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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
Interviewee: Estus Whitfield
Interviewer: Brian Gridley
Date: May 15, 2001
G: This is Brian Gridley interviewing Estus Whitfield at his home in Tallahassee,
Florida [on May 15, 2001]. Mr. Whitfield, what are the two or three most important
contributing factors that have led to the present problems in the Everglades?
W: South Florida has been attractive to people, particularly from other parts of the
country, for  years. Back in the 1800s, wealthy people really enjoyed coming
to South Florida to settle, to make a living off of the land for farming and urban,
but particularly what attracted them was the weather and the good sporting
events, [especially] fishing. So, Florida:s natural attractiveness brought people to
South Florida. The weather, high rainfall and natural flooding that occurred in
South Florida historically, coupled with hurricanes, created a situation where
major operations of hydrology had to be done in order for the area to grow and
develop and become a population-center. Those are two key events that led to a
set of massive drainage and flood-control projects which really began in earnest
around the turn-of-the-century. Kind of the granddaddy of public works projects
was the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, which began in
about 1948, 1949, and was constructed on up through the 1960s. Actually, it is
still on the books, and part of it will still be constructed. It was the Central and
Southern Florida Project and its predecessors that put the Everglades at risk. But
you cannot just say that the Central and Southern Florida Project and therefore
whoever built it are the grand culprits. They were demanded by the people who
came and wanted to either live there, visit there, farm, build residential areas and
cities. It was an occurrence of events that led to it. If you wanted to point at two
single things, you would say hurricanes and floods and the Central and Southern
G: John DeGrove once characterized the ecological problems in South Florida as
being the product of Ainnocent ignorance.@ Would you agree with this
W: I do not know that it was either innocent or ignorant. I think it was purposeful, and
the concerns for the ecology at the time basically were of much less importance.
At the time that we were developing South Florida and the Central and Southern
Project was being built, the concern was let us get water off the land, [and] let us
make this a habitable, farmable place. I do not think there was anything
particularly innocent about that, and I do not think there was all that much
concern at the time about the ecology. The environmental concerns basically in
this whole country, in this whole world, as we understand them, are thirty or forty
years old, roughly. Prior to that, there were certainly people concerned, but not
as a public-body with the average newspaper-reader understanding and being
G: Were the ecological problems, then, something that the people, at the time the
C&SF system was being built, should have anticipated but just did not care
W: Yes, they should have anticipated them more. [But] it would not have been very
difficult to understand that there would be massive effects on the ecology, the
plant and animal communities, if you changed the water regime drastically. That
is not something we have learned in the last thirty or forty years [or] that could
have been anticipated; but there again, the objective was not to build something
in harmony with nature as much as it was to build something to move water off
the land so we can use the land in a different kind of way. I would say it is not
that there was not an environmental element of the Central and Southern Florida
Project. The water-conservation areas were always anticipated as having that
feature which they are, and thank goodness they included the water conservation
areas, or we would not have an Everglades at all today.
G: That lack of consideration on the ecology, is that something that was inherent in
the Corps of Engineers, or was that something that was also a product of the
broader public demands?
W: The Corps of Engineers, how they go about a project and how they go about
solving a problem is a function of the times, so to speak. If you take the Corps of
Engineers today, they are very environmentally-sensitive and probably are equal
or better than some of the Interior services in having good environmental results.
But at the time this project was built and predecessors to this project, it was a
different time, a different mental attitude, a whole different view of the world. The
environment was not at risk. Now, it is at risk and we can look back and say, we
made those grand mistakes, but we may look back fifty years from now and say,
those guys were crazy doing that Restudy, building all that stuff and changing
[things], and they made bigger mistakes than the Corps of Engineers did in the
1950s. I hope we do not, but that is a possibility. You cannot lay too much on any
federal agency, or particularly the Corps of Engineers. Although I have spent a
lot of my career criticizing the Corps and trying to stop them from doing things
that they were planning to do, nevertheless, in reflecting back, it was society in
general. The state legislature, the Congress, the business community, the people
who were being flooded were the ones demanding something be done; the
Corps was only the instrument to get the so-called people: s choice or desires
G: Briefly, could you tell me about your professional background, including
education and career positions up to the time where you first became involved
with the Everglades?
W: For all practical purposes, I was born in Niceville, Florida; I was actually born in a
hospital in Crestview, because that was the only hospital available in the northern
part of Okaloosa County. I grew up there, went to elementary school at Niceville;
high school at Choctawhatchee High School in Shalimar. I went to Troy State
University, Troy State College at the time, in Troy, Alabama, and majored in
biology. My dad was a forest ranger at Eglin Air Force Base [and] I grew up with
a very rural background. Niceville was a small place surrounded basically by
Eglin Air Force Base Reservation to the north and Choctawhatchee Bay to the
south, so I grew up, spent my early life, fishing and hunting and riding around
with my dad in the woods. When I went to Troy [State College], I majored in
biology with my childhood background kind of as a stimulator. After I graduated
from Troy, I worked for a year with the Okaloosa County Health Department as a
sanitarian, checking septic-tanks and grocery stores and such things as that.
Then I went to [the U.S.] Navy[: s] Officer Candidate School and was
commissioned in the Navy in . I spent four years in the Navy as an
unrestricted line officer or ship-driver type. When I got out of the Navy, I worked
in Jacksonville at Hope Haven Children :s Hospital for about a year; I was
assistant administrator there, and that just was not my interest. I really had an
interest in natural things, and I wanted to be a biologist. So, I went to graduate
school at the University of Florida in 1970 and graduated with a master: s degree
in forestry/wildlife ecology in early 1971. I went to work with the state immediately
upon graduation. We moved. My residence was in Jacksonville, and I was living
in Gainesville. We moved to Tallahassee in early 1971. A principal professor [of
mine] named George Cornwell, who was an environmental activist and wildlife
professor at the University of Florida, assisted me in getting a job because he
knew some of the government officials in Tallahassee. So, that was my contact,
and I wound up getting a job as a government analyst in what was then the
Bureau of Planning in the Division of Budget in the Department of Administration
of state government. That was in 1971 I was hired. I was the original
environmental natural-resource type person hired in the Department of
Administration, and the principal reason that they hired me is because on
December 31, 1969, the National Environmental Policy Act had passed and OMB
Circular A-95 had been established ,which called for states to create state-
planning and development clearinghouses. The purpose of state-planning and
development clearinghouses was to do two things: to review applications for
federal funds to make sure that federal spending was consistent with state plans,
policies and objectives; and, the second purpose of state clearinghouses was to
review, in a coordinated fashion with all aspects of the state, federal
environmental-impact statements, which were disclosures of the environmental
impacts of federal actions. So, my first job was the review of federal
environmental-impact statements and applications for federal assistance. Then in
, I believe, as a result of Chapter 23, which was the Comprehensive
Planning Act, passage and Chapter 380, the Environmental Land and Water
Management Act B incidentally, Chapter 373 also passed, that was the Water
Resources Act, that same time B but as a result of the Comprehensive Planning
Act, the Department of Administration was reorganized and there was created a
Division of State Planning in the Department of Administration for the purpose of
doing a state comprehensive-plan and administering the Environmental Land and
Water Management Act. So, I became a planner as a result of that, and we
actually wrote the original state-comprehensive plan. I was responsible for the
development and writing of the environmental element, and I was also the
principal author of the first state land-development plan. These were policy-plans
and no specifications for actual building. They had maps and policies on how the
state ought to protect its environment and develop in an environmentally-
sensitive way. In 1979, when Bob Graham was elected governor, I was a senior
government analyst doing comprehensive-planning, and I still retained oversight
of the environmental-impact statement review and the review of federal grant
applications. I was also in charge of the appeals under the land and water
adjudicatory commission of developments of regional impact. But in 1979 when
Graham came into office, he again reorganized state government, and he
created the Office of Planning and Budgeting. The Office of Planning and
Budgeting was an attempt to combine planning and budgeting. I mean, that is a
logical concept. It has never worked perfectly or even anywhere in the category
of excellent, but it was still a great idea that budget be more influenced by
planning rather than the reverse. The budget is the grand document of the state,
and it drives all other programs. The Office of Planning and Budgeting was an
attempt to put planning first and then budgeting accordingly. So, he created the
Office of Planning and Budgeting, and that is where I then resided, since 1979.
G: Let me jump in and ask you before we get too far ahead: the activities that you
are describing, how much involvement did that get you into in terms of South
Florida and in terms of the Everglades?
W: I was immediately involved in South Florida and the Everglades, even back in
1971 when I first began, because with the new powerful tool of reviewing
environmental-impact statements and reviewing applications for federal funding,
the state had, for the first time, some formal mechanism for objecting or requiring
change to the way the federal government did its work in Florida. The Corps of
Engineers have always been responsive to the governor. They will not do
anything project-wise or planning-wise or otherwise if it is not satisfactory to the
governor of Florida. Well, the state clearinghouse was there close to the
governor, because [in] the hierarchy, the governor was only like three steps
away. I can remember specific projects that date back into the early 1970s,
because the Central and Southern Project was going great guns. I mean, that is
where the most concentrated public-works activity B Corps of Engineers: Soil
Conservation Service activity was going on in South Florida, because that has
always been the development hotspot in the state and it is also the area that
physically needed change in order to continue this urban and agricultural
progress. So, as the staffer running the state clearinghouse, I was involved in the
review and major objections to numerous Corps projects in the early 1970s and
right on up. The C-51 Project, for example. C-51 is a drainage basin in Palm
Beach County, and the little city of Royal Palm Beach at the time was just maybe
a few hundred residents living and growing. The city was growing way off the
western part of Palm Beach County at the time. The C-51 Project was a part of
the Central and Southern Florida Project whereby the run-off, the urban and
other run-off from that western part of Palm Beach County, would be pumped
back into the water-conservation areas, Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
specifically. At the time, the state agencies, some environmental organizations
and individuals thought that was just not an acceptable way to proceed. So, the
state clearing-house, the state of Florida objected to that project, and it never
went forward. You might realize that now the C-51 Project, in an altered state, is
a very popular and major part of the restudy, so there is a little bit of irony in all of
this, that in 1971, the C-51 Project was just a idea of the devil himself, and then,
the year 2000, the C-51 Project is a star performer as part of the restudy. But
they are not the same. The name is the same, but the projects are not the same.
I am just trying to say what goes around comes around. Also, there was a major
project to do some serious drainage in Hendry County, and the Corps had a very
large, expensive, massive project called Hendry County L-100, L-100 being
Levee 100, is what they were going to build. It would have drained a lot of the
Devil: s Garden area and other parts of the northern fringes of the Big Cypress
Swamp. Principally through the environmental clearing-house, that project was
killed and never recovered. Those were two examples, [though] there were lots
of other things going on at the time. The [Everglades] jetport controversy had
pretty much been resolved at the time I came along. I think if, for example, the
state clearing-house and environmental-impact statements had been required at
the time, that would have been a much easier and more organized process of
stopping the jetport. It would probably never gotten started in the first place
because I spent a lot of time in objection to DOT projects; also, because anytime
an airport arose or any other such big transportation facility was to be built, you
had to go through the state clearinghouse to get the state to sign-off. Had that
jetport ever shown up in the state clearinghouse, it would not have moved
forward as much as it did. Yes, I was very much involved, probably as much
involved, in the affairs of the Everglades from 1971 until sometime in the 1980s.
The Save Our Everglades Program that I helped Graham get started was kind of
a culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people that had occurred in previous
times. But the experiences in the Everglades went way back, and they were very
numerous. At one time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the
U.S. Soil Conservation Service, I was probably a very disliked character with
both organizations, because I was very outspoken and unrelenting in my
attempts to get their work either completely disenfranchised or altered drastically.
As a matter of fact, the Soil Conservation Service, I guess in about the early
1980s, completely discontinued the small-watershed program, which was kind of
a mini-Corps of Engineers program. The Corps did the big ones and the Soil
Conservation Service did the small watersheds, but they were by and large the
same kind of projects B drainage.
G: Did the environmental-impact statements and the establishment of the
clearinghouse, did that necessarily make the Corps more responsive to the
preferences of the state?
W: That in and of itself did not. What did was the state: s use of that mechanism to
either demand [a] curtailment or major change in projects. Over time, the Corps
altered its attitude and methods. The clearinghouse was the mechanism. I do not
think anybody I know of there read the Environmental Policy Act and said okay,
we are going to do things differently. It was a long and bumpy road. [We] had a
lot of strained relations between the state and the Corps for several years.
G: Could you describe the relationship between the state and Flood Control District,
which is what it was called at that time, and then also the Flood Control District
and the Corps, that triangle.
W: Yes. The Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District, which is now the
South Florida Water Management District, was actually created by the Florida
legislature. I believe it was in 1949 when the Central and Southern Florida Flood
Control District was created. [Its] purpose was to be the state sponsor for the
federal project. In other words, their existence was to be a partner with the Corps
of Engineers in developing the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control
Project. The name Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District and the
Central and Southern Flood Control Project, there was only one word in the
difference between the agency and the project, so that was almost like a parent-
sibling relationship between the Corps of Engineers and the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District. Now, the relationship of the District to the
state, the governor of the state appointed the board members. I am not sure if it
was nine or seven members. At that time, it was maybe seven members B I am
not sure B but the governor appointed the members of the board. But during
most of that early period of time, in the 1970s, in particular, and on up until the
early 1980s, the Flood Control District was much more of a subsidiary of the
Corps of Engineers, for practical purposes, than it was the state. As a
consequence, there was a lot of rivalry, and I guess you would say conflict,
between the state and the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District. I
represented the interest in protecting the environment, and the Central and
Southern Flood Control Project was not that. It was the counter to protecting the
environment; it was the destroyer of the environment, in the eyes of myself and
lots of other people at the time. The Flood Control District was the advocate for
those projects, they were the sponsor and the advocate; they were the partner
with the Corps of Engineers. It was not a happy relationship, because the state
clearinghouse of the Department of Administration at the time and then later the
governors office, you know, when the transition occurred, and the Game and
Freshwater Fish Commission and the Department of Environmental Regulation
[DER] at the time, and parts of the Department of Natural Resources, they were
at that time less prone to be environmental activists as the Game and Freshwater
Fish Commission, DER, and the state clearinghouse. We were trying to either
stop, alter or reverse some of what we thought to be environmental destruction in
South Florida, and that put us at odds with the Central and Florida Flood Control
District and the Corps of Engineers and, at some times, the Department of
G: Did that play at all into the decision to restructure the Flood Control District into
what became the South Florida Water Management District?
W: Yes, I think it did. Even though that occurred in, like, 1972, I think that the
environmental concerns that predated my arrival on the scene certainly played
into trying the broaden the scope and responsibilities of, not just the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District, but also the Four River Basins Project,
the Southwest Florida Water Management District. Those were the two water
management districts or flood-control districts at the time, and the Northwest,
Suwannee and St. Johns did not exist. Chapter 373 of the Florida statutes of
1972 created actually six B it later became five B water management districts that
we now have, and that same basic law greatly broadened their responsibility
from far more than just flood-control and navigation. It gave them responsibilities
for environmental-protection and water-management for those purposes. Not
withstanding the creation of water management districts, again, it took a lot of
years, a lot of conflicts, and a lot of bumpy road to get the new South Florida
Water Management District out of its flood-control-advocacy-only role and into a
G: So the restructuring did not have necessarily an immediate transformative effect?
W: No, it did not. I mean, the same people were there doing the same things. That
never happens. Nobody changes their personality because they woke up one
day and said, I want to change my personality. It just takes time.
G: Could you discuss the conflict between the Corps and the National Park Service
and the Flood Control District in the early 1970s over the water-flow issues?
W: To the best I can. The National Park Service, Everglades National Park, I think
they have always felt that since they were on the southern part of a system in a
system which flows north to south, crisscrossed by canals and highways, that
they were always shorted on water. They have basically, ever since I remember,
been dissatisfied with the water-flow into Everglades National Park. On the other
hand, the Corps of Engineers and the Water Management District built that
project for water-supply and flood-control, principally. I mean, that was the
purpose of it. The farmers of South Dade County, for example, want to be
protected and yet they want water for their crops; the farmers in the Everglades
Agricultural Area want the same thing, and the urban people certainly want to
have flood-control principally, but they need water-supply, too. So, the water
allocation, from the viewpoint of the Water Management District and the Corps,
was traditionally and historically designed for flood and water supply, although
Everglades National Park always got some allocation of water. The Park Service
has never been happy B if they got as much as they wanted, they were not
happy because it did not come when they wanted it to; if it came when they
wanted it to, it created some environmental problem. That has always occurred,
and I am not sure it will not occur for many years to come, because it is just a
philosophical difference between a group of people who are principally running a
park and another group of people, that being the Corps and the Water
Management District, who are trying to allocate water for a whole variety of
purposes. I have from time to time favored the position of Everglades National
Park, and at other times I have been more ambivalent about that because, you
know, Everglades National Park is a pretty nice-looking place, and sometimes it
is kind of hard to figure out what the problem is.
G: What was the impact, if any, of Reubin Askew: s 1971 Governor: s Conference
on Water Management?
W: Well, I think that conference, in my memory, up until that time, was the most
significant emphasis in bringing together expertise and high-level people to
discuss the problems of the environment in South Florida, and for it to be
commissioned and pushed and advocated by the governor was just monumental.
Obviously, because you ask about it, it is still being talked about, but back in the
1970s, it was frequently referenced, not as much any particular thing that it said,
but just the fact that the governor did it and created it and the energy that went
into it, and flowed out of it. It had a big impact on environmental consciousness in
G: The conference members declared that Athere is a water crisis in South Florida
today.@ Did the general public take that message seriously at the time?
W: I do not think the general public took it serious at the time or have they taken it
serious any time since. I think the general public of the Tampa Bay area took it
serious four, five, six years ago. But if you go to Weston or Fort Lauderdale, you
know, any shopping center or restaurant and ask any number of people in there,
what do you think about the water problem or the Water Management District,
nobody will even know what the South Florida Water Management District is, as
long as their toilets flush and they have water coming out of their faucet. So, no, I
do not think the general public paid any attention to it then, and I am not sure
they are paying any attention to it now.
G: Did the conference give any momentum to the passage of the legislation in 1972,
like the Comprehensive Planning Act and the Florida Water Resources Act?
W: Yes, I think it did. I think it had a lot of impetus there, because for the legislature
to take action, there has to be some momentum, some push, and I think that
conference was probably either the or among the most significant things that did
G: For the period that we have been talking about, how influential was the
W: I think during the period we are talking about, the early 1970s, the environmental
community was in its teens, I would say. They had been either born or
established probably in the mid-late-1960s. The 1970s, you mentioned the water
resource conference, I mentioned the state clearinghouse, the Environmental
Policy Act, review of federal projects, the hiring of environmental people in the
Department of Administration [in] what was really an arm of the governors
office. All of those things gave the environmental community some tools or
methods to get something done. The environmental community was four or five
individuals, or groups of individuals, who were somewhat effective. I would say
that the environmental community was starting to feather out in the early 1970s.
G: At Marjory Stoneman Douglas: 106th birthday, Friends of the Everglades
President Nancy Brown made the comment that AArt Marshall knew the science
and Johnnie Jones knew the politics and Marjory had the golden tongue.@ Could
you comment on the contribution of these individuals, both for this time and also
W: Art Marshal was a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and when he
retired, I think he moved to Interlachen. Art advocated the repair of the
Everglades B I believe that is what he called it, repairing the Everglades B and in
collaboration with Johnny Jones, particularly, came up with a two- or three-page
pamphlet called Repairing the Everglades. It had seven or eight items in it, and
they were all intended to bring the Everglades back. Art is the first person I know
of, at least in my own mind, who got beyond just general rhetorical criticism of the
Corps of Engineers. A lot of people, prior to Art and after Art Marshall, were
excellent with rhetorical criticism of the Corps of Engineers and the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District and the Project. To the best of my
knowledge, Art was either the first or certainly the most articulate and effective in
going beyond the criticism and saying, here is what we ought to do about it. Art: s
pamphlet with seven or eight points in it, entitled Repairing the Everglades, was
very significant in that regard. It laid out a plan. I think Johnny Jones dubbed it
the Marshal Plan [punning on the famed post-World War II European economic
rescue bill]. But Art was effective largely because [of] Johnny Jones, a very good
friend of Art: s and a good friend of mine. He was also the executive director of
the Florida Wildlife Federation. Johnny was an excellent spokesman, advocate,
bulldog, and with the assistance of his wife, Mariana, who was also a quiet but
very effective writer and thinker, with Johnny and Mariana teamed up with Art,
they made a good team. They were very, very effective in pushing for the
Everglades: repair. Marjory Stoneman Douglas at the same time had reached
fame with her literary works and some of her women: s-advocacy works even
earlier [and] was a very [good person]. When Marjory spoke, people listened.
Between Marjory saying some profound things and keeping the attention media-
wise, front and center, and Johnny and Art, Art being the scientist and Johnny
being the political-advocate, they did an awful lot. They were certainly pioneers in
this effort to bring the Everglades back. I give them a lot of credit for that.
G: What were the things that they were advocating?
W: Art was advocating [to] redo the Kissimmee River, de-channelize the Kissimmee
River, open up water-flow into Everglades National Park, remove many of the
levees that run crisscross across the water-conservation areas, remove the (I
believe it was) L-28 Levee, which is the western confinement levee. Art never
advocated tearing down the eastern protective levees and flooding out the cities
or anything like that. And Art was not an engineer. There was no engineering-
analysis or cost-analysis that went into his work. He just looked at it from a
practical and ecological perspective and said, if you will restore some of this EAA
area, do a better job with Lake Okeechobee, tear out some of these levees and
canals, open up flow into Everglades National Park, the Everglades would be
much better off. And they would have been better off. I do not want to go so far
as to say [that] Art [is responsible for] the restudy, but there are some common
factors. I mean, we are restoring the Kissimmee River; that is not part of the
restudy per se, but the Kissimmee is being restored. The Kissimmee is being
restored largely because of Johnny and Mariana Jones. They are the ones who
should get the lion: s share of the credit for that. But that was a part of Art: s
plan, and some of the other work that is going on in the restudy are some of the
same kind of things that Art was advocating, particularly relative to Everglades
National Park. None of the things that Art recommended... I do not remember
every item, but I do remember some, and the ones I remember seem to be pretty
logical things, but they were very general. I mean, they were general good ideas;
they were not backed up by reams of analysis. They just were things, you know,
largely constructed at the kitchen table.
G: If I recall correctly, the Marshal Plan was published in 1981. What was the
reception to that at that time? How well-received was that by some of the other
actors involved with the Everglades?
W: I do not remember there being a lot of publicity or fanfare about Art: s plan. They
were things that they had been talking about for a few years prior, and it was not
slick and glossy, nor was it very lengthy. We received Art:s plan in Tallahassee
and looked at it and said, good ideas there, we will factor that in.
G: Could you describe the sequence of events that led to the creation of the Big
Cypress National Preserve in 1974?
W: I am not your best expert on that, but I do know some of the general details. The
jetport controversy, the South Florida jetport, was the factor that created the
debate that resulted in a formal and concerted effort to protect Big Cypress
Swamp, and the method was to create the Big Cypress National Preserve. It was
really a result of the jetport-controversy settlement. That was an act of Congress.
The Florida legislature appropriated, I believe, $500,000 to go toward the
acquisition of the Big Cypress. There was a state law that passed, I believe, in
1972 that put money toward the Big Cypress acquisition. The most significant
thing I could say about Big Cypress is, it was created as an effort to protect it
because its values became known and publicized when the construction of a
major jetport in west Dade County began to occur.
G: What were the most important accomplishments that came out of the 1970s?
W: That is a hard question, and I could answer that on various levels. I would say
that some of the state legislation that occurred. The state Water Resources Act
and the Land and Water Management Act were two significant pieces of
legislation that occurred. I think that the state: s land-acquisition programs, the
creation and enhancement of land-acquisition by the state of Florida, was a
monumental accomplishment. Up until sometime in the 1970s, 1980s, the modus
operandi [Latin term for Amethod of operation@] for government and the
environmental community particularly was the advocacy of regulation B you can
regulate to protect land. A lot of people, including myself, never thought that you
would be able to regulate to protect land and water and wildlife as people wanted
to protect them, that really the only way you could accomplish that would be to
acquire the land. The old Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, which
occurred maybe even in the same piece of legislation as the Big Cypress funding
by the state, was the first major state land-acquisition program in Florida, and it
was followed by the Conservation and Recreation Land Program, CARL
Program, which has been succeeded by Preservation 2000 and now Florida
Forever. I think those were major accomplishments. I think the fledgling and
growth of the environmental community occurred in the 1970s and really
materialized. The environmental movement, in my opinion, grew up in the 1970s
and caused a lot of change as a result of the advocacy for environmental
protection. As a result of that, the environmental community coming of age, and
some of the other mechanisms that I have mentioned previously, but the whole
attitude about the environmental not as a victim; the environmental is no longer
going to be a victim, but it is going to be a center-stage player along with growth
and development. I believe that basically happened, beginning in the 1970s and
on into the 1980s. As far as particular projects, I mean, I could name a lot of
projects that either came or went, but just events, I think the legislative passages
by the state, the environmental community growing up and the consequences
thereof, which was to help bring the environment to an equal or a more equal
setting than the other societal values that we were considering.
G: What were the greatest impediments to Everglades management during that
W: A lot of the impediment has always been public malaise. I mean, the general
public, to make a major change in a project or program or government attitude,
you need a lot of public support, public sentiment, without which there is no
incentive. But that is too easy to say; it does not mean anything to say that.
Getting it down to a different level, you had a couple of government institutions,
in particular, made up of individuals who have spent their careers developing the
Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, spent most of their lives
engineering that project and constructing that project and with personal
identification with [that project]. To cause the change, people would not do it
readily; it took a lot of, I guess, conflict and arguing and legal challenges and
friendly relationships. That was the biggest impediment, I would say. To get
those institutions, the state institution of the Central and Southern Florida Flood
Control District -- and then after it became the South Florida Water Management
District, and the Corps of Engineers altered in mental attitude and therefore
course and direction. I would say that was the hardest part.
G: When you joined Governor Bob Graham: s staff, was your primary role in the
Planning and Budgeting office that you described earlier?
W: When Graham came into office and created the Office of Planning and
Budgeting, he asked that I sit in on some of the Cabinet briefings. Before each
meeting of the governor and Cabinet, he would have briefings to go over the
agenda, the Trustees: agenda, the Internal-Improvement Trust-Fund, and the
Department of Natural Resources: agenda. The environmental stuff was always
the most significant part of the Cabinet meetings. It did not necessarily take the
most time, but it was always difficult, controversial, because you had the issues
of the use of state-sovereign lands B to build docks or to dredge or to do
something with, or if somebody was wanting to lease it. Then you have the
Department of Natural Resources with all the issues that they dealt with and the
Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission, which was the appeal of development
of regional impact issues. So, Graham asked me to start sitting in on those
Cabinet briefings, and I did. I guess it was 1979. I had not particularly known him
previously, except I knew who he was, but through those Cabinet briefings, I got
personal contact and we developed a relationship. Then he began to talk with me
about other issues beyond just Cabinet issues. I was working at the time for Ken
Woodburn, who was called the environmental-policy coordinator. Then he began
to communicate with me and Ken both with taped messages, and he would call
from time-to-time and set up meetings. It was gradual through, initially, the
G: Could you describe the course of events that led to the introduction of Governor
Graham:s Save Our Everglades Program?
W: As I said, in the 1970s, early 1980s, as the environmental community began to
grow and sprout wings and try and fly, the effort to restore the Kissimmee River
began before they even finished it. Johnny Jones was complaining and other
advocates down in South Florida [were] complaining about the Kissimmee before
it was even finished. Art Marshal was talking to people and studying things and
working on his work. There was Marjory Douglas and others who were
prominent. Marjory Carr was a prominent figure, and Nat Reed [Nathaniel Reed,
Florida cabinet official under Claude Kirk; Assistant Secretary of the Interior
under President Nixon; prominent environmental advocate], was. There was sort
of solid set of concerned citizens or environmental people there. I believe it was
1980 and 1981, that period of time was a serious drought. There was very dry
weather in South Florida. But in 1982, I believe it was, it became a very rainy
period of time, following about three years of very dry weather, during which time
the deer herd in the water-conservation areas had grown to a number of maybe
B it was estimated B 8,000 or 10,000 deer. When the rains came and the natural
flooding, so to speak, of the water-conservation areas, and the tree islands were
covered, what was previously dry ground, the deer herd was in harm: s way. A
lot drowned, starved, and it really became a major incident. A lot of sympathy, a
lot of media coverage B television and newspaper coverage B of these deer all
grouped up on the levees B that was the only place they could get to find dry
ground B and they were starving. The Game and Freshwater Fish Commission in
the summer of 1982 decided to do (they were calling it) a Mercy Hunt. They were
going to authorize hunters to go out and shoot deer in a summer deer hunt called
the Mercy Hunt. That did not set well with the animal-rights people. A guy named
Cleveland Avery organized a massive protest of this Everglades deer hunt. It
really became quite a spectacle. I was there in the governors office, and
Graham was there, and we were kind of wringing our hands, trying to figure out,
what is happening here? After the issue got resolved, and I will not go into detail
of the resolution of the issue, Bob Graham created a Task Force. He made me
the chairman of this little Task Force to study this deer issue to try to figure out
how to avoid [a reoccurrence]. So we had the Game and Freshwater Fish
Commission, they were not too happy about this Task Force being created,
because it was questioning what they do. We had the Water Management
District [and] some private citizens on this Task Force, and we held several
meetings, including the public meeting down somewhere in Broward County.
Coconut Creek was the name of the place we had the meeting, but we were in a
big community center. This was a public meeting to talk about the issue with the
deer crisis, and hundreds of animal-rights activists showed up and hundreds of
environmentalists showed up, and we had just a packed [house]. The common
theme, which was repeated over and over and over again, it is not the deer as
the problem, it is the water; the water is the problem, not the deer; the deer are
victims of poor water-management districts. So, the report of the Everglades
Deer Crisis Task Force was not only that the herd ought to be managed at a
lower-level to avoid huge populations that are going to die-off during the floods,
keep[ing] them managed naturally through hunting and other means, but the
water-management system is flawed and it needs to be altered. I think that report
contained the seeds of the Save the Everglades Program. Beyond that, I often
joke a little bit with this. I can remember the first swimsuit issue of Sports
Illustrated magazine. I brought it in, and Governor Graham was sitting at the
conference-room table. I believe I might have said something like there is some
good news and some bad news here, and the good news is on the front, Christie
Brinkley [model] in her swimsuit. But inside was a scathing article about Florida
and Florida:s mismanagement of the Everglades, with some direct criticism of
the governor by such [people] as Johnny Jones and others. I think that had an
effect on the governor, to see a national magazine coming down on the state of
Florida. I do not ever remember a time thereafter that the environment was not
on the top of the agenda. After that, I believe the Everglades Deer Crisis Task
Force had a lot to do [with this new emphasis], because I talked with him a lot
about the issues. Governor Graham was an extremely intelligent person who
stayed up with trends and looked ahead on his own without aides having to tell
him. He had his own way of staying and even staying ahead of us. We began to
talk, and he would initiate conversation about, we need to do something with the
Everglades; we have got to figure out what to do about the Everglades. So, we
called together, I remember at one point in time, Marjory Douglas, Nelson Blake,
the author of Land and Water, Water and Land, and Earl Starnes into
Tallahassee, to have a conversation with them. I was talking, and the governor
was talking, with Johnny Jones. We called Art Marshal to come up to
Tallahassee and talk with us, and others. Governor Graham called the meeting,
and I was involved with it, with Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Nelson Blake and
Earl Starnes, to discuss their concepts of what we needed to do about the
Everglades problem. We later met with Art Marshal, Johnny Jones. I attempted to
contact as many people as I could to get their points of view and comments and
recommendations in preparation for doing something about the Everglades. As it
turned out, what it was is this Save Our Everglades program, which the governor
initiated in August of 1983. He called it Save Our Everglades, and it was really a
combination, a grouping of a lot of recommendations from a lot of different
places, including our own recommendations that we thought were good ideas.
The interesting part of the Save Our Everglades Program, it was the first time I
recall an attempt to restore an entire ecological system. We had it broken down
into workable pieces. There were seven parts to the Save Our Everglades
Program, and they were not all physical areas: the restoration of the Kissimmee
River was a piece; the restoring [of] flow to Northeast Shark River Slough and
Everglades National Park was a piece; the completion of the Big Cypress
acquisition was a part; protecting the Florida panther was a part; the conversion
of Alligator Alley to 1-75 and the restoration of flow from north to south as a
function thereof, as well as building animal underpasses, was also a part of the
Everglades restoration. Later, we added features to it, including Lake
Okeechobee, but it was a whole system approach. We tried to put it together not
just as a bunch of good ideas but things that we thought could really be
accomplished, and I believe we were right; a lot of it has been accomplished and
the rest of it being worked on. We put out the Save Our Everglades Program as
an issue-paper. We did not seek legislation. We certainly were looking for
publicity and attention, but we wanted to walk before we ran, [so] we did it as an
issue-paper. But then every quarter we would grade ourselves, and that was a
way to cause us to be answerable and also keep an ongoing running-record. So,
that is the way the Save Our Everglades got started, basically [as] an idea of
Governor Graham, but as it came out, it contained bits and pieces and parts of
ideas of a lot of people. But the key success was that we did not just do the right
thing, but we did it at an opportune time and we constructed the program in a
way of holding ourselves and everybody else accountable through the recurring
G: In announcing the program, Governor Graham stated, AOur goal is that the
Everglades of the year 2000 should look more like the Everglades of the year
1900 than the Everglades of today.@ At the time, was the year 2000 viewed as a
realistic time frame to accomplish Everglades restoration?
W: You have to kind of read that carefully. The year 2000 was the millennium. That
was a logical date to pick. It was seventeen years off, it was nice round numbers,
and it gave us time, also importantly, to do something. But the words are that it
would look more like it did in 1900 than it does today. I think that is true. Literally,
it did not take much to make it look more like it did in 1900 than it did in 1983. I
think that great achievement has occurred, I mean, really monumental
achievement has occurred. But I do not think that was ever implied to say we will
be all done and finished and gone in the year 2000. We knew we were in it for
the long term.
G: What was the general reaction to the governor: s announcement of this
W: The reaction was positive, but the media was, you know, friendly but with some
skepticism. When you announce something as broad-sweeping and as big as
this, there is always some question B are you looking for publicity, are you
serious? So, there was a combination of this is good, wonderful, however, what
is the motivation?
G: The environmental community, I guess you have talked of, but how did groups
like the sugar companies or agriculture respond to the program? Were there any
groups that were less enthusiastic than others?
W: I do not remember really getting criticized or catching much flak from any
segment. I mean, we were smart enough, I think, not to make any frontal
assaults on any group, and we did not. We did not go after the sugar-industry.
There was no particular emphasis on affecting the sugar-industry. All of that
evolved much later. The group that did get very excited were some of the
advocates for retaining the Kissimmee River intact, the C-38 Canal. That did
create some acrimony from some of the property-owners along the Kissimmee.
G: What were the most important accomplishments that came out of the Save Our
W: The restoration of the Kissimmee came directly out of that program. That was the
impetus for the restoration of the Kissimmee River. The expansion of the Big
Cypress National Preserve by some 320,000 acres was a direct result of the
Save Our Everglades Program. The expansion of Everglades National Park by
105,000, roughly, was a direct result. The restoration of flow into Northeast Shark
River Slough and Florida Bay, a direct result. The conversion of Alligator Alley to
1-75 had major improvements on the hydrology from north of the road to south of
the road, because at least twenty-three [or] twenty-five new bridges and culverts
were put in on the western side. In the Big Cypress area, there was over twenty
animal-crossings; twenty-three animal-underpasses were constructed. Major
accomplishment in the terms of water-flow from north to south, under the road,
under and through Tamiami Trail into Everglades National Park and into
Northeast Shark River Slough. The purpose of acquiring the East Everglades or
the Northeast Shark River Slough property, which is now a part of Everglades
National Park, was not particularly to expand Everglades National Park; it was to
restore flow through Northeast Shark River Slough and into Florida Bay, and
Everglades National Park is part thereof. So that was the whole purpose of that. I
think some of those things somehow get forgotten. Now, this is Everglades
National Park, and therefore we want you to do things our way because this is
Everglades National Park, whereas the reason that it is part of the park is
because we were trying to restore water-flow. We were not trying to create a
park, per se; we were trying to restore the Everglades. But that is okay. Things
change, and attitudes change over time. So, I think I have described some of the
G: Are there any parts of the program that were unsuccessful or where you did not
achieve the goals that were intended?
W: Actually, I think we could argue that the goals were basically met. Now, Lake
Okeechobee, which we were always concerned about, because that is a part of
the system, is still not in the shape that it should be in. I mean, Lake Okeechobee
is in jeopardy, maybe even more today than it ever has been. We are in a historic
drought in South Florida, and Lake Okeechobee is suffering. Some things are at
the desires or the whims of Mother Nature, and Man cannot make a desert
green, cannot necessarily change a natural pattern. So, I cannot say that Lake
Okeechobee is any better for anything we did, but at the same time, we were
recognizing the difficulty there.
G: Is there a reason why Lake Okeechobee was not specifically part [of] or
addressed by the Save Our Everglades Program?
W: As I said to start with, we laid out things that we thought were realistic and
achievable. At the time, we did not know exactly what we could do to improve
Lake Okeechobee beyond restoring the Kissimmee and some of the regulatory
programs. But again, we were trying to combine a group of objectives which were
identifiable that we could measure success on, I mean, that we had ideas for. We
searched the world over, the world as we knew it, and we did the best we could.
We just did not have a set of things to do which justified putting Lake
Okeechobee in there originally as a main feature.
G: Were there certain actions that Governor Graham later took to address the
problems with Lake Okeechobee?
W: We dealt with the regulation-schedule for Lake Okeechobee a time or two. Over
time, the Kissimmee restoration. I cannot remember when the dairy-buyout
occurred in the Taylor Creek Nubbins Slough north of Lake Okeechobee, I
believe that was on his watch also. The curtailment of back-pumping from the
southern part of the lake, we were certainly instrumental in stopping the back-
pumping from the sugarcane-fields.
G: Where did the idea for establishing the Lake Okeechobee Technical Advisory
Committee [LOTAC] come from?
W: I am not sure I can answer that. I remember the so-called LOTAC, [but] I do not
remember the origin of that.
G: Was that something that Governor Graham was sponsoring, or did that come
from a different source?
W: It is safe to say that the Lake Okeechobee Technical Advisory Committee
occurred during Graham :s administration, and certainly we were supportive of it.
The absolute origin of it, I think it evolved out of, bubbled up from, the South
Florida Water Management District. Obviously, he liked it and sanctioned it. We
wanted it to function.
G: Did it have much of an impact on your considerations for Lake Okeechobee?
W: I think it was the formal beginning of a lot of events that have occurred. Now,
again, I would say I am not sure that we have done all that much for Lake
Okeechobee over the last twenty-five years, including today. There is a lot of
effort going on now, and has been, on behalf of Lake Okeechobee, but I do not
know that Lake Okeechobee is any better-off today than it was in 1983. I would
even go so far as to say Lake Okeechobee is not as well-off today as it was in
G: Why is it so difficult to address the problems with the lake?
W: The lake is diked, number one, to protect against flood, but we have had a lot of
dry weather. But the flows for years and years, the pumping from the south and
flows from the north, off either sugarcane-fields, or not sugarcane-fields so much
in modern times, but for years and years and years, billions of gallons of water
highly phosphoric and nitrogenic were pumped into Lake Okeechobee. The
Taylor Creek Nubbins Slough Lower Kissimmee Basin, the cattle, particularly
dairy, run-off has been going into Lake Okeechobee for decades. That is the
nutrient-problem, plus lakes age over time. Lake Okeechobee has probably had
accelerated-aging because of the agricultural run-off. People attribute it to
phosphorus; it used to be nitrogen. There [are] a lot of other [pollutants going into
the lake that get no attention.] [End of Side 2, Tape A.]
G: The restoration efforts that are being engaged in now, are those going to address
the problems in Lake Okeechobee?
W: There is a lot of work going on on behalf of Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee
is a major concern, and it has gotten probably more attention in the last couple of
years than any other feature of the Everglades. There was a bill in the year 2000
legislature that directly addressed Lake Okeechobee. The South Florida Water
Management District is going to major means to try to alter the degradation of
Lake Okeechobee. The Department of Agriculture in the last couple of years has
been appropriated $14,000,000-plus each year to match funds with land-owners
to put in so-called Abest-management practices,@ which is to try to keep the
nutrients out of the water that ultimately flows into Lake Okeechobee. The Water
Management District was appropriated $23,000,000 last year and $10,000,000
this year for particular projects to improve Lake Okeechobee. An exceptional
amount of money and effort is going into Lake Okeechobee, to try to forestall and
slow down or maybe even eliminate the discharges of nutritious-water.
G: Do you have high hopes that those will be successful?
W: I am not sky-high with hope. I do think that there will be some success. You
know, Lake Okeechobee has been receiving those run-offs for many decades, so
we are not going to see Lake Okeechobee back to the pristine water-body that it
might have been 150 years ago. It is just not likely to happen. We can slow down
the decline. If we can think of something new and innovative, we might even be
able to improve it, take it back a little bit in time and condition. I think that is about
the best we can hope for.
G: How significant of an event was the appearance of the massive algae-bloom on
the lake in 1986?
W: It brought a lot of attention to the lake. I mean, any time you have got what is
perceived as an ecological disaster occurring, it just rivets attention. It had a lot of
G: How much of a public-relations problem was that for the governor, given that in
his report card that had come out just before that he had given himself a nine out
of ten on the lake?
W: I do not particularly recall it being a public-relations disaster or anything like that.
I think that everybody understands, or the pretty well-informed press and public
understood, that you just cannot predict the weather. I mean, that was more a
function of the weather, hot weather and nutritious soup that was already out
there, and just some biological natural events. Certainly, any time you have
anything like that, the newspapers are going to cover it, and people are sensitive
to it. But we realized we could not run out there and change it. There was nothing
we could do instantaneously because correcting a problem like that, if you can
correct it, is long-term.
G: Could you describe in more detail the efforts by Governor Graham to promote the
restoration of the Kissimmee River?
W: Yes. The South Florida Water Management District, at the governor: s urging, I
mean, once we included in the Save Our Everglades Program the restoration of
the Kissimmee River, the governor directly and through me was pushing for all of
the elements of the Save Our Everglades Program, and the South Florida Water
Management District certainly took that to heart. Jack Malloy was the executive
director of the South Florida Water Management District. They were serious
about it and undertook a series of studies of how to do it. But I think the most
significant single event that I remember is that the governor called Jack Malloy to
Tallahassee one time B I think it was sometime in late 1983 B and said, what are
we going to do about the Kissimmee River? Jack Malloy, I remember him
reaching in his shirt-pocket and pulling out a piece of paper and unfolding it and
saying, we are going to restore the Kissimmee, and here is the picture of the
plan. From that instant on, it was gangbusters forward. That did not convince the
Corps of Engineers. They were quite reticent and not too thrilled with the state: s
and the South Florida Water Management District: s exuberance to go out and fill
in C-38. But once the Water Management District, Jack Malloy, [committed,] we
knew we could do it then because we were teamed up; we had the strong ally.
The Water Management District being very closely associated with the Corps,
and [with] the power of the governor pushing, it started happening. They hired
[from] the University of California at Berkeley Professor Shin, a famous hydrology
civil-engineer out there, to help design it. They actually designed a model in an
old aviation-hanger out at Berkeley [which] modeled the entire Kissimmee with
water-flow down it, as to how we were going to restore it. It was very impressive.
I went out one time and looked at it. So, with that design-work and the credibility
of the designers out at the University of California, we were convinced, and even
the Corps of Engineers became convinced, that it could be done, and be done
without disastrous consequences, which a lot of people were afraid of.
G: Why do you think the Corps was so reluctant initially to become involved with this
W: They had just finished [the channelization] a few years before; they designed and
built it. Some of the guys who designed the Kissimmee channel were still there,
[and now] being asked to undo it. That is a hard thing to do. Plus, the Corps is an
old conservative institution, and the upper-echelons of the Corps at the time were
saying, why should we spend $250,000,000 on this frill thing that the state of
Florida wants to do. I mean, there was some sarcasm coming from the top ranks
of the Corps of Engineers back then, like, if you want to do this, you are on your
own; count us out. There were letters to that effect written from some of those
Corps colonels and generals.
G: Did the Corps: attitudes change after the model had been successfully
W: I think the Corps in general, the people in Jacksonville, people like Richard
Bonner, they began to change the attitude of the Corps because they wanted to
work with the state. They live here, they were citizens of Jacksonville and had to
deal with the state of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District,
and they wanted to do what was right. The attitude about the environment was
changing, had changed by that point in time. Richard Bonner and Eddie Salem
and some others over in Jacksonville B I am talking about civilians, [but] there
were good military officers, too, that were coming through at the time. As we
talked, discussed it, more patiently, their attitude changed. I think as the attitude
in Jacksonville changed, it trickled upstream through the upper- echelons of the
G: You mentioned the importance of Johnny Jones in promoting the Kissimmee
restoration. Could you describe in a little bit more detail what his role was?
W: Johnny: s wife Mariana, I think she was born out in that area. They grew up, I
think, as kids and young folks, had known each other for a long time. Johnny had
fished out there, and Mariana had a real close association with it. Johnny was
just kind of a one man [in a] two-person army in writing letters and talking to the
legislature and pushing and calling the governor and talking to the governor, and
he was very good with the media. Johnny was doing all these things in the late
1970s, early 1980s. He spent his time up here during the legislative session for
several years. He just moved to Tallahassee during the legislative session, was a
Florida Wildlife Federation lobbyist. Johnny did a lot of other things than work on
the Kissimmee, but the Kissimmee was his first love. Johnny was very effective
with the media. He was a good talker. He was hard to say no to, especially when
he thinks he is right and has a good logical argument, Johnny is hard to turn
away. He was just personally effective with arguing for restoring the Kissimmee.
He won those arguments [by saying]: it is a logical thing to do, it is the right thing
to do, why won: t you do it, and if you won: t do it and just stand by, you are
probably going to get some criticism from somewhere. So, Johnny was a carrot-
[and]-stick kind of guy, and it worked with the legislature, with the governor, with
the media and all in between.
G: How much progress had been made toward restoring the Kissimmee by the end
of Graham :s term as governor?
W: Three plugs, I believe, had been put into the upper part. It had been plugged, and
I think a small piece had been filled in at the time.
G: Is that the Water Management District that was doing that?
W: And the Corps, yes. Well, the Water Management District, see, it is a United
States project, so anything that was done had to be done with the approval of the
Corps of Engineers. That is why we had to convince the Corps just to let us do it.
We were not talking about helping us pay for it, necessarily, but just to let us do
it. So, yeah, the South Florida Water Management District [was] doing it.
G: What was the goal behind the governor: s efforts to organize the Everglades
W: After the Save Our Everglades Program was initiated, he was looking for a way
to promote the Save Our Everglades initiative on the federal level. We had to
convince the Corps of Engineers, we had to convince the Department of Interior
and maybe even EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], but we particularly
knew that we had to deal with federal agencies, the Corps, the Department of
Interior. We had to deal with Congress if we were going to...and we had to deal
with the U. S. Department of Transportation, too. We knew that we would
eventually be needing some assistance with Congress. So, Graham asked Paul
Prichard B Paul Prichard was the president of the National Parks Conservation
Association B if he would help us set up a meeting in Washington with some of
the national environmental organizations. Paul Prichard hosted this first meeting,
at [his] headquarters, and we notified the environmental community. Graham
asked that the first meeting be set up with them so that we could come and
explain the program to the environmental community in hope of getting their
general support. So, we went to Washington and sat down with them and gave
them a presentation of what we had advocated, had unveiled, and in the course
of that discussion with (there must have been) about twenty environmental
representatives, the whole group decided [to] create the Everglades Coalition as
sort of a semi-formal entity for the purpose of promoting the Save Our
Everglades Program on the national level, as well as the state legislative level
and other levels. So that was really the impetus for it.
G: How effective do you think the Everglades Coalition has been as an
W: The Everglades Coalition was created in 1984. For the first part of their
existence, the first few years, I felt they were tremendously effective. I think that
the Everglades Coalition has changed. I mean, it has evolved over time, and it
became much more politicized in the latter years than in the earlier years,
politicized within itself, kind of as a political advocate. I mean, it sort of evolved
into its own being and wandered from what it was originally intended to do.
G: When you say politicized, do you mean politicized in terms of representing
divisions between environmental groups or politicized in terms of it becoming
more active in a political sense?
W: I will give you an example. I guess the best example, for the first, say, four years,
the Everglades Coalition and the state of Florida with the Save Our Everglades
Program were very much in synch. With the Everglades Coalition, promoting,
however they wanted, the goals of the Save Our Everglades Program. Later on,
after the famous lawsuit occurred and kind of made enemies out of friends in
many cases, the Everglades Coalition sort of developed their own agenda which
may or may not have looked anything like what the state: s agenda was and, in
many cases, were on the opposite side from the state. [Tape interrupted.] As I
was saying, the Everglades Coalition was oftentimes at odds with the state, and
as a result, I think the overall movement forward of the Everglades restoration,
saving the Everglades, was sometimes impeded. I think that the main reason, or
the instigator, of this division... It was not just between the state and the
Everglades Coalition B I do not mean to emphasize that; we always got along
with them reasonably well, excellent for the first several years. But the
Everglades Coalition was often arguing among themselves and had a hard time
deciding exactly what advocacy they would take, [and] I think in some cases it
detracted from what we were all theoretically trying to do. But, I do not mean to
say that the Everglades Coalition has not played a major, major role in moving
the Everglades restoration forward. They deserve an awful lot of credit. Some
wonderful and excellent people have participated in the Everglades Coalition, as
individuals and as a body, and that has been an absolute vital part of getting the
Save Our Everglades Program highlighted, high-profiled, and moved forward. I
could not compliment them or thank them more.
G: What role did Governor Graham play in the passage of the Growth Management
Act of 1985?
W: The governor was the sponsor of the Environmental Land and Water
Management Act of 1982. He has always been a strong growth-management
advocate. He challenged John DeGrove to quit talking about growth-
management and come up here and run the Department of Community Affairs
and affect it directly. John took the challenge and did a great job, and Governor
Graham was right behind him all the way. He played a, and the, significant role in
G: How successful do you think this law has been in addressing the problems of
urban growth in South Florida?
W: I have always myself been more of a pure environmental-type person. Growth-
management, I saw it from the beginning, and in more modern times I have not
stayed that close to it. I think the major positive effect of growth-management has
caused local governments to be conscious and deliberate in their planning and
zoning. As to any particular monumental occurrence, per se, I cannot name any,
but I think that cities and counties all over the state are better off for it, because it
forced in some cases, and now it is an institution with local governments that
they do comprehensive plans with conservation and land- protection and water-
considerations, environmental-considerations, as an integral component, and
that is invaluable. I think that growth-management in Florida has come a long
way, but it has been very gradual.
G: How were you able to make the transition from working for Democratic Governor
Bob Graham to then working for Republican Governor Bob Martinez?
W: I have never been highly politicized. I tried to keep my head down and do the
work, work as hard as I could for the cause of the betterment of the state. I never
tried to get involved in political campaigns, and I think that was recognized,
certainly, by Governor Martinez and his staff. My objectives in life, professionally,
and I always told my employees that there are (at least) three important things
that I try to keep in mind and you should keep in mind. One of them is keep your
eye on the North Star: the benefit of Florida and particularly its environment.
Number two, maintain your personal integrity, and do not compromise your
beliefs. There are a lot of different ways to say no. Somebody taught me a long
time ago, a guy named Curry Hutchinson, that the best way to deal with being
asked to do something you think would compromise your integrity is to say, I do
not know how to do that. I have said that a few times. And the third item is loyalty
to the person that you are working for or the people that you are working for.
Governor Martinez was a very nice gentleman; he was a class-act of a person.
His staff gave me an honest shot at continuing to do my work, and I believe that
in a reasonably short period of time I gained his confidence that I was not a
political-type person. I was just trying to work to do the best I could for him and
the state of Florida. So, it was an easy transition and really a very pleasant
G: How would you compare and contrast the leadership styles of Governor Martinez
to those of Governor Graham, particularly in the area of Everglades-related
W: Governor Graham, number one, he is a very brilliant person, an intellectual who
is uncomparable to most all people. Graham was able to be an astronomer and a
microbiologist at the same time. He could look way out in the future and at the
same time be doing the details of a budget-item. He could shift from one mode to
the other. Graham was a thinker, and most of the Everglades initiatives from the
beginning were largely his own ideas, having had the information put to him. So,
Graham was a very dynamic leader in the Everglades. Governor Martinez was
equally interested and concerned about the Everglades and the environment in
Florida. He really cared about Florida. His style was more of an administrator-
type approach than getting down deep into the bushes with it. Governor Martinez
allowed his staff to seek out the solutions and present them to him and then go
from there, with him in strong support. So, the style was different, but the attitude
was generally the same.
G: In what ways did Governor Martinez work to continue the effort to promote the
restoration of the Kissimmee?
W: Governor Martinez, as I mentioned earlier, he was very much in support of
restoring the Kissimmee, and the effort continued right in and through his
administration. I believe that some of the major restoration/construction work was
actually begun and finished under his term.
G: Why did Governor Martinez choose to select the more expensive backfill option
for restoring the Kissimmee?
W: Well, because that was the way the environmental community and his staff felt it
should be done, I mean, as opposed to trying to [do a] patchwork-quilt,
[converting a 200] foot-wide, thirty-foot-deep channel into some [other type of]
man-made alteration just did not appear to him or anybody else that we were
talking to as being the right way to do it. If we are going to restore it, let us
G: In October of 1988, U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen filed a lawsuit against the
Water Management District and the State Department of Environmental
Regulation, claiming that state water-quality standards had been violated. What
was your reaction when this lawsuit was filed?
W: My reaction was that, you know, here we go with a politically-inspired lawsuit. I
thought then and have thought ever since that the lawsuit set back the
restoration efforts substantially, and the way that it did it was it pitted everybody
against everybody else. We were no longer working in-synch with one another;
we were working against one another. Everybody was fighting. Nobody could
even talk to each other, by virtue of either some kind of legal impediment or an
emotional impediment. That is what I was alluding to with the Everglades
Coalition, because the environmental organizations fell in with the lawsuit, and so
it had the institutions of government, that being the state, Water Management
District and Corps of Engineers at odds with the U.S. attorney, the Department of
Interior, lesser case the Environmental Protection Agency and the environmental
community. That is not the formula for getting something done. That is the
formula for fussing and fighting and going nowhere.
G: Why do you think the action was taken to follow a lawsuit rather than some other
route? You said it was politically-inspired. Who would you identify as being the
political-conspirators, so to say?
W: The Department of Interior and the environmental community working through
the U.S. attorneys office.
G: Why do you think they took that action?
W: I think that [it] was an honest effort to clean up the water-quality in the
Everglades [but] particularly [to] get at the sugar-industry. I think the sugar-
industry was the ultimate objective, you know, let us do some harm to the sugar-
industry. But at the same time, the sugar-industry was not free of blame. The
sugar-industry has caused a lot of problems in the Everglades, and their early
labor practices did not help them. A book called Sugar Blues got written back
several years ago that was a real indictment of the sugar-industry, and it was
widely read and passed around. Not many people liked the sugar-industry, but
they were very powerful and a hard force to deal with. I think this lawsuit was
mainly directed at the sugar-industry.
G: Why did Governor Martinez decide to go directly to Attorney General [Richard]
W: I am not personally aware of that, but I suspect B this is only speculation on my
part B that, you know, nobody likes to be sued. The governor certainly did not like
being involved in a lawsuit. He thought, and I thought, that we were doing a very
good job in trying to restore the Everglades, and this was quite a slap in the face.
It is kind of like you raise up a child, and I am not saying we raised up anybody,
but it is kind of like suddenly your best friend has turned on you. It is an insult,
and you do not understand. You certainly do not think that is the way to use
teamwork to try to win a ball-game when your quarterback or halfback or coach
decides to team up with the other team.
G: How much of an impact did the lawsuit have on the working relationship between
the state and federal government in other areas, like the Kissimmee, like the
expansion of Everglades National Park?
W: It did not affect the work on the Kissimmee. The Corps of Engineers was never
on the side of the advocating the lawsuit. The Department of Interior was, but still
the governor had a very good relationship with then-Secretary [Donald] Hodel. It
was Governor Martinez: personal request, in a van that I was sitting in, that
resulted in the Department of Interior: s decision to support the expansion of
Everglades National Park. That is what led to the expansion of Everglades
National Park, that personal appeal from the governor, because he thought that
was the right thing to do to restore the flow through Northeast Shark River
Slough and into Florida Bay.
G: Can you describe the working relationship between the governor: s office, the
Water Management District and the Department of Environmental Regulation as
it attempted to respond to the lawsuit?
W: Until Governor Chiles came into office, it was the state and the Water
Management District versus, I guess you would say, the Justice Department or
the U.S. attorney: s office and their allies. It was a very hostile relationship. We
thought we were trying to be had and did not want any part of that and fought it
G: What was the strategy that was pursued in trying to respond to the lawsuit?
W: The strategy was that we thought the lawsuit was unfounded and that the
accusations were inaccurate and that the state and the Water Management
District were abiding by the law and actually making positive progress in cleaning
up the Everglades.
G: How much progress had been made towards reaching a settlement by the time
Governor Martinez left office?
W: As I recall, we were not close to a settlement, but we felt the state was in a
strong legal position to win the case if it came to that.
G: How important was the passage of the Surface Water Improvement and
Management Act, or SWIM, in 1987?
W: I think that the SWIM Act, at the time, was really an effort to create a program. I
mean, it started off intending to create a program for the benefit of the
Everglades, and then it got expanded through negotiations and so forth to be a
statewide program. I think it was the first real legislative effort to really look at
watersheds and try to plan on a watershed basis and implement programs to
improve watersheds. The SWIM program in and of itself had some success. I
would say it has been moderately successful in-and-of-itself. The SWIM Act,
again, was kind of an attitude, approach, modification-program. I think the SWIM
Act has led to a broader and different way of thinking. Much like the original Save
Our Everglades Program was a whole system-approach, the SWIM Act installed
a whole system-approach on a state-wide basis.
G: Why was the development of the Everglades SWIM so controversial?
W: Everything about the Everglades is controversial, because there are so many
points of view and there has been so much study to date, so many special
interests, and that had all been fully developed. When the SWIM Act occurred, it
was just another way of bringing together the diverse forces and interests into
another form of debate. So I think that all of the previous controversial] issues
and deliberations on the Everglades were again thrown into a new forum called
the SWIM plan for re-debate.
G: What were the most controversial elements of that plan, or the discussion for that
W: I think the most controversial aspects have always been Lake Okeechobee and
the sugar-interests and issues to the south of the lake. Down to a lesser but not
insignificant extent, the dairy-drainage issues from the north part of the lake, the
water-quality issues, and Taylor Creek Nubbins Slough and the lower
Kissimmee. But, I think by far the most significant issues related to the sugar-
G: How much of an impact did the federal-lawsuit have on the discussions over the
Everglades SWIM and vice versa?
W: The Everglades SWIM was an effort, and a good effort, at addressing all the
problems in the Everglades, and particularly in the Lake Okeechobee area, the
water-conservation areas. The lawsuit, in the final analysis, the stormwater-
treatment areas that were a result of the lawsuit-settlement and the parts per
billion issues, the fifty and the ten, have all driven a lot of efforts toward improving
water-quality. I would say that could be a positive aspect of the lawsuit. I think the
SWIM program is the method of accomplishment. It is the plan for building in
these various components. So I think they have worked in concert [with] one
G: Was a final Everglades SWIM plan ever agreed to?
W: There was an Everglades SWIM plan, and I think it has been adopted. I mean, I
do not know that everybody will ever agree to it or, probably, anything else down
G: Is that separate, though, from the Everglades Forever Act?
W: The SWIM plan is a broad-encompassing entity, so the lawsuit settlement, the
Everglades Forever Act, whatever they ultimately resulted in, whatever is
required under those, get built into the SWIM plan.
G: How important was the passage of the Florida Preservation 2000 Act, in 1990?
W: I think it had tremendous and monumental importance, because it put
$3,000,000,000 over a ten-year period into land-acquisition in Florida. For many,
many years, I have been an advocate of land-acquisition as the principal means
of protecting the environment, because the alternative is regulation, and
regulation is an undesirable thing from many peoples perspective, but, more
important, [regulation] is ineffective in my opinion, except in limited-cases. But
protecting panther habitat and eagle habitat and large-animal habitats that have
big ranges, you cannot have urban-centers scattered around in the middle of
those kind of habitats and expect that creature to exist for any length of time. So,
the Preservation 2000 program has resulted in literally hundreds of thousands of
acres all over the state to be acquired. Certainly in the Everglades region, it has
been tremendous. [End of Side 1, Tape B.]
G: Where did the idea for Preservation 2000 program come from?
W: Some of Governor Martinez: staff... I think the director of the Office of Planning
and Budgeting, a lady named Patty Woodward, and I talked about it early on.
Actually, that program probably purely came out of the Office and Planning and
Budgeting, or the idea and proposal were actually generated from the
governor: s office. Patty Woodward, the director of the Office of Planning and
Budgeting, put a lot of personal time and effort in it, and I spent some time on it
G: What is your assessment of the recent decision by the state legislature to shift
Florida Forever funds, the successor to Preservation 2000, toward Everglades
restoration, thereby diverting general-revenue slated for Everglades restoration
to other purposes?
W: I think it was a bad idea, and the reason I think it was a bad idea is, number one,
it was a breach of a promise to, basically, the federal government that we would
not diminish other acquisition programs in funding the Everglades restoration, but
maybe more importantly is that is $75,000,000 of land-acquisition money that
could buy $75,000,000 worth of natural land that is gone. A secondary effect is it
slows down the acquisition-process, because all the people who have geared up
in the Department of Environmental Protection, working and negotiating and
planning further acquisitions, they have to gear down now because there is not
as much money coming down the pipeline for them. The Everglades program
was not originally intended [that way], although the legislature certainly has the
right to do what they think is right in trying to balance out funding across the
state, looking at tax-relief and health and social and education and criminal-
justice issues. They have a big balancing act, so I do not mean to criticize. I am
not criticizing the legislature. That is just not what I believe in. Diverting the
money is not what I believe in. I believe that money was intended to buy land,
that is what the program was set up for, and to put it in Everglades restoration so
the $75,000,000 in general-revenue can be put somewhere else is not the way I
view the way things should be.
G: How important were Everglades issues, particularly the ongoing part of the
lawsuit, to the 1990 governors race between Martinez and Lawton Chiles?
W: Well, it was a major factor. Governor Chiles, candidate Chiles at the time, was
basically saying the state is wrong and we need to settle this lawsuit, and that
played to the environmental community big-time.
G: Is that the principal reason that the environmental community largely supported
Lawton Chiles in the election?
W: That had a lot to do with it because Governor Martinez and his administration
was vigorously fighting the lawsuit, which pitted him and us against the
environmental community, as well as a large part of the federal government. So,
[Chiles:] campaigning in that regard was very effective. I mean, I do not think
that turned the election, but it was certainly a factor in the final vote-count.
G: Did the environmental community treat Governor Martinez: environmental-
W: No, they did not. Governor Martinez had a very good environmental-record, and
he always tried to do what he and his staff thought was right. I do not know a
compromise of the environment that was made during his administration, and I
can cite several accomplishments. Oil and gas drilling, he effectively prevented
that, it was his personal persuasion that caused Everglades National Park to be
expanded, the Kissimmee restoration continued very well and vigorously, and
other features of the Everglades restoration moved along very well because he
was a strong supporter. But as I said, the lawsuit put everybody in opposite
G: How about the media? Did they treat his environmental-record fairly?
W: I do not think so, again, because the media largely, at least at that point in time,
was listening to the environmental community. The governor and his staff could
talk all day to the media, and it did not have nearly the effect than an
environmental spokesman from some organization saying, they are selling the
Everglades down the river because there is a lawsuit and they will not roll over.
G: How did you become part of Governor Chiles: staff?
W: I had known Lawton Chiles when he was in the U.S. Senate. I had known him for
several years. I can remember his famous camp out over in Osceola National
Forest when he was advocating the purchase of some property over in the
Osceola and the prevention of phosphate-mining in the Osceola. We camped out
there. I can remember one night, the night we camped, it got down to about
fifteen degrees and we almost froze to death. He and I had gone back a long
way, so when he was elected governor, having known me and I think had a fairly
positive perception, he decided to keep me on. One of his aides from
Washington had come down with him and was the director of the Office of
Planning and Budgeting, a fellow named Doug Cook. Doug Cook and I became
good friends. Doug Cook was a very nice guy, and I enjoyed working with Doug,
and Doug was my immediate boss, so it was pretty easy.
G: How would you characterize Governor Chiles: leadership style?
W: Governor Chiles came in as governor with a long-standing and sterling reputation
as being particularly a human-services-type advocate. He really cared about
people. I think people were his strong suit. He had a good reputation regarding
oil and gas drilling off-coast and a good reputation regarding the Big Cypress
Swamp B he was the sponsor of the Big Cypress legislation in Congress. So he
came with a very good reputation. His management style, I would say he a was
reasonably laid-back kind of guy, and he let his staff carry a heavy load.
G: How high a priority was settling the federal lawsuit for Governor Chiles?
W: It was very high priority. He made the famous speech of Al surrender my sword.@
It was really a major priority for his first several months in office.
G: Could you describe the process of negotiations that led to the state-federal
settlement in July of 1991?
W: I was not particularly involved in those negotiations, but I personally was not too
enthusiastic about that. Carol Browner [later director of the EPA under President
Bill Clinton], who was then the secretary of the Department of Environmental
Regulation was the principal negotiator for the state. Basically, as far as I can tell,
we yielded quite a bit to the Department of Interior, Justice Department, U.S.
Attorney :s office and the environmental community. I think Florida yielded to a
lot of their demands.
G: Some of the negotiations were held behind closed-doors, something that
Candidate Chiles had criticized Governor Martinez for doing during the
campaign. Why did Governor Chiles decide that private-negotiations were
necessary to settle the lawsuit?
W: I was not that involved in the negotiations. That was basically something that
Secretary of DER Browner was handling. [In] legal negotiations, sometimes [that]
is the only way to get anything done. I mean, it is difficult enough under the [best]
of circumstances and if you have got an audience, it is very, very difficult. I know
just from side-observations that this was a difficult situation. I think had it not
been done by the way it was done, [it may] still be going on.
G: You mentioned Governor Chiles: surrender in federal court. How important of an
action was that?
W: I think that was a monumental action. It was, we concede. That is what the words
G: How did that change the process and negotiations?
W: It was owning up to an admission, we were wrong, and therefore that certainly
swung [the case].
G: Why do you think the governor decided to do that at that particular time?
W: The governor campaigned along those lines, that we should not be polluting the
Everglades, that we should not be fighting against this noble cause to clean up
pollution from the Everglades. I think he felt we were on the wrong side of the
G: Did you and the other people around the governor know he was going to do this
before he did it?
W: I did not know that he was going to do the Surrender-the-Sword speech.
G: Why did the sugar-industry oppose the federal-state settlement so strongly?
W: Well, the federal-state settlement did not benefit their interests. I think the
sugarcane-industry felt that if the state [could have] won the case. Back in time
six months, if that state position had prevailed, that it would have had less impact
G: What was your view on the Statement of Principles agreement B two years later,
now B that was announced by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt in July of 1993?
W: I do not remember those principles in particular, but what I do recall of that, they
were positive kind of, you know, nice principles.
G: That agreement, which was between the state and the players in the sugar-
industry basically, broke down subsequently. Do you know why the sugar
companies later backed out of that agreement?
W: No, I do not remember.
G: In the spring of 1994, there was a debate within the state legislature over three
different plans for cleaning up the Everglades, one by Rick Dansler, one by Kurt
Kaiser, and one by Governor Chiles. What were the essential differences
between these plans, and how was the final compromise reached that became
the Everglades Forever Act?
W: As I recall the Kaiser Plan was a little more on the side of the environmental
community in advocating parts per billion in a little more forceful way. The whole
debate really got confused. I remember that David Guest was the principal
negotiator for the environmental community. Through those negotiations, a
compromise was finally reached. I think there are lots of people who did not
agree with the compromise. I think the environmental community were not
completely satisfied. But as I recall, the Rick Dansler version of the bill is what
finally passed. [Tape interruption.]
G: What is your evaluation of the Everglades Forever Act?
W: I think the Everglades Forever Act was a good compromise, and it laid out a plan
for some progressive improvements in the Everglades. I think it was a good piece
G: Can you discuss the controversy over the Frog Pond area that nearly prevented
the passage of the Everglades Forever Act?
W: There had been a controversy about the Frog Pond for many, many years. As I
recall, some people would have liked to have had the Frog Pond condemnation
or purchase built right into the Everglades Forever Act. As with any
environmental legislative negotiations, almost anything can derail an issue. I
never thought that the Frog Pond controversy needed to be a part of that
anyway. I mean, it was a little isolated issue that got thrown into the mix. It finally
got resolved, but it certainly did not have to be resolved in the Everglades
G: Marjory Stoneman Douglas refused to have her name placed on the Everglades
Forever Act. Why were many of the environmental groups so critical of the
agreement and this law that came out of the agreement?
W: I think the environmentalists, which is not unusual, were pushing for more, just
always pushing for more, and when they did not get exactly what they wanted,
there was criticism.
G: How much of a lasting impact did the federal lawsuit have on the relationships
between the various actors involved in the Everglades?
W: I think it had and may still have an effect. I think that the lawsuit was kind of the
breaking up of a concerted and friendly relationship to the point that even now
there is a lot of distrust between some of the federal agencies and the state and
the Water Management District and the environmental community. All of that, I
think, was and is the fallout of the Everglades lawsuit. It had momentous impact
on tearing people apart, emotionally and as friends and allies in a common
G: What was the reaction of the Chiles administration when Dexter Lehtinen, acting
on behalf of the Miccosukee Tribe, sued to overturn the Everglades Forever Act
in July of 1994?
W: Well, he certainly was not happy about that. I mean, it was not a happy
occurrence. But Lawton Chiles had been around a long time, and he took things
G: Why were the Miccosukee opposed to the Everglades Forever Act?
W: I think the Miccosukees felt that it did not do enough to protect their interests,
particularly in water-quality, water-flow onto and around lands that they either
own or control or use.
G: Should the court continue to have an oversight role in the cleanup process?
W: This is just my opinion B I think not. I think having some federal court overseeing
what the state is obviously trying to do, it is a little bit insulting, from my
perspective, and the reason being is that, I was a part of the original effort with
Bob Graham to formulate an effort to clean up the Everglades when there was
very little going on at the time, and the federal government was not paying any
attention at all, except a quip here and there. They were building parks and
managing parks and wildlife refuges and things like that, and the Corps was
carrying on its work. We brought together a massive and ongoing effort that is
still going on, notwithstanding all of the fractionization and the lawsuit and the
intervention of the federal court system, and I thought we were doing quite well. I
am convinced we were doing quite well without the intervention of the U.S.
attorney and now the Justice Department and all of the oversight. I honestly think
we would be further along at this point had those things not happened, and I
think the state, with the cooperation of the federal government, is certainly
capable of doing it without a federal judge being up there to look down on us.
G: Describe the efforts by the Chiles administration to gain congressional
authorization for the Kissimmee River restoration in the form of the Water
Resources Development Act of 1992.
W: We did a lot of lobbying in concert with the South Florida Water Management
District. The South Florida Water Management District had individuals that spent
a lot of time in Washington, and we were there from time to time. This was a very
high priority, it was one of the highest priorities, and we worked very, very hard to
get that done, and Senator Graham was certainly there to help.
G: How important is the Kissimmee restoration to the overall Everglades restoration
W: The Kissimmee restoration, I mean, it depends on how you perceive what we
were and are trying to do. We are trying to restore the natural system. The
Kissimmee River restoration is a tangible and visible piece of that. The
restoration of the marshes along the Kissimmee cannot do anything but help the
long-term water-quality of Lake Okeechobee, but [just as] important, as we
advocated the restoration of the Kissimmee, was to restore the wildlife habitat
and the wetlands that once existed on the Kissimmee. So, I think that the
Kissimmee restoration is a vital part of it. In recent years, most of the talk and
writing and advocacy has been toward restoring more natural flow through the
Everglades themselves, that being south of Lake Okeechobee. But, in my
opinion, the restoration of the Kissimmee and the re-creation of the natural river
is as important as any other part of the Everglades restoration.
G: By the early 1990s, massive seagrass die-off and algae-bloom helped bring
attention to the problems of Florida Bay. How did the Chiles administration
respond to these problems?
W: When the Florida Bay algae-blooms and seagrass die-off began to occur, a lot of
people were speculating on what was the cause. Most everybody, the big
snowball that began to roll down the hill was that the Water Management District
and the water-management system had cut off flow in Florida Bay, and that had
caused it to go hyper-saline and therefore die. I was the governor: s principal
person involved in that, and I was never convinced that the advocates of that
theory knew for a fact that was the case. Therefore, we, the Chiles
administration, got a lot of heat and flak for not jumping down the throat of the
South Florida Water Management District and proclaiming that was the cause of
the problem in Florida Bay. The reason I questioned it is because prior thereto, in
1989 and 1990, the flow in Florida Bay had been greatly increased by alterations
that had been made to increase flow through Northeast Shark River Slough. So,
that did not make entirely good sense to me, but, you know, I was one voice in
the wilderness. I think that history will probably show the die-off of grass and the
algae-blooms in Florida Bay were caused by some external effect of weather and
currents coming in from the Gulf and factors such as that, rather than to blame it
on water-flow out of the Everglades, because water-flow out of the Everglades
had been increased in years prior to. So, none of that set too well with me. I have
always been an advocate of objectivity. I just never did like for some blame to be
laid and then everybody pile on whether you know the answer or not. That was
declared the reason for the Florida Bay problems just by public opinion or opinion
of George Barley [environmental activist] and a lot of the other environmental
community who said, that is the reason and do not question me or we will cause
G: Why did Governor Chiles oppose the penny-a-pound tax, both when it was
proposed by the Clinton administration and again when it was proposed in the
state: s constitutional amendment by the Save Our Everglades group?
W: I think the governor never felt that the constitution was the way to impose a tax
on a particular and single industry. It was not that he had a problem with cleaning
up the Everglades or that he had a problem with the sugarcane-industry paying
what they should pay, but to impose a tax vis-a-vis the constitution for that
industry to be singularly laid out to pay for the cleanup of the Everglades
whereas in reality there are a lot of other contributors to the problems of the
Everglades other than the sugarcane-industry. But I think the governor just had a
philosophical problem with the methods being used.
G: Was he more favorable towards the proposal by the Clinton administration to
have a federal penny-a-pound tax?
W: I do not recall him being enthusiastic about either one of them.
G: Why would he have been opposed to the federal government taking that action?
W: I do not recall him taking a position on that.
G: Did the Chiles administration also take a position on the related Polluter Pays
Amendment, Amendment Five?
W: I do not think that he took a position on those amendments.
G: What impact, if any, did Chiles: opposition to the penny-a-pound tax have on his
relationship with the environmental community?
W: I would say in his second term, the environmental community was never very
engaging with the governor. They sort of kept distance.
G: Why do you think that was?
W: Well, the governor was a strong independent person. He did a lot of things for the
environment, and he certainly listened to the environmentalists, but he was not
prone to bow down to every demand. As a result, the environmental community
cooled a little bit toward him toward the latter part of his administration.
G: Did the penny-a-pound issue play a part in that?
W: I do not know. It could very well have because it was such a high profile, high
emotional issue, even though the lieutenant governor did support the penny-a-
G: What impact do you think that Buddy MacKay: s support for that initiative had on
his future political fortunes?
W: It had a negative impact, in my opinion, because the entire agriculture community
and a lot of the business community itself perceived Buddy MacKay as being
anti-[business]. The sugar-industry, being a major industry in Florida, you know,
his support for the penny-a-pound went far beyond the sugar-industry; it
[reverberated] through the entire agriculture community and a lot of the business
community, so it hurt him.
G: Did that also play a role in affecting the fortunes of the Democratic party in the
state of Florida?
W: I do not know. I could not say on that.
G: How much of an impact did the whole penny-a-pound debate affect the
relationship between Governor Chiles and the Clinton administration?
W: I do not think it had any effect. I think Governor Chiles had a very positive and
friendly relationship with the Clinton administration from beginning to end. Bruce
Babbitt was always a very close friend of the governor: s and supported
Florida: s issues.
G: Could you talk about the effort to get federal money in support of environmental
restoration in 1996 as part of the Farm Bill?
W: As I recall, we were trying to get money for the Everglades in the WRDA Bill, and
as it turned out, the vehicle used was the Farm Bill. We were not particularly
pushing money in the Farm Bill; we were pushing money, thinking it would be in
the Water Resources Development Act, but in that it showed up in the Farm Bill
was still very positive.
G: At that time, you had kind of competing initiatives. Vice President Gore came
down here and announced, I think it was, a $600,000,000 proposal at Everglades
National Park. Senator Bob Dole had his proposal. How in tune was the governor
with that? How much of the initiative came from the federal actors, and how
involved were the governor and some of the state actors?
W: As I recall, we were happy to see the competition for doing something for Florida,
but we were not part of the orchestration of that, other than trying to answer
questions and so forth. We were happy and pleased that it was happening, but it
was not necessarily our instigation directly.
G: What was that money primarily used for?
W: The Farm Bill money? Well, it was used a lot for land-acquisition. I think the
Talisman property was acquired with Farm Bill money.
G: Why do you think the sugar-industry was victorious in defeated the penny-a-
W: They spent some between $35,000,000 and $45,000,000 on TV ads in
opposition to it. That is probably the answer right there. The general public, you
know, the guy who lives down the street here in Tallahassee is just not tuned in
to that. A lot of people were not tuned in to it, and the sugar-industry appealing to
people: s concern about the biased or anti-business nature of the amendment
apparently won the day. The short answer is they spent a lot of money and did a
lot of TV advertising, and that is the way you win elections.
G: How important was the establishment of the Governor:s Commission for
Sustainable South Florida to the overall restoration effort?
W: I think it was very significant. I keep harkening back to the lawsuit, and I think the
work of that Commission, you know, it did not put Humpty Dumpty back together
again but it certainly brought the different interests back to the same table and
got people talking over time in almost a consensus fashion. It was very, very
useful and accomplished a lot toward the herding back in the corral.
G: Where did the idea for the Commission come from?
W: Linda Shelly, when she was secretary of the Department of Community Affairs
under Governor Chiles, said she had a conversation with Senator Graham who
brought up that subject for the first time, and from there, the idea was tossed
around in the governor: s office. Most everybody thought it was a good idea, so
the governor decided to go ahead and create the Commission.
G: How involved were you personally with the Governor:s Commission and its
W: I was closely involved. I was involved in the writing of the executive order that
created it and making recommendations on the participants. I went to a lot of the
meetings, and I sat down with Pettigrew quite a few times. Dick Pettigrew [former
Florida legislator and head of the Governor: s Commission for a Sustainable
South Florida] had been out of government for years and years and years, so he
needed a little reorientation. I tried to help orient him and stay up with it. I stayed
up with the Commission pretty well.
G: Can you talk about Dick Pettigrew: s contribution as head of the Commission?
W: Yes. I was involved with recommending him as chairman of the Commission. He
had a very good reputation as a legislator, and he was a lawyer in Miami. Dick is
a soft-spoken, smart, good handler of legislative-type settings and dealing with
crowd control, and that was a very big commission. There are not many people
who could have done it and would have had the patience and perseverance to
stay with it the way Dick did. I think Dick was absolutely vital. He was a star
performer. Like with almost anything else, whether it is the government, head of
state, head of a city commission, head of any other kind of commission, it is the
personalities that count. Dick Pettigrew had the right personality and
temperament, patience, and debating ability and so forth to make it work and
keep people coming back, and he had enough prestige in his image and
character as to escalate the Commission to a little higher plane than if we had
some unknown character in there. Dick was absolutely critical to the success.
G: How was the Commission able to reach a consensus in 1996 that led to its
approval of the conceptual plan for Everglades restoration?
W: Again, that was largely the ability of Dick Pettigrew to keep people at the table
and make them keep working. You can have a group of people talk about any
subject and reach a consensus if you can keep them at the table long enough to
talk about it enough. Because the more people discuss an issue, the more the
differences evaporate away B that is just a natural human reaction. Dick had the
capability of keeping people interested and calling meetings and keeping the
subject high-enough profile and enough of importance to the media and the
public that people kept coming back because they knew that it was important.
You did not want to jump off the train [or] you would get left, so you stay on the
train, and if you stay on it long enough, you finally reach agreement. I have used
the comparison, if the Israelis and Palestinians could reach an accord several
years ago, which they did, anybody can reach an accord on anything if that could
G: How would you compare this commission established by Governor Chiles with
Jeb Bush:s Governor:s Commission for the Everglades?
W: Now, I understand that Bush: s Commission has been dis-established, so it was
fairly short-lived. Also, the make-up was quite different. The Chiles Commission
was very carefully put together to make sure that there was a complete balance
of all interests. The Bush Commission did not seem to quite have the same
balance or make-up, and it started off so contentious that it almost self-
G: How important was the establishment of the South Florida Restoration Task
Force in 1993?
W: It was important because, although it started off principally as a federal task
force, then it was broadened to include the state, the [South] Florida Water
Management District. Then later, the Indian tribes were included, and it was even
broadened to include some local-government representatives. It was important
as a formal mechanism that allowed [dialogue between] the state and federal
government and even among ourselves or the federal agencies among
themselves, but more importantly, the state and the federal agencies [had]
created a forum for us to discuss differences, issues. The restudy, for example,
was greatly furthered by the work of the Task Force. I think the restudy was
actually signed off on by this Task Force, without which it would have been very
difficult to ever have gotten consensus on the restudy. [End of Side 2, Tape B.]
G: How involved were you personally with the Task Force and its Working Group?
W: I basically represented the state of Florida, or the governor, on that Task Force,
so I was very much involved from the beginning to the time that I left.
G: What other actors were critical to setting up the Task Force and getting it to
W: Bruce Babbitt attended several of the meetings, but he had persons who were
chairmen of the Task Force. The National Park Service was always very
prominently involved, and the chairman of the board of the South Florida Water
Management District was also an active member. But this Task Force was really
created by the Department of Interior originally and then later broadened to
include the state and the tribes.
G: Could you describe the process of decision making within the Task Force and its
W: Rock Salt was the executive director of the Task Force, and Rock pretty much
put the agenda together based on networking. I talked with Rock a lot during that
period about what we ought to be doing and trying to accomplish with the Task
Force. Rock would talk with various members and put the agenda together. It
was mostly, by and large, a matter of consensus. I always thought that one of the
weaknesses of the Task Force is it had no means of causing the change of
action by, particularly, a federal agency, in that it had no authority to either
overrule or cause a federal agency to do anything other than what it would have
otherwise done. I thought that the original benefit of the Task Force would have
been to resolve conflicts between the state and federal government. It did that to
some degree just by lengthy discussion. In the case of the Cape Sable sparrow,
for example, which was a contentious issue, still is... I have never particularly
agreed with the Department of Interior: s or the Park Service: s and the Fish and
Wildlife Service: s point of view on that issue and still do not. I do not think the
resolution was a logical one, in my opinion. But the Task Force was helpless to
affect a change, other than discuss it at length and hope that would help. That is
my criticism of the Task Force. On the other hand, it is important to have such an
entity, because it does give you opportunities and it has got the potential for
resolving conflicts and moving the whole issue forward, because as the
Everglades program gained in image and notoriety and the federal government
entered as a major player, wanting to be the savior of the Everglades as much as
the state wanted to be the savior of the Everglades, it was almost necessary to
create some kind of forum for semi-informal discussions. Otherwise, we have too
many conflicting interests, too many hungry mouths at the trough B somebody
can get bit doing that.
G: What is the relationship between the Task Force itself and its Working Group?
W: The Working Group is a subset of the Task Force. The Working Group is
supposed to be doing the day-to-day work, so to speak, and putting together
more formal proposals for the Task Force. The actual decision, the Task Force
itself is made up of very high-level federal and state officials who do not have
time themselves to dig into issues and analyze issues and put together
proposals. So, the Working Group is made up of employees of the principals who
are to check out issues and put together proposals and bring them to the Task
Force for more formal approval.
G: What do you think the Task Force: s role should be in the restoration effort as it
W: It should continued to do what it does, which is try to scope out ideas for how to
make the restoration plan better, or the restudy, the CERP [comprehensive
Everglades restoration plan], better. What has been very frustrating over the
years in the Everglades struggle is trying to resolve conflicts among these
agencies that all have some kind of responsibility. The classic example is always
the Endangered Species Act. If you are trying to restore flow into an area that
was dried out artificially twenty years ago or fifty years ago, such as parts of
Everglades National Park, and an endangered species, a more upland-oriented
endangered species, happens to have moved into that area because it was dried
out, and then that stops you from restoring the area and you wind up doing an
artificial-manipulation to protect that upland species that is sitting out there in
dried-out Everglades. To me, that is absurd, but we do it, and we would probably
do it again if another endangered species shows up in the wrong place. But the
Task Force, I mean, there is no other way to resolve those issues. I think the
Task Force ought to engage that. But that is difficult and controversial, and
nobody wants to touch a controversial issue if they can help it. It is just when they
get jammed in it.
G: The Task Force does not have authority to direct agencies to take action.
G: Would you like to see it have that authority?
W: I would like it to have some authority for causing serious negotiations and then
pass on some recommendations to somebody, either to the head of the agency
or to Congress, to get some relief from whatever the impediment is. There needs
to be some relief when you run into impossible situations. There just should be
some mechanism for relief there, and the Task Force is the best opportunity I can
G: How much input did Governor Chiles: office have in the Corps of Engineers:
W: We were monitoring and staying involved, but we were basically and mostly in
reliance on the South Florida Water Management District, which the governor
appointed to stay tuned to the day-to-day negotiations. The Department of
Environmental Protection was also monitoring the issue. I was involved to some
degree. I did not read every letter and memo that was exchanged, but we were
familiar with the restudy.
G: Were you satisfied that the state was having an adequate voice in the restudy
W: We never had any problem in being listened to when we wanted to make a point.
That was not a problem. We kind of viewed the Corps of Engineers as doing
objective work on the restudy, although there were politics whirling around the
edges. I mean, the interest groups were trying to get positioned relative to the
restudy. We relied a lot on the Governor:s Commission for South Florida and
relied on the South Florida Water Management District [and] the Department of
Environmental Protection. We had some faith and trust in the process that the
Corps of Engineers had set up because it looked like a fair and objective process
for putting the restudy together.
G: What is your assessment of the Comprehensive Restoration Plan that came out
of the restudy process?
W: Understand and take into account that everybody was impatient. Nobody, the
environmental community, the federal government, the state of Florida, nobody
wanted to take anymore time to figure out how to restore the Everglades. There
was great impatience, which put the Corps of Engineers behind quite a time-
constraint. They were rushed to get this done in the period of time. Considering
all that was trying to be done, taking all that into consideration, I think that it is as
best they could do. I personally worry a little bit that we may have, in a lot of
cases, created a more complicated man-made solution to the problem created by
a man-made solution than nature can tolerate. In other words, I worry that fifty
years from now, somebody will be sitting there asking my grandson, how in the
world was your [granddad involved in this project down there called the Restudy
and the Everglades is so screwed up, on account thereof we may never get it
fixed. Now, I hope that never happens, but we have engineered a solution to an
engineering problem, largely, and I hope it works, but I do not know, and I do not
know if anybody knows. I do know that we will never have an Everglades like it
was 150 years ago, because there is too much that depends on the water,
whatever water comes down the system. I have never thought that we could get
it back or necessarily should get it back unless the population moves out of
South Florida. I am just not certain in my own mind how all this is going to work.
ASR [aquifer storage and recovery] may or may not work. The STAs [stormwater
treatment areas] may work for a while [but] may not work over the long term. A
lot of the features that we are really hoping and praying for and spending a lot of
money on may or may not be a long-term solution.
G: Some environmental groups have suggested that the Corps needs to develop
some sort of backup plan if the things that you have just been talking about, like
ASR and the STAs, do not work. Is that a prudent thing that we should be doing?
W: Well, I think the Corps uses the word iterative-process, which, as I understand it,
this is kind an on-going study and analysis of features that are being installed, as
well as looking at the future. So, I think there is kind of a backup plan as a built-in
part of this one, which allows B and they use another term B adaptive-
management, that allows adaptations to new findings and failure as we go. But to
say that we are going to do another plan and have it over here just in case this
one does not work, then, you know, the next question will be, well, let us just do
the new plan and forget about the old one. I do not think that on the face that
makes a lot of sense that you just have another plan in your vault that you pull
out in case this one does not work.
G: Who, if anyone, should have the final say in directing the restoration?
W: I think it has got to be a combination of the governor and either the president or
the presidents designate.
G: Do you think that is the case now?
W: Yeah, I think that is the case.
G: In May of 1998, Governor Chiles vetoed two bills. The first would have required
the Water Management District to use state rather than federal condemnation
laws. The second would have required the legislature to authorize state-spending
for each restoration project. Why were these bills so controversial?
W: Neither one of the bills were controversial during the legislative session. They
became controversial after the session when some of the environmental-
community, after either having supported or not opposed them, came out after
the fact and urged the governor: s veto. There was a presidential election
coming. The one about the state approving of funding before a project goes
forward was actually supported by some of the environmental-community during
the session. After the session ended, the environmental-community really rallied,
and even Congress began to pitch in, saying these will impede the Everglades
restoration and funding from Congress. I can remember the House
Appropriations Committee Chairman [Ralph] Regula got involved in this debate
and, I believe, called the governor about it. But the governor was catching an
awful lot of flak, and there was a gubernatorial election approaching. The
lieutenant governor was urging the governor to veto these bills, and, indeed, the
governor vetoed the bills.
G: What specifically about the bills was it that the environmental-community was
W: The environmental-community thought, or at least argued, I guess, post-session
that one of the bills would have benefitted maybe the sugar-industry, because it
allowed the state, or required the state, to sign off on a restudy-component
before it went forward. Now, that is arguable, and I certainly would disagree with
that point of view. The state should have the right to be involved in this restudy
any way it wants to, so I did not agree with that. On the federal-state eminent-
domain [the power of a government to purchase property deemed necessary for
the public good] issue, that bill was carefully worked out and negotiated because
I did the negotiations on the bill myself, and it was agreed [on]; all of the
demands we made were accepted by the bill-sponsors. The main issue that was
debated was, when you are condemning property in the Upper Kissimmee Basin,
whether the Water Management District can just contract with the Corps of
Engineers and then use the federal eminent-domain process, which, you know,
does not give a land-owner [as] many rights B I mean, they come in and a federal
magistrate will basically take your property, they set the price, and it is kind of cut
and dry B versus the state eminent-domain process, which DOT and all the other
state agencies use. And if the state is going to be spending money, why should
we not use the state eminent-domain process, which is considered far and wide
to be at least fair to the property-owners? But the opponents of that said it was
going to cost us so much more. Well, I was talking to the Corps of Engineers
over in Jacksonville, and they said it is probably not going to make any difference
one way or the other, as far as they could tell. But anyway, that was the great
debate, and the governor vetoed the bills.
G: Some environmental groups painted these bills as kind of an end-run by the
sugar-industry of using their influence in the legislature and thereby
circumventing the kind of consensus decision-making process. Is that a fair
W: No. The bill about federal eminent-domain had nothing at all, zero, to do with the
sugar-industry. It only dealt with the Upper Kissimmee Basin, and there is no
sugar-industry interest in the Upper Kissimmee Basin. The sugar-industry had an
interest in the other bill, but so did a lot of other people that were not sugar
interests. I would say the criticism of that bill, the bill that had the state sign-off of
restudy components, would come closer to being consistent with the criticism,
even though I do not necessarily concur with that. The other bill had nothing at all
to do with the sugar-industry.
G: How important was the Talisman land-purchase to the overall restoration effort?
W: That has yet to be determined, but the Talisman acquisition was the single
biggest acquisition and probably the single-biggest opportunity for restoration
that we have had, in terms of land-buying and potentially building stormwater-
treatment areas. I mean, if you ascribe to the concept of building retention-areas
to hold water back, then the Talisman is the granddaddy of them all. Whether or
not that concept works is yet to be determined.
G: So that land will eventually be used for the stormwater-treatment areas?
W: It was purchased with the intention of having it for that purpose, if we ever design
an actual plan for its use. So, yes, it was bought with the intention of water-
G: Why did the sugar companies initially oppose this purchase?
W: For a couple reasons. One, they felt like it was just another chink in their armor,
another invasion of their territory, because they feel quite an ownership to the
EAA. For the federal government to come in there and buy it out like that was
very disconcerting to them. They also are very much afraid that this will increase
the appetite for more. Then, to some degree, they were concerned about impacts
on their land from retaining water on it.
G: Can you describe Governor Chiles: involvement with the Talisman purchase?
W: Again, Governor Chiles strongly favored the Talisman purchase, I mean, to the
extent of dispatching myself and Bill Malone, who was the chief land-acquisition
guy down at the South Florida Water Management District. Bill Malone was really
the government: s main spokesman. I went to numerous meetings with Bill
Malone representing the state: s interests, Bill Malone and I, on behalf of the
governor. The governor was a strong advocate of the Talisman acquisition.
G: How important was his involvement to finally reach a compromise on the issue?
W: It was very important, because the sugar-industry was right in the middle of the
mix, because this involved trading land with both Flo-Sun and U. S. Sugar, and it
involved the Sugarcane Coop[erative]. For it to work out, it had to be signed off
on by the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, three
sugar companies, the South Florida Water Management District, the state of
Florida. From the state :s perspective, the governor was pushing very hard. I
mean, he was not trying to advantage anybody, he was just trying to get the best
deal for the state, and we did get a good deal for the state and the South Florida
Water Management District. It took some persuasion to get the federal agencies,
kind of, off-the-dime. At that point in time, the environmental-community was not
particularly enamored with us, but they were very much involved with the federal
agencies in trying to get their point of view accepted. It made it very difficult,
because anytime you involve a sugar company or sugar companies, the
environmentalists are either extremely skeptical to somewhere being extremely
negative. That made it very difficult to negotiate this because it involved the
sugar-industry, and the environmental community still does not get along with
them too well.
G: How important were Everglades issues to the 1998 governor: s race between
Jeb Bush and Buddy MacKay?
W: I think Buddy MacKay certainly tried very hard to use the environment to his
advantage, and the Everglades. I mentioned two vetoes were certainly
recommended by Buddy MacKay, but I do not think it helped him very much
because, at the same time, a lot of the environmental-community was supporting
Bush anyway, just wagering political bets.
G: Do you mean the environmental-community was supporting MacKay?
W: No, Bush.
G: They were supporting Bush?
W: Some of them were supporting Bush, I mean, just hedging their bets. Bush was
so far ahead of Buddy MacKay all through the race that some of the
environmentalists favored Bush because that was a safe bet. MacKay, in my
opinion B and as I said, I am not a political analyst or politically-inspired for that
matter B but the more Buddy MacKay talked about the environment, the more it
irritated the agricultural-community and the business-community. So, whatever]
environmental support MacKay got, I think Bush got a lot more positive fallout
from it than MacKay benefitted from it.
G: So, the environmental groups, those that supported Bush, you view that more as
they wanted to be on the winning side rather than endorsing him as a candidate?
G: Did Buddy MacKay feel betrayed by the fact that the environmentalists did not go
to bat for him, even though the Chiles administration had done so much for the
W: I really never talked to Buddy after the election. I do not know how he felt. But the
environmentalists certainly did not line up and campaign hard for him. He worked
very hard to be an environmental candidate and tried to do whatever he could,
and it did not seem to have much pay-off for him in terms of big environmental-
endorsements and so forth [nor] got him any particular publicity.
G: Did you have any interest in working long-term for Jeb Bush: s administration?
W: I guess I was close to burn-out back in about 1997. Particularly in the Chiles
administration, working for eight years in the Chiles administration, they had put
a lot of responsibility on the policy-coordinators, I was the environmental policy-
coordinator, and I had so much responsibility and long hours and a heavy load
that, by 1997, I was thinking seriously about leaving government. In 1998, I was
even talking to people in the office about leaving. I never did, because I am
conservative and just hung in. But, no, I had thirty years by the time Jeb Bush
came in, and, I mean, it was time for me to go. So, I gracefully left at a good time
G: How would you evaluate Governor Bush: s leadership on Everglades issues
since taking office?
W: He has certainly supported the funding of the Everglades program, helped or
crafted or pushed through the Everglades funding-bill. I think that was quite an
accomplishment. The governor has done the right things, made the right moves
from an environmental position, so from that angle, I think he has done very well.
G: One of the more controversial things that he has supported was the injection of
untreated water as part of aquifer storage and recovery. What is your view on
W: I personally think that issue was a little bit overblown. First off, we are talking
about injecting surface-water. We are not talking about injecting sewage. We are
talking about taking surface-water and injecting into brackish-water aquifers,
where nobody drinks it anyway. I never did get it, because you are taking water
that you would not want to drink without treating it anyway, putting it into a part of
the aquifer very deep, I mean, below several confining layers, where the chance
of it bubbling up or whatever is absolutely remote with a very careful monitoring
network around it. But you are putting it in brackish water where it is not going to
be pumped out and drank anyway. That issue is one of those that somehow got
amplified to the degree that it got off the Richter-scale. I think the criticism is
unfounded there. I am not advocating that bill. I have no particular position one
way or the other, but I thought that the bill was fairly reasonable myself.
G: Have you continued to be involved with Everglades-related activities since
leaving state government?
W: Yes. I am in private consulting now, and one of my clients is Camp, Dresser, and
McKee, the engineering-consulting firm. They are a world-wide firm with eleven
offices in Florida, and they have gotten involved in the Everglades. Part of what I
do for them is keep up with legislation and Everglades issues, so that if
engineering design opportunities come along through, particularly, the Corps of
Engineers, then we can hopefully compete for them. So that causes me to stay
G: Thinking about your entire experience in dealing with Everglades issues, to what
extent have attitudes towards the Everglades changed during that time?
W: I am just going to make a wild guess here, but if you go back to, say, 1970 and
ask anybody in Cleveland or Liverpool, England, or in Tallahassee, Florida, what
did they think about the Everglades, or did they like it, or have they ever heard of
it or have any conception of what it is, they would probably say no. You might
find 10,000 people, I mean, the advocates who lived in the area and the
environmentalists I have talked about and government people B it would be a
very small percentage of the people on Earth. Today, you could probably ask
somebody in Moscow or Morocco and they would know what the Florida
Everglades are, because of the world-wide publicity that has occurred as this
program has moved forward. No politician can run for office in Florida, for state-
wide office, whether it is Congress or senate or governor or legislator from South
Florida, without being vocally and publicly-supportive of restoring the Everglades
and funding it and whatever it takes. That was not the case, it was nonexistent,
back thirty years ago. There has been a world of change, and that started in
1983 when Graham put out his little issue-paper. Because what happened when
the environmental community and the press began to realize that this was not
just a one-day publicity stunt that Bob Graham was trying to do and that he was
really serious, and that through the rest of his administration, he worked very
hard, day-to-day, endlessly, to further the Everglades restoration, it was not long,
it did not take long, after the initiation that people realized this was serious and
we had a good argument and it made sense and we could do it because we were
doing it and we were holding ourselves accountable. It caught on, and the press
embraced it. [Tape interrupted.] Another thing I did not mention in here that has
really been significant, in 1985, Governor Graham [and] the state hosted the first
annual conference of the Everglades Coalition. His office, I mean, my office,
which was myself and an administrative assistant and one other person, actually
set up that conference, sold the tickets and organized the whole thing. We held it
at Port of the Islands. We conducted the second one at River Ranch Estates and
the third one back at Port of the Islands. We had press from all over the country,
the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning-News, the Boston Globe, the
New York Times, the Atlanta Constitution, all of the Florida newspapers. A lot of
magazines were there. Just tremendous press, television-press and written-
press, at the Everglades Coalition Conferences, and those conferences drew the
federal agencies, agency heads and vice-presidents, and senators, and the
press came in great numbers. So the Everglades program has probably gotten,
well, without doubt, more good positive press than any other program that I
would know of in the country, and therefore it has been widely read about
throughout the world.
G: How important is it to maintain public-support for the success of the restoration
W: It is critical. I mean, without it, it withers and dies.
G: Do you think it is going to be possible to maintain that support if you see a
conflict between growth and the environment? We see a debate now about water
restrictions, for example, in South Florida. Is that going to undermine public
W: It could be a real problem. If there is a real or perceived conflict between water
supplies for southeast Florida and water levels in the Everglades, the populace
that needs the water is most likely to get the water. That could be a problem.
Those are risks of an extremely ambitious restoration plan, of trying to restore
natural hydro-periods in the Everglades. If that comes at the expense of water
supplies for the urban southeast coast, then there is a problem in the making.
G: To what extent does the current restoration initiative embodied in both the
Corps: comprehensive plan and the state: s Everglades Forever Act represent a
change from the earlier management efforts?
W: Well, if you are talking about the earlier management efforts back in the early
1970s, in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, management of the Everglades, the
principal concerns then were flood-control and water-supply to the extent that it
was an issue. Today, restoration of the Everglades is the main focus, which is a
complete reversal from thirty years ago.
G: How are we going to know if we have achieved success in the restoration?
W: We will define it however we decide to define it. I think on any given day, a
politician will say either it is dying and I am going to fix it, or, it is okay now and
good because I am working on it, depending on their perspective. It is all largely
a matter of perception. You can go to the Everglades today and either ride
through it or fly over it and spend a half a day and not see anything but green
grass and healthy trees, and you say, what is wrong with this? But you can sit in
Gainesville, Florida, and read rhetoric and say, it is all dying and it is going to
hell. It is a matter of perception. I think that whether we are successful or not is
how we define success.
G: Is it important for there to be some sort of visible evidence of success in order to
maintain public-support for the project?
W: Well, you have got to figure some way to show accomplishment. There has got to
be some visible evidence of accomplishment. I think that is what makes the
Kissimmee River a good example, because you can see it. The average person
probably does not know or care what the difference between cattails and
sawgrass are, but a lot of us have defined cattails as bad and sawgrass as good,
not that cattails have not always been in the Everglades, but cattails are bad, the
sawgrass is good, and the scientists say that cattails grow better with a little bit
more phosphorus. The sawgrass that grows in the Everglades is principally there
because it is nutritionally-starved and it is about the only thing that will grow. You
put a little bit of fertilizer in and you grow other plants, according to the scientists,
such as cattails. I think that Lake Okeechobee is going to have to get healthier,
or somewhere down the road there is going to be a lot of disenchantment with
the Everglades restoration, because people fish in Lake Okeechobee and go
boating. I mean, they can see that. They cannot particularly see what is in the
middle of Everglades National Park or in the middle of the water-conservation
areas because they cannot get there. But they can see the Kissimmee and they
can see Lake Okeechobee and they can see Florida Bay, for example.
G: I would like to mention some specific groups and organizations and ask you to
evaluate their overall-impact on the Everglades restoration effort. The Corps of
W: The Corps of Engineers has been the lead agency and the key to the thus-far
success. They were the key to building the project that we are now trying to
restore, and they are the key to the restoration project from the federal side. So,
the Corps is the great developer. The Corps started shifting directions about
fifteen years ago, and they have really made a big turn. They have made a 180-
degree turn from just a straight-up construction company to, you know, let us
design and build something to move the water from here to there. They are very
environmentally-conscious now, and I have a lot of respect for them.
G: Why do you think that change occurred in the Corps?
W: Public-opinion changed them. They needed to change to be able to work
effectively in Florida.
G: The [South Florida] Water Management District.
W: I think the Water Management District, I have about the same comments as
[with] the Corps of Engineers. The Water Management District will be the key to
whatever success we have as we move forward with the restoration. I think they
have done a very good job with the Kissimmee restoration, with building the
stormwater-treatment areas. Again, they went through a transformation back
about twenty years ago. They were four or five years ahead of the Corps in their
transformation. You know, the legislature changed a lot of their scope, and they
have broadened out into a very universal and effective agency, even though from
day-to-day, the South Florida Water Management District seems to find itself in
the midst of either internal or external controversy. For better or worse, they are
what we have to put our money on.
G: The Department of Interior.
W: They are kind of a mixed bag. I had the greatest of respect for Bruce Babbitt
because I thought he was a real American leader and a good guy. I have always
been a supporter of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service,
in general. The Everglades National Park itself and the staff of Everglades
National Park have never, under whatever superintendent they have ever had,
really seemed to know what they want that park to be. Too much water, too little
water, birds in the wrong place. They just do not seem to be able to figure out
what it is they want, and therefore it makes it very hard to deal with the
Department of Interior when the Everglades National Park staff is always
complaining and never satisfied with anything that happens. That has kind of
been almost my experience with the leadership of Everglades National Park. I
am not speaking to the current leadership because I have not been involved with
anything involving Everglades National Park in the last couple of years. So,
Maureen Finerty, I believe, is the new superintendent. I would not want to throw
her into that same category because I think she may be doing very well.
G: Some critics have said that the National Park Service has not been a Ateam
player.@ Based on your experience, has that been true?
W: That is what I was trying to say.
G: How about the environmental-community?
W: The environmental-community, I mean, my own personal relationship has always
been like a Jekyll-and-Hyde situation. I was born and bred an environmentalist,
still am, and for years and years, I was, you know, I have got environmental-
awards hanging all over my office in there from various and sundry
environmental-organizations. But somewhere in the middle of the Everglades
fray, I suppose that I began to find a little distance between myself and some of
my environmental friends, because I kind of many times found the
environmentalists wanting me to agree with their point of view and act
accordingly in my government-capacity. As I got a little older and began to
analyze issues from more angles than just one, I found that sometimes what I
was being asked to do or support lacked objectivity, and I think that objectivity
and honesty have to be absolute keys to everything we do. An example is the
Florida Bay issue. George Barley decided that I was an absolute traitor to the
cause because I would not buy on to the theory, and his convincing, that Florida
Bay: s problems were because of the water-flow regime. I did not say that it was
not; I just said that I am not sure that it is [and] we need to know before we indict
the Water Management District and go spending a lot of money changing a lot of
things, on nothing more than speculation and whatever is popular with the press.
I got, really, on the outs with him and the people who were close to him. I think,
George Barley included, the environmental-community has been absolutely
essential to Everglades restoration. I mean, even in their darkest moments,
without them, this effort would not be where it is. Without them, we would have
never gotten off home-plate. The Everglades Coalition was [a] grand
[organization]. The environmental community has kept the flames fanned and
has done some great work. On the other hand, from time to time, I have really
questioned the motives of some individuals in the environmental community. But
by and large, it has been a good experience.
G: Miccosukee Tribe?
W: I think the members of the Miccosukee Tribe are all really good people and are
trying to do the right thing, maintain their tradition and protect the environment.
Sometimes I think they are also victims of zealous attorneys. I am never going to
criticize the Miccosukee Tribe forthright. Billy Cypress is a very good friend of
mine, and he is a good person and a good leader, a great American. But I am
perplexed that while the suits against the state are in full swing, fighting the
Water Management District and imposing ten parts per billion, that they are also
expanding their residential-units at grade with septic tanks right in the deep-
swamp Big Cypress Everglades along Tamiami Trail. So, there is a little bit of
irony in that, but the Miccosukees and Seminoles, you know, they were there a
long time before we were, and they deserve good treatment.
G: The sugar-industry.
W: The sugar-industry has come a long way, and most of that way, they have come
by being dragged kicking and screaming. The sugar-industry is like almost every
other big business in the country B the bottom-line profit is what rules the day,
and anything that threatens to detract from that profit is bad from a corporate
perspective. It is just a business attitude. The fact that they happen to be sitting
in the middle of the Everglades creating environmental problems, resisting efforts
to clean up the water because of that corporate attitude that the bottom-line is all
that counts, and shareholders and stockholders, it has created a real problem
there. Labor practices back in the earlier part of the century really got them on
the outs. But the sugar-industry has come a long way. They have cleaned up a
lot of their water. They are much better corporate citizens. [Tape interrupted.]
The sugar-industry probably still has a way to go. I cannot criticize the sugar-
industry particularly at this point in time because they have contributed a lot of
money on a lot of effort to clean up their act. I think Lake Okeechobee is better
off for it and the Everglades are better off for it. The sugar-industry is the entity
that everybody likes to criticize. There is always going to be either a sugar-
industry or somebody else to criticize, because the nature of human beings is to
find somebody to criticize, not that the sugar-industry has not deserved an awful
lot of the criticism they have gotten. They have been criticized from time to time
in my opinion excessively. So, I am not a sugarcane-industry fan, but I am a fan
of fairness and objectivity.
G: Looking toward the future, what do you see as being the most important
obstacles to Everglades restoration?
W: From a physical perspective, is it possible or are we capable of engineering
something that will restore the Everglades? We have made an attempt at it, and
it is defined in the restudy, ASR, STAs, removing the canals and so forth like that
re-routing water. So, I think the difficult part will be both from an engineering
perspective, if we continue to go the engineering route, but to me, the most
critical part will be trying to figure out some kind of mechanism or process that
improves communications and tries to re-coalesce people of the various interests
into some kind of common objective that does not have some of the interests
groups going north and some south and the others southeast. Until we improve
those lines of communications through the creation of some entity or something,
some way of holding ourselves accountable, then I think that we remain in kind of
a precarious position. Because I do not believe the restudy on its face at this
point in time is going to be enough to carry us through and restore the
Everglades. The restudy is a good start and a good mechanism, but a lot of it will
never be implemented, and there are no guarantees that what is implemented is
going to work over a long term. So, we have got to kind of keep an open mind
and yet not try to criticize each other or sue each other to the point of taking us
forever in opposite directions.
G: Final question: what are the most important lessons that you have personally
learned from your experiences with the Everglades issues?
W: I think if you have a good idea or good set of ideas, such as the Save Our
Everglades plan, that almost impossible things can happen, such as the
expansion of the Big Cypress National Preserve, the purchase of the Collier
property, the exchange for Phoenix property or for Interior property, and the
conversion of Alligator Alley to 1-75, as well the Kissimmee restoration. Those
were almost like missions impossible, and yet we did it, because we had a good
idea, a good plan and were dedicated to it. I think that, from a more personal
level, where I have gone from a strong and maybe even radical environmentalist
into a more objective-thinking person has been very beneficial to me. I have used
the word objectivity two or three times in the conversation here, but what I
learned over time in seeing issues presented to me and through me and over me
and around me in the governor: s office is that when somebody comes to you
with a grand idea and begins to push it, and you maybe have a long line of
people behind him touting the same idea, be cautious, because there are always
at least one, usually several, other points of view that need to be looked at and
analyzed before you find yourself in a position of supporting it or objecting to it.
So, I think some lessons and teachings in objectivity would certainly be good for
everybody and particularly those who might find themselves in some kind of
decision-making role in the Everglades or anywhere else in life.
[End of Interview.]
Mr. Whitfield begins by identifying the use of hydrology by the Central and Southern Florida Flood
Control Project (C&SFFCP) as a cause of present problems in the Everglades (page 1). He assesses
the C&SFFCP and Corps of Engineers= sensitivity to ecological considerations in a historical
perspective (page 2). He details his education and employment, emphasizing his review of the Corps
of Engineers projects under the Office of Planning and Budgeting (page 2-5, 12-16 for Save Our
Everglades, Deer Crisis Task Force). He analyzes the problematic relationship between the state, the
Flood Control District, and the Corps (page 5-7).
Mr. Whitfield discusses the 1971 Governor=s Conference on Water Management (page 8) and the
work of environmentalists Art Marshall, Johnny Jones, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas (page 9-10).
The creation of the Big Cypress National Preserve, Water Resources Act, Land and Water
Management Act, and Conservation and Recreation Land Program signified a coming of age for the
environmental movement (page 11).
On page 16-19, Mr. Whitfield finds continual difficulty in cleaning Lake Okeechobee, despite the
creation of the Lake Okeechobee Technical Advisory Committee and appropriations from Deptartment
of Agriculture and the Water Management District. He then discusses the restoration of the
Kissimmee River, looking at the initial reluctance and changing attitudes of the Corps of Engineers
(pages 19-21). He presents the goals, effectiveness, and eventual politicization of the Everglades
Coalition (page 21-22).
Mr. Whitfield compares Governors Bob Graham and Bob Martinez (page 23-24). He examines the
1988 lawsuit filed by U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen, its politics, its purpose, and its impact on the
relationship between state and federal government (24-26). He talks about the Surface Water
Improvement and Management Act of 1987 (SWIM) as a whole system approach to improve
watersheds and as the method of settling the lawsuit (page 26-27). He disagrees with moving
Preservation 2000 funds to Everglades restoration (28). He describes Governor Lawton Chile=s
concession to the lawsuit and the ensuing debate over how to clean the Everglades (30-33).
Mr. Whitfield examines taxation and politics in the environmental sphere (35-37). He addresses the
Commission for Sustainable South Florida (37-38), the South Florida Restoration Task Force (39-41),
and the resulting Comprehensive Restoration Plan (41-42). He recalls the controversy between
environmental groups and Governor Chiles over 2 vetoed bills (43-44) and anger from the sugar
industry over the Talisman land purchase (44). The environmental politics of the 1998 governors
race are examined, and he evaluates Governor Jeb Bush=s post-election environmental record (45-46).
He attributes the Everglades= international prominence to Senator Graham=s early work and sees
public opinion as a major factor in restoration (47-49).
He gives brief summary opinions on the South Florida Water Management District, the Department of
the Interior, the environmental community, the Miccosukee Tribe, and the sugar industry (page 50-52).
He addresses the obstacles to restoration and promotes objectivity as the key to good decision-making
and planning in the Everglades project (page 52-53).