River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Canal paddling on the edge of civilization in a Water Conservation Area

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River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Day II

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Canal paddling on the edge of civilization in a Water Conservation Area

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“Follow the water!”

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Continued from Day I:

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Exploring the Lake Okeechobee headwaters of the Miami Canal

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Waking up at Everglades Holiday Park in western Broward county we were treated to a pleasant and sunny morning on the expedition’s second day. Though this was in February, there were quite a few bugs around. Truth is the winters in South Florida have been rather warm lately, and it’s been pretty “bad” bug-wise in the Everglades! Water levels were also high, which didn’t help. Unlike the dry “parking lot” type campground by Lake Okeechobee on our pre-camp night, there was a lot of morning dew at Holiday Park and everything was wet!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak mosquito

There are bad bugs ..

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak dragonfly

.. and then there are good bugs! 😉

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Flex Maslan Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Ready to take on the sun and any bugs!!

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Holiday Park was chosen as a campsite for it’s location on an Everglades canal and also because it is in an intermediate zone, between wilderness and the urban world of people. It’s a kind of place that “wants to be wild”, but has been disturbed and left to itself for the most part. It’s a place where invasive and exotic species can often overtake and out compete native indigenous species. This made it an ideal place for the team to talk about the (artificial) human induced pressures and stresses on the Everglades ecosystem during our morning webcast from the L-67A levee.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Naturalist Victor Suarez talks about the native vegetation of South Florida.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition team webcasting live from the L-67A levee at Everglades Holiday Park.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Day II: Canal paddling on the L-67A , intersecting with the Miami Canal to the edge of civilization.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Tourist airboats greet the new day at Holiday Park on the L67A canal.

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Everglades Holiday Park is a popular place for (mostly motorized) recreation in Water Conservation Area 3.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Holiday Park circa 1954 along the same stretch of the L67A canal.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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On this segment, the team would be paddling entirely within the Water Conservation Area 3B (WCA 3B) in far western Broward county. The Water Conservation Area is ringed and crisscrossed with canals and levees, but it still functions as a part of the northern Everglades.  However, it is a wholly artificial system that was designed to primarily  store excess water from Lake Okeechobee and to provide flood protection for the developed sections of South Florida.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Team canoeing down the L67A canal in Water Conservation Area 3B.

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WCA 3B is the smaller part of two in Water Conservation Area 3, the other being WCA 3A. Currently as part of Everglades restoration efforts, WCA 3 is undergoing decompartmentalization studies between the two parts. Some big changes will eventually take place to restore sheet water flow across the entire conservation area along this very stretch of the canal that we were paddling on. This will help to mimic the historic natural cycle(s) and provide much needed water to the Shark River Slough once sections of the Tamiami Trail (Hwy 41) are elevated to allow for the flow!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

A seemingly endless canal, in this case the L67A, cuts through Water Conservation Area 3.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

If you stay in this canal you’ll eventually end up on the Tamiami Trail.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak sawgrass

Thick vegetation lines both sides of the canal. Even though the levee here is less than 20 feet away, it would be tough to get out!

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The L-67A canal runs due southwest for about 25 more miles where it intersects the Tamiami Trail (and canal). From there it is possible to transition to the L-67 Extension canal and continue paddling down the Shark River Slough – THE “River of Grass”!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition team paddling towards the intersect of L67A and the Miami Canal in WCA-3B.

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After 5.5 miles of canal paddling we reached the intersection of  the Miami River Canal at last – just in time for lunch and our afternoon webcast!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Our industrious team sets up a temporary shaded base of operations on the levee.

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Shade is really a precious commodity in the flatness of the Everglades!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Even in February, the South Florida sun burns hot.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

The S-151 structure on the Miami Canal in WCA 3B.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

A young gator chilling in the Miami Canal.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

High flying vultures ride the thermals all day long looking for any food scraps.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition team webcasting live from the Miami River Canal in WCA 3B.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Measuring water clarity in the canal with a Secchi disk.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Chris and Janet measure canal water quality for the webcast.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Underwater view from the Miami Canal. Note the limestone rock, which continues to be quarried in quantity elsewhere along these canals.

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Phosphorus is the main “pollutant” in the Everglades. It’s a fertilizer so it actually promotes plant growth. As water drains down through the Everglades Agricultural Area from Lake Okeechobee it picks up fertilizer and chemical runoff draining from the mono-culture farm fields and surrounding developed areas. Later, elsewhere in the Everglades, this phosphorus laden water then similarly promotes the “mono-culture” growth of only certain species like cattails and algae. This really upsets the historic normal balance in the Everglades and reduces the biodiversity of the classically low nutrient level Everglades environment. Since the Water Conservation Areas are essentially giant retention ponds, this polluted water then continues further down the Everglades,  released and regulated by the SFWMD. Eventually the water drains into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico where abnormally high phosphorus levels can then lead to problems such as algal blooms and fish kills.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Extreme telephoto (1100mm) view straight down the Miami Canal in WCA 3B

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Drainage canal in west Miami circa 1910.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition Flex Maslan paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Susan Sylvester webcasting from the Miami Canal in 2014.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Dredge working the Miami River Canal in 1926. The canals have segmented the vast Water Conservation Areas into distinct units for water storage and storm runoff.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Super telephoto view of power lines and rock quarry silos that are 10-20 miles in the distance along Water Conservation Area 3B.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Paddling down the Miami Canal in Water Conservation Area 3B.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe Flex Maslan expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

Expedition team paddler Hope Hitchcock.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

On this stretch of the Miami Canal, there was quite a bit of birdlife, such as these beautiful Roseate Spoonbills.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

There were also lots of Ibis, Anhigas and Wood Storks like this one.

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Another 5 miles of canal paddling brought us to Mack’s Fish Camp. Mack’s Fish Camp is a small oasis on the edge of a sea of suburban sprawl just a few miles from Hwy 27 and Krome Avenue. It has a real old time feel to it, and we were happy to camp on the grassy canal bank. It’s quiet, save for distant noises  from airplanes en route to Miami International Airport.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks fish camp

Arrival at Mack’s Fish Camp on the Miami Canal which is on the very edge of the “Everglades” in WCA 3B.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle Flex Maslan River of Grass 2014 kayak florida

A similar Everglades canal in 1921, about the same time that fishing camps were springing up along these canals.
Credit: State Archives of Florida, floridamemory.com

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Mack’s Fish Camp is well worth a visit and offers lots of character. Originally a squatter’s camp, Mack’s is the last one left and is family owned for generations.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 Flex Maslan kayak florida

River of Grass 2014 Canoe Expedition on the Miami Canal at Mack’s Fish Camp.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks fish camp

Mack’s Fish Camp is family owned and carries on the Gladesmen tradition of many decades.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks fish camp

The camp has a zip code and streets, and is just about on the Broward and Miami-Dade county line.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak swamp buggy

Swamp Buggy at camp!

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While Mack’s might seem an oddity in today’s South Florida, it reminds us that not so long ago many people used to live like this. Miami was a frontier town and life on the edge of the Everglades meant living off the land!

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak macks fish camp

The road to Macks Fish Camp.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak gator camp

Welcome to the Jungle” at Mack’s Fish Camp in the Everglades.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak mack's fish camp

Moonrise over an airboat at Mack’s Fish Camp.

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Yup, Mack’s camp definitely has that Huckleberry Finn feel to it!

The full moon night was beautiful  and everyone slept well after the delicious dinner catered by Chris and Gisa Wagner. Thank you! 🙂

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NIGHT LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY and DIGITAL ART from the EVERGLADES, FLORIDA BAY, TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, BIG CYPRESS & BEYOND!

(click pic to enter)

Flex Maslan kayakfari photographer kayak camping stars night Everglades landscape pano print art Florida Bay slough shark camping with the stars

ART of Darkness – Camping with the Stars! Part II

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak mack's fish camp

Full moon over the Miami Canal at Mack’s Fish Camp on the edge of development in S. Florida.

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Miami River kayakfari Okeechobee Everglades Flex Maslan canoe expedition paddle River of Grass 2014 kayak mack's fish camp

Storybook nightscape of Orion descending over our camp at Mack’s Fish Camp, Everglades.

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Continue on to Day III:

River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 –

Transition into city and civilization on the Miami River Canal

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rasta happy kayakfari kayak canoe paddle photography adventure

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© 2014 Flex Maslan / kayakfari.com / digital029art.com. All original photographs, artworks and music in this portfolio are copyrighted and owned by the artist, Flex Maslan, unless otherwise noted. Any reproduction, modification, publication, transmission, transfer, or exploitation of any of the content, for personal or commercial use, whether in whole or in part, without written permission from the artist is strictly prohibited.

All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER:: The maps and images on this site are not intended for navigation, I am not a guide; use any and all information at your own risk! Your mileage may vary .. so use good judgement before venturing out!

With that said..
Blessings friends!

🙂

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2 comments on “River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014 – Canal paddling on the edge of civilization in a Water Conservation Area

  1. Pingback: River of Grass Canoe Expedition 2014: Lake Okeechobee – Miami River Canal – Biscayne Bay | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

  2. Pingback: Spooky night time filming on the Miami River with ARTE (Euro TV) | kayakfari ( kayak .. far .. i )

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