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Nov. 28, 2017

Rivers was a sanctuary

By: Lynne Van Sciver


About 40 years ago, when we moved to Fort Myers, a wise old timer warned us, “Water will become a problem here, mark my words.” At the time we were standing on our dock, amazed by the sight of a glistening Caloosahatchee, and found his words irritating. We watched as the mullet jumped out of the water and the kids caught redfish and trapped blue claw crabs that day, which I would make for dinner.

When friends from up north visited, they thought we lived in paradise. “Who has dolphin and manatees in their backyard?”, they would tease. Who can cast net for bait and catch fish for dinner, within sight of their kitchen?” they marveled.

Even though we are still in the same house, on the same river, it is not the same. It has been manipulated, abused and neglected for way too long. The river is close to dead. I do not want my grandchildren near the river; we no longer own a boat. Who wants water laced with coliform and E-coli splashing on them?

The river has been ailing for a long time now. In 1923, after the cutting of the canal to Lake Okeechobee, author Charles Torrey Simpson wrote: “I know of no locality in Florida where the hand of vandal man has wrought more dreadful destruction than in and about this once beautiful river, no place in which the peace and holiness of the wilderness have been more completely desecrated.”