Barley Barber Swamp

Barley Barber Swamp

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The Barley Barber Swamp, once a vast Bald Cypress
Taxodium distichum
Taxodium distichum is a species of conifer native to the southeastern United States.-Characteristics:...

 forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

 and waterway
Waterway
A waterway is any navigable body of water. Waterways can include rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, and canals. In order for a waterway to be navigable, it must meet several criteria:...

 in the Greater Everglades watershed, is a 450 acre (182.1 ha) parcel of land surrounded by Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light Company, the principal subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. , commonly referred to by its initials, FPL, is a Juno Beach, Florida-based power utility which serves roughly 4.4 million customers in Florida. FPL Group holds power generation assets in more than 20 U.S...

's (FPL) Martin County
Martin County, Florida
Martin County is a county in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 126,731. The U.S. Census Bureau 2008 estimate for the county is 138,660. Its county seat is Stuart, Florida.- History :...

 power plant. The swamp is located just over a mile east of Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee , locally referred to as The Lake or The Big O, is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida. It is the seventh largest freshwater lake in the United States and the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely within the lower 48 states...

 and due west of Indiantown, Florida
Indiantown, Florida
Indiantown is a census-designated place in Martin County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,588 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Port St. Lucie Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

. The old-growth cypress swamp is named after Barley Barber, a man who lived in the area at the turn of the 20th century. Little is known of the man Barley Barber except that he left the region after he had "trouble with the law."

Location and History


Historically, Barley Barber Swamp connected regional wetland
Wetland
A wetland is an area of land whose soil is saturated with water either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands are categorised by their characteristic vegetation, which is adapted to these unique soil conditions....

s, including the Allapatah Marsh, to Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee
Lake Okeechobee , locally referred to as The Lake or The Big O, is the largest freshwater lake in the state of Florida. It is the seventh largest freshwater lake in the United States and the second largest freshwater lake contained entirely within the lower 48 states...

, ultimately feeding the Everglades
Everglades
The Everglades are subtropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large watershed. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee...

 ecosystem further south.

The region was once a center of trading for the indigenous people
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 of the Lake Okeechobee area. A 16 ft (4.9 m) tall sand mound with ramp extensions sits in what remains today of the Barley Barber Swamp. Anthropologists
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 contend that the indigenous culture of the area converged on the mound to trade in pottery. Pottery
Pottery
Pottery is the material from which the potteryware is made, of which major types include earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The place where such wares are made is also called a pottery . Pottery also refers to the art or craft of the potter or the manufacture of pottery...

 shards and human remains found on the mound are aged 300 to 900 years old.

Significant hydrological
Hydrology
Hydrology is the study of the movement, distribution, and quality of water on Earth and other planets, including the hydrologic cycle, water resources and environmental watershed sustainability...

 changes occurred in Barley Barber starting in the late 19th century with the construction of Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railway
Florida East Coast Railway
The Florida East Coast Railway is a Class II railroad operating in the U.S. state of Florida; in the past, it has been a Class I railroad.Built primarily in the last quarter of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th century, the FEC was a project of Standard Oil principal Henry Morrison...

. Regional drainage projects, highways, and the construction of the Herbert Hoover Dike
Herbert Hoover Dike
The Herbert Hoover Dike is a dike around the waters of Lake Okeechobee in Florida.Over the years, the quality of the flood control around the lake has grown. In the 1910s, a small earthen dike was constructed. This containment was breached by the storm surge from the Great Miami Hurricane in 1926...

 around Lake Okeechobee altered and disrupted the natural flow. Today the Barley Barber waterway is diverted through the L-65 canal into the St. Lucie canal before it reaches Lake Okeechobee. Nevertheless it remains navigable and interconnected.

Flora and fauna



One of the oldest Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum
Taxodium distichum
Taxodium distichum is a species of conifer native to the southeastern United States.-Characteristics:...

) trees in the entire Southeastern U.S. sits in Barley Barber Swamp. It is estimated at over 1,000 years old, stands 88 ft (26.8 m) tall, and has a circumference of 33 ft (10.1 m). There are also Florida Strangler Figs (Ficus aurea
Ficus aurea
Ficus aurea, commonly known as the Florida strangler fig , golden fig, or higuerón, is a tree in the family Moraceae that is native to the U.S. state of Florida, the northern and western Caribbean, southern Mexico and Central America south to Panama...

), Swamp Maples (Acer rubrum), and Pond Apples (Annona glabra). Barley Barber is home to a pair of nesting Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
The Bald Eagle is a bird of prey found in North America. It is the national bird and symbol of the United States of America. This sea eagle has two known sub-species and forms a species pair with the White-tailed Eagle...

s, American alligator
American Alligator
The American alligator , sometimes referred to colloquially as a gator, is a reptile endemic only to the Southeastern United States. It is one of the two living species of alligator, in the genus Alligator, within the family Alligatoridae...

s, North American River Otters, Bobcat
Bobcat
The bobcat is a North American mammal of the cat family Felidae, appearing during the Irvingtonian stage of around 1.8 million years ago . With twelve recognized subspecies, it ranges from southern Canada to northern Mexico, including most of the continental United States...

s, White-tailed deer
White-tailed Deer
The white-tailed deer , also known as the Virginia deer or simply as the whitetail, is a medium-sized deer native to the United States , Canada, Mexico, Central America, and South America as far south as Peru...

 and numerous unique plant species, including Giant Leather Ferns (Acrostichum
Acrostichum
Acrostichum was one of the original pteridophyte genera delineated by Linnaeus. It was originally drawn very broadly, including all ferns that had sori apparently "acrostichoid", or distributed in a solid mass across the back of the frond, rather than organized in discrete sori...

 danaeifolium
), Shoestring Ferns (Vittaria
Vittaria
Vittaria is a genus of ferns in the family Pteridaceae. It had previously been placed in the family Vittariaceae, but that family is no longer recognized....

 lineata
) and Whisk Ferns (Psilotum
Psilotum
Psilotum is a genus of fern-like vascular plants, one of two genera in the family Psilotaceae, order Psilotales, and class Psilotopsida...

species), which are fern-like vascular plants. Many species of migratory and wading birds
Wader
Waders, called shorebirds in North America , are members of the order Charadriiformes, excluding the more marine web-footed seabird groups. The latter are the skuas , gulls , terns , skimmers , and auks...

, such as egret
Egret
An egret is any of several herons, most of which are white or buff, and several of which develop fine plumes during the breeding season. Many egrets are members of the genera Egretta or Ardea which contain other species named as herons rather than egrets...

s, ibis
Ibis
The ibises are a group of long-legged wading birds in the family Threskiornithidae....

es, Limpkin
Limpkin
The Limpkin , Aramus guarauna, is a bird that looks like a large rail but is skeletally closer to cranes. It is the only extant species in the genus Aramus and the family Aramidae. It is found mostly in wetlands in warm parts of the Americas, from Florida to northern Argentina...

, and the endangered Wood Stork
Wood Stork
The Wood Stork is a large American wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It was formerly called the "Wood Ibis", though it is not really an ibis.-Appearance:...

, can be seen in the swamp.

Tourism


Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light Company, the principal subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. , commonly referred to by its initials, FPL, is a Juno Beach, Florida-based power utility which serves roughly 4.4 million customers in Florida. FPL Group holds power generation assets in more than 20 U.S...

 acquired the land surrounding the Barley Barber Swamp in 1972 in order to construct the Martin County
Martin County, Florida
Martin County is a county in the U.S. state of Florida. As of 2000, the population was 126,731. The U.S. Census Bureau 2008 estimate for the county is 138,660. Its county seat is Stuart, Florida.- History :...

 power plant. In the 1973 Environmental Impact Statement
Environmental impact statement
An environmental impact statement , under United States environmental law, is a document required by the National Environmental Policy Act for certain actions "significantly affecting the quality of the human environment". An EIS is a tool for decision making...

 (EIS) Florida Power & Light states that "FPL has designated the facilities of this project so that the swamp, containing several of Florida's endangered species, will not only be saved but will be preserved and enhanced." After the plant's opening, the company constructed and opened a 1.9 mi (3.1 km) boardwalk
Boardwalk
A boardwalk, in the conventional sense, is a wooden walkway for pedestrians and sometimes vehicles, often found along beaches, but they are also common as paths through wetlands, coastal dunes, and other sensitive environments....

 for tours in Barley Barber Swamp. Local businesses in Indiantown
Indiantown, Florida
Indiantown is a census-designated place in Martin County, Florida, United States. The population was 5,588 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Port St. Lucie Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

, such as the historic Seminole Inn
Seminole Inn
The Seminole Inn , also known as the Seminole Country Inn, is an Mission Revival style historic hotel located at 15885 Southeast Warfield Boulevard in Indiantown, Florida. It was built by S. Davies Warfield, who was president of the Seaboard Air Line Railroad, which developed Indiantown. His niece...

, coordinated tourism for the swamp. Barley Barber served as a environmental and economic asset to the small, rural community.

Following 11 September 2001, FPL closed off all access to the Barley Barber Swamp citing security concerns.

Florida Power & Light Company along with the Treasured Lands Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting, restoring and maintaining land for the public’s enjoyment, worked together to restore the Barley Barber Swamp and re-open this environmental asset to the public. The Barley Barber Swamp currently invites the public to get a glimpse of the stunning old-growth cypress community with its free guided tours.

Tours of Barley Barber Swamp are offered October through May All groups are accompanied by a tour guide along the 5,800 foot boardwalk. Individual tours are by reservation only and must be booked through the historic Seminole Inn. They are offered Wednesday through Sunday at either 8:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Call 772-597-3777 to book a tour or visit www.BarleyBarber.org.

Controversy


Beginning on 5 January 2009, 30 environmental activists staged a five-day vigil along the Barley Barber Swamp to draw attention to what they claimed were damages being wrought by the power company's 3,705 megawatt Martin County plant. They also claimed that the swamp and its waterway is not a part of Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light Company, the principal subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc. , commonly referred to by its initials, FPL, is a Juno Beach, Florida-based power utility which serves roughly 4.4 million customers in Florida. FPL Group holds power generation assets in more than 20 U.S...

 property but rather Waters of the State and Waters of the U.S, held for use by the public. The activists claim that the Martin County power plant is drawing water from the aquifer below the swamp causing the soil to subside below the root systems of the trees, resulting in declining forest health. On January 10, seventeen of the activists were arrested for trespassing. Florida Power & Light has since stated that the company will reopen the Barley Barber Swamp by 2010.

Much of the evidence behind claims of the Martin Plant's detrimental impacts on the Barley Barber Swamp come from research conducted by Hydro-ecologist Dr. Sydney Bacchus. Dr. Bacchus has stated that the power plant's cooling pond
Cooling pond
A cooling pond is a man-made body of water primarily formed for the purpose of supplying cooling water to a nearby power plant or industrial facility such as a petroleum refinery, pulp and paper mill, chemical plant, steel mill or smelter...

 and water use have caused "surficial aquifer draw down." Through the lowering of the water table, Dr. Bacchus argues, the ecosystem, including wildlife and the ancient cypress trees, is dying.

On 23 July 2009, Stevie Lowe, one of the seventeen activists arrested at the Barley Barber protest, stood trial for trespassing into Barley Barber Swamp where she chained herself to a Swamp Maple. The jury found Stevie "not guilty" of trespassing. She was however convicted of "resisting arrest without violence." That the State Attorney's office of Martin County did not prove FPL's ownership of Barley Barber Swamp has led the activists to further their claim that the Barley Barber Swamp is Waters of the United States held for the use of the public rather than FPL's private property
Private property
Private property is the right of persons and firms to obtain, own, control, employ, dispose of, and bequeath land, capital, and other forms of property. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which refers to assets owned by a state, community or government rather than by...

.