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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
Interviewee: Marjorie Carr
Interviewer: Everett Caudle
April 24, 1989
EC: This is Everett Caudle. Today is April 24, 1989. I am at the home of Mrs.
Marjorie Carr in Micanopy, Florida. I am doing an interview for the University of
Florida's Oral History Project. Mrs. Carr has lived in Florida since she was a child
and has been concerned with the environment and preservation of Florida's natural
beauty for most of her life. She is a charter member of the Alachua County
chapter of the National Audubon Society and a founding member and current
president of Florida Defenders of the Environment. Mrs. Carr was extremely active
in the movement to halt construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal by the Army
Corps of Engineers, and she continues to be involved in the effort to restore to its
natural condition areas affected by early barge canal construction.
Ms. Carr, this project concerns the environment here in Alachua County,
especially, but in Florida, also. But before we get started talking about
environmental issues, I would like to get just a little bit on the tape about your
background, particularly your biographical information. So if you would, please
give me your full name.
MC: Marjorie Harris Carr. My people are all from New England. My mother and father
were very much interested in natural history. My father, who was really a New
Hampshire man, always thought, "Why should anybody stay up in New England
where you can only be out- of-doors for a few months in the year, when there is
Florida where you can be out-of-doors all year round. So he started trying to
establish a place to live down here. He was a school teacher, and his dream was
to establish a small farm. In those days--this was back in 1918--they felt that
having ten acres of citrus would support a person. Anyway, he found some land,
along with some other people, down below Bonita Springs. About the same time
I started having trouble with colds and whatnot in the winter, so my mother would
bring me down in the bad part of the winter. From about 1918 on, we would go
back and forth, staying here in the winter months. Eventually, we just stayed here
year round, although we would go back up in the summer for awhile. My father
died when I was fifteen years old, and my mother went back to school-teaching to
support us. These were Depression days, and lots of folks had to scrabble. My
mother taught first on Sanibel Island for two years in a one-room school house
there, then she taught in Bonita and finally in Ft. Myers Beach. I was an only
child. I went to Florida State College for Women [presently FSU] in 1932.
EC: Harris was your maiden name?
MC: Harris is my maiden name.
EC: Did your father ever own his grove?
MC: Oh, yes. Well, we owned the land, but never did he get around to planting. We
only lived there for five years, but those were the five years in my childhood which
loom so large in anyone's childhood, from about seven to twelve. Then we moved
into Ft. Myers.
EC: Did you move to Ft. Myers after your father had died?
MC: No, we moved in there before when I was going to junior high and high school.
EC: So it was in Ft. Myers that you went to junior high school.
MC: We lived outside of Bonita Springs, about three miles away, and one of the things
I did there was ride my horse. I had a horse, and for three years I rode a horse
to school, which was fun. We were three miles from Bonita Beach, too. A horse
was my way of getting around. We lived out in the woods, and I had parents who
could answer your questions about what is that bird, or what is that snake. I grew
up with a great appreciation of the natural environment.
EC: So your environmental interest was developed very early, when you were a child.
MC: Yes. My father and mother were both naturalists.
EC: What was south Florida like in those days? You said you lived out in the woods.
Was it fairly rural in the area where you grew up?
MC: Oh, certainly. Ft. Myers was a small, beautiful, little town. Bonita Springs was just
a very small place. It had one hotel and a few filling stations and a couple of
grocery stores. I imagine a few hundred people lived around there. A lot of citrus
was grown there, and there was some fishing. These were the Depression days,
and it was mighty hard-scrabble. There were the pine woods and palmettos.
When we would drive to Tampa or Tallahassee, the woods were not very pretty
because they had been heavily timbered at that time, and there was no
reforestation. There was no fence law, so there were cows. They burned a
lot--indiscriminate burning--in order to get more [pasture]. And they had done
turpentining, so from driving on it looked pretty bad. The other thing is in the
summers the sky would glow with the Everglades burning.
EC: Were these fires set by man?
MC: Some were set by man, some were set by lightning. Forest fires were very much
a part of life.
EC: Do you remember whether it bothered you to see that sort of use of the land? The
going in and just cutting the timber--did that bother you at that time?
MC: Oh, yes. I was brought up with a family that said, "Isn't it a shame they don't
replant any of this." Actually, I do not think my parents knew the value of burning.
I saw very few herons or waterfowl. People would come down and shoot anything
that moved for sport. We lived on the Imperial River and canoed on it practically
every other day, and to see a heron was something to remark about. Not just the
game, but people just shot any moving target. It is amazing the change.
Wherever man was, there was devastation. Now, you go back into the woods or
take a trip by boat or wagon and get away from where man could easily get to
them, and I suppose you would see more [game and waterfowl].
EC: But Florida at that time, especially that area of the state, was really.
MC: Anywhere. It was the custom for man to shoot whatever he saw.
EC: That mentality has changed a lot.
MC: That mentality has changed. It certainly has.
EC: You said you went to college at Florida State College for Women. What did you
MC: I studied and majored in zoology.
EC: Did you get a bachelor's degree from there?
MC: Yes, in 1936.
EC: Did you continue your education after your bachelor's degree?
MC: Yes. I was going to go on and get my advanced degrees at North Carolina-Chapel
Hill. There was a delay in my fellowship, and during that six months delay I met
Archie. We were married in January 1937, so I did not pick up on my fellowship.
But I started here at the University of Florida, and I got a master's degree in 1942
here. My main interest as an undergraduate was ornithology, but when I got my
master's it was in ichthyology--bass.
EC: Now, you were telling me about your graduate degree from the University of
Florida in zoology.
EC: So you continued your environmental interest, then. You worked your educational
interest along with that. And your husband, of course, was Archie Carr, who later
went on to become quite well known as an expert on the sea turtle. He, I
suppose, helped further your interest in environmental concerns.
9 a ,
MC: Well, it was a joint thing. He, too, came from a family where it was nurtured. He
had more of a hunter background, but a real fine hunter background where there
was concern for the wildlife and wilderness and love of it--not just shooting at a
moving target. Our whole interest in conservation evolved together, batting the
ball back and forth. We both were concerned. We both defined the problems as
we saw them and what could be done about them.
EC: So you were both partners in this endeavor.
MC: Oh, yes.
EC: Do you remember anything at all about the early days when you were first out of
college? What was the first organized activity that you got involved in? When I
say organized, I mean an organization where there was a desire of the
organization to address environmental concerns.
MC: I think I want to go back one step further when I realized the impact it could have
in interacting with the public. When I was going to college, there was a program
called the National Youth Administration (NYA), and they provided jobs for college
students. You worked for three months in the summer, and at the end of that they
sent enough money to your college to pay your board and tuition for the coming
year. In addition, they gave you a small amount of money, about sixty dollars, at
the end of the summer which would pay for buying some clothes and getting your
passage to school. I had three of those summers. After the first summer, rather
than wanting to work in the office there--they had sort of a little children's day
school--I conceived the idea of having a traveling natural history program that
would be carried out all over the county. They agreed to it, and I designed it.
Each day I would go to a different place. I met once a week in Ft. Myers, and
then I would go to Alva, and then Pine Island or Bonita Springs or Estero, and
have a field trip with children--not little bitty ones. I would talk about the natural
history of that area. You would emphasize whatever: insects or plants or birds.
I did it the whole summer. When I look back on it, I think "My gosh! What an
enormous, ambitious thing to do." In fact, I did it two summers. It was a whale
of a success.
I learned to have great respect for all sorts of people and not to have contempt for
people, whatever their background. You find naturalists or people who are
interested in the environment or sensitive to the environment in all walks of life.
I think I learned that from way back there. You see, this was not a program that
appealed to everybody in the community, but in every place--these little, tiny
places--there would be nine or ten who were faithful and absolutely devoted to this
program. They had stars in their eyes. Somebody who would take them out and
discuss these things with them.
EC: Now this was mainly the young people.
MC: Yes, but they ranged in age from teenagers to ten-year-olds. They were not
EC: I take it that you enjoyed this.
MC: Very much.
EC: It was a great deal of work and very ambitious. Was the project later continued?
MC: It was not continued. They did not find anyone who could do it. You see, I had
grown up there, and I had quite an exceptionally broad knowledge (I realize now)
of the natural history of that area. It was not in depth, but I knew all the birds and
the plants. I knew a lot of the insects, the shells, the snakes--I knew these things.
I do not think there were very many people in that category.
EC: So you used a lot of the knowledge, then, that you had learned as a child growing
up with your parents.
EC: That is interesting that you could use that and put it to use and make such a
contribution that way. It must be a tribute to your parents.
MC: Of course, also when I was in college I was a major in zoology; I was taking
botany. I took botany from Dr. Herman Kurtz, who is one of the famous botanists
here in Florida. I had a very good teacher, Dr. Ezda Mae Deviny, for my major
professor. I was assisting in the zoology lab there. She was very much interested
in birds. I sort of taught myself what I learned about shells, not just the names,
but how they operate. It was the same with mammalogy and herps [herpetology]
at that time, so I could bring the enthusiasm and interest and knowledge that I had
as a child and it had been further polished by what I was getting in college.
EC: That was your first big project, and that showed you what could be done with the
MC: Well, I just did it during the summer. I got so involved with marriage and other
things that I really did not look back on it very much. But every now and then I
think that is where I really had a feeling that there is a potential for the public to
be very good environmentalists if we would just give them the information.
EC: After that project, you finished your school. Do you remember what your next step
was as far as organized-type activities?
MC: After we were married I finished my degree. The war was on. I taught one year
in high school here because they were short of teachers. I took Howard Bishop's
place. I guess he became an administrator. I taught in Gainesville High School.
Professor [Fritz W.] Buchholz was principal, and he was absolutely terrific. Well,
I looked at the textbook and said, "This is dreadful. This is a dull, dull book!"
Then I said, "If I prepare lectures designed for these students, and if they agree,
will you let me?" He said, "Certainly. Do what you want." So I put it to the kids.
I said, "Here is this book. You can look it over. I think it is very dull. The only
alternative I have--you cannot buy another book; this is "the" book--is I can lecture
to you as they do at the university. You will take notes, and then we will go on
from there. Which do you want to do? We will take a vote." They all were for
lecturing to them, so I did. I remember saying, "Very well. We'll throw the book
out the window." And I literally hurled the book out the window! But there again,
designing that course was a great experience.
Then our daughter Mimi was born, and the war went on. After she was about a
year and a half [old] they were again short of teachers and were scratching
around. Of course, I could teach science, so I taught one semester up in Alachua.
About that time Archie got an invitation--he was getting more and more interested
in sea turtles--to go to Honduras. So when Chuck was born, our first son, just a
month later, we went down to Honduras and were there for nearly five years.
Since I was interested in ornithology, so I wanted to learn the birds there. There
were not any books on them at that time--this was 1945 to 1950--so we collected
birds. I must have made 2,000 skins, scientific skins, because I wanted to get to
know what the birds were there. This was up in the mountains near Tegucigalpa,
in the plateau up there in the Yeguare River valley. Archie was, among other
things, describing the different ecosystems of Honduras. We rode horseback
every day. We also had two more sons born there in Honduras. Then in 1949 we
came back here with four children and looked for a place to build, since we had
sold our house before going to Honduras. We wanted to build out in the country,
and we found this piece of land.
EC: Here in Micanopy?
MC: Yes. A friend of ours also wanted to [find some land in the country]. He found a
big hunk of land and sold us ten acres of it, so we moved out here in September
EC: So you have been here then for nearly forty years.
MC: Yes. We designed the house so we could look out into the Florida woods.
EC: Well, it is a lovely view you have here with the pond and everything else.
MC: But we had children, so I was pretty busy for the next ten years. Then David
came along when we had been out here. We designed the house with just
minimum space to handle four children, and then two years later we had a fifth
child, so we had to replan. I would say the first thing that came that I can
remember that I got involved with was a threat to Lake Alice. The University was
going to drain it; they were going to develop it or something.
EC: The University of Florida?
MC: Yes. And we objected; people around the zoology department objected. About
that time Florida Audubon began expanding and developing more chapters. I was
involved with the formation of the first chapter of Alachua Audubon with H. K.
Wallace, Enid Mahon and John Mahon, We formed the Alachua Audubon chapter
I think that must have been about 1960.
EC: What ever happened with the lake and the idea of their developing it? Was that
defeated because of the pressure of the Audubon?
MC: Yes, it certainly was. One of the things we did early on was we got a small grant.
I hope I am not getting things out of order. What had happened was they had
flooded an area there. There were a lot of bushes that had grown up. [The flood]
also killed a lot of trees, so there were dead trees, and it had become a very fine
rookery. I think a lot of these birds normally had lived at Bivens Arm. There were
thousands and thousands of herons and ibis nesting there. Of course, it was quite
dramatic. I have forgotten what the University was going to do that would have
destroyed it. Actually, the rookery was wearing out. What we found out later is
that rookeries move from place to place. When they wear out one bunch of trees
they shift over into another; they were wearing these out mighty fast. One thing
we did do was bring in some cypress trees and plant them around the edge. The
cypress trees that you see on Lake Alice were planted back then.
EC: Were there trees there naturally?
MC: No, but it was a natural place to have them.
EC: Did the birds eventually use those trees?
MC: No, they moved over to Bivens Arm. Knowledge developed, and we began to
realize that it was nothing man was doing to these; they were just wearing out their
EC: In any event, the proposed draining and filling of Lake Alice was stopped.
EC: Which was, I think, a benefit. [So you stopped the destruction of] Lake Alice and
[were involved in] the formation of the Audubon chapter here in Alachua County.
What came next?
MC: We did several things through Alachua Audubon. I know one thing that probably
came before Alachua Audubon by just a little bit. I was in the Garden Club. This
was in the late 1950s, and I was roadside development chairman. Archie and I
had always been very much interested in Paynes Prairie since we drove across
it a lot, so for quite a period there through the Garden Club I sort of developed,
with the help of lots of other people, to set this aside as a preserve. You could,
working with the Department of Transportation, set aside roadsides as preserves,
so what I proposed is that we set aside as a preserve the entire roadside across
Paynes Prairie. Then Mr. Camp, who owned the Paynes Prairie, said, "Absolutely
delightful! And if anybody steps off your preserve onto my land, I'll shoot them."
So we said we could put up a sign that said Paynes Prairie Wildlife Preserve, and
it was good. He protected it, and yet everybody when they would go across would
think, "Aha! A great big preserve." Psychologically it was just fine. And we had
a big ceremony. I have got a picture of [Florida Representative] Sid Martin and
Preacher Gordon [pastor, First Presbyterian Church] praying and whatnot. Later
Justice [William 0.] Douglas from the [U.S.] Supreme Court came down and
viewed it and made remarks about it. So that was established, and that was
through the Garden Club.
EC: But in actuality the preserve only extended to the roadside.
MC: Yes, it was just the width of the road two miles long. But they put up big signs
[made out of] these big, heavy, lovely cypress boards, which I seasoned under my
bed for six months before we had them carved.
EC: Now, this is [U.S. Highway] 441 we are talking about?
MC: Yes. That one summer I remember Mary Parrish (Mrs. M. M. Parrish), Jo Conner
(Mrs. Fred Conner) and I spent the entire summer working with people from the
road department. A lot of these were trustees, [and we worked on] landscaping
the edge. We brought in great rocks and planted some cabbage palm. We
landscaped Paynes Prairie Road but in a natural way. We had a drive out where
we just flattened the roadside. We had signs made. All of this was through the
EC: But it was successful.
MC: It was successful. That was a neat project. It increased public awareness. It did
not cost a great deal, but it involved the road department and the [Florida] Game
and [Fresh Water] Fish Commission. In retrospect, when you involve people in a
creative effort, you get them hooked forever.
EC: You convert them over. That is interesting. You were saying earlier that you had
never met anyone who was not an environmentalist.
MC: Right, once they got the facts. Worlds of people just had not thought that much
about it, just like there are a whole lot of areas that I do not think much about. If
you asked me if I was concerned about this and then gave me the facts, well, yes,
I would be very concerned and lose sleep over it. But if you do not know about
EC: Do you think that those types of attitudes have changed as a result of so much
more activism on the part of people who are concerned about environmental
MC: Well, yes. I think the main reason is the media, the publicity and the education
that environmental issues have received. The second thing, I think, is that there
are very few people who cannot see in their own lives some bad environmental
impact: a fishing place gone, a big garbage dump, running out of water, "No
swimming. Polluted." The fact of environmental deterioration has really been
brought home to practically everybody. So I think the two things, the education
and the impact.
EC: I think, too, that Florida is just growing at such a rapid rate that even people who
have not been here for a long time will find that true. Five or six years [go by] and
you can see the impact of those changes.
EC: Now, you were involved also in the Cross Florida Barge Canal and the controversy
over that. Could you tell me a little bit about that and how that all came about?
MC: There are a couple of other things that I think are sort of neat that tie in with that.
In the Audubon Society, it was a very yeasty time and we had a very good group:
Colonel and Mrs. Hodge, Mary Guy, Jack Ohanioh and his wife, a lot of people
that I cannot list here now. It was a very good group. One project we had to put
on was, I think, the first one in the state, and that was a photographic contest in
which the prize would be given for intangible values of Florida wilderness. There
could not be any fishing and this sort of stuff--intangible values. We were trying
to underline that, because of what good it is. We wanted to make a contribution
to the problem of how you quantify intangible values, and we got very good prizes.
We had a blue-ribbon judging committee which included Eliot Porter. We found
out just how to do it. We did it just right. Our top prizes matched any in the
nation. We had a contribution of several thousand dollars for prizes, and we
advertised this. The pictures came in, and we shipped them around and had them
judged and whatnot, and then had the prizewinners given out. The black and
white pictures--they were big ones--we had put together as a traveling exhibit, and
that traveled around through the Audubon chapters all over the state. It was
beautiful, just beautiful, and that idea caught on. That was the first one. Then
after that they had wilderness photo contests. So that is one thing that we got
EC: Were all of the pictures black and white?
MC: No, we had color slides, but the black and white ones were the ones I remember
most vividly. The other thing we did was to have a junior naturalist club start up.
This was for youngsters of various ages. We had a little trailer where [they] had
their collecting equipment. The idea was once a month or every two weeks they
would take a field trip, and we would have guest naturalists along. Of course, we
could depend on the University for support, and there were mothers as chaperons.
That was a most enormous success. We ran that for a couple of years, but then
it sort of burnt down. We got interested in the Barge Canal. But Virginia Allen,
Ross Allen's wife, was a teacher at P. K. Yonge.
EC: I took science from her when she was a teacher over there. I graduated from P.
MC: Did you ever see the trailer? She kept it right outside her lab for a long time, our
nice little green trailer for the Junior Naturalists?
EC: She was involved in that?
MC: Yes, she was a sponsor.
EC: She was always so interested, like yourself, in young people and making them
aware of the natural world around us. She was a remarkable woman.
MC: Well, there again, what was pointed out was that with a little effort you could
design something that was of enormous interest for young people that they would
never forget. They will never forget those experiences. So there is the possibility
[for public education], and every now and then I hear where they have done it here
and there. That same time the idea of having a morningside [park came about].
EC: Morningside [Nature] Center?
MC: Yes. We did not think we could get involved in that because we were deeply
involved with other things. We got the Junior Women's League to pick up on that.
They did sponsor it, which was nice, but we had the idea and we got the
beginning of it. For awhile there it seemed that I was going around talking to
Kiwanis clubs promoting this sort of thing.
EC: It is good that you can get other groups to lighten the burden a little bit.
MC: Oh, yes or share the fun more, not lighten the burden.
EC: Well, that is true. I can see it that way, too. It would have to be fun to have put
the amount of time and effort that you have put into it. Did that lead into the Barge
Canal business after that?
MC: Yes, the Audubon Society had a program. Dave Anthony and I were both
presidents of the Audubon Society back and forth there for awhile. I do not know
who was program chairman that fall, but we had set up a series of programs that
were designed to show what was happening in the state. This is 1962. The
program was (because they were talking about the Barge Canal). What is the
Barge Canal? What would its impact be on the environment? That was the title
of the flyer. I have got one still. We had the program in November, 1962. This
program was in the P. K. Yonge auditorium. It was amazing. We were all
astounded that they had planned to build the canal right down the Oklawaha River.
Well, the whole program was quite revealing. Following that we started asking
questions. [Some of us became quite] upset and sort of coalesced into a group
in there. Again, we thought if we can get the facts out on this, just as we were
startled, opposition would build, and they would change the route of the canal.
Actually, they just needed to change the route for about a third of the canal.
EC: So you were not totally opposed to the canal per se, but you were opposed to the
MC: Right. So we got the cores's maps and blew them up very carefully, very
accurately. There had been a study by the fish and wildlife service that had just
come out that had a great many statements in it; we quoted those. There were
statements by the game and fish commission about the impact of the Barge Canal;
we quoted those and had them printed up. I think we got a grant through the
Garden Club again. Anyway, in 1963 the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs was
the first statewide organization to oppose the route of the Barge Canal. Following
that Florida Audubon came in, but the Garden Club was the first. In those days
there was no Sierra Club here. There were just a few people who were members
of the national Sierra Club, but not long after that they formed a chapter.
In retrospect of why we were successful, the zoology department at the University
has a heritage of interest in ecology. It has always been a very strong department
as I understand it, one of the finest in the nation. Back in the 1930s, Dr. Thomas
Barber, who knew a good many of the zoology departments, thought it was one
of the best of the nation. He did not see why Archie would want to go any other
place, because he said this zoology department is very high quality. Those must
have been very exciting days back in those early 1930s--this is going way back.
The young men, and later women, who were in the graduate program could pick
out a group of animals that they were interested in, but nobody had ever worked
with those in this area. Horton Hobbs did the crawfish, H. K. [Howard Keefer]
Wallace had the spiders of Florida, Archie and Coleman Goin had the fish and
snakes-- they were the herps of Florida. Harley Sherman had the mammals.
[There was] no competition. Eden opened up before you. So it was a most
exciting time. Water beetles, mayflies, craneflies--these were different specialties
that these men took up. It was very yeasty, indeed.
The whole philosophy of the zoology department was a very sound ecological one.
You had to have knowledge of the geology and the hydrology of the habitat of the
beast that you were studying, [plus that] of the soils, of the plants, of the plant
associations, and the associations of animals in that. That is not very well known.
The whole department was focused that way, so you had a whole bunch of men
who were knowledgeable about the Florida environment, not just one facet of it,
but the whole thing. So when the Barge Canal came along, which would have
destroyed this whole ecosystem, you had a whole bunch of people who were very
upset and could speak with authority. As a result, working though the Audubon
through the 1960s, we developed quite a strong case. It is the same case we are
using now, actually, because it was a sound case.
EC: Based on sound scientific principles.
MC: Exactly. But we got nowhere with it, [except that] it turned around a lot of [people].
The press was even beginning to turn around and people were saying, "We are
sorry. You are right, but it is too late now." We almost won. Mrs. Lyndon
Johnson was able to hold up the final signing for funds to begin construction for
two days. We just did not have sufficient clout to push past that. So in 1966 they
got the money and started construction, and in 1968 they closed the dam and
flooded Rodman Reservoir.
By that time we had become somewhat sophisticated and realized that these
projects only lived from appropriation to appropriation. This had no economic
justification, really. It was all puffery on the part of the core and their friends. They
puffed up all their benefits. We thought if you can get these facts out [You can
make a difference]. Another thing we found out about, which just blows you away,
was when the started building the canal, they had no idea of the impact on the
Florida aquifer. They had not involved the geological survey people in the studies
on the middle part of the state. That is astounding! That is unbelievable that they
would start digging such a channel, even though it was a barge canal and not a
ship canal. The original one in the early 1930s was a ship canal. So it would
have been hundreds of feet way down there--a ridiculous thing. The state
geologists then put the kibosh on that--not the politicians, and not the local people
down there. "We can make some money out of it." But in the Barge Canal they
had something that was designed to float on the aquifer waters. That is the way
it was planned. And yet they had not made the studies. They did not know
[enough] about the aquifer. As you know, the limerock under here varies.
EC: At one place it can be just a few feet from the ground, and other places it is
hundreds of feet.
MC: Well, they knew that it was close to the ground there; that is why they picked that
route. But they did not know the nature of the limerock or how many caverns they
were going to get into.
EC: I think water is one thing that we take for granted, especially in Florida, because
we have so much of it.
MC: But a threat to a water supply is one of the quickest ways you can get a human
being upset. He really gets upset if his water supply is ruined.
EC: I agree.
MC: But they went ahead. One of the public relations men of the core of engineers
was asked by one of our members (he did not know he was one of our members),
"Why are you in such a hurry to form Rodman Pool? You do not need to go
ahead with that." And this public relations man said, "Our main reason for doing
this is that if we kill the river we will discourage those environmentalists, those
conservationists." Silly Billy. It did just the reverse.
EC: It just made people more enthused.
MC: It made them madder than hell. But that is a state of mind which I am afraid has
not gone out. But they have some justification in believing that way, because
humans have too much tendency to say, "Well, it is done, so we had better make
the best of it."
EC: Let's concentrate on the next issue.
MC: Yes, or something. What we are learning is that it is absolutely essential that we
do a good job at restoring things. We have got to restore all sorts of things: lakes,
oceans, rivers, forests, meadows, swamps, marshes. All these things can be
restored, and we need to be about it. Just because it has been devastated does
not mean that you should throw up your hands and say we will just have to
EC: It is just a shame that things are allowed to go that far. I think that the Barge
Canal is an example. The damage has been done, and now what has been done
is totally useless.
MC: Well, we can restore it very easily.
EC: I am talking about useless as far as the use that they had originally intended it for.
EC: I know that mentality that you are talking about: "Let's do the damage, and that will
put a stop to the opposition." I have noticed that lately in just a couple of things.
I know they took down the trees out on 441 up near Alachua, and that to me
seemed to be that sort of mentality. They went in there in one day and knocked
them all down.
MC: Right. And that is very ugly, indeed.
EC: I thought it was one of the most beautiful stretches of road in the county. It was
really almost a benefit to the county, because people coming into Gainesville,
before they got into the actual city, saw this beautiful tree-lined roadway, and now
there is nothing left.
MC: I have just come back from driving up to Washington [DC]. We went on 1-95
coming back, and the brutal way the Florida Department of Transportation handles
its roadside is so shocking compared to Georgia. You cross over into Georgia,
North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia--aaaah!
EC: What is interesting to me is when they are going to build a road say 100 feet wide,
they need 500 feet of right-of-way on either side. There are a lot of places you go
where it is not like that.
MC: Well, they can have the right-of-way, but they do not need to skin it off. That is
EC: That is what I am talking about--clear cut.
MC: Right. It was dramatic; it was really dramatic. I have not driven that for some
EC: There is a big difference.
MC: Georgia is beautiful!
EC: So the eventual halting of the Barge Canal was a success.
MC: Let me give you a chronology here. In 1968 this was still Alachua Audubon.
There was an election that year. Then in 1969--the year following an election is
always a good year for things to happen--the Environmental Defense Fund [EDF]
up in Long Island had formed, and they had taken the state to court over DDT.
Incidentally, in going back, from 1963 through 1968, when we worked so hard to
change the Barge Canal route which culminated in a watershed affair, we had tried
to get (and this is hard to believe these days) a public hearing. We could not get
one for the public to express itself on the route of the Barge Canal. We finally got
it in January of 1966 in Tallahassee at the annual meeting of the Water Resources
hearing. To our surprise--it had been publicized through the other conservation
groups and garden clubs--we must have had 350 to 400 people who traveled at
their own expense to Tallahassee. We were not organized. The canal people had
done the same. They had gotten every city commission, chamber of commerce,
pilot clubs, or such groups that would be anywhere in the canal route, particularly
from the Jacksonville area, and they paid their way! All these men arrived in their
double-breasted suits, and they filled the well of the hall. We, on the other hand,
were just around on the perimeter and up in the gallery. We outnumbered them.
It was fantastic.
EC: But they tried to pack the [meeting].
MC: Yes. Tom Adams was the only [government official present]. No cabinet officer
nor the governor came, but Tom Adams was there. He was chairman, and he
bullied every one of us. The design of it was all afternoon were all these
government officials and whatnot, and we did not even start until 5:30 or 6:00.
This went on till 9:30 that night. We were very eloquent; the testimony was
fantastic. We have a lot of this on tape. Up to that time the corps of engineers
I do not think had ever had a biologist on their staff. But this galvanized the
public. What we found out was that while we had gone up there at all this
expense thinking a decision would be made, the decision had been made at 11:00
in the morning, whereas the public hearing began at one. It was an exercise in
futility, as far as they were concerned. They had already voted on it.
EC: Just a public show.
MC: Another interesting thing is the press was hardly in evidence. They had been
there in the morning, and when nothing was accomplished by afternoon they had
gone away and were off doing something. The few that did were absolutely
shocked to find that the public was so aroused. It was the first time; that was a
watershed time. The state has never been the same since, because we had
people from Pensacola to Key West. In the environmental movement in Florida,
that is the watershed, that hearing in January of 1966. Coming out of that was
conservation [in the] 1970s, Lyman Rogers. We were all closely involved
Now, to get back to 1969 and the EDF. In the spring there was an article in
Sports Illustrated. One of our members read this and telephoned me to ask if we
could get this group involved. By that time we had gone every route. We had lots
of publicity in national magazines and in the state papers, we talked to politicians,
and thousands of letters had been written. We had gone the political route, but we
had never been able to take them to court before. This group, Environmental
Defense Fund, was just organized. They had taken the state of New York or some
division there [to court] because of using DDT, and they were successful. So we
got in touch with them and invited them to come down and look at this as a
project, and they did. Four or five of their board came down. We put our
evidence out, and after due thought they said, "All right. We will take this on. We
will do the legal work if you all will produce the case." We said that we would.
They said that instead of being an amorphous coalition, we should be a separate
So in July of 1969 we formed Florida Defenders of the Environment; FDE the
reverse of EDF--we planned it that way. Bill Partington was our first president.
The first thing we did was get out a report on the environmental impact of the
Cross Florida Barge Canal on the Oklawaha River regional ecosystem. We started
putting that together in a hurry. Again, we involved all these scientists. We also
got this little book out, about seventy pages, excellently done, illustrated and
whatnot. It came out in January of 1970, and then we reissued it in March. All
during that year we used that as our bible. It went to all the papers, government
agencies, the state politicians and the national politicians, and the pressure built
up. We also were in court; we filed our suit in September 1989.
C-70 also formed early in 1970, partly, we understand, because of the Florida
group's saying that they should not do these things unless you have assessed the
environmental impact. Marshal brought that our with the opposition to the jet port
down there. We were bringing it out over the Barge Canal. From 1963 to 1969
we said, "You have not seen the damage this will do." But "environmental impact"
was a new term. We used it, I think, mainly because of the zoology department.
They used that term. At any rate, they passed the National Environmental Policy
Act (EPA) in 1970. The minute that passed we used it in our lawsuit.
EC: You made use of it quickly.
MC: Yes. By January of 1971, we won our law suit. We got an injunction against the
corps of engineers. They could not believe it. It had never been done before.
They had no idea what an environmental impact statement is. It was ridiculous.
I think by that time they had hired a biologist or two. Then Nixon--of course we
had been putting pressure on him--realized this was a loser economically and
environmentally, and he just said to close the whole damn thing down.
Then the fat was in the fire. The pro-canal people went to court and said that
Nixon did not have the right to stop a project that had been funded by Congress.
Nixon also had been stopping a lot of other water resource projects, good projects,
water-related projects, that had been funded by Congress. Also, the Watergate
scandal was coming on. By 1974 when we went to court, he was deeply into that.
What his lawyers should have said is that as commander in chief this is not a
water resource project; this is a transportation project. This was authorized as a
transportation project, as a defense measure. That is in its original charter.
EC: It was originally a defense measure?
MC: Yes. As commander in chief he had every right to stop it, if you are being logical.
But by then he was concerned about other problems, and his lawyers did not pick
up on it. Anyway, the judge said in 1974 that he did not legally have the right to
stop it. On the other hand, he was absolutely right: you needed an environmental
impact study and a new economic statement study. So they started all over doing
that. It took two and a half years and $2.5 million. We monitored that carefully,
and by 1976 the study was complete. Of course, what was revealed was what we
knew would be revealed. This would be a disaster from every standpoint. The
corps, of course, was the lead agency in this study. What had happened was the
various [agencies] like game and fish, the forest service, and the fish and wildlife
service, would come out with a report, and the corps could do its interpretation in
the final report. The corps would modify them. By that time they were sick of it.
What they wanted to do was come out with a final report that would be sitting right
on the fence. But they left a good deal to be desired in integrity. There were any
number of errors all through the canal project, and when these were pointed out,
if you listed them, they were always to the advantage of digging the canal. Some
of them were gross errors. Out of twenty errors, nineteen are in favor. Something
Also, they had a two-day hearing in Tallahassee in front of the governor and
cabinet. The result was resounding: the Cabinet said they wanted the canal
de-authorized, and they wanted the Oklawaha restored. They went on record,
and that officially came out in January of 1977. Then we went to work to get
legislation in Washington, since this was a federal project. We also had designed
legislation here in the state that would mesh with what was going on in
EC: To help pay for the reconstruction?
MC: No, the money was not really all that much. The counties did not get very much
of the original money, except Duval County. They put out $7 million for buying
land, but the other counties put out very little; they did not amount to much. But
with interest it had accumulated to something like $32 million. But that is all water
over the dam and long ago. I do not think the restitution of money to the counties
is anything but a smoke screen.
EC: But what about the funds to reestablish the river as it was?
MC: It would not cost very much, a few thousand. But what happened [was our effort
was blocked by Bill Chappel]. It passed here in the state, and then in 1979 we
had our legislation passed, an extension bill, that would de-authorize it here in the
state. And it passed the U.S. Senate; [Florida] Senator [Lawton] Chiles got it
through twice in 1978 and in 1979. [The problem was] we could never even get
a hearing in the House because of Congressman Chappel. Chappel was on the
Appropriations Committee. Chappel was vigorous in his determination that this
canal would be built. I have never known why, nor have I ever seen anybody who
knew why. He was unwavering in this, so we never even had a hearing. We
would go back every summer. We tried to circumvent him by hooking it onto
another bill. Well, we did not get anywhere with that. So it never passed the
House, and the Barge Canal was never de-authorized.
MC: Yes. Then the next thing. It was just frozen in limbo because most of the state
bill could not go into effect until the federal bill did. Some of the bill could. Then
the state was redistricted, and [Representative] Buddy MacKay took over most of
Chappel's district, including the Barge Canal. When Buddy went up to
Washington, he had as his number one bill the de-authorization of the Barge
Canal. Well, of course, he could not get anywhere, either. They had a hearing
down here in 1983 over in Palatka, [and they] brought the Public Works [and
Transportation] Committee [of the House] down. Chairman [Robert A.] Rowe was
here, and again we testified and whatnot. [Florida] Governor [Bob] Graham flew
down for that; Vicki [Victoria J.] Schenkle [secretary, Department of Environmental
Regulation] was there. When they went back to Washington, Rowe knew he had
to do something, and he came up with a compromise which apparently he made
Chappel accept. It is weird, but in essence the two ends for the Barge Canal are
not de-authorized. They are water resource projects, and the corps of engineers
manage them, so they are separate. That would include Rodman Pool and
Rodman Dam, Buckman Lock, and it includes maintaining Eureka Lock and Dam,
which is a lock and dam to nowhere. But they took care of that. The federal
government pays a million and a half [dollars] a year, and the two locks--these are
600-foot locks, designed for barges--are used to lift up row boats.
EC: Fishing boats.
MC: Yes. So that was the two ends. Then the piece through the middle was to be
called the Cross Florida Conservation Area and was to be turned over to the Army
Corps of Engineers; they were to manage it. In return, the federal government
would give $32 million to the state. Of course, this bill in Congress would not go
forward until the state passed legislation that said this is okay. Well, of course,
they did not, so there we are.
EC: Still stuck.
MC: We are still stuck. This year we have asked Senator [Bob] Graham and the others
to introduce a bill to de-authorize it, and Senator Graham said he would. Just
plain de-authorize it, and then we will get to the restoration. In the first place,
inertia sometimes works to your advantage, and sometimes it is perfectly dreadful
because you have this tendency to say, "Well, we've got it. Why not use it?" It
does not matter that we have to put out a million dollars a year on maintenance,
whereas if the river was back to its original course you do not have to put out any
money at all. That does not matter; "We have got it. Let's take care of it." The
corps has wild claims that it is bringing in $7 million a year. Well, economists will
look at those figures and say "shhh," or words to that effect. Actually, people
come to fish in flat water have lots of good places handy by there, like Lake
George, Orange Lake, Lochloosa Lake. So, it has probably increased. They have
provided camping grounds that have been used, but those could be anywhere.
EC: I have been over there several times. I like to fish myself. It is a nice place, but
I would much rather fish on the lower end of the dam where the river is still in its
MC: Oh, yes. Your remarks are what we are getting from fishermen all over: "If you
could bring it back, why, yes, we would rather have it back." Have you fished in
EC: I have fished on both sides of the dam. Of course, they had the massive fish kill
there about a year or two ago, and there was no fishing there at all. They drew
the water down, but now it is back up again, as I understand it.
MC: But this is going to be the pattern from now on. They will try to keep it.
EC: I think there was an article in the [Gainesvillel Sun the other day about the fact
that pattern was going to perpetuate. We are going to have these kills, and it will
be a constant management problem.
MC: At a million bucks a year. So our plan is to get it de- authorized this year, and
then start a campaign to show how unwise it is to maintain Rodman Pool.
Actually, what we want to do is get the entire river restored. They are working on
the headwaters very nicely now, but the whole river needs to be protected and
managed as a system.
EC: It is a beautiful river. Aside from the Barge Canal, you have been involved in
other projects. What sorts of things have you been involved in here, specifically
in Alachua County?
MC: Well, the Barge Canal has really absorbed most of my time. I have encouraged
others, and I have been absolutely delighted with the increase of environmental
awareness. One thing I have been involved with early on that is rather
encouraging is the formation of a league of conservation voters. There is a
national league, and I encouraged the formation of one in Florida. That has done
very well and is getting stronger; That is very good. The Sierra Club is good, and
Audubon is good. I have really been operating more at the state level on the
Barge Canal. As president of the Florida Defenders of the Environment, we have
had broad interests in the Everglades, Tampa, and the Apalachicola and
Suwannee [rivers]. [Particularly, we have worked toward] setting up the
Apalachicola and the Suwannee as outstanding Florida waters. Again, with the
Apalachicola, having to beat off the corps is just unbelievable.
EC: They have been a nemesis.
MC: Yes, and archaic in their approach.
EC: Do you see any changes in that in the future for them, or do you think that they
will continue this way?
MC: Well, I thought they were making improvements. But recently I have been
dismayed. I hear the corps of engineers is now getting into the recreation
business. The managing of reservoirs, not just here in Florida, but Colonel
Herndon was saying just the other day that the corps has a proud heritage of land
EC: Why should they even be involved in it?
MC: Well, exactly. Unless he is going back to doing some things early on. I do not
think we need the corps of engineers to get into the managing of parks or of
aquatic preserves. But they have all these districts, and each district has a bunch
of employees, and those employees do not want to be laid off. So I think they are
all going to turn into "experts" on recreation.
EC: An arm of the park service through the corps of engineers.
MC: And I will tell you another for example. You know one of the biggest boondoggles
think for the future here in Florida. There are two things. We have got to
encourage and make efficient and effective local citizen groups. We are a
democracy, and a democracy does not work unless you have an informed
electorate; really, it does not. A democracy is not easy. It is hard; you have got
to work at it. You cannot sit back and pay no attention to it.
EC: Not if you expect to have a responsible government.
MC: Exactly, or expect to have a democracy or your freedom. You can give up your
freedom if somebody bosses you around and tells you what to do. But if you are
going to have freedom, you are going to have to face the responsibility, too. The
responsibility for environmental quality falls first on the local people who know it
and are monitoring its quality. So I think that these local groups are the ones that
must be encouraged to be sound, not to be kooks, flakes, or weirdos, but to be
good, knowledgeable citizens.
EC: I think the environmental movement [activists] were labeled as being weirdos and
that sort of thing for awhile, but I think there is a lot more respect accorded now.
MC: Yes. So we want to encourage that in Florida Defenders of the Environment.
Indeed, we have a new project called Environmental Outreach that will get
underway this summer. That will be trying to set up coalitions in every county in
EC: Do you think, then, that is the key to making changes?
MC: Well, that has helped. If we could have a coalition in place, whether it is just two
or three or a bunch of people, in every county in the state, then FDE would have
access [to each county]. We have over 500 specialists who are on a roster who
have said they would help defend the Florida environment, and we could utilize
their expertise to inform the public--our motto has been "Get the Facts"--and to
help these groups. The other thing is for the media, all facets or branches of the
media, to increase their efforts in publicity and education. They are doing a fine
job, but human beings being what we are need to be told a thing ten times before
it will sink in. You cannot be told just once, no matter how beautifully it is told.
EC: And we have short attention spans, too.
MC: Right. So I think that whole business of public education [is very important].
EC: Let me ask you about that, because this has come up on some of our other
interviews. There have been some comments about the Gainesville Sun,
particularly about its past history of supporting environmental issues, but now there
seems to be the feeling that there has been a switch in their editorial policies. Do
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in the nation was the Tenn Tom [Tennessee-Tombigbe] Waterway. Everybody
knew it was an economic disaster; it was ridiculous. But they had enough political
clout and they put it through, so it was built. Of course, it is not being used. It
does not have transportation [on] economic justification. But they made a lot of
reservoirs which they have developed as recreation areas, and they are being
used, so they say it was well worth it. "It is a money maker."
EC: Economic concerns.
MC: Yes. That is Alice in Wonderland manipulation of figures there that blows your
mind. And they are so proud of it. They are proud of this disaster. And they are
doing their darndest to be proud of the [Cross Florida Barge Canal]. In the corps'
hierarchy in Washington there were some who were very good, and then there
were some narrow minded mossbacks, so there is a dichotomy there. I would
hope they would improve. Of course, the last eight years they have had no
encouragement to improve, have they?
EC: No, not at all, and I do not know whether the future will be any better despite
EC: I think the recent oil spill is an example of that.
MC: Well, I do not there is any backbone there.
EC: None at all, and no will to finance any sort of program that is not going to have
immediate economic benefits. Another thing that I think relates to the Barge Canal
in a way, and I see the same sort of public opinion being gathered against it, is
this toll road that was recently proposed. Have you been involved in that in any
MC: Oh, yes, absolutely, both as a citizen here in Micanopy and as a member of
Florida Defenders of the Environment. Several of us saw right away that it is a
parallel case. It is almost a dry land barge canal. Again, our philosophy was to
get out the facts, and we held a forum. When we looked into it, we found the
department of transportation had not done any studies at all. That blew us away.
The state of Florida is growing so fast, and with this fragile environment, the
change in transportation modes just down the road, the increased costs of energy,
the greenhouse effect, and all the other things, there are going to be some
changes made. And it would be wise to plan for this. So we held a little forum
and brought in several people, including Dr. John DeGrove, to say, "These are the
things that we would hope the transportation department would consider in
planning for the future." That was a pretty good little thing. I will tell you what I
you feel that?
MC: No, I do not feel that at all, and I have watched it very carefully since the days of
when Mr. Pepper owned the Sun. I have not noticed that at all.
EC: So you think they have been very supportive.
MC: I think the quality of their environmental reporting waxes and wanes depending
on who they have. I do not always agree with them, [but] that is beside the point.
No, I found them very fine, and I always have been able to work with them. I
really do not understand [these comments]. There is a tendency to blame the
press or call it the "mullet wrapper." This is part of human nature; they like to do
that, just like what we have done, to our great disadvantage, in smearing
government. Forty or fifty years ago it was a proud thing to work for government,
or early on it was. Then there was a period where it was public service. You were
pleased to go into the forest service, and they have some very fine people who
have continued. The quality of the people going into these agencies has improved
down through the last twenty to forty years. But, to my dismay, with the rise of
rightism there has been this knee-jerk reaction of sneering at bureaucracies and
government: "Get government off my back!" and all that hogwash, which has not
been good. I think it has been traitorous; I really do. I think it has been
undermining our government.
EC: And there is the feeling that they are all crooks anyway, and that sort of mentality
and apathy. It all goes back to what you were saying earlier about getting involved,
You have to get involved. You have to know what is going on. You have to let
your representatives know.
MC: Yes. And one of the trite things is to slam the press.
EC: Do you think that maybe the Sun has suffered from that?
MC: I cannot quite follow it. Some people I know rather well were upset, but I thought
it was a case of misinterpretation. I like the Gainesville Sun.
EC: We have heard both sides, but that is always a question that comes up, because
the press is a very powerful tool that can be used to get the message across.
MC: There is something I have noticed among those people who are critical of the
Gainesville Sun, and that is anytime the Sun makes a mistake, or a story will come
out late or something, they will interpret that as being spiteful on the part of the
Gainesville Sun. I do not interpret it that way. I just think they made a mistake.
Two or three times when I have needed to check out what happened to the story,
I found that was exactly what had happened. But once you have determined that
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the Gainesville Sun is bad, then you can find evidence, and they do not have their
eyes open for the good things that they do. They say, "Oh, that was just an
accident," or "they could not do anything else." So I think it has been unfair.
EC: Let me leave the subject of the newspaper just a minute here. What do you think
about this new growth management act that they recently passed?
MC: Oh, it is essential. If it is not implemented, then we really will go down the drain.
There is no doubt about it.
EC: Do you think it will be implemented, or do you think that there are going to be
forces to [undermine its intentions]?
MC: I think it will be spotty. I do not know. I think this is the big question. I am
delighted that Thousand Friends of Florida is formed and so far has a good
backing and whatnot. Whether they will be able to encourage, I do not know. I
am hoping that FDE's program of Environmental Outreach will mesh with the
Thousand Friends. It is a very worrisome question. Part of our trouble--we do not
see it up here, but it is a real problem south of here--is we have so many new
people coming in. We do not have any program for educating these new people
quickly. They come from other parts of the nation, and they come to retire. Their
attitude is, "I have done my bit. I just want to go fishing and sit in the sun." We
have another big, powerful block of Latins coming from Cuba and other places who
have an entirely different background and heritage, and they are not concerned
with the environment. We have made no strong effort to educate them. We could
do it very easily, but we have done nothing. So you have a very reactionary group
there as far as the environment is concerned--ignorant and reactionary, and very
EC: So what you are saying, then, is something I have heard before, and that is that
we have a problem here in Florida with people who are expecting a "free lunch"
as far as their feeling towards the resources of the state.
MC: Well, yes. although I am not certain whether it is free lunch or abysmal ignorance
in what I have been saying. I am afraid what we have seen happening is that the
Floridians [are losing ground]. I do not mean people who born here; I am calling
a Floridian anyone who identifies with the state and who is concerned with the
quality of the state. Some people can become Floridians in a couple of years, and
some it takes ten or fifteen years. At any rate, the Floridians are almost a minority
group now, and may be a minority group now, considering the last election. If that
is the case, then the only thing that can save us is economics, I suppose. But to
show concern, the governor [Robert Martinez] has formed a commission on the
Future of Florida's Environment. There are about twenty-seven people, of whom
about a third are from various government groups, about a third are from the
conservation area, and another third are business people. We have as our charge
to come up with recommendations for legislation or regulations to the governor that
will ensure a quality environment here in Florida for the future. That is a very tall
order. What is evident is that we know the solutions. We do not need more
studies. We hardly need more environmental legislation.
EC: Just enforcement of what we have.
MC: What we need are the guts to carry out [what we know to be true] with the growth
management. How do you come up with something that produces backbone? I
do not know.
EC: I wish it came in a pill form we could give everybody; we could slip it in the water.
MC: Yes. This is very serious.
EC: Do you see the current state administration, being led by a Republican governor,
as being sympathetic to environmental concerns?
MC: I think the Department of Environmental Regulations has gone backwards. But
you just asked me about Martinez. I do not know how strong he is, but I think he
would like to have a good environment. We will see. I do not think he has the
clout or the support amongst his own people.
EC: What about locally? Especially in the county commission here there seems to be
some division. Do you see the commission being as concerned with
environmental issues as it should be?
MC: I guess since 1960 I have been on the boards of several statewide groups, and
I have interacted with other people who are statewide. It has always been my
considered opinion that the Alachua County government is more responsive to the
environment than any other county in Florida. I mean, it is head and shoulders
above. The worst of our county commissioners is better than [the best of some
others]. It is incredible. I am sorry that there always seems to be this bickering
and whatnot, but Alachua County--since 1960, nearly thirty years--is consistent.
EC: I think you can see a contrast between Alachua County and adjoining Marion
MC: Exactly. I am talking about the other counties throughout the state.
EC: They have other problems that they are having to deal with, too, all caused by
[Florida's rampant growth].
MC: Now, the other counties will have maybe one or two stars in their commission. I
am talking about the general policy. We have had commissions where some of
the people are not very effective and are not leaders in this field. But the overall
thrust [has been positive]. I have said this many times. I check up on it from time
to time if it is still so, and I always feel that yes, Alachua County [is ahead of the
rest of the state]. The commissioners really should not bicker. They should know
how good their background is, and they really should get on with it.
EC: Do you think this bickering is a result of poor leadership?
MC: I do not know. Maybe it is an acceptance on their part that bickering is the name
of the game.
EC: What do you see for the immediate future for things like Florida Defenders of the
Environment, for instance? We have spoken about some of the items on their
MC: We are involved with the great rivers of Florida. I have a manuscript right here,
a report, on the restoration of the whole Oklawaha ecosystem. This is the draft
report, but it is pretty well done, and I am well pleased with it. We will be working
on that and the Apalachicola. The Suwannee Coalition has reformed, which I am
delighted, and they will go ahead. They need that. We have done some
monitoring there, but we need to do a lot more. I think our most exciting program,
though, is going to be our Environmental Outreach program. We are going to be
interacting more with these local groups. One of the advantages is that a
professor at the University of Florida has in his contract that he is supposed to
give so much public service--a third of his time. The other thirds will be devoted
to teaching and research. So there is that. In addition, certain people in the
zoology department, certain ones in arts and sciences, and I think in other areas,
too, have in their contracts where they are permitted to spend two days a week (or
a certain number of days a week) on outside consultations or outside works. That
is one of the perks. They do not pay them very much, but they allow them to pick
up extra money as outside consultants. Some do it more than others. So there
is time that an individual has that he or she can spend how she pleases. She can
make money with it, or she can contribute it without anybody criticizing. But the
main thing is that working for FDE is public service of a very fine quality. So we
have a chance to develop that resource, as they say.
Looking to the future, we can bring these educated people, specialists, from the
university system, which is a fairly big system. It is not just the University of
Florida, but FSU, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, FIU. If we can bring those people to
bear their knowledge--this is at the very highest level; they are not graduate
students, but experts--on problems in Florida, that is a very good thing.
EC: I know you spoke endlessly about your involvement with young people and getting
them involved in environmental issues. Do you see that continuing, or do you see
a waning of that?
MC: Oh, no, I think it will increase. I think in earlier generations the way young people
would get outdoors was in hunting and fishing. It is getting more and more difficult
to hunt, so you have to do other things out-of-doors. Of course, the Sierra Club
has taken up on that: canoeing, hiking, photography, just being out. I think a
familiarity with the environment and enjoying the environment in a very gentle way
is going to increase.
EC: Do you see any culture clash? By that I mean you spoke about the people who
have come from the northern cities and that sort of thing, and there is a group of
people who are, as you call them, Floridians, whether they have been here five
years or fifty years. Do you see any clash between those types of interests?
MC: I really cannot speak with authority because I have not lived down in the
thicker-populated parts of the state. I rather imagine that human beings are the
same, though. I really do believe that we are the same. I think it is a question
of education, of awareness. I have seen the most primitive person in another
country getting a thrill out of seeing some birds light in a tree and the whole
pattern of it. His enjoyment of that matched mine at that moment. We were
absolutely in rapport, and yet we were worlds apart as far as our heritage. No,
I think the potential is there, no matter the economic or racial background. If you
recognize that, then we will enter into a program of publicity, propaganda,
education, whatever you call it, and bring those people who have not been
thoughtful and make them thoughtful people. I know I am right. Take blue jeans.
The style of blue jeans is worldwide. It is a question of awareness of being in
style, and the enjoyment of our natural environment is like blue jeans. It is a
EC: I agree. I think that is a very valid point. It is just a matter of getting the facts
MC: And do not sneer at people. Of course, there are some s.o.b.'s, but they are a
EC: Well, I think that about does it. Thank you for your time, Ms. Carr.
MC: You are very welcome.