Letter to the Editor: More on mangrove restoration

This is a response to Eileen Ward’s guest commentary on mangrove restoration along SR 92 published on June 24.

Ms. Ward is absolutely incorrect in her interpretation of the scientific and engineering data that three trained professionals (one Professional Engineer and two Certified Professional Wetland Scientists) with over 100 person-years of experience in these areas, have interpreted in order to design the proposed mangrove restoration. If anything, Ms. Ward’s proposal would, if implemented without the full project design likely result in more dead mangroves. Why is this? Ms. Ward has no formal training in engineering, hydrology, marine biology or mangrove science. She is simply not qualified to critique the work of these three professionals, and the endorsement of our proposal for restoration by dozens of other professionals and scientists with the water management district, Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the professional staff of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Ms. Ward may be qualified to comment on chinch bugs and lawn care, but not on mangrove restoration.

Why in fact would the project team stick there necks out and jeopardize their professional careers on some wildly expensive plan that Ms. Ward contends is over designed? Money? Not likely. I am donating for free 90 percent of my time, even paying my own unreimbursed travel expenses, and the other professionals are donating 50 percent of their time. If I owned a concrete pipe company or a construction company, there might be reason for concern. I own neither. That is where the bulk of the grant funding we are seeking, along with the kind donations from local citizens, will go. Construction of the needed improvements to tidal flow and the required permit condition monitoring. No body is getting rich off this project, so why wouldn’t we accept Ms. Ward’s cheaper option for restoration? It is quite simple. It won’t work, and will likely kill more mangroves as more water is allowed in on the tides, but no improvement to water moving OUT would happen. The dead mangroves along SR 92 died due to excess flooding. They drowned! What is needed is improved tidal exchange which is what our ultimate plan would provide. Not only would the mangroves come back, but fish and wildlife would return to now dead habitat.

Ms. Ward has been given ample opportunity to provide her review, comment and opinions. The proof is now in the pudding. We expect all our permits by September of this year, and construction on the first phase of the project at Steven’s Landing will begin in February 2012. We invite all the residents of Marco Island to drive out and review the results. We are going to restore those mangroves and more, and I don’t think the chinch bugs are going to be a problem.

Thank you for all your support to date.

Sincerely yours.

Roy R. “Robin” Lewis III, Certified Professional Wetland Scientist

President, Coastal Resources Group, Inc., a 501(c)(3) Federally recognized not-for-profit scientific and educational organization

Salt Springs, Florida

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 1

ajm3s writes:

Folks:

Just so we can compare and contrast, here is Ms. Wards commentary:

http://www.marconews.com/news/2011/ju...

Now without the boredom of exchanging educational sheepskins, can I ask all you highly "qualified" professionals:

If the existing culverts were cleaned, this would NOT allow water to leave the mangroves? Because the elevation is wrong?

Or does your design require more flow in/out, more so than made available if the culverts were restored and maintained? If so, that should be your response to her commentary, but I did not read such a statement.

Is this attack on Ms. Ward similar to a Ferrari engineer saying that a child building a DIY buggy does not have the insight to provide a vehicle for transportation, analogous to Ms. Ward's recommendation to restoring the culverts as an initial simple proposal.

If you were real scientists, the debate should stand on the strength of the research and not the diplomas on a dark wall. Your commentary confirms the diversity of professionals, some excellent to mediocre.

Ms. Ward is presenting an approach/design to test her hypothesis that the culverts were in place for decades and may have failed due to lack of maintenance, exacerbated with recent hurricane onslaughts within the last decade.

I learned a long time ago that sometimes a simple solution is a solution. I once was witness, to a gaggle of engineers trying to control rinse water pressure to a fragile hollow fiber during its manufacture. The "professional" solution was a very expensive control air actuated valve and pressure transmitter with a PID control loop. We recommended an overflowing standing water column of a certain height to provide a defined pressure.

I just watched their faces. It was not only simple but the control mechanism was more accurate.

So please, can you again tell us why Ms. Ward is not to be heard? Because she is not a professional? That is not how I was taught the scientific approach to defending or supporting an hypothesis?

But then again, I could be over my head with this stuff.

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