numbers for the last 3 years showing sucll ominous trends. We also now know the 101 Ranch clearly knew they were causing this damage and willingly kept doing it ( crushing culverts, pouring concrete in others, etc.). How will breaching the Grade affect downstream landownen? There are no precise numbers. I estimate that about 32 square miles of Fish Slough are above Eagle Island Road, which is considered the major constriction downstream of us. Of those 32 square miles, about of them (8 sections) appear to be impounded on Audubon and the Box Ranch. Therefore, if ALL water in the headwaters were reunited with the Slough, downstream ~le will get one-third more water than present. However, breaching the dike will not release all the water because there will only be one breach in about 6 miles of blockage. In a flat environment like this, it will take a long time for distant waters to get through the gap, so flow will be fairly limited. All landowners already have abundant water on their land and they may not even detect a great difference. I have repeatedly asked the SFWMD to estimate how much "extra" water would be in Fish Slough when we reconnect the headwaters and they have not been willing to give any estimates. As a precaution, I plan to notify all downstream landowners of our intended action, tell them why we must do this (sparrows are critiqdly endangered and 101 Ranch has stopped all possibilities of a slow, consistent bleed down of water). These people know and dislike Haynes Williams and already know what our problem is. 5


Will this be painted as environmentalists picking on a poor little rancher? No, I have a line of ranchers who have lodged complaints about this problem and will tell reporters and anyone else who will listen that this is a matter of water management-not environmentalism. Is breaching the dike legal? The SFWMD will not say. We would argue we are simply letting water go its normal path, as has been reaffirmed in Florida Water Law (Appendix 5 has four cases of Florida Water Law where the judges repeatedly rule-everyone has the right to a natural flow of water). We are not changing flow patterns. 101 Ranch has repeatedly argued the Military Grade has been there since 1939 and therefore is 'established' but all his alterations in the past 10 years nullify this claim. We have historic photos of the Grade with a breach in the sam~ spot I plan to breach it. Finally, we have exhausted all avenues with authorities in the time frame we have to save the sparrow (see Appendix 1). Where are we now? Rain: since July, when researchers said the prairie became too flooded for sparrows, we have had about 36" of rain, about twice normal and enough to inundate almost all our prairies. Sparrows: critically low population, possibly consists only of 'old' birds Other wildlife: we have lost all burrowers including gopher tortoise, armadillo, skunks, burrowing owls, etc. Plants: at least 1,000 dead oak trees, dead flats of saw palmetto; with perhaps 500 species of plants it is hard to know other than species preferring more xeric conditions are doing poorly or perhaps extirpated. With conditions so wet, will breaching the dike help? Our water is about 3 feet higher at Fish Slough than 101 Ranch ( 41" by 101 Ranch estimates). If we could lower that even 1 foot, it should take our prairies out of the standing water. The waters of eastern Fish Slough are obstructed from reaching this breach by a one-mile long ridge they will have to flow around, hence most of the water level reductions will be seen on our Sanctuary. Further, the breach will be near the sparrow populations so they will get results as quickly as anywhere. Whether this will be enough to save the sparrows is unknown. Will he replug the Grade? Perhaps, I hope to line up agency support to prevent that. Ifhe does however, it is much easier to reopen the Grade than it is to fix it. 6


APPENDIX 1. Events between the Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary, and others, related to our present drainage problem. Compiled January 1998 by Paul N. Gray, Ph.D., Manager, Ordway-Whitten Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary 1856 Third Seminole War. Soldiers lay out road between Fort Kissimmee and Fort Drum. Roadway traverses present day Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary, is still used, and now called Military Grade. 1939. Military Grade raised to allow better access for bombing practice by US military. 1960's. Andy Griffith (no, not the movie star) owns property and raises Military Grade again for better access. A low-water crossing is present in Shinn Hammock Marsh. 1979 Tiger Cattle Company builds large dike on nort)l and west border stopping all surface water flow down the eastern side of the Fish Slough headwaters. Water now diverted to the central part (further east) of Fish Slough. 1980 July 21. The Nature Conservancy purchases, 6,107 acres in Okeechobee County, all of9 sections ofland, including: 24, 25, 36, Township 33 South, Range 33 East; and sections 19, 20, 29, 30, 31, 32 Township 33 South, Range 34 East. August 1. The Nature Conservancy deeds to Audubon, the same 6,107 acres, with a Conservation Easement to TNC. 1982 February 28. Audubon purchases 324.5 acres, the north half of Section 1, Township 34 South, Range 33 East. A Conservation Easement is held by TNC. 1983 101 Ranch, Inc., purchases all of sections 4, 5, and 6 along Audubon's south border. 101 Ranch replaces large culvert without riser boards, with 18 inch culvert with riser boards, and raises about mile of Military Grade (across the southern border of Shin Hammock Marsh) by 1 foot. 101 Ranch also fits two 24" culverts with riser boards to control flow. 1984, April 24. Audubon purchases approximately 879.6 acres from 101 Ranch, Inc. in sections 4, 5, 6 Township 34 South, Range 34 East, including those lands lying north of the Military Grade. No Conservation Easement is given to TNC. Sale included reciprocal water use agreement and reciprocal road use agreement. 1984-5. Carlton Drainage Ditch rejected by South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) leaving Audubon NO drainage. 1986 January 10. Letter from 101 Ranch to Frank Dunstan, Audubon Sanctuary Department head, stating, ''You have a serious water problem on Audubon which was supposed to be taken care of when we closed by the enclosed Reciprocal Water Use and Drainage Agreement, paragraph 4. However, South Florida Water Management District turned down the proposed Carlton Drainage Canal. lfwe take our problems to each other, I feel sure in the future we can work them out." 7


January 21. Letter from 101 Ranch to Dunstan. "As I stated in my previous letter, you have a serious water problem because South Florida Water Management District turned down the Carlton Plan. If at any time your hydrologists desire to sit down with me and discuss it, please advise." 1992 April 2. Letter from Scott Hedges, KPS Manager, to 101 Ranch. Hedges notes Dr. Duever, our hydrologist does not yet have enough information to exactly determine appropriate water control but requests Audubon control water releases during the dry season to meet our needs. April 13. Letter from 101 Ranch to Audubon. Says 101 Ranch willing to discuss joint water control, but not Audubon water control and notes "For some reason unknown to me the water in Audubon has been unusually high for the past two years and remains high even in dry season." 1993 Date unknown. 101 Ranch pours dump truck of dirt on each of two 24" culverts through Military Grade, preventing their use in the future. 1994 July 5. Letter fromlOl Ranch to Fish Slough landowners and SFWMD. Says there are 80 sections of land that must flow through the Eagle Island Road Bridge and drainage is inadequate to move appropriate amounts of water. This leads to meetings and the dredging of Fish Slough up to the 101 Ranch. 1995 March 3. triple A Ranch, to the north of the Sanctuary, trespasses with a trackhoe and opens about 1/3 mile of historic drainage ditch to relieve their drainage problem. May. 101 Ranch raises Military Grade elevation by 1 foot, over about 300 feet, in two places where water had become so deep it was overflowing the Grade onto 101 Ranch. June 2. Letter from 101 Ranch to Audubon. Responds to Audubon complaint about raising Military Grade in two places by claiming 101 Ranch is just maintaining the road. Undated-July. Audubon to 101 Ranch. Advises Mr. Williams his action of raising the Military Grade violates our conservation easement on some of his property and makes our impoundment problems worse. August 16. Audubon takes Glenn Harvey to see Military Grade at Harvey's request. Harvey complains that present water arrangement damages his property. August 18. Letter from Audubon to 101 Ranch thanking 101 Ranch for agreeing to remove some boards from the 18" culvert in response to Glenn Harvey's request (landowner to the north). Letter notes that the present flow rate is a fraction of what is needed. August 22. Letter from 101 Ranch to Audubon. Agrees to allow limited flow through 18" culvert but reserves right to stop it at any time. September. Paul Gray circulates 'Brief on the water drainage problem on the Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary' to Audubon staff. September. Haynes Williams, 101 Ranch, addresses a public meeting about the future of the proposed State Park and Maxcy property and talks of flooding damage on Audubon property including damage to trees and sparrows and requests someone buy his land to allow Audubon to get drainage. 8


October 4. Audubon takes John Morgan, head of the SFWMD Okeechobee Service Center, to the Sanctuary to inspect the problem. He agrees to help solve the problem. November 20. With advice form John Echeveria, letter sent from Paul Gray to Glenn Olson requesting permission to legally break the Reciprocal Water Use Agreement. December 5. Letter from Glenn Olson agreeing to pursue legal action but noting we have no funds for attorneys at present. December. Audubon delays going to court because 1) there was a chance the Sanctuary would be bought along with the Maxcy property and being tied up in litigation would prevent that, and 2) the SFWMD appeared on track to solve the problem without going to court. December. Mike Powell raises by about 1 foot, about two-third mile of the Military Grade east of Audubon's property line. Water was overflowing the Grade for several hundred yards and Powell noted he plugged rlo culverts-just made his road passable. Result was this large 'relief valve' was eliminated and water could pile even deeper on the Sanctuary. 1996 January. Audubon writes mitigation plan to buy 101 Ranch and restore, if buyer can be found. 101 Ranch helps circulate plan. February 29. Audubon takes John Morgan and Missy Bartletto of the SFWMD Service Station, and Ken Ammon, Deputy Director of Enforcement, SFWMD, on a tour of the Military Grade. They agreed to assemble a meeting oflandowners to try to resolve this. May 28. Meeting of SFWMD and landowners. Landowners vented their frustration about inequitable water management, the SFWMD agreed to try to get some ijxes implemented, 101 Ranch agrees verbally to allow water flow through 18" culvert. May 29. Audubon submits a second proposal to the SFWMD, at the request of the 101 Ranch, to do a cooperative mitigation project with the 101 Ranch in order to solve our drainage problem. June 4. Letter from SFWMD to Landowners. Thanks everyone for coming to May 28 meeting and outlines short (replace lost or damaged culverts) and long term (basin study) action goals. June 10. Audubon pulls boards out of 18" culvert because 101 Ranch had put them in-I write a letter to 101 Ranch on June 13 asking he keep the boards out as he agreed on May 28. June 17. Meeting of landowners at SFWMD. Talk more about history of problem, present conditions and short and long term plans. June 28. Meeting of SFWMD and landowners. 101 Ranch agrees to allow an extra culvert but not to allow it to flow, Audubon agrees to install culvert. July 3. Letter from Audubon to Kobelgard, attorney and owner of neighboring property talking of his suing Audubon and asking him to wait. July 25. Audubon installs 36" culvert in Military Grade. July 29. FAX Letter from l O 1 Ranch to Audubon. Demands 36" culvert be removed within 10 days and replaced with 24" culvert or 101 Ranch will destroy it. Incorrectly accuses Audubon of destroying 18" culvert. 9


July 29. Letter from Audubon to 101 Ranch. Audubon declines to remove 36" culvert. July 31. FAX letter to 101 Ranch from Audubon. Informs him I will take a tour of neighbors and SFWMD staff and Board member Frank Williamson to inspect the Military Grade and the 36" culvert. Requests Haynes Wliams join us to explain his case. July 31. FAX letter from 101 Ranch to Audubon. Mr. Williams declines to go on trip. August 1. Audubon submits, 'Estimates ofw~ter flow needs north of the Military Grade' to SFWMD and asks for their review and/or input. SFWMD never makes a comment. August 1. Tour of Sanctuary and Military Grade by SFWMD, USFWS biologist (from the Grasshopper Sparrow recovery team), and landowners. We see impounding and go to north slough to inspect redirected water. August 2. 101 Ranch 'Statement of position' says they will not allow anything but a 24" culvert and they require complete control of its management. August 5. Meeting between landowners (everyone EXCEPT Audubon-I declined to go so they could talk without me) at Frank Williamson's office. See letter of august 15. 101 Ranch offers 'Letter of good faith' promising to cooperate if36" culvert removed and gives $6,000 check to be used for basin studybut takes check back at end of meeting. August 6. Meeting on Military Grade between Paul Gray, Haynes Williams and Loris Asmussen, SFWMD ehgineer, to assess drainage problem. August 13. Letter from USFWS to SFWMD noting seriousness of Grasshopper Sparrow problem and thanking the SFWMD for working to solve the problem. August 15. Letter from SFWMD to Audubon. Requests Audubon remove 36" culvert, replace with 24" culvert, and allow 101 Ranch to control water flow, with requests from ranches to Audubon's north. August 23. Conference call from Audubon to Sam Poole, Executive Director, and Ken Ammon, SFWMD. Agree to make offer in August 27 letter below. August 27. Audubon letter to 101 Ranch. Audubon agrees to replace 36" culvert with 24" culvert IF 101 Ranch agrees to allow 24" culvert to flow. Audubon also offers to match 101 Ranch $6,000 check with Audubon check of$14,000. Audubon offers to accept arbitration ifnone of the above offers are acceptable. August 27. Letter from 101 Ranch to SFWMD. 101 Ranch refuses all Audubon offers from August 27 letter and states, "As far as I am concerned this discussion is over." September 4. Letter from Dr. Vickery, University of Massachusetts to Jane Tutton, USFWS. Notes his researchers have seen no reproduction from Grasshopper Sparrows on the Sanctuary for the second consecutive year; says flooding appears to be causing reproductive failure and that the population appears in jeopardy. September 20. 101 Ranch removes and destroys 36" culvert. Audubon notifies sheriffs department who files report but declines to prosecute because they regard this not as vandalism, but rather a civil case. September 23. Audubon takes federal agents (Charles Bazemore and Chip Bepler) and SFWMD to inspect drainage problem. Feds non-committal. 10


September 24. Audubon awarded a $10,000 Partner's in Wildlife grant from USFWS for wetland restoration. Audubon tells SFWMD we will spend this under their direction as part of solving drainage problem. Grant will expire September 30, 1997. November 21. Landowner meeting at SFWMD. John Fumero, Counsel for SFWMD runs meeting, agrees to be chief mediator for the SFWMD and help hire engineer who will mediate hydrology issues. Work on ''Statement of Common Ground." December 4. Landowner meeting at SFWMD. Talk about hiring engineer and possibilities ofa short term fix while studies continue. December 17. Landowner meeting at SFWMD. Hire engineer Len Lindahl. Landowners work on a ''Statement of Common Ground" with 5 clauses: 1. We need a resolution NOW (emphasis theirs) 2. We need a study 3. Time is of the essence 4. Both (emphasis theirs) short and long term fixes need to be done. 5. All parties agree to help fund actions. 1997 January 3. Letter from John Fumero, Chief Counsel of SFWMD outlining Len Lindahl as basin study engineer, calling for Lindahl to meet with all landowners for individual tours of properties. And planning a further meeting in February or March to discuss Lindahl's findings. February 18. As part of mediation process, Audubon takes Len Lindahl on tour of property and gives him maps, etc. to help him understand our situation. March. Audubon calls SFWMD twice to check on progress of mediation process and insure we are moving ahead. April. Audubon contacts John Fumero, SFWMD to check on progress of basin study. Also calls engineer and finds out he had eye surgery and was out 2 weeks. May. Audubon calls local SFWMD, John Fumero, and Len Lindahl to check on basin study progress. Audubon finds out Len Lindahl had not toured the Box Ranch because both the land owner and engineer were 'waiting for each other to call.' Audubon sets up tour between the two and asks SFWMD to keep better track of things. June. Audubon also sets up tour with Triple A Ranch and the engineer to inspect Sevenmile Slough drainage patterns. July. Audubon calls SFWMD Assistant Director, Mike Slayton, and asks him to intervene to get the basin study moving. The short term options outlined in the 'Statement of Common Ground" have not been implemented, we entered the wet season without ANY drainage relief as was specified in the Statement of Common Ground. Audubon sets up tour of Sevenmile Slough basin with Triple A Ranch and the new Preserve manager, Barry Burch. July. Engineer meets several times with SFWMD to suggest remedies, SFWMD will not commit to anything. 11


August 19. Audubon schedules meeting with engineer to get information on his plans. Engineer still has not gotten approval of conceptual plan from SFWMD and has not presented any plan to landowners. August 22. Audubon writes letter to engineer requesting he quit meeting with SFWMD and instead meet with landowners to make our own plan; because the District is paralyzed. District gets copies of letter, Mike Slayton instructs SFWMD staff to make decisions. September. SFWMD works more with engineer on conceptual plan. Audubon talks with engineer and SFWMD. Box Ranch notified that we will have a meeting soon and comments to SFWMD, "I thought you had quit the study and I was preparing to sue the SFWMD" (paraphrased). September 30. $10,000 Partner's in Wildlife grant from USFWS expires without SFWMD recommending any work. Audubon applies for 3 month extension from USFWS and now has until December 31 to expend money. October 13. Audubon meets with engineer at Okeechobee office. October 22. SFWMD calls meeting with engineer and landowners. Presents plan to put culvert in Military Grade, flow way along the proposed ''Carlton Drainage Canal" route, and remove dikes in Sevenmile Slough Basin. Landowners agree to fund engineer for more detailed study to determine dimensions of above actions. November 14. Letter from 101 Ranch to SFWMD. Complains Audubon removed boards from the 18" culvert, threatens to end discussions about drainage if boards are not left in place. November 25. Engineers start surveying work on Audubon property, Audubon allocated $10,000. November 26. Letter from 101 Ranch to SFWMD. Complains Audubon removed boards from the 18" culvert again, states he will not allow any discharge. December 1 . Letter from Audubon to 101 Ranch. Telling why I keep removing the boards in the 18" culvert, reminds l O l Ranch they said they would keep the culvert open, requests Haynes go on tour with Audubon and other landowners to see flooding damage, and requests 101 Ranch show us their flooding problem. Haynes refuses. December 3. Letter from 101 Ranch to SFWMD. 101 Ranch agrees to take water from 18" culvert it: ''my pastures and fish slough are not flooded ... " Reiterates desire to retain "control of boards at all times." December 3. Audubon meets with SFWMD, Triple A Ranch and Florida Park Service to discuss restoration options in Sevenmile Slough. Agree to pursue combined permit with Park Service filing the application. December 18. Audubon requests and receives from Len Lindahl a priority list of restoration projects to use the Partners in wildlife money for. December 19. Audubon writes Len Lindahl requesting more information on proposed restoration work because the present plan appears inadequate. December 22. Audubon removes boards from 18" culvert for third time. December 31. $10,000 Partner's in Wildlife grant from USFWS expires again, without SFWMD or Lindahl recommending any use for money. Audubon successfully applies for second extension and has until March 31 to expend these funds. 12


1998 January I. IO I Ranch fills 18 inch culvert with concrete, completely sealing the Military Grade between the two properties. January 13. Audubon sets up meeting with Len Lindahl, his staff, SFWMD, and Florida Park Service to discuss restoration alternatives. We agree to change Lindahl' s original recommendations to better meet our needs. January 15. Audubon calls Mike Slayton, deputy director ofSFWMD, and sends FAX detailing sparrow decline on Sanctuary. Audubon outlines the dire circumstance, notes that only solution presently is to breach the Grade, and asks for emergency help to avoid this action. 13


APPENDIX 2. IMPOUNDING THE HEADWATERS OF FISH SLOUGH. This document and the following map outline the major events leading to the impoundment, and subsequent redirection, of the headwaters of Fish Slough (the numbered events match numbers on the map). 1. 1850' s--US military creates road (bold line, now called Military Grade) from Ft. Kissimmee to Ft. Drum. Road crosses headwater region of Fish Slough (approximate area in hatch) where historic water flow was southward. 2. 1939--US military elevates Military Grade to gain more reliable access to bombing targets; low-water crossing in Shin Hammock Marsh. 3. 1960's-Andy Griffith owns Military Grade and raises it. A low-water crossing is visible on aerial photos. 4. 1979, March 15-Tiger Cattle Company constructs large dike on north and west border ( dashed line) stopping all surface water flow onto their area. 5. 1983-101 Ranch replaces large culvert (probably 36"-that at some time was placed where the low-water crossing had been) with small one (18") and raises about one-half mile of Military Grade ( cross-hatched areas on grade) to stop water from overflowing the dike. 101 Ranch also fits two 24" inch culverts with riser boards to be able to stop water flow. 6. 1993/4-101 Ranch poured a dump truck of dirt on each of the two, 24" culverts, preventing use. 7. 1995, May-101 Ranch raised two 100 yard-long areas of Military Grade by 1 foot to block overflowing water. 8. 1995, December-Tiger Cattle Company raises about two-thirds mile of Military Grade by 1 foot to prevent overflowing water. At least one 24 inch culvert remains through the grade along this stretch. 9. 1996, July 25-Audubon installs 36" culvert in Military Gtade. Culvert operates at about one-tenth capacity for about 2 days, then closed by 101 Ranch. 10. 1996, September 20-101 Ranch removes and destroys 36" Audubon culvert. 11. 1998, January 1-101 Ranch pours concrete in 18" culvert-sealing Military Grade completely between Audubon and 101 Ranch. Presently, the headwaters of Fish Slough predominantly flow down Sevenmile Slough to the west. 14


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2'.4' 8 Location of the National Audubon Society's Ordway-Whittell Kissimmee Prairie Sanctuary in Florida. 81 r > 2 0 n t'!'\ .::. 2 1 30 29 28 25


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