Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Death of Banner Lake, Hobe Sound, Florida - About Opportunities for Local/Global Learning

Your local area can provide outstanding learning opportunities for your students.

That concept came home to me in a fresh way when, after about a fifteen-year absence, I recently visited a lake I fished a good deal during the early 1990s.

Banner Lake in Hobe Sound, Florida, supported an astounding Largemouth Bass fishery. I caught several 15-pounders in the lake, plenty of 10-pounders, and more 6- to 8-pounders than I can even recall. To any who know bass fishing, they are probably feeling a little jealous right now.

But like I said, that was in the early 1990s.

Today, Banner Lake is an environmental tragedy, brought on by "cultural eutrophication," itself brought on probably by nitrate and phosphate runoff after a certain housing development was built along about one half of the lake's shoreline. The thriving bass fishery it once supported is gone, along with about four-fifths of its water volume. The pictures tell the story better than words.

Map showing Banner Lake in 1985
(above). Note how the lake was once the most southerly lake of a small chain of small lakes.

Aerial photo of Banner Lake, January 1995
(above). Note the distinct shoreline, as well as how the lake north of Banner Lake has been filled in to make way for a housing development--constructed by the same person who constructed the one that led to Banner Lake's demise.

Satellite imagery of Banner Lake, c. 2008 (above). Note the housing development (SE Plantation Dr.) that is south of SE Bridge Road, which is absent in the above images. The red outline in the second photo represents the former shoreline, now replaced by reeds.

My point is to not just show the sad death of a lake and to grieve the loss of a once-wonderful place to enjoy my main hobby, but to say that potentially rich learning opportunities are right in your local area, and that more likely than not they have global implications.