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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
C: My name is Christopher Koehler. This is for the Oral History Seminar of Sam
Proctor. I am interviewing Professor Kaufmann in his office, which is located at 617
Bartram Hall. Would you please state your full name?
K: My name is John Henry Kaufmann.
C: I thought we might start with some basic background, or the life story of an
environmentalist. Where were you born?
K: Baltimore, Maryland.
K: January 7, 1934.
C: What were the names of your parents?
K: My father's name was Frank August Kaufmann, and my mother was Evelyn Alvina
Klepper before she married my father.
C: Is your family from Maryland?
C: Did you grow up in Baltimore, then?
K: Just outside of Baltimore, in Towson, the county seat of Baltimore County.
C: What was that like?
K: In those days, Towson was a small town. By the time I had grown up and moved
away to go to college, it was a continuance of Baltimore City. It was an urban area.
It was nice growing up there. There were a lot of fields, woods, and things, which
shortly vanished. They are no longer there. There was more of a small-town
existence rather than an urban existence when I was young.
C: Do you recall any experiences that strike you as characteristic of that place? Is
there something that sticks out in your memory?
K: One thing is that we went through the school desegregation then. I remember being
shocked when they decided to integrate the black schools with the white schools.
They had to close the black school because it was not good for the white students to
attend. I remember that.
C: Did the school desegregation have a big impact on your town?
K: Not so much, although Maryland as a border state is sort of schizophrenic about
race relations. The impact was relatively slight there. They integrated movie
theaters and schools when I was growing up in the late 1940s and early 1950s. It
went fairly smoothly.
C: Are there any memories of your childhood or adolescence that you find particularly
K: I suppose the experience that probably got me into the field of studying zoology and
conservation work was that my family began taking vacations in 1941 to the
mountains of central Pennsylvania. In the late 1940s, we bought an old farm there.
We spent all of our summers there from then onward. That was right up in the
mountains of central Pennsylvania. I had a lot of experience in the out-of-doors
there. I think that solidified my leanings in that direction [because I was] to live there
every summer from the late 1940s until I graduated from high school. I would go
back there frequently. In fact, I just finished conducting a six-year research study
that I just published. [It was] based on animals in that area.
C: Is the farm still in your family?
K: Yes, my brother and sister own it now. Both my parents are dead.
C: So it is convenient for research then?
K: I was looking for a research animal in the 1980s, and remembered there was a
terrestrial turtle, the wood turtle, that lived in the forest there. I started a short-term
study, a summer study that stretched into six years. The last paper was accepted
for publication the day before yesterday. Six papers came out of that [study].
C: Where did you attend college as an undergraduate?
K: Cornell University [founded in 1865] in Ithaca, New York.
K: 1952 to 1956.
C: What subject did you take?
K: I was a vertebrate zoology major. Cornell is a half-private Ivy League school and
half-state university of New York. It is a split university. I was in the state part of
Cornell University in what is called the Conservation Department of the Agricultural
College. All of the vertebrate zoology at Cornell was taught in the Conservation
Department in the agriculture school in those days.
The more traditional physiology, histology, and embryology was taught in the
zoology department in the College of Arts and Sciences, which was the private
school. We took courses in both, and we ran back and forth between the two
campuses. I was a zoology major, but more specifically, I was centered in
vertebrate zoology. Since I was in the Conservation Department, I also had courses
in fisheries and wildlife management, and forest management.
C: Is there a difference in how much you pay at registration?
K: In those days you could attend the ag-school at Cornell for $300 a year. I had a
fellowship that paid that, so I went for free. The College of Arts and Sciences was
$1,000 a semester then, which is very cheap now. In those days, it was expensive.
C: Compared to $300 a year, absolutely.
K: You could take the same courses essentially, if you planned your schedule right,
and if you kept your grade point average up.
C: Your degree still says Cornell University.
C: Was there anything significant about your undergraduate years that led you to
K: Not so much. I already was heading in that direction. I had been an avid bird
watcher in high school. I went to Cornell to become an ornithologist. My horizons
expanded and I ended up not becoming an ornithologist professionally, although that
is still my main hobby. I expanded out to mammology and became a mammologist
professionally. I was in the Conservation Department there. I was not only getting
the basic zoology courses, but I also was getting a good dose of conservation
courses and wildlife management courses. That certainly continued to shape the
direction in which I was already headed. I actually went there with that in mind.
C: What graduate school did you attend?
K: The University of California at Berkeley.
K: 1956 to 1961.
C: Was there a particular reason why you went to California?
K: Yes, I was looking for a place to go to graduate school when I was ready to leave
Cornell. I had looked at a number of schools. I wanted to go out to the western
states. I wanted to get away from the east and go to school in the west. I wanted to
get a look at a different part of the country. I was looking at various schools with the
idea of getting a master of science degree, at perhaps one of the Rocky Mountain
I applied for a National Science Foundation Fellowship. When I got that, one of my
professors at Cornell, who was an ornithologist and had gotten his degree at
Berkeley earlier, said, "Now that you have the fellowship, you can go anywhere in
the country that you want. Why not go to Berkeley? Do it right and go to Berkeley."
I said, "I have not gotten my master of science degree." He said, "Who cares?
Nobody needs a master of science degree." I was not aware of this at the time, that
you could just skip it like that. He said, "You have got the fellowship. You can take
it anywhere you want. Why do you not go up to Berkeley, and get a doctorate?"
That sounded good to me, so I went to Berkeley and got a doctorate. [Laughter]
C: Was the environmental movement picking up speed at Berkeley at that time?
K: No, my major professor at Berkeley was Dr. Leopold. He was the son of Aldo
Leopold, very prominent in the conservation movement in this country in the first half
of the century. He was my major professor. He was the wildlife management
professor. I was not a traditional wildlife management student in the sense that I
was going to go out and manage deer or something. I was more interested in basic
research that could be applied to wildlife conservation.
One of the courses that I took was from Dr. Leopold. It was a course in wildlife
management and conservation. At the end of the course he gave a couple of
lectures on human ecology and the population problems with humans. I had not
been aware of [this]. This was in 1957. That really hit home hard--the lectures that
he gave on the human population increase and the implications of it. I am still giving
that same lecture--updated--in my courses now. I have been giving those lectures
ever since I arrived here several years ago. It made a real impact on me.
C: So you said you have worked at the University of Florida for your professional
K: Right. I came here in the fall of 1964. The two years in between graduate school
and here, I worked for the National Institutes of Health in Puerto Rico. They have a
series of islands there with free-ranging Rhesus monkey colonies, where they do
research on the Rhesus monkey. I was a biologist studying the behavior of Rhesus
monkeys on those islands for two years. It amounted to a post-doctoral position.
Although it was classified as a career position, most people stayed two years in it.
C: Has the University of Florida been a good place to develop environmental
awareness or environmental concern?
K: It has been for me. Certainly Florida has its share of environmental problems.
There is no lack of raw material with which to work. I have enjoyed very strong
support of my environmental activities from my various department chairmen, and
from whomever happens to be vice-president or president of the University at the
time. I have never had any problem personally, being as active as I have wanted to
be in environmental concerns, and politically active with environmental concerns.
Friends and colleagues of mine have suffered much worse at the University of
Florida--more than other schools. We have had some of them lose their jobs
because of this.
C: Why would they run into such problems?
K: I guess the most shocking case to me was a case involving Professor George
Cornwell, who was a professor of wildlife management in the School of Forest
Resources and Conservation in Newins-Ziegler Hall. George was an avid
conservationist, and lectured on topics I would have lectured on if I was in his place
when he was here. [For example, he lectured on] the dangers of widespread use of
DDT dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethanee: insecticide], and the dangers of clear-cutting
natural forests and planting all pines where there had been mixed forests.
He ran afoul of the agri-business people who backed IFAS (Institute of Food and
Agricultural Sciences), particularly E.T. York, who was the provost of IFAS [1963-
1974] in those days. [E.T. York: vice-president for Agricultural Affairs, executive
vice-president, interim president, 1973-1974; professor emeritus, 1981-1988;
distinguished service professor-agronomy, appointed 1988] George said things that
were not popular with the agriculture business. That was the main conflict--the
backing of IFAS.
He was up for tenure and they based it on trumped-up charges of poor teaching,
lack of research, and things like this. E.T. York wanted to get rid of him because of
his outspoken support of environmental issues. [Cornwell] sued the University of
Florida. He had to pay all of his own legal expenses, whereas the University had all
of its legal expertise arrayed against him. I guess he had to be represented from the
law school [and they] made it as easy on him financially as they could, but it
destroyed him financially.
This was not your usual few-hour hearing. This was conducted in the form of a trial
on campus before the committee on academic freedom and tenure. That was the
name of the committee that was hearing his appeal. They held it just like a court
case with testimony on both sides. The other side had lined up students to testify
that he was a poor teacher. They had professors testifying against him who were
jealous of his popularity because he had more students than any other professor in
the school. They had jealousy within the school. It was a nasty, nasty business.
A number of us testified on behalf of George. Marjorie Carr testified for him. I
testified for him, specifically to the fact that he was doing academically valuable
research at the time. One of the charges [against] him was that he was not doing
any supported research. Supported research meant supported by IFAS, and he
was not supported because they were trying to fire him. He was doing research that
was supported by National Science Foundation grants. [He was doing] publishable
research--he was published in two or three journals--[but] he was not doing any
supported research because they denied him support. That is sort of a trumped-up
At the end of this trial, which went on for months, the committee unanimously found
in his favor and recommended that he be reinstated and given tenure. The opinion
was only advisory to the president of the University, who at that time must have
been Stephen O'Connell [president, University of Florida, 1968-1974]. There are so
many presidents it is hard to remember.
[The president spent] the week between the recommendation and his
[announcement] of his final decision traveling to South America with E.T. York. I
could imagine E.T. York pouring [out] his side of this into the head of the president.
The day he came back, he denied George tenure. He turned down the appeal. It
destroyed George professionally and financially. That is the worst case that I have
I was personally involved in it, because I was called to testify to the value of his
research. There was no doubt he was a fine researcher, a fine teacher, and
probably the best one in [the forestry school] at that time. That is one of the reasons
I think he got fired--because of jealousy. There is no doubt about that.
Environmental activists in Florida have faced this kind of thing. This is within the
same University. I have had nothing but strong unanimous support on my side
because I was in arts and sciences in zoology. This man was destroyed because he
was in IFAS at a time when IFAS was controlled, and probably still is, by the agri-
C: Did this case send any kind of a "message" to academic environmentalists?
K: I certainly think it did to people in IFAS. I think people in IFAS were made very
nervous by that. I think the level of environmental activism by people in IFAS was
[probably] held to a low level. It certainly did not affect me or people like me in arts
and sciences because we were insulated from this. I think it certainly had a chilling
effect on the people in IFAS at that time.
C: Have you ever done anything politically to be involved with the environment?
K: Yes, I have been involved since 1970 with the Cross-Florida Barge Canal, and a
spinoff from that is now attempting to remove Rodman Dam and restore the
Oklawaha River valley. I have been intensely involved with that political activity
C: What forms does that political activity take?
K: [I am] a consultant to various state legislators or federal congressmen. I was a
consultant to Buddy McKay, [lieutenant governor of Florida, 1991-present] for
instance, when he was in the U.S. Congress, and also for Lawton Chiles [governor
of Florida, 1991-present] when he was in the [U.S.] Senate [1971-1989]. I testified
before legislative committees in both the Florida Legislature and the U.S. Congress.
I have appeared in a public hearings that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers held
over the barge canal in the early 1970s.
I had to appear at all of those public hearings and testify against the barge canal,
and bring information against the barge canal. I also wrote a series of papers over
the years on barge canal-related subjects, everything from wildlife issues to
economic issues. I wrote papers for Florida Defenders of the Environment, which is
a group I belong to that stopped the barge canal. It has been analyzing reports and
data, critiquing reports and data, preparing our side of it, and presenting our side of
it at congressional hearings or legislative hearings. I acted as a consultant to
politicians who were involved in decisions.
C: You were acting as the "brains" behind the environmental side?
K: One of many, yes. Florida Defenders of the Environment is a somewhat unusual
environmental group. It was formed specifically to stop the barge canal. It was not
a grass roots public organization like the Sierra Club or the Audubon Society. It was
a group of professional people who were involved in trying to get the information to
support the federal lawsuit against the barge canal. The Environmental Defense
Fund conducted the lawsuit in federal court to stop the barge canal. The Florida
Defenders of the Environment was formed with the specific purpose of providing the
data for the lawsuit. So it was professional biologists, a professional geologist,
professional lawyers, and professional economists who were getting the facts for the
lawyers to conduct this lawsuit. We got a permanent injunction against construction
of the barge canal as a result of that lawsuit. That injunction remained in effect up
until the canal would be de-authorized in 1990. It was obtained in 1971, and
remained in effect until 1990.
C: Would you be willing to go into some of the details about the barge canal--how it got
started, how it progressed, and the story of how Florida Defenders of the
Environment [got started]?
K: Back in the 1700s and 1800s, there were off-and-on interests in building a canal
across the upper peninsula of Florida as a way of avoiding pirate ships. The idea
was revived again in the 1930s as a WPA [Work Projects Administration] project.
They started building a canal in Ocala with picks, shovels, and mules pulling carts.
It was to be a sea-level canal. It was to have been cut down low enough so that sea
water could have flowed on a level between the east coast and west coast of
Florida. They wanted to introduce sea water across the aquifer of Florida. They
realized this would contaminate the whole freshwater system of Florida. They
realized this was a bad idea--fortunately before they built it. They canceled that
project. There are still places around Ocala where you can see the digging.
The project lay dormant until the 1940s and World War II. The commercial interests
that wanted a canal pushed it as a defense project as a way of avoiding German
submarines, which were, in fact, quite active off the coast of Florida at that time.
They saw this as a way of shipping war materials across the peninsula of Florida
without having to go all the way around Florida exposed to submarines. The
Department of Defense, on the other hand, said it had no strategic value. They
refused to back it. Although the canal was authorized, it was never funded by the
end of World War II. It was authorized, but not funded.
It remained unfunded until the 1960s. John Kennedy ran for president in 1960. He
was looking for delegates in the Democratic party. One of the states that was key to
his nomination was Florida. So he came to the Florida senator, Senator Smathers,
[George A. Smathers, U.S. Senator of Florida, 1951-1969] and he said, "What do
you want in exchange for support?" He said, "The Cross-Florida Barge Canal."
Kennedy said, "You have got it." Kennedy, of course, was elected.
Before he could carry out his promise to the state of Florida, he was assassinated.
Lyndon Johnson became president, and Johnson felt honor-bound to carry out the
campaign promises of Kennedy. Under Johnson, the Cross-Florida Barge Canal
began in 1968. Johnson came to Florida to set off some dynamite charges with red,
white, and blue smoke to start the barge canal. At that time, it was being pushed
very strongly by the entire business community in Florida, and by the state and
federal government. There was no opposition to it whatsoever.
A few environmentalists in Florida, particularly in Gainesville, and members of the
Alachua Audubon Society became worried that the barge canal would impact
Oklawaha River valley. They were not against the barge canal. They simply were
worried about what it would do to the Oklawaha River valley. They asked the Corps
how this would impact the Oklawaha River valley. The Corps told them not to worry;
it will not affect the river valley.
They did not accept this. They began asking more questions. They finally got a
map and found that the barge canal ran right down the middle of the Oklawaha
River valley, and that it would totally destroy the Oklawaha River. It would turn it
into a ditch. Then they became alarmed. Having been lied to about this, they began
to look more and more into this barge canal. They looked not just at the effect on
the Oklawaha River, but the effects all the way across the state, including the
aquifer in the middle of the state, the west coast of Florida, and the economics of it.
The more they thought and the more information they got, the more apparent it
became that this project was pure pork. It had horrendous environmental impacts.
The economics were fudged by the Corps to make it look viable when it really was
not. The whole thing was just a horror.
[These few people] in Gainesville, of which Marjorie Carr and David [Salisbury]
Anthony [associate professor of botany and associate biochemist, agricultural
experiment stations] were members, formed this group to sue the federal
government to stop the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. It had been under construction
for several years. No Corps project had ever been stopped once construction had
begun. They got the Environmental Defense Fund, which was newly formed in
those days, to sue for environmental groups on a pro bono basis. It was a group of
prominent lawyers who had sued the government over the use of DDT.
Marjorie and other people heard about the Environmental Defense Fund, called
them on the phone and said, "Would you be willing to help us with the Cross-Florida
Barge Canal?" They said, "We will do the legal and trial work, but you have got to
supply the information." That was up to the Florida Defenders of the Environment.
They simply took the E.D.F. initials and turned them around to F.D.E.--
Environmental Defense Fund to Florida Defenders of the Environment. We just
reversed the initials. That is how it got its name.
It was formed with the express purpose of providing information to halt the Cross-
Florida Barge Canal in Florida. The Environmental Defense Fund won that suit in
federal court, and got a permanent injunction against further construction of the
Cross-Florida Barge Canal.
C: When was this?
K: This was 1970 or 1971. There was a temporary injunction and it was made
permanent. A couple weeks later, Richard Nixon, who was still president then,
issued an executive order permanently halting construction of the Cross-Florida
Barge Canal because of its environmental impacts. At that time, NEPA [National
Environmental Policy Act] had not been passed. The act that requires
environmental impact statements for projects did not exist at that time. There was
no environmental impact statement required.
What Florida Defenders of the Environment did was write their own. They got this
group of professionals, and wrote their own environmental impact statement. It
became a model around the country for this kind of impact statement. That was the
basis of the lawsuit. On the basis of the environmental damage it would cause,
Nixon then agreed with the court, and on top of the court injunction, he entered an
executive order. Nixon soon ran into his own legal problems. [Laughter]
The pro-canal people went to court, and sued to overturn the decision claiming that
Nixon did not have the authority to halt the project that had been authorized and
funded by Congress. There was a constitutional question here. It turns out that
there was plenty of precedent for doing this; presidents had done this in the past.
They had unilaterally halted projects that had been funded by Congress. There had
been no problems in the past.
He could have won this in court [but] by the time this reached court in 1974, Nixon
had his own legal problems. [Laughter] He could not afford to turn his lawyers
loose on the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. He was trying to save his presidency--
unsuccessfully. As Nixon went down in flames, the lawsuit was simply not fought by
the federal government.
As a result of the lawsuit, there was a hybrid decision handed down. The injunction
remained in force, but the judge that handled the case at that time ordered a new
environmental and economic study of the canal. He said that Congress would have
to make a decision on the merits of the case after this new study was made. He
continued the injunction in force, but he vacated the executive order, and said that
Congress would have to make the final decision. Nixon's executive order was not
enough to stop the canal. So both sides got something out of it. Neither side was
very happy with the decision.
Then the federal government paid for a massive study that lasted a couple of years
and [cost] a couple million dollars. It was an economic and environmental study of
the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. This was done by both state and federal agencies,
and also private consulting firms that were contracted by state and federal agencies.
The Corps of Engineers was the lead agency in it. They were in charge of doing all
the contracting and the final reports.
What we did was monitor these reports that were being turned in by the various
federal and state agencies and private consultants, and [then we] wrote our own
comments on these reports that the Corps issued. They ended up issuing a set of
books that must have been about twenty volumes or so of just the study. That study
became a basis of a series of public hearings all around Florida conducted by the
Corps to get public input on the results of these studies.
We found that the studies [had] very mixed [results]. The wildlife studies that were
done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and by the Florida Game and Freshwater
Fish Commission were done very well, and very clearly pointed out the
environmental impact on wildlife. The economic studies that were done by a firm
that the Corps had often employed to do economic studies to support their projects
in the past we found to be outrageously fudged. The economics were outrageously
fudged to make it look like a viable project economically. We were able to
demonstrate that it was not. The benefit-cost ratio was simply faked in a variety of
ways. We were able to point out ways in which this was done. We had professional
economists in our group at that time.
The hearings were of mixed value, and the reports were of mixed value. Some of
them we thought were very good, and some of them we thought were pure bullshit.
We said so. As of a result of this, the state of Florida then decided that they could
not ignore this. The state of Florida, and the business community, were
unanimously in favor of the barge canal. We turned out enough information to make
them decide to make them take a second look at this. The state then conducted its
own investigation into the barge canal along with the Corps study.
When the Corps reports were issued and critiqued by us and by state agencies as
well, the state held a series of workshops in Tallahassee in the late summer of 1976.
They had a full-day hearing in December 1976 in which proponents and opponents
of the canal had their say. At the end of that hearing, the governor and the cabinet
voted six to one and withdrew state support from the canal project.
You cannot have a federal works project in the state if the state withdraws its
support. You have got to have a state sponsor. The state sponsor was the
governor and cabinet, and they withdrew state support for the canal project. They
also recommended that the Rodman Dam be removed, and the Oklawaha River be
restored to undo the damage that had already been done by partial construction of
the canal. The state legislature also passed a resolution backing up the governor
and the cabinet in withdrawing state support of the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. At
that time, we envisioned the Rodman Dam would be removed and the river be
restored in a short time because with no state sponsor, it looked like Congress
would probably deauthorize the project.
At that time, Jimmy Carter became president. Carter was a strong proponent of
many environmental causes, including this one. Carter campaigned in Florida
against the Cross-Florida Barge Canal, [and] in favor of restoring the river. He had
money in his executive budget to remove the dam and restore the river. He was
ready to do this, and the administration was ready to do this. The stumbling block
was that the project was still authorized by Congress.
Because of the earlier court decision, nothing could be done. Although our
injunction remained in place, no further construction could take place. They also
could not remove any structures because the canal was still an authorized
navigation project. No more money was being appropriated for it. It still remained
authorized. You could not do anything to the structure that was already there until
Congress could deauthorize the project. Twice in those years, the U.S. Senate
unanimously passed a bill to deauthorize the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. We had
more than enough votes in the House representing us to pass the bill. It never
came to a vote.
It never reached the floor because Congressman [William "Bill" V.] Chapell [fifth
district, 1968-1990] and Congressman [Charles E.] Bennett [fourth district, 1948-
1992] from Florida, who had seniority in the Florida delegation, fought tooth and nail
in committees to keep the bill from ever reaching the House floor. They were
successful for twenty years. The authorization bill never reached the floor of the
House of Representatives even though it had been passed twice unanimously by
Finally, in the late 1980s until 1990, Congressman Chapell was voted out of office
and died a few months later. Congressman Bennett, who had been his chief ally up
until this time, saw the handwriting on the wall, and withdrew his opposition, allowing
the authorization bill to go through the House of Representatives. Both houses now
passed the bill to deauthorize the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. There was a
stipulation. Bennett said, "If we are not going to build the Cross-Florida Barge
Canal, I do not want all those lands that were purchased for the canal corridor all
across the state of Florida to go into the hands of developers and be turned into
private property. I want all of those lands to be kept in public ownership as a park."
His was the idea that eventually became the Cross-Florida Greenway, which turned
all of the canal lands and waters into a linear park under public ownership across the
state of Florida. Bennett put it under federal ownership because he did not trust the
state of Florida to maintain ownership and manage it properly. Eventually, we
worked out a compromise. The federal government turned all the land over to the
state of Florida. The state of Florida owned part of it, and the federal government
owned part of it. The federal lands were all turned over to the state and now belong
to the state of Florida.
This bill was passed in 1990 to finally deauthorize the canal, and retain all the canal
lands and waters in public ownership. That became the basis of the Cross-Florida
Greenway. It was then possible to do anything actively about removing Rodman
Dam and restoring the river valley. We have been trying to get the legislature ever
since to pass the bill to do that. They have been stalling and stalling. Now there is a
new set of studies being done duplicating much of the earlier work. This time, it is
being done by the St. Johns River Water Management District. These studies will
be passed on to the legislature at the end of this calendar year. The legislature is
supposed to make a final decision next spring. Given their sorry performance this
spring, nobody is counting on them to do anything next spring either. Who knows
what will happen. They are supposed to make a final decision on whether to
remove Rodman Dam and restore the river valley next spring in the Florida
legislature. We continuously have been fighting this in the state and federal
government now since 1970.
C: What would the environmental and the economic impacts have been? Would they
have produced any kind of product?
K: It would have produced financial profits for certain individuals and companies. The
construction companies would have been hired to dig [the canal]. Some shippers
would have benefited by shipping bulk goods across the state. Overall, the
economic viability of the canal depended on hugh shipments of coal through the
Cross-Florida Barge Canal.
This coal would have had to have been shipped more cheaply through the canal
than by train. We were able to demonstrate that the companies that were supposed
to be shipping their coal through the barge canal could, in fact, supply Florida power
plants cheaper by train, and that there would be no coal benefits in the canal at all.
It was cheaper to use the train. So the coal benefits were purely imaginary. They
were just thought up by the Corps of Engineers and its economic consultants. The
economics were fudged all the way through.
Overall, there would have been no economic benefits. The canal would have cost
the taxpayers far more than it would have ever returned in shipping benefits.
Nobody, I think, was naive enough to believe the shipping benefits were going to be
passed on to the consumers anyway. They were going into the pockets of the few
companies that benefitted from it. When this became clear, the economics of the
canal collapsed. [That was the thing] that really stopped the canal, I think, and
caused the state government to withdraw support. We were able to reveal that the
[economics] were not honest.
[Another] was the threat to the Floridan aquifer, which is the layer of rock and soil
[where] our fresh water is stored. Florida depends on it. The canal would have cut
into the Floridan aquifer, not with the sea-level canal at this time introducing salt
water. It would have been a step canal so it would have gone up and across the
center of Florida and back down. This would have kept out the salt water, but any
pollution introduced into the canal would have gone directly into the aquifer through
the caverns, sinkholes, and things which underlay this part of Florida.
We were also able to demonstrate [the damage that could have been done] with
testimonies from geologists, including the geologist that did the U.S. Geological
Survey that originally described and named the Floridan aquifer. He got up before
the governor and the cabinet at the hearing in 1976, and said, "This will be a
disaster for the aquifer in the state of Florida, for north Florida." His testimony
carried great weight.
The threat of pollution to the aquifer, plus the economics, killed the canal. Originally,
we mostly were concerned with the wildlife implications of this, and while they were
certainly severe, it was not going to kill the canal. If you are going to kill a project
with that kind of state and federal backing, it has got to be something more than
wildlife conservation. It was the economics and the threat to the water supply that
did it. All of those are valuable concerns.
C: That is strange.
K: The state government turned 180 degrees around on the issue in a period of one
year in 1976. They went from supporting the project very, very strongly to
withdrawing support for it, requesting Congress to deauthorize it and restore the
C: Why do you think that was?
K: Well, it was because of citizen activism originally, and the state agencies after that
were able to find out exactly what was going on to the extent that the environmental
impacts had been misstated, and the economics had been misstated. The
environmental activists and the state and federal and state agencies that were
brought into the studies by the court decisions were able to show that the project
was not an economically or an environmentally viable project.
C: This was a case where you could see the handwriting on the wall.
K: Yes. Then, the state agencies and the governor and the cabinet were good people.
It was not a matter that they simply saw the handwriting on the wall in the sense
that this was going to be unpopular with the people, but they saw that this was
wrong. They realized that they had the wool pulled over their eyes in the past. [In
the past,] there had been no environmental assessment at all because it was not
Nobody even thought about doing an environmental assessment; it was based on
economics. The economics were not true either. The economics were fudged.
When the state found this out, they wasted no time in switching their position
around. Governor [Reubin] Askew was governor [1971-1979] then. We had a good,
strong executive branch in Florida then. The six-to-one vote shows this.
The only person that voted against it was Doyle [Edward] Conner [commissioner of
agriculture 1960-1990], who was a long-time canal supporter. In the face of all the
information and all the facts, his constituents, presumably in the business
community, managed to keep him on their side. That is why the vote was six to one.
The governor and all the other members of the cabinet voted in favor of
deauthorizing the canal and restoring the river valley.
The executive branch of the state government has been strong and unwavering in
its support for deauthorizing the canal, and also for restoring the river valley. The
cabinet position taken back in 1976--to remove the dam and restore the river valley--
has never been reversed by any governor or cabinet. It is still in effect. The
legislature has wavered back and forth from time to time, as legislatures do.
Overall, there still has been unwavering support for doing away with the canal. The
issue of restoring the river valley depends on who you talk to and who the
constituents are. It is still not resolved and who knows if it will be resolved next year.
I have been waiting twenty years. Every year for twenty years, we thought it was
going to be resolved, but it is still not resolved. In the spring of 1993, it was
supposed to be resolved--the issue of whether to do away with the Rodman Dam
and restore the river valley. They put it off again.
In the spring of 1993, they put it off until the spring of 1995. They charged the water
management district to conduct more studies in the meantime. Most of these
studies are repeating what was already done before. This was a delay tactic by
Senator [George Grier] Kirkpatrick [Florida Senate, 1980-present], who is the only
person in the Florida legislature that actually fought the removal of the dam in 1993.
Kirkpatrick has singlehandedly orchestrated and kept the legislature from doing
that. He saw that he did not have the votesto mandate that Rodman be maintained.
He saw that he did not have the votes for that. So he pulled the usual stalling
tactics, and asked for more studies to put it off for a couple of years.
That is what happened. He was able to control enough committee votes through
political maneuvering to keep the vote for removing the dam and restoring the river
[from being taken]. He was able to stall that vote off, call for more studies, and put
off the vote for two more years. Now it is supposed to come up again in 1995.
Given the history of this, I would not bet any money that it will be resolved then
C: What would the environmental impacts of the canal have been?
K: First of all, it would have destroyed almost the entire Oklawaha River valley as a
river valley. It would have been ditched, drained, dammed, and made into a series
of reservoirs. Not only Rodman Reservoir, which is in place now, but there would
have been an even bigger reservoir made just upstream from Rodman. It would
have stretched from Rodman twenty miles upstream to Silver River where the Silver
River empties into the Oklawaha River. The Oklawaha River, the forest, the flood
plain, and all of its wildlife would have been totally destroyed over a distance of
The aquifer would have been penetrated by the barge canal, so that any pollution in
the stretch of the canal that goes across Florida aquifer in the Ocala region would
run directly into the water supply. There also would have been damage at the west
end of the canal because of the ditch digging. Near the west end of the canal,
manatees along the coast would be [endangered]. There was salt water intrusion,
water weeds--all kind of things happened to the rivers in that area.
The flow of the Withlacoochee River, on the west coast of Florida, was greatly
reduced when the water was shunted down the large canal. Most of the water that
used to come down Withlacoochee River and out to the Gulf of Mexico, the water
was shunted down the large canal. Most of the water that used to go down the
Withlacoochee River and out through the Gulf of Mexico was shunted into the barge
canal ditch, reducing the flow of the Withlacoochee River and permitting salt water
intrusion and the growth of harmful water weeds in the Withlacoochee River.
All the way, from one end of the canal to the other, there were serious
environmental impacts that would have occurred. Now everybody agrees it would
have been a total disaster. It was not until the canal was partially constructed, that
we were able to get enough facts out to get the state to turn around and withdraw
the support for it. It was under construction for three years before it was halted.
C: It resulted in unprecedented destruction of plant and animal life?
C: You mentioned the Rodman Dam and the dam in the Oklawaha River. I guess I am
a little unfamiliar with this. Why was the Rodman Dam built?
K: The Rodman Dam was built to dam up a sixteen-mile reservoir to float the barges on
as part of the barge canal.
C: This was an installment on the big connection?
K: This was part of the barge canal. [The Corps] dug a ditch from the St. Johns River
to the Oklawaha River. They then dammed up the Oklawaha River [so there would
be] two huge reservoirs. The Oklawaha River valley would be [replaced by] two
huge reservoirs. One would be the Rodman Reservoir which was built. [The second
would be] Eureka Lock and Dam just upstream [from Rodman]. The Eureka
Reservoir would have made two reservoirs, and they would have been used to float
There would have been two steps in lifting the barges from sea level up to the
highest level, which is in the Ocala region. The locks would have lifted the barges
into those two reservoirs would have lifted the barges up higher and higher. Another
lock would have lifted the barges up from the Eureka Reservoir up to the canal ditch
onto the highest part of the central part of Florida. That is where the cut into the
aquifer would have been--in the highest part in the Ocala region. There would have
been a cut down into the aquifer, and the barges would have floated on aquifer
C: So they had actually gone so far as to construct that installment?
K: They constructed the ditches at both ends of the canal. The [Corps] constructed
Rodman Dam, and flooded sixteen miles of the Oklawaha valley. The Eureka Dam
and the Eureka Lock was built, but before they could actually close the dam, block
the river, and flood the forest, we got our injunction. We stopped them just before
they would have flooded the next twenty miles.
That lock and dam are still sitting there. This huge lock and dam is sitting in the
middle of the forest, and it goes nowhere. It is a lock and dam to nowhere because
on the other side of it, instead of a reservoir, is a river and a forest. They were
never able to close the dam and flood it. We just stopped them in time before they
flooded the next twenty miles.
C: How realistic is it to restore the Oklawaha River valley?
K: It is very realistic. We have been looking into this for over twenty years now. It
requires several things. One, you have to remove some or all of Rodman Dam to
restore the river to its original channel. You would then have to go in and do some
pushing around of dirt where the Corps dug various ditches and channels as part of
the construction for the reservoir. You would have to go in and undo some of that
with a bulldozer. That easily could be done. You would probably have to reforest
the part that was drowned. You would get a fair amount of natural regeneration of
the trees from seeds that are brought by the wind and from Oklawaha River
downstream from upstream. We have a fair amount of natural regeneration.
Also, there probably would have to be some artificial planting and seeding to fill in
the areas that did not fill in with natural regeneration. The forest service estimated
the tree species should take over. The trees should be established within five years
after the reservoir is drained. It would take about another twenty to twenty-five
years for those trees to reach a stature for people to look at this and say, "Oh there
is a forest."
The growth rate is phenomenal in the Oklawaha River valley--there it is two or three
feet a year, which is very fast. There are areas now around the Eureka Lock and
Dam where the Corps bulldozed all the trees down, and they bulldozed the topsoil
so that there is nothing there but bare subsoil. There was no replanting, fertilizing,
or anything done there. The forest completely regenerated itself--after about twenty-
four years, the forest crowns of those trees are up to sixty feet tall now.
It would grow even faster in the area that has been drowned in the river valley
because the original muck soil is still in place. It was not bulldozed. The muck soils
are extremely rich. The estimate is that after the dam was removed it would take
twenty-five to thirty years to obtain a forest that looked very much like the forest that
was there before they built the reservoir.
C: So one generation is erased.
K: If we had started on this in the 1970s, it would be done already. It already would
have been restored.
C: Where will all that water go?
K: It will just go on down below the dam and into St. Johns River. The Oklawaha is the
biggest tributary to the St. Johns River. They would let it out slowly so that there
would not be a lot of erosion.
C: That was my question. I could just see this wall of water moving down.
K: And mud from the exposed bottom of the reservoir. They would do it slowly over a
period of time, so that they would not have erosion. They would not have this wall of
water going downstream. They would not have any erosion problems. It would give
the herbaceous plants a chance to establish on the flood plain, and then woody
plants, shrubs, and eventually trees.
It would take about five years for the trees to become dominant, and about another
twenty-five years for them to reach a height of about fifty to sixty feet tall. In terms of
the money involved, the various estimates range from three to ten million dollars for
the restoration--the cost of maintaining Rodman for three to ten years. [At its
present state,] it costs a million dollars a year to maintain Rodman Reservoir. You
could restore it for a one-time cost of three to ten million instead of spending a
million dollars a year forever. It would be more than a million, of course, as inflation
C: Three to ten million to me sounds fairly cheap considering what is being done. At a
price of a million dollars a year, they are stalling on this?
K: We pointed this out in the legislature in 1993. We said, "Why are you stalling if there
is nothing more to study? You are wasting a million dollars a year on this project."
Now the legislature has to decide whether to do away with the dam and spend the
three to ten million in a period of three to five years, or whether they will spend a
million dollars a year forever to maintain a resource that a lot of people think is not
C: I am surprised they have to think about that.
K: Well, if you had been in Florida politics as long as I have, you would not be surprised
anymore. I was surprised too, originally.
C: In twenty years, I would be numb I suppose.
K: Every year almost, since 1970, we expected this to be over. I do not think the
people that got involved with this would ever have gotten involved with it if they had
known it was going to be a twenty-five year commitment. We thought it was a few-
month commitment, then a year commitment, and maybe a two-year commitment. It
went on, on, on, and on. There is still no end in sight.
C: I think it is a good thing you did not know what you were in for.
K: It probably is.
C: Have there been any ways in which you personally have been involved? You
[testified] before various courts.
K: I put together most of the response of the F.D.E. to the Corps of Engineers five-foot
shelf of books on the report of their study. I did some of the critiques on wildlife. I
helped edit, rewrite, and put into form the economic critiques and other sections to
be distributed. I did work to critique and prepare the reports that originally attacked
the Corps' stand on the Cross-Florida Barge Canal. That was the first thing I did. In
fact, the way I got into this was that they were preparing the environmental
C: This was F.D.E.?
K: F.D.E. was preparing the impact statement. Archie [Fairly] Carr [graduate research
professor of zoology, 1959-1988] was the husband of Marjorie Carr; both were
involved in this project. Archie knew me and knew I had leanings towards wildlife
I had been playing football with the graduate students, and ran into a metal goal
post on Norman Field, and had a severe concussion and amnesia. I was in bad
shape. I do not know if you know how amnesia works, but after you have had a
severe concussion, you have no memory span at all. Most of my memory returned,
[but] I lost twenty-four hours--twelve hours before and after I ran into the goal post. I
never recovered the twenty-four hours.
Though I recovered the rest of my memory, my attention span was nonexistent. The
doctor would stand on one side of the bed and introduce himself, then walk around
to the other side of the bed and say, "Who am I?" I would say, "I have never seen
you before in my life." I could not remember him when he walked around to the foot
of the foot of the bed. This gradually increased.
Marjorie literally dragged me out of my bed to go edit this report because they
needed people to edit this environmental impact statement. I would try to edit this
thing. I would read a paragraph. I would read a sentence and [then] another
sentence. I forgot what the first sentence said. I was still fighting this amnesia.
That is how I got dragged into this. With amnesia, I did literally what I was told.
After I recovered from that, I was hooked on this. I kept helping them prepare
reports. When the Corps did the study, I had to critique it. I was involved and
coordinating that effort. I have been writing. Every time after that when the Corps
would prepare another report on economics or something else, I would hire
somebody else to critique that. We would go testify before whatever state or federal
or congressional committee that happened to be dealing with it at that moment.
This has been going on forever. Most of what I have been doing has been
preparing reports, preparing testimony, and [testifying].
C: Based on your experiences here in Florida the last thirty-odd years, and your
assessment of the players involved, what do you see as the future for conservation
K: There are some very good people in the conservation movement in Florida. There
are good people in the legislature and good people in the executive branch of
government. But still, environmental issues always run into economics. You always
have somebody who can make money out of destroying the environment. You run
into all sorts of political problems.
I think Florida basically has a strong environmental orientation. It is very strong in
the public; public opinion polls show this over and over again. The Florida public
feels very strongly about conservation. They are willing to pay for it, [and] have their
taxes raised. The Florida public have always led the government in this respect.
The government always has lagged behind the citizens in their concern for the
environment. We have had some very strong people in the government over the
years that I have been involved with, like Governor Askew, for instance. Governor
Chiles [Lawton Chiles, governor of Florida, 1991-present] has been a strong
supporter of ours since the time he was in the U.S. Senate. There have been very
strong people in the legislature.
I think the will to protect the environment of Florida is in the public, and in certain
members of the government. Of course, the government changes. Political deals
are made. Horse trading is ongoing. We never accomplish what we think should be
accomplished in the legislative sessions or in the executive order. We never quite
go as far as we think we should.
I think the conservation movement in Florida is very strong. For instance, Florida is
buying out environmentally endangered lands underthe Carl program. Preservation
2000 and Save Our Rivers are models for the United States. Florida has bought
more environmentally endangered land than any agency in the United States, other
than the federal government. Florida leads the nation in this.
The Game and Freshwater Fish Commission has been steadily improving. It used
to be an entirely hunter-dominated organization. They have greatly changed their
outlook over the years. They now have a very successful nongame [wildlife]
program in Florida. It has been a model for the rest of the country. The Game and
Fish Commission now can be proud of their work.
We can be proud of the very strong organizations in Florida--the Sierra Club, the
Audubon Society, Florida Defenders of the Environment, and the Florida Wildlife
Federation. Given the increasing population problems in Florida, with it growing so
fast and [while] natural areas disappear, I think there is going to be increasing
pressure in favor of conservation. Of course with all those people coming in, you
have got to accommodate them unless you build the Great Wall of China across the
Georgia border and not let people in anymore.
Eventually, the environmental victories are going to be eroded away. There is
simply no place to put people. This is true worldwide. We are going to double the
population of the world in the next forty years. There will be twice as many people to
feed, [and] twice as much infrastructure. This is frightening. Florida is growing faster
than the world as a whole. It is not just natural reproduction in Florida, but all the
people moving into Florida from the north also.
C: We should try California's trick--go into a big recession and scare them away.
K: Yes, they started moving up to Washington and Oregon. [Laughter] That inflated
the real estate market in the Seattle area. I have a son who lives in Seattle.
C: I just love Davis, California. Is there anything that I have not given you a chance to
say about the environment, the environmental movement, or your role in it?
K: I guess the thing I feel best about that I have done, in addition to the barge canal,
which was an effort of many people, is the creation of the nongame wildlife program
in the fish and game commission.
This was the brainchild of Susan Cerulean, a woman who worked for the Florida
Defenders of the Environment at one time. She thought up the idea, wrote the bill,
and lobbied it through the legislature to add a nongame program to the fish and
game commission, [adding] to their traditional responsibilities of hunting and fishing.
In the past, their efforts have been toward managing wildlife to the benefit of
hunters and fisherman. They already had the legislative responsibility for all wildlife
in the state of Florida--they just ignored all the nongame wildlife in favor of fishing
I was on the small committee appointed to write the program for the game and fish
commission. There were several people from conservation organizations, and
representatives from the game and fish commission, who, over a period of months,
hammered out the nongame program. They got the game and fish commission to
accept it. Originally, they were resistant because it traditionally was not [what they]
had been doing.
We got them to adopt a program which has since been enthusiastically embraced by
the game and fish commission, and have really done well by it. Once they were
convinced of the need for it, they really did do well. This served as a model for
similar programs all over the country. It is a really good program. I feel better about
that in some ways than the barge canal, because the barge canal still is not settled
after all these years. There is no end to that. I feel very good about the nongame
program. I think that was a real victory for nongame wildlife in the state of Florida.
C: This created a program that made the government compel an existing government
body to become custodians of the environment?
K: They were already supposed to be. The legislative act that created the Florida
Game and Freshwater Fish Commission gave them responsibility for all wildlife and
freshwater fish in the state of Florida. That certainly includes nongame species as
well as game species, like the Florida panther, bald eagle, and everything else. The
other game and fish commissions certainly were dominated by game and fish
professionals who were brought up in game and fish management.
Support came primarily from hunters and fisherman, although they do have financial
support from general revenues, [but] still it got much of its support from hunting and
fishing licenses. [The commission] saw its role as managing wildlife to the benefit of
hunters and fisherman. They traditionally did not monitor and protect the nongame
forms of wildlife.
They then specifically were told to do this by the legislative act that created the
nongame program. Along with that went a very necessary funding to do this. We
got the funding to do it. The program was well funded from the beginning. They
had both the legislative mandate and the money, [and] obviously the two were tied
together. [It] was very successful.
It always, of course, runs into the same problems that other agencies and the
Florida government has had with the recession. They have had their funds cut
back. The program is still viable, still working, and still [ongoing]. The [commission]
does everything it can do that can be done [under] the circumstances. I feel good
about that. I think the game and fish commission now points with pride to the
nongame program. Originally, it had to be sort of brow-beaten into accepting, [but]
now it points at it with pride.
C: It is nice to have something working for the environment. It has not worked all too
K: Susan really deserves the main credit for this. It was her idea, her bill, and her
lobbying. She eventually became the leader of the nongame section in the game
and fish commission. She actually was head of the nongame section for a while,
until she resigned because of family responsibilities. She actually became one of
the directors of the program. She was a University of Florida graduate. She was
active in the Alachua Audubon Society when she lived in Gainesville. She worked
for various state agencies, and eventually became the director of the program for
the Fish and Game Commission.
C: She has an odd last name?
K: She did not like her other name, so she just changed her name completely. She
C: That is neat.
K: She is married to an environmental lawyer in Tallahassee now, Bram Canter, who
also is a very strong backer of environmental programs in Florida. He has been a
great help. He has done a lot of pro bono work for Florida Defenders of the
Environment. Bram and Sue married a few years ago. They both have been very
active in the program, and very vital to the program.
C: If there is nothing else you would like to say about the environment, we will close.
My main questions centered on the Rodman Dam.
K: That is what I have been mostly involved in. In local problems, I have been involved
with Paynes Prairie issues over the years, and getting [the state to buy] Paynes
Prairie. It [was] turned into a wildlife preserve after [the state] bought it. We now
are trying to save it from the people of Orange Lake. They are trying to drain all the
water out of [Paynes Prairie]. There have been fights ongoing over Paynes Prairie
as long as I have been here.
C: I understand Orange Lake is an artificial lake.
K: No, it is a natural lake. The water that [flowed] out of Newnans Lake into Prairie
Creek used to go, 100 percent, into Paynes Prairie. [That water] was responsible
for the wetlands in Paynes Prairie. It was the biggest source of water for Paynes
When the Camp family, back in the 1920s, bought the entire basin to use as a cattle
ranch, they put in a series of dikes, dams, and pumps to drain as much water as
they could out of the prairie and down a canal to Orange Lake. They diverted the
water from Paynes Prairie. When the Camp family sold Paynes Prairie to the state
of Florida, the state of Florida rediverted some of that water back into Paynes
Prairie. Because of the big drought in Florida during the last six years, the lake level
in Orange Lake has gone down, [along with] other lakes in Florida. There is also a
huge sinkhole at the bottom of Orange Lake that drains water out of it. It is like
having a bathtub with [a missing] stopper. The water goes out as fast as it goes in.
Since the people at Orange Lake have not been able to do anything about the
drought or the sinkhole, [they] seized on the water coming down from Paynes Prairie
and said, "All the water should be diverted permanently to Orange Lake and none of
it should go to Paynes Prairie. If Paynes Prairie dries up and blows away, who
cares? It is just a bunch of swamp animals anyway. Who cares? Our livelihood
depends on Orange Lake because we have fish camps and things there."
They want 100 percent of the water diverted permanently into Orange Lake. The
water management district [studied] this, and pointed out that even if you did that
and Paynes Prairie was destroyed, it only would raise the level of Orange Lake one
to three inches. That is not the problem of Orange Lake. The problem of Orange
Lake is the drought and the sinkhole at the bottom of Orange Lake. Diverting all the
water from Paynes Prairie would have no significant effect on the level of Orange
Despite that, these people have gone to court, hired a lawyer, and still are trying to
divert all the water from Paynes Prairie to Orange Lake. They get 55 percent of it
currently, [but they want 100 percent]. Only 45 percent of the original flow of Prairie
Creek goes into Paynes Prairie.
C: And it will not do anything?
K: It will not do anything for them at all.
C: They ignore these studies that come out?
K: Right, they say they do not believe them.
C: Are these studies done by an "objective third party?"
K: They do not accept the word of the St. Johns River Water Management District
because they are mad at the district for not doing various other things they wanted
to do, which also were not hydrologically feasible. They are mad at the district for
things that were caused by the drought and natural disasters; they are blaming the
government for this. When the government tells them they are wrong about this,
they just reject it and say, "No, we do not believe you." They just live in this dream
world somewhere rejecting all the studies that have been done.
Of course they would like the sinkhole plugged up somehow. They do not
understand that the only way to do that is to dump things into the sinkhole. In fact,
this has been done in the past. Huge numbers of automobiles, buses, and things
have been trucked into the sinkhole to plug it up. The sinkhole is just where the roof
of an underground cavern has collapsed off the surface. If you dump more stuff in it,
it is just going to collapse more. If you build a dam around it, [which is] what they
want to do, you are going to add to the weight and the sinkhole is going to get
bigger. It is going to swallow up the dam and get bigger and bigger. All of their
proposed solutions [will] only make it worse.
C: That would just drop the bottom out of Orange Lake and leave a really huge crater.
K: What they really need to do is come to grips with the fact that lake levels in Florida
fluctuate with rainfall. They refuse to accept that. They want somebody to do
something that will make the lake level stable.
C: They want to make it what it was fifteen years ago.
K: Yes, fifteen years ago we were in the high point of the rainfall cycle. Now we are in
the low point of the rainfall cycle. In fact, if you look at Orange Lake now, it is not
empty. The water is down a couple of feet, but this is a big lake with lots of water in
it. It is not a dry lake bed, as they would have you think it is. It is a lake full of water.
C: I have heard that the weeds that grow naturally in the lake are [kind] of a problem for
K: The weeds that are in there are the same weeds that got into the Rodman Dam.
That was one of the problems with Rodman Dam. There was a plant introduced
called hydrilla that is not native to the United States. It has no known insect or
disease enemies in the United States. It has spread through Florida waters. It
grows from the bottom to the surface and completely chokes out lakes from top to
bottom. It is well established and very abundant in Rodman Reservoir, in Orange
Lake, and in other lakes.
There is no way to control it except by very expensive mechanical harvesting
[through] which you could cut a path, from the fish camps out to open water. This
stuff grows so fast, you cannot harvest and control it mechanically. There are
various ways to poison it. If you want to spend money to poison it, then you are
going to poison other things as well. There is not really any good control for it. That
is one of the problems at Orange Lake.
C: Correct me if I am wrong, but if you raise the lake level would not the hydrilla grow?
K: It will just grow to the surface. You will not get rid of it. The only way to control
hydrilla at all economically isto have a drastic draw down on the lake, and then refill
it. By having a drastic draw down you kill a lot of the hydrilla. Then you reflood it. It
takes a while for it to recover and grow back up. Every few years, you have to go
through this cycle of draw down and refilling. That is what their plan is.
The pro-reservoir people at Rodman know they have got this problem with hydrilla,
and their long-term plan calls for draining Rodman Reservoir every few years and
filling it up again to kill the hydrilla. With 9,000 acres of reservoir, you cannot get
within a small fraction of that because of the waterweed problem there. There is
only a small fraction of the 9,000 acres that are accessible to boats. This is one of
the management problems you have with Rodman Reservoir and one of the reasons
it is so expensive to maintain it. It is just one of many problems. The Orange Lake
people just refuse to accept the fact that that lake is never going to be full until the
rainfall cycle comes back to a high again.
C: And then again, that is only a temporary high.
K: Yes, it will go up and down. With that sinkhole, there is nothing you can do
permanently to block the sinkhole that is not going to make it bigger. Hydrologically,
they are just blowing in the wind. Literally, they are just spitting into the wind by
trying to block a sinkhole by putting more weight on it.
C: I washed out of geology as an undergraduate, but even I know that will not work.
K: [Laughter] So that is another example of a fight that does not make any sense
whatsoever to those of us on one side. Yet, we are spending a lot of energy and
time fighting and trying to preserve the 45 percent of original water flow to Prairie
Creek for Paynes Prairie.
C: It takes all kinds, I suppose.
K: There is no shortage of environmental problems in Florida. If you want to be
involved, there is no shortage of things [with which] to get involved.
C: It sounds that way. I am out of questions. You have said your piece on the
K: Yes, I have said my piece on it.
C: I thank you very much for the interview. It was very informative.
K: As long as you do not let E.T. York sue me for libel. [Laughter]
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